Ramadan season has arrived in Libya again once again, which is kind of surreal considering that I am now in my second, which means a year has gone since that last time I went to my first Iftar.
But for a non-Muslim like me, Ramadan means slower days and fewer things to do. So I thought I’d write about being a housewife. Between some travelling and the functions one must attend, the keeping house is my major responsibility.
Truthfully, I never imagined myself becoming one. Unlike most little girls who liked to wear their mother’s clothes and play house or tea parties, I preferred climbing trees and playing outside. In high school, when you reach junior year you get to pick an elective class, where you get to learn a skill like electronics, computer, stuff like that. I could’ve gone for baking or sewing, but when you’re 15, you don’t think about learning to bake? So I went for what I found interest in – journalism and went on to write for the school paper.
This coincided with my personality, since I never really got to the home making skills even at home. I was a good girl and did my chores, but never really paid enough attention to what I was doing. In my head, I just needed to finish what my mother asked me to do, so I can go back to the book I was reading or watch as much TV as I can. I was also not much into the aesthetics of things, my space was always cluttered and most of my stuff was always all over the house. Don’t get me wrong I’m not a slob; I am just not the organized type of gal, let alone try interior decorating our house. I remember my Mom would always tease me and say that I better make sure I can afford a maid when I grow up, because my lazy carefree attitude would really not help when I am living by myself. I would laugh, but internally make a note to myself to make sure I do, since I knew she was right, as mothers usually are.
However had I known that I was going to be Mrs. JG, I now realized and wished that all those things I neglected and dismissed would have thought me a lot of valuable know-how that could help me in the things I now go through everyday. I often think about how I ought to have lived my life differently, like instead of spending all those hours up on a tree pretending I was an international spy, I should’ve attended one of the girl’s tea party which would’ve honed my hosting and socializing skills. How the fact that I know how to write a news article would not help me one bit, when I would like to make a banana bread and realize I do not know the first thing how to. Sometimes I find myself racking my brains if my mom ever gave me tips on the proper form when shinning the floor so your back would not ache after doing so.
I admit that I probably had the idea that if I did find myself into a housewife, that means I would have settled because that would be easy. Not realizing, that keeping a house is nothing but. I am now convinced that being a good housewife takes years of practice, a good deal of discipline, and a certain eye for detail. The latter a very important attribute when you realize cobwebs in a secluded corner of the house is not acceptable at all.
And I have to say, that it is harder that I am living away in a country different from where I grew up in. The brooms in Manila are very different from the brooms here in Libya; and there isn’t really anyone here to guide you through things. Not only do I have to get through dealing with dilemmas for the first time, like clogged drains or stubborn stains, adjusting to a different culture has to be added to the equation.
And if you’re ever wondering, yes, we could afford to get a maid. But aside from the fact that JG and I are not comfortable hiring someone we don’t know live with us, I personally think that would be taking the easy road. Maybe in the future when we have kids, but for now what’s the need when I can do it myself? Even if I wasn’t married, it has to say something about you when you fumble at taking care of your house, consequently yourself or those that depend on you to do so, even if that person is just you. Whether you are a successful doctor, businessman or whatever it does not say much about you as an adult when you cannot even take responsibility of your own space.
I was chatting with a good friend on line the other day, and we were talking about titles. He said it really isn’t just what you do; it’s what you make of it that should matter. It isn’t just enough that you’re a lawyer, a doctor, a writer; it’s the substance of that title to you. Right now, I am diplo/housewife, and making the sink shine and smell like lemons may seemed a dismal accomplishment to me three years ago, it is definitely a big feat now.
Despite the things I said I wished I chose to do instead, I really have no regrets about how I lived, I mean who knew? Maybe I wished I paid a little more attention, at least to my chores, so I could’ve learned from myself a bit more, and not find myself struggling to catch up today. Nevertheless, I welcome the challenge, and do my best to learn as much as I can, now that I have found a new level of respect for housewives. Hopefully by next Ramadan when I have fewer things to do, I will write about how spotless my kitchen is, and brag about how my banana bread is a potluck favorite. But for now the learning continues and there is some ironing to do…