I had never "seen" a housewife in my growing years. I knew auntys who were full time at home, but then I never got to see them from close quarters. Everyone I saw during my childhood was a working woman, my maternal grandma, my mom, her sisters, my dad's brothers's wives ( my paternal grandmama raised 8 kids,so I had always seen her busy with the entire line of grandchildren, never a moment of rest for her ) . I was never conciously aware of how a housewife's schedule looks like ( Excuse me for not being "politically correct" and saying "housewife" rather than "homemaker". Working women are no home-breakers. They also "make" decent homes. So I am sticking with the old term )
Since I completed graduation, I have always worked. I never knew any other life. It was in a way my identity, something that defined me. I have taken a leave of absence to be with K. Taking a long leave never equated to leaving the job(which so many of my friends have done to be with their better halves. I really admire them for making that call), but still I had my qualms. What about my appraisal? Where would I start from when I came back? Would'nt my skills be rusty? Would'nt I be too bored?What would I do whole day long? And what would come of me- my identity? I made life hell for K and made him take the 'guilt trip' a million and one times with these quandaries *evil*. But then whats to be done is to be done, and I took the leap of faith. I would not be working, would be without an earning, without an job.
But then without a job did not mean without an occupation. Yes there was a time initially where I was involved in the typical chores, cooking, cleaning, and the predictable. But then K roused me from my stupor. He did point, there was more to me than these. And hell ya, there is so much more. The biggest favor he did was to get the membership of a library. It was something that challenged me intellectually (I have a dream of having a library of my own) . But here I was surrounded by books, of all possible genres! Many which I would have never experimented on! It was a veritable treasure trove. As I spent hours reading, it lead to other things. The cook books made me experiment on cooking, the fitness ones made me be extra cautious and take up walking and yoga a bit more seriliously (not that it has had any effect on the girth :( ) , the classics teleported me to another era and the contemporary books added layers to my perceptions. Not to mention some technical books which I also picked up which did elaborate some understandings I should have gotten clear maybe 6 years ago.
Slowly I outgrew the mouldy life I was getting conditioned to. So much so, now I have a routine of my own, around which I have to juggle reading, talking to friends and family, cooking, household chores, exercises. There are times when K asks me before he comes over for lunch if I am free!
As a housewife, I feel there are no excuses you can have, for the food not being ready on time, for the clothes not being washed and ironed, for the house not been clean, for the bed not being made. For a working woman, some of these aspects are forgiven for one is "juggling" work and home. But as a house wife, the things at home just have to be picture perfect. Along with all this, I think one owes, a lot to oneself. Its easier to motivate oneself to keep fit and look better when there is an entire set of people you are going to meet on a daily basis. If the set of people is only your husband and maybe kids and a guest once in a blue moon, it takes a deeper level of will power to make the trip to the gym or the parlor. External attributes apart, within the realm of the home, one has to extend and etch an identity, gain more experience, develop new perceptions, become more knowledgable. Some of these are I feel, collateral benefits of working (when one works, there are by default new things coming up every single day, new people one gets to work with, new challenges one faces, new places one might need to get to have a job done - which just helps in intellectual growth) . It is not so easy to be self motivated all the while and keep abreast with the changing times - but that is what many housewives do with elan.
Being full time at home, I feel a woman does the role of a nurturer which nature intended her to do. I really appreciate, how housewives selflessly put their education, career aspirations and monetary goals to step into a role which no one but they could do. Standing at this juncture I admire some of my blogger friends - Renu, Piper, Reflections,Deeps (especially you people) - even more.
Ps. I do not intend to belittle either way of life with this post. This was just a personal thought. If I hurt any side of the fence :) Apologies :)