Sunday, 20 May 2012

Be Careful What You Wish For

There can't be many married couples here in the UK who can afford for the wife to give up work upon her marriage, like they did in my grandmother's time.  Back in the early part of the 20th century it was the norm that the husband would go out to work, while the wife stayed home, ran the household and brought up the children.  Even after the First World War, when women took up many of the jobs the men had been doing until they were sent to fight, upon the mens return they were expected to give up their job so the men could do it.

This, in part, gave the Suffragette movement many more followers, but even when my mum and dad got married in the 1970s, once I was born mum gave up work to look after me.  She hated it!  Very little adult conversation during the day, no money of her own, and instead of being identified socially by her job, she was a mother and housewife.  But things have changed a lot since I was born.  These days, many couples can't afford for the wife to stay at home.  When I got married, giving up work wasn't something that occurred to me, not even for one moment.  Sure, when I've gone through a phase of hating my job I've dreamt of staying home and being a kept woman, but only in the same way as I dream of winning the lottery or Johnny Depp realising that it is me he loves really.  You know, daydreams to keep us quiet and stop us from being worn down by the daily drudge.

The truth is, I'm a rubbish housewife.  I hate housework with a passion, and I'm terrible at it.  I have tried the housewife thing; I got made redundant a year after we got married, so while I was job hunting I kept the house neat and tidy.  Thankfully it only lasted a few weeks because I soon found another job, but as we prepare for this move to the USA I am facing the fact that for the first few months I will have to go back to that role as I won't have a work visa or social security number.  I'm dreading it because I know how much I hate cleaning, but I'm going to take a slightly traditional view and treat it as my full-time job.  This will mean I will create a sort of rota for myself.  Some jobs will need to be done daily - the dusting and vacuuming for example, then other jobs will be done on specific days so that I have a reason to get out of bed.  So monday, for example, will be wash day when I, like my grandmother before her, will get the weekend laundry done.  The bathroom will be deep cleaned on a Tuesday maybe, the kitchen on Wednesday, and so on.  I will start at 9am, break for lunch between 12.30 and 1.30, and aim to be done and dinner prepped by 5.

All well and good on paper of course; the reality is going to be a lot harder.  I will be coping with being in a foreign country with no immediate network around me, and as I'm quite shy I know I will find it hard to reach out to total strangers.  Naturally I will incorporate ritual into my daily routine, so rooms won't just be cleaned but also cleansed, which I'm hoping will increase my enthusiasm, but I still think it will take at least a couple of weeks to settle into some sort of domestic routine.  A large part of that is going to be budgeting, because we will only have my husband's wages to live on and I don't know how far that will stretch in Florida, so I will be contributing quite a significant amount to our domestic situation, just not in a way that I'm used to.  We'll have to wait and see how it goes.

Blessed be )0(