The (Very Happy) Reluctant Housewife

18 Apr

When I tried to think about what I was going to write this week, I couldn’t move my brain beyond this topic. I just have to talk about it because with our economy being the way it is, many women are finding themselves in my position. (Although, interestingly, unemployment rates are higher among men than women because of their participation in fields like construction and manufacturing that have been hit very hard by the recession.) Or maybe not my position exactly but experiencing similar feelings. Maybe some of my readers want a job and just can’t find one, or maybe they have one that they’re wildly overqualified for and can’t seem to move up, or maybe someone is exactly like me–moved (somewhat unwillingly) to an area where you have little to no prospects. And you know what? None of us deserve to feel disappointed in ourselves or made to feel like we’ve disappointed others.

When I met Will, I absolutely refused to date him or to even emotionally invest in him because of his military commitment. I had plans that didn’t involve being moved at the whim of Uncle Sam and so I revolted for over a year until finally I gave in. I had this funny idea that I didn’t have anyone else in my life who appreciated my passions more than he did or anyone who could understood and cherish my desires more than him. So I told myself that I could go my whole life chasing every dream but I would feel alone and empty without his kind of love to come home to. I didn’t need him to have the same interests or to dream the same dreams, I just wanted a person who would go the distance with me and truly be there, happily, through thick and thin. I wanted him because I saw him as the type of person who wouldn’t judge me or even care if I was at the top of my game or at the bottom of the barrel. I think I made the right decision but it came with a ton of sacrifice.

I was the only one of the two of us–the only person of anyone I knew, actually– who had a very set five-year plan based on what I was good at. I wanted to finish college, go into the Peace Corps for two years, come back and move to one of four cities (NYC, Boston, San Fran, or Portland) to pursue some entry-level job in publishing, preferably something editorial. When I was ready, I would start a manuscript for a book and go to grad school for my MFA. There I would be able to finish my book, graduate, and either continue moving up in publishing or move on to teaching creative writing in a university, also continuing to write. That was how I saw the rest of my life going, really. That was my definition of “success.” To marry a man who doesn’t have any idea of what he wants and then to live by the direction of his job came with so much anxiety, I can’t even tell you how many times I broke down into tearful, throw-upy fits. The night before our wedding, I cried for hours because I was so scared of having my life in his hands.

So, needless to say, being home nearly 24/7 has been very rough on me in every way imaginable. I’ve had to completely re-define my aspirations as well as what success means to me because otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed every morning. A lot of things from my five-year plan have been moved to a hold list that I don’t know if we’ll ever get to. I’ve changed my goals to include another, possibly temporary, career field that would allow me to find employment nearly anywhere that we’re asked to move and for the moment, my planning abilities only apply to the end of the week because I never really know when Hubs could get orders and have to leave the next day. It gives me anxiety attacks when I think about when I’ll ever get to do something that I want to do but I endure it because I have a great man as my partner and I’m trusting that there will be a time when he pays me back for my extreme patience.

But what prompts me spilling my guts about all this? I’ve had a series of disgusting moments when people have attempted to judge me as a “housewife” or worse, as a disappointment because of my unemployment.

First, I do not have anything against the term housewife or the people who go by that occupation but I want to make a stand right now for myself and all the other unemployed ladies who have been mistakenly labeled as one. I do not want to be a housewife and therefore, I am not one. I am a struggling artist but not a housewife. I actually want to work but cannot because of my commitment to school and the restrictions that come with living in a tiny town. Also, I don’t like the condescending tone I’ve perceived when called this. I do not sit around all day watching tv (although I spend an embarrassing amount of time playing video games) and neither do real housewives. I know it’s hard to imagine the life of someone who is home-bound but you should probably check your tone before you ask someone what they do all day.

Next, I realize that there are a lot of people who associate getting a degree with trying to get a high-paying job, but this is not the case for everyone and unfortunately, it’s not going that way for a lot of people who had that goal. Most of the people I know who have recently graduated from undergrad studies do not have a job in their associated fields. Many of them have secretarial or administrative jobs and many are also unemployed. I don’t think anyone should be made to feel bad for their employment status, especially when it’s known that they’re trying to work. Some people are really lucky to graduate from a highly-demanded, career-oriented degree field but others of us just went to school to be better at the things we love. Though a BFA does have a lot of qualities that should be appealing to any employer, I’m happy in the fact that I’m very good at the thing I’m most passionate about. I do not feel entitled to a great job because of my education and I certainly have a lot of humility when putting myself up for consideration, as I feel anyone should. Furthermore, I’m very proud of myself for being a first generation college student and being one of only three people in my entire family who has four-year degree. No matter what, I don’t feel like I can be judged by anyone who hasn’t gone through all the schooling I have because it does take so much motivation to complete any degree. Universities do not make it as easy as it should be for students and I worked very hard to graduate on time and not to push my parents’ deadline or budget for me. If anyone still feels disappointed in me, I can honestly say it’s without cause because I’m actually pretty happy where I am in my life and I start every day with peace and contentment in knowing that I’m doing all I can to please myself and God. Sorry if that isn’t good enough in some way but I’ve worked and sacrificed enough that the happiness I feel is reward enough for me right now.

Till next time, be nice to your local unemployed ladies and housewives or I’ll be waiting around the corner to cut your throat. 😉


2 Responses to “The (Very Happy) Reluctant Housewife”

  1. vwsweetie2003 April 18, 2011 at 7:40 pm #

    Thank you for standing up for the rest of us struggling artists who struggle with our self-esteem over unemployment! I know how hard it is to get a degree and I have been working very hard at getting mine and there is such a sense of pride in that. I have never had any lofty ideas of getting a grandiose job with the degree; it is simply for me! I needed to do that for myself to conquer some old demons in the closet. I couldn’t be more proud of you for living your life the way that is best for you. Those who can live with joy are the ones who are really living. No shame in that! When it is all said and done, we will be the ones who get to the end of the road and enjoyed the journey rather than working ourselves to death. Just live….that’s all.

    • Intrepid Girl April 18, 2011 at 8:22 pm #

      Congrats on pursuing your degree! I didn’t know that. 🙂

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