Going back some years ago, I used to be ashamed of what I do for ‘work’. I’m a housewife, and after a conversation with an old ‘friend’, I felt bad about that.
“Being a housewife IS NOT A REAL JOB!!!” he would say.
To a point, he was right, but what defines a real job from not a real job, anyway?
Would you tell a volunteer that the work they do isn’t really a job because they don’t get paid?
Would you tell a nurse their job isn’t a real job because they don’t spend all day at a desk?
What is a job?
I work hard to keep my home (and my family, and me) up to a standard. Being a housewife is a boring. arduous, thankless task. Just like a desk job, what gets done never stays done, and by the end of the day you wondered why you bothered at all. It’s also lonely, there are no sick days or annual leave. You are you and the rest of the team combined, you have nobody else to ask or to help you, just you.
Recently, being a housewife has begun to garner the respect it deserves. People are beginning to realise that we make a choice to stay back at base and look after the home. Now in my case, that was kind of easy because I am also long-term disabled, but for some others it can cause a real area of contention. Before I made my decision, I tried different supported employment agencies and nobody seemed to be able to help. In the end I gave up.
“Sod it” I growled angrily as I stomped the sidewalks of Bristol City Centre, “I might as well just be a housewife.”
The thing is, back then I saw it as a discredit to myself. It was humbling, humiliating, degrading. Gone were the days of being a forensic scientist or an audiologist, now I was assigning myself to days of cooking and cleaning- so much for using my brain.
I was wrong, plainly.
I recently tried my hand at volunteering, I lasted the show-around day and vowed never to return, I hated it. Now I’ve been a housewife for some many years, I realised only one thing – I am my own boss. Yes there is cooking and cleaning, but there is building, maintaining, writing, organizing, hosting, communicating, liasing and so much more. Every day is different and honestly? I love my job!
Fast forward to about a month ago and I was invited to a leaving do for one of my husband’s colleagues. Over dinner, I got into conversation with a couple of the lovely ladies he works with.
“What do you do?” asked one lady.
“I’m a housewife.” I said, half humbly, half proudly. I was ready for the Jeremy-Kyle associations and the mindset that we sit around smoking weed and doing nothing with our days.
“Oh, I’d love to be a housewife.” squealed one of the girls to her friend.
“Yeah, me too, going shopping, getting your nails done and popping out babies.”
I acquiesced in horror. Yes, shopping, manicures and babies was EXACTLY what my job entailed. I was then surrounded by a huddle of girlies who dreamed of elaborate lives for themselves with nice houses, nannies and rich husbands. Quietly, I blocked it out and withdrew from the conversation.
I am a REAL housewife.
Not a “Real” one like you see on TV, a REAL one.
There are no nannies, no nice home, no flashy cars or rich husband. There is no home help, manicures and shopping sprees. Shows like this are not the reality for many middle & lower class housewives like myself. Manicures and shopping sprees are something we can only dream of. If we want to get our nails done we have to get things done ahead of time and save up for a few weeks, and even then we’ll be lucky if our perfect paws last until the end of the week!
Shows like The Real Housewives need to be seen for what they are. They are not reality, they are entertainment. The reason they don’t film and show REAL housewives, the thousands like me, is because our lives wouldn’t be entertaining- They are boring. Our broken, chipped nails aren’t glamorous, our frazzled, stressed hair isn’t pretty to see and our homes are functional with probably something in every room dirty and out of place. We spend more time screaming at inconvenient sales reps and misbehaved children than we do at our friends. Enjoy your “Reality TV”, but don’t miss the “reality” for what it is.