Friday, 21 January 2011

What is a Reluctant Housewife?

Welcome to ‘The Chronicles of a Reluctant Housewife’ where I document my love/hate relationship with my current occupation.  Join me as I attempt to find a balance between what I think I want and what I do from day to day.

I feel I should lay some groundwork here (and it’s going to get a little bumpy, but stick with me).  The title of Reluctant Housewife is in no way meant to belittle those women and men that work tirelessly to take care of their families as househusbands and wives.  The title refers only to my personal feelings of finding myself a housewife after spending tireless years achieving the highest level of academic achievement.  Again, that sounds horrible, like I am saying I am too smart to be a housewife or something, but that is not the case.  That’s like saying that being a waitress is easy, when anyone who has held such a role knows that it is an incredibly difficult job requiring a lot of mental work as well as manual labour, not to mention diplomatic abilities.
My love/hate relationship with my current occupation comes mostly from my lack of choice in the matter.  I currently have no other option.  I haven’t been able to find a job that would resemble a step toward a career and since Pete’s job allows it, I am a housewife instead of a coffee barista.  This is where my pride comes in a bit.  I could be a coffee barista, but I can’t bear it and neither can Pete.  (Although, oddly, if waitressing here was like the US, I would be there in a second.) I am more than willing to pay my dues in a menial job that at least is in a field I would like to eventually have a career in, I am not willing, however, to slough it out in a café or shop just to have something to do.  (Plus, those places won’t hire me because I am over qualified and I can’t just leave my degrees off my resume because then there is an eight year gap of employment history that I have no explanation for, and at 32 and that makes me under qualified.)   
There is a lot about being a housewife that I enjoy.  Obviously I love sleeping in everyday.  I love taking my time to get ready in the morning, enjoying my coffee with daily reruns of the Gilmore Girls, catching up on emails.  I have time to write these posts, occasionally I go for a run.  I run errands at my leisure and most enjoyably, I have time to prepare home cooked meals for me and my honey.  I really do enjoy making a nice home and entertaining (the three time we have had people over).  And I love kitchen supplies.  They are my new office supplies (in more ways than one).  Of course, I also get my fix of daytime TV reruns.  I’m addicted, I admit it, but there are worse things in the world. 
Here are the things I don’t enjoy.  The isolation.  There are many times when our cute little nest feels like an isolation unit.  We have limited social contacts in the city and they , in turn, have lots of social contacts, so only really have time for us about once a month.  I can go days talking to no one but myself and Pete and even then it’s not a lot of words.  Pete talks all day, he doesn’t always enjoy the barrage of words that hit him as he walks in the door.  If you know me, you know I’m a talker.  You can imagine how difficult it can be and won’t be surprised that I have started talking to myself again. 
The expectation.  As Pete is working hard, usually long, hours supporting our little family at a job that he is incredibly good at, but doesn’t really enjoy (which as my Dad so elegantly put it, is a noble and brave undertaking) he expects to be able to come home and spend the few hours before he has to go to sleep relaxing and recouping for another day and not having to worry about whether his shirts are ironed, dishes are washed, rooms are cleaned, etc.*   
A very large part of me understands and accepts this and wants to make my husband’s life easier.  I’m not working.  I have the time and energy to take care of these things as my contribution to our family so Pete can continue his Herculean effort.  But there is also a part of me that is incredibly offended.  This comes from the part of me that hopes someday I will work outside the home and worries that when that day comes it will still be my responsibility to take care of all the ‘housey’ type things because I have allowed our family to get in the habit of expecting that I will take care of the housey things. 
This is the core of the love/hate.  I take pride in my homemaking skills but I can’t let myself enjoy them entirely because I fear they are the rest of my life. (notice I didn’t say housekeeping? I hate cleaning. Except when taken on as procrastination activities, but that is another story).  I fear I have doomed myself to forever be the domestic caretaker regardless of whether or not I am working outside the home.  And let’s be honest, it has been a very long time since I have been regularly employed outside the home (at least 8 years) so it is a real possibility that I won’t be able to handle the 9-5, and taking care of the housey stuff on top may turn me into a very grumpy person.  But let’s burn that bridge when we come to it, shall we. 
So there you have it, the groundwork for the title.  As I said, it was a bumpy ride, and I may need to turn the daytime TV up, because I spent way too much time in my head.  But I hope you stay with me as I promise it will get funnier. 
Next week:  French Onion Soup ala Sadie’ and ‘If one more person tells me to have a baby I’ll scream.’    Let the good times roll. 

*I would like to make it clear that Pete is the most wonderful husband ever and is sacrificing a bit of his beautiful soul every time he puts on his suit and goes to work at an investment bank.  He is not, in anyway, forcing me to be a ‘happy home-maker.’  All of my angst about being a housewife is of my own making.  Partially because I would like to someday offer Pete the opportunity he has given me in supporting me while I pursued a life goal/dream and as a housewife I can’t do that.  He is also very good at cleaning the toilet, etc. which I refuse to do, and vacuuming, which I love to do but sends me into a day-long sneezing fit. 

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