I don’t know how some women can juggle a full-time job and housewife duties at the same time. Do they possess a secret power I’m not aware of? Do they have bionic hands hidden underneath their shoulder padded suits and aprons? How in the world do they spend ten hours a day making a living and then spend another four or five hours making a home?
I’m not a housewife. I’m not even a wife, period. But for the past six months since moving out, I have been living in complete domesticity and am now having a glimpse of what being a housewife must be like. And what is it like? It’s fun and rewarding but it’s certainly not as easy as pie. (Mmm… pie. I guess while we’re on the subject of domesticity, I should make like Martha Stewart and bake me some pie. Peach or apple?)
Household chores aside, though, I think one of the hardest things about being a working woman and a homemaker at the same time is not having enough time for oneself. At work, I can’t wait to get home, only to do more work when I finally get home. There’s always something that needs to be done – dishes to wash, dinner to cook, dirty clothes to be brought to the laundry, and more. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining because: a) these tasks can actually be a sort of stress reliever, and b) I obtain a sense of fulfillment in doing the dirty work myself instead of being a prissy little princess and having a maid do them for me. It’s just that, sometimes, I feel like I barely have time to do things I would like to do post-9 to 5 (or in my case, 9 to 7). I feel like out of the 24 hours in a typical weekday, I only really own about 3 to 4 hours of my time, and an additional 6 hours for sleep. But then again, I’m not exactly conscious when I’m in slumberland so that doesn’t exactly count as “owning my time.” And to think… I don’t even have a baby yet! I can just imagine how full my hands will be when I’ve got a little crying, pooping, teet-sucking nipper who demands 24 hours of my day!
Sometimes, I worry that I’ve become boring. Weekends that were previously spent with friends in hip and happening places in the metro are now spent in supermarkets and hardware stores. The saying “a girl can never have too many shoes” has been replaced with “a girl can never have too many spices” – seriously, I get a weird feeling of exhilaration out of adding a new bottle of seasoning in my spice rack. And you know you’ve become a closet housewife when you visit a Sunday market, pass by a stall that sells everything for 10 pesos, and instead of purchasing those cute hair accessories and other fashionable thingamajigs, you come home with a cheese grater and a pasta ladle and proudly tell everyone about your “amazing finds.”
But then sometimes, despite the feeling that I’ve become boring, I feel that I have accomplished a lot. My mom told me about her very first attempt in cooking for her family. She narrated that it was so unsavory that her siblings spat the food out and refused to eat it. Not wanting the food to go to waste, she fed it to their pet pig, and even the pig barfed! If an animal whose fate is to eventually be butchered to death and made into a pork chop vomits your food, it must really be pretty nasty. Anyway, I was afraid that my cooking would not even pass a pig’s standards because although I have cooked a few times before, I didn’t do it often enough to be skilled at it. But being a home engineer forced me to learn not just to cook for survival but to cook for pleasure – both for myself and the recipient of my food. Because of both the necessity and the enjoyment of making meals, I have actually become adept at it. I have graduated from fried eggs and instant noodles to actually making what my boyfriend would consider “gourmet” meals. Aside from cooking, I have also learned how to budget our groceries, be responsible enough to remember to pay the rent and utility bills on time, and scrub a soiled toilet bowl. I’m actually quite useful! Who would have thought?
So like I said, I worry that I have become boring. Then I sit back and survey the sanctuary I helped build and beautify, or I receive a warm embrace and a heartfelt “thank you” from the man I love for looking after him, and then I realize that maybe being boring is not so bad after all. I told my boyfriend once, “We can be boring together.” Ironically, being boring with someone you love can, in fact, be one of the most exciting things in the world. I certainly wouldn’t trade this for anything else in the world.
Oh, and I realized that my feeling of being boring is unsubstantiated, after all. My partner assured me that I am NOT boring. There is even a new phenomenon called “new domesticity,” which describes how today’s college-educated middle class women are choosing to give up their careers to stay at home, manage the household, homeschool their children, write mommy blogs, and so on. Suddenly, domesticity is cool! Although, really, there’s nothing boring about being a hands-on D.I.Y. woman who can tidy up a place, educate her kids, and make a delicious dish from scratch.
Now that I am experiencing what it’s like to be a home economist, I don’t understand it when a housewife is asked the question “What do you do?” and she responds with, “Oh, I’m just a housewife.” JUST?! Lady, you’re on call 24/7! You have no real job description because your job can be pretty much summed up in one word: “EVERYTHING.” You have no real title because one day, you’re a chef, the next day you’re a gardener, and the day after that you’re a shrink to your stressed out husband and a referee to your fighting kids. Give yourself a little more credit, please. And drop the “just” in “just a housewife.” We both know it’s not as easy and breezy as those Stepford Wives make it out to be.