For nearly a decade, I lived the corporate life. I was always a go-getter at work and my idea of being a housewife was to be a tai-tai (lady of leisure), which is VERY DIFFERENT from being a stay-at-home mum. Thus, when I finally decided to become a stay-at-home mum, many of my disbelieving colleagues asked me, “No, really, what are you actually planning to do?”
It did seem comical at first, seeing their stunned looks when I replied, “You know, housewife? Stay at home? Look after baby?”, but 4 months down the road, it didn’t seem so comical anymore. I struggled, and still do, with the lack of mental stimulation and a loss of social interaction. In return, I get to witness all of Baby Dozer’s firsts (first sentence, new first words, first time demonstrating funny actions) and have the privilege of being his primary caregiver.
Nevertheless, say what you may, being a stay-at-home mum is not at all easy. Today’s post is not meant to heap praise upon myself because I’m still far from being any of the points below. You can call me a novice housewife, who’s still learning. Instead, today’s post is meant as an honest and sincere tribute to the housewives, who selflessly dedicate their lives to their family, above and beyond what I do.
Reason for Respect #1: Being able to handle monotony
Being a housewife requires the patience and grit to complete the same tasks, day after day, with hardly any variation. It’s like being a worker on the production line, and even companies these days are recognising the need for job rotation in order to increase staff retention.
It takes a lot of effort to stay chirpy, knowing that your day is going to be pretty much like yesterday, or the day before, or the week before. I recently figured out that to overcome the monotony, it’s important to reward oneself at the end of the day – or even at midday, if the monotony gets too tedious, which leads me to the next point.
Reason for Respect #2: Staying self-motivated
Nobody’s going to do it for you – motivate you, I mean. At work, we have our colleagues to cheer us up when we’re down. We have our bosses to crack the whip. We have the month-end salary to cheer us up and go shopping. We have the possibility of that year-end promotion as a carrot dangling over our heads.
At home, the housewife has no colleagues, no salary, no promotion. The only thing she has is bosses – the husband, the kid(s), the dog, and oh, how easy it is to be a disgruntled “employee” when you feel like you’re being taken for granted.
Fact #1: You have two ways about it. You can either be a grumpy housewife, or a self-motivated housewife.
Fact #2: Most people wouldn’t enjoy coming back to a grouchy household.
Fact #3: It is actually in the housewife’s own interest to stay motivated and happy.
I mentioned before how my dad actually takes on most of the household duties after his retirement, but if you met him, you’d never imagine that because he’s always so cheerful and inspiring.
Reason for Respect #3: Mind over matter
I just realised – with some shock – that I haven’t “gone on medical leave” ever since I became a stay-at-home mum in January 2015. That’s 4.5 months of good health, or…is it really good health? 😉
Looking back, I remember days where I felt under the weather. I could do with some rest in bed to counter that pounding headache, or that dizzy spell, or those feverish chills, but if I were down and out, who would tend to Baby Dozer?
It’s amazing what the body can do when the mind wills it so, but I’ll be honest about it – not having to get stuck in an hour long traffic jam to get to work helps tremendously in improving physical health.
Reason for Respect #4: Multi-tasking skills
It’s generally accepted that women are better than men at multi-tasking. I think it would be possible that among women, housewives are the ones who have honed the art of multi-tasking, by virtue of needing to practise it on an almost daily basis.
While trying to pacify an irritable toddler, getting a meal out in time for dinner and planning the grocery shopping – all at the same time – may not exactly be affairs of the state, the stress and pressure from needing to complete these tasks accurately and in a timely manner should not be underestimated.
- Unable to pacify toddler = flustered mother
- Flustered mother = delayed grocery shopping planning
- Delayed grocery shopping planning = late meal
- Late meal = hungry family
- Hungry family = botched family routine
Just as each partner has their role and responsibility, the household’s well-being is the responsibility of the housewife.
Reason for Respect #5: Playing second fiddle
I wonder if you’ve noticed but sometimes, certain songs or music pieces sound really beautiful and it’s because of the accompanying tune or second melody, which you don’t really notice. But put that accompanying tune together with the main melody and you get a really brilliant composition. Occasionally, the second melody gets to be the solo for a brief minute or two, but eventually, blends into the background to support the main melody.
The housewife really, is the second fiddle in the household. She needs to play her melody to keep the household in harmony; needs to stand up and be at the forefront when required and learn when to fall into the background again.
I am an absolute novice at being second fiddle but I truly admire those who are able to do so really well, and I have met many such admirable women. To be the second fiddle requires grace and maturity.
By Grace Ch’ng
Grace Ch’ng is a management consultant turned homemaker. She is also the founder of Gracious Little Things – a blog aimed at helping fellow parents and the owner of Little Baby Grains – a provider of grains suitable for babies from 6 months onwards.
First published on 21 May 2015.