Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Dying Art of the Housewife

My life is a long list of “things I want to be when I grow up”.  I wanted to originally be a Marine Biologist because I wanted to live on Vancouver Island. How bizarre is that considering where I live now!

But no matter how many paths I wandered down I always came back to “the family”.  In every endeavor I took part in, my family was always there in the back of my mind. Would this take too much time from my family? Would there be money diverted to this that would mean less for my family? Would I prefer to spend time with the people in my family or other people I had met along my path to the perfect career? 

It always boiled down to one thing. I was never prepared to put in the long hours it would take to start a new career or business. I spent lots of time planning how to work things out and then I would screech to a halt because it would mean endless hours away from my family. 

Even teaching created a conflict. I thought to myself, “Here is a job that gives me the time off my children have.” But there were committees to participate in, there was ALWAYS work to correct and planning required to teach the classes. What made it even harder was I never got the same grades and subjects from year to year. Every year I would have to start over with new plans. 

There was personal coaching. I even passed my Certification exam, which was very nerve-wracking. It was a series of written exams on all 120 hours of course content I received and an final oral exam. Yikes! But the examiner said I was very good at what I did. Then I found out that it wasn’t going to be as easy as sitting at home and talking to clients. I would have to go out to network meetings and groups and constantly be on the lookout for new clients. I tried creating alliances with other organizations but it always meant taking THEIR courses and paying out more money. So that bumped up against two of my issues: time and money.

I did several workshops for the local Women’s Centers but they didn’t want to pay...

Last Christmas Dale was away for 10 days and I had a lot of time to think about what was most important to me. The bottom line? My family was most important to me. It was important for my family to be able to come home to a clean and relaxed environment. Everyone had stress in their life. They needed this oasis in the storm of life. 

It was important to me that money be taken care of and planned on. I enjoy taking care of the money that comes into our household. Its key issue to removing stress. 

It was important for me to plan healthy food and activities. I mean what was the point of a nice, clean quiet house and everyone is too sick to appreciate it. 

It was important to me that Dale be taught how to become and independent adult and who knows him better than me. He can see all the job coaches and support workers he needs but it always comes down to how I can support him myself.

When I decided to write about the art of housekeeping I went back to our bookshelves and found a book that was probably the most instrumental piece of writing I had come across. It was an inspiration. Here was a woman who felt the same way as I did about being a housewife and how important it was to take care of myself as well. I was no good to anyone if I was angry, tired or sick. It is called “Simple Abundance: a Daybook of Comfort and Joy”. Every page represented a day of the year. Each day had a topic written about housekeeping or self-care. 

When I finally tracked down the book it seemed a lot thicker than I remembered. As I leafed through the pages I found sentences underlined and comments written. I found little reminders tucked in pages of things to do with my life: a plane ticket to meet Norm, a note from Norm and some from my children, a ticket to Keith’s Gr 12 graduation, a paper with a list of academic presentations for Lyndi’s Gr 9 graduation, photo’s and wishlist’s. I took an hour to go through each memento and realized that this book was a huge influence on what I became most passionate about - and that was my family.

Each section, each day was devoted to a particular aspect of the art of being a housewife. I found I bought a copy of a Companion book to go with it. I remember reading each daily devotion and then spending 45 minutes journalling. 

Is this a career calling for any woman? I doubt it but this is MY career path. I think it’s time for me to start reading each daily page over again and reaffirm what I truly am passionate about. Maybe I will find more memento's to stick between the pages.

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