The morning question: What good housework, child rearing, and emotional labour shall I do this day?
5:00 – 6:00 AM: Rise with the cries of the baby, attempt to wash as baby breakfasts upon me and Mr. Franklin inquires as to where I’ve hidden his double spectacles and most recent lighting rod prototype; point to spectacles on Mr. Franklin’s face, take three calming breaths, and address Powerful Goodness.
6:00 – 8:00 AM: Whilst Mr. Franklin sits peaceably at his escritoire to contrive day’s business and take the resolution of the day, I build a fire, carry in five gallons of water, and procure meat from the smokehouse. Prosecute the present study—molasses milk mush and suspiciously green pottage; serve Mr. Franklin and his illegitimate child William breakfast with a smile.
8:00 – 8:05 AM: Breakfast on mushy remnants that 3-year-old William refuses to eat; stop baby from crawling into the fire.
8:05 – 11:00 AM: Fawn over William saying “Fare Thee Well, Papa” as Mr. Franklin disappears into his study for the next nine hours to do deep staring. Offer a dulled ax and ten small pieces of wood to occupy the children as I spin, knit, sew and weave the cloth for our winter socks, hats, coats, and mittens. Put things in their places, including screaming baby in his cot for bless'd nap, as I'm starting to feel chuffy.
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM: Milk cows, churn butter, and restock the privy with a brand new copy of The Farmer’s Almanac, whose pages Mr. Franklin enjoys very much for both reading and wiping. Put things in their places… again.
12:00 – 12:05 PM: Dine on two spoonfuls of pottage before the baby awakens; observe how much of the meal is now on my petticoats, and how little I care.
12:05 – 12:30 PM: Rub a mixture of marjoram and maize on my sore pips whilst William teaches the baby how to dump boiled passenger pigeon across my recently swept floor. Put things in their places… once more.
12:30 – 1:00 PM: Recognize the futility of putting things in their places whilst minding small children; serve Mr. Franklin luncheon as he reads The Spectator and some literature on inverted siphons; briefly lament no one bothered to give me a formal education before returning to the boiled pigeon situation.
1:00 – 2:00 PM: Reassure Mr. Franklin it's a blessing if he must travel to England alone for the next six months—reiterate the honour he bestows upon me, both as a woman and his legal property, with this request to supervise the remaining construction on our half-finished house, as well as manage the bookshop, stationary shop, and general store in his absence. Confirm I will still make time to do all our bookkeeping and send ample rashers of bacon to whatever godforsaken British hole-in-the-wall Mr. Franklin finds himself tinkering in.
2:00 – 5:00 PM: Take the children into the village; immediately return to the house to retrieve William’s favorite corn husk doll; berate myself for being such a forgetful loggerhead of a step-mother. Set children down to play on the winner of last year’s Quilting Bee at Mr. Franklin's General Store whilst I make an inventory of soap, feathers, and lottery tickets. Coordinate the logistics of sending two live squirrels overseas at the request of Mr. Franklin’s odd school friends from Boston Latin; momentarily rejoice that I am not one of these very particular and passionate settlers from Massachusetts Bay Colony.
5:00 – 8:00 PM: Return to hearth and home; greet Mr. Franklin with pottage as he emerges from a strenuous day of sitting and thinking; offer abundant words of praise and thanks as he puts things in their wrong places. Mr. Franklin dabbles with something called a swim fin as I put the children to bed, channeling the day's rage into growling like a bear whilst reading from the Divine Songs for Children.
8:00 PM: Time for my own music, diversion, or conversation—huzzah! Embark on examination of the day–
8:05 PM: –stop all music, diversion, and much-longed-for adult conversation to address Mr. Franklin’s pressing concern over the low candle supply.
8:05 – 10:00 PM: Spend the remainder of the evening alone in the kitchen dipping candle rods into a large iron kettle of boiling water and melted tallow to ensure Mr. Franklin can play his glass armonica in comfort before retiring; examination of the day devolves into an examination of the meaning of my life.
The evening question: What good have I enabled Mr. Benjamin Franklin to do today, and why am I always so vexed, tired, and covered in pottage?
10:00 PM – 5:00 AM: Watch Mr. Franklin sleep as I ruminate over the tasks of tomorrow; curse Powerful Goodness.