Recently, my mom stayed with us so that I could get some writing done. We joked that she would be my “wife” for a week, and she was more or less. She kept the kitchen clean and my daughter fed and occupied while I worked from 6:00 am until lunchtime. When she left, I missed her. Not just because the dishes began to pile up and I felt pulled in ten different directions again. But I realized how much I really could use a “wife”!
Most women could use a housewife, of course, but for writers, who usually work at home, the distractions of our families and homes pull us away from our desks. I have to ignore the mounting dishes as I walk through the kitchen or the basket of laundry that needs to be folded. I look away from the dust turning the black shelves gray in the living room, or the crumbs coating the kitchen floor. All of that can wait, I tell myself, until I am done with this section or this chapter.
Constance didn’t have a wife, but she did have people who took care of her, servants mostly. When she lived on the hill of Bellosguardo outside of Florence, she had a cook (Angelo) who made her delectable meals (including gelato!) and a maid (Assunta) who kept the house clean. Constance was not rich. But like many Americans who lived in Italy, she could afford luxuries there that she couldn’t at home.
There are many things I envy about her life—her many years in Italy, her devotion to a writer’s life, her independence—and all of that was made possible by the labor of others. She said she paid them well, better than others did. And she cared for them when they were ill and looked out for the servants of others when their masters moved away or died. But it is important to remember the others who made her work and her life possible.
So I would like to acknowledge my mother, who has made many things possible for me over the years by coming to my aid when I needed to write. Most recently, she made the revision of chapter two possible. Thanks Mom! Now if I only had a “wife.”