Ann B. Davis, the actress who played the lovable housekeeper Alice on The Brady Bunch died yesterday, so if you notice the women in your life are just a little cranky today, cut them some slack. We’re coming to terms with the fact we will never have an Alice.
This funk we’re in isn’t about having a housekeeper. We can still hold on to the dream, however unattainable, that we might someday be in a position to outsource all of our cooking, cleaning and laundry. This is about more than that. This is about having an “Alice.”
When we were children, we loved the idea of Alice because she was a parental figure who wasn’t actually a parent. Alice offered the Brady kids unconditional love, but because she was not their parent, she also offered them a dose of neutrality, or perspective, that is difficult to achieve in a parent/child relationship. The children could count on her to always love them and protect them, and they could talk to her about things they didn’t want to discuss with a parent. And who among us wouldn’t have benefitted from a wise, loving mother figure that wasn’t actually our mother, no matter how wonderful our own mothers may have been?
Now that we are mothers, we want an Alice in our life for different reasons. We want an Alice in our lives, not just to do the shopping, and the laundry and prepare nutritious meals, (although that would be amazing), but because we could still benefit from the presence of a compassionate, supportive and rational woman that isn’t one of the parents in the house.
Our husbands mean well, right? But do they care if the laundry actually makes it into the bureau drawers? It’s clean, isn’t that all that really matters? And the kids’ hockey bags and soccer cleats that are dumped on the kitchen floor after Saturday’s game? Our husbands side with our kids who think the sports equipment should stay there all week since it will be used again next Saturday. But Alice…Alice would side with us.
And Alice wouldn’t just help us with the inordinate amount of housework and childcare we typically do, even if we work full-time outside of the home, she’d help with the invisible tasks too, because she would see them. She would make sure the permission slips were signed, the immunization records were in the school folders before September, the cleanings were scheduled at the dentist, and that our kids had suntan colored tights in time for the recital.
But most important of all, Alice would get us. She would get us in a way our husbands just don’t. Tania, a woman I interviewed in Mogul, Mom & Maid put it so succinctly when she said, “The best deal in town would be a real wife.” That would be Alice. But Alice will never live here.
Rest in peace Ann B. Davis and our condolences to your family and friends.