Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of a Clean House

10/05/2007 04:57 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Are you happy? Apparently, you'd be happier were you born thirty years ago; a recent study says women are less happy today than they were in the 1970's (the happiness of men, on the other hand, is up. Bravo for them). So the theory goes, men spend less time on things that they don't like, whereas women--trying to be superstars at work and at home--simply have longer to-do lists, and more frustration that "important" things don't get dusting. One paragraph in this New York Times article really caught my attention:

Ms. Stevenson was having drinks with a business school graduate who came up with a nice way of summarizing the problem. Her mother's goals in life, the student said, were to have a beautiful garden, a well-kept house and well-adjusted children who did well in school. "I sort of want all of those things, too," the student said, as Ms. Stevenson recalled, "but I also want to have a great career and have an impact on the broader world."

Although I understand the primal desires for family and security, I sometimes feel as though I'm judged as a "bad" woman for my ambivalence toward the traditional package: marriage, kids and a diamond ring, pretty roof, and last name holding it all together. I respect others' choices. I know you can be a fiercely educated woman and still like to...sigh...dust. (I'm sure there are intelligent men out there who like to dust, too. I guess.) But a well-kept house and beautiful garden at the top of your "Things I Was Put On This Earth To Do List"... in 2007... on the same list as a fulfilling career, happy life and and legacy? Really?

I'll take a dirty home and self-fulfillment any day of the week. Actually, my happiness on any given day usually directly correlates to how messy my living situation is... because I'm out living my life, rather than staying home cleaning it up.