Of course, no sooner had I uploaded my housewife post than reams and reams of thoughts, notions, ideas flooded into my head.. Some of them merit this little addendum.
Emotionally, irrationally a lot of the time, I feel that I am “only” a housewife. At times, the frustration, tedium, “smallness” of jobs such as laundry washing, cleaning, cooking, school runs etc threatens to overwhelm me. I admit to wanting to make a mark, to DO something.
And then, my brain re-engages.
Intellectually, my version of “housewife” is not the average. Again, let me say that I absolutely admire those who do that normal, valuable job. It should be valued far more than it is. My personal frustrations with that job title is that I am woefully bad at it – I work and work and work at it, and fail dismally every time.
That said, let’s get back to my “job”. I run a household (poorly, but it gets run). I have three children, all of whom have special needs, and this requires me to have an excellent grasp of language, communication in all its myriad forms, written expression. I need to have a basic but solid understanding of science if I am to help my son with his medical needs as well as he deserves. I need a good understanding of mathematics and budgeting. Organisational skills are imperative. Of paramount importance, however, is my need to have excellent people skills.
Firstly, when faced with autistic children, the ability to understand their strange reactions, pre-empt problems and stop them happening before anyone imagines there might be one is the difference between living and surviving (and even surviving can be a huge challenge). Secondly, managing a child with learning difficulties and processing problems requires infinite patience. There follows an intriguing level of people skills: trying to help each of those children understand that my management of each is different, but fair and tailored to their individual needs. A third layer just at home is fitting in Darling Man to all of this. He plays a very important and prominent part in our family life, but I am necessarily the glue that binds it all together – after all, he spends his day at work while I spend mine with the children. I must communicate anything that he missed in the best possible way to help him at the end of an often stressful day.
Then I must add the people skills needed to manage social services, education and health professionals. All people who are frequently on the defensive or convinced that they know my situation before they have even met me. Neither of those states is conducive to good listening skills. so once again, it falls upon me to do everything I can to help them truly understand the facts before them in order to get the right solution for each situation.
To say that it is a juggling act would be an understatement of monstrous proportions. And this post was not about detailing how I manage that.
What matters is that when any of these professionals read through my family’s notes, under my name comes two words: mother and housewife.
And they judge me by those two words. The first implies (well obviously!) that I must be emotional and over protective. The second implies that I have no knowledge of “the real world”, and for many it implies that I am uneducated and often of low intelligence. This is what infuriates me.
My choice to be a housewife was made initially to ensure what Darling Man and I felt to be our children’s best start in life. Circumstance conspired to hold me in that job to ensure their safety and well being.
As I said before, I am tremendously fortunate. Why?
Beyond my parents, three institutions:
They educated me. Thanks to them I can draft a letter. Thanks to them I have a vocabulary which quickly focusses the mind of the professionals across from me. Thanks to them I have the confidence to keep searching for solutions when many others would not realise their existence.
So this addendum comes to say that while all the forms assign me a small word full of implied meaning, school gave me the armoury to do the job regardless of how little it may be valued.