There we were again, the first ones to arrive. They called us the “Desperate Housewives.” We were all the time too early for dinner. Every one else would arrive late. They were shuttling to and fro and a prestigious job does not end early. One housewife desperately speaks:
“I had dinner with college friends the other day. One is now head honcho of this multinational firm. The other has made her way up the ladder too. I’m thinking my life has not moved much in 10 years. I am still just at home, keeping house.”
And so I declared: “You are raising two human beings. You want a stamp of achievement? I tell you I have a madhouse when Laguna announces a school holiday and my kids have to stay home all day. (She’s a mother of 2. And she home-schools her children.) You, you are mother, housewife, teacher, and school! That’s as top a honcho and up a ladder as anyone can get.”
Though I too recognize how often we undervalue Motherhood and Homemaking. How we tend to downgrade the noteworthy enterprise of keeping house.
We put much value on work that is done outside the home, measure stature by pay and certificates or gauge worth by the hierarchical scale. Except, mothers and homemakers have to see how they measure up too.
You work overtime, even on night shifts, with no Sabbath day. Every vacation leave implies a trip with the bosses, homemaking with just a change of scenery. And someday you imagine you might retire, except that there will always be one last thing to do, and you’re eternally on call. You do the whole lot- from making policy to picking up trash. And you are chairman of the board, secretary, human relations officer, accountant, cafeteria, doctor, inventory manager, and quite often, janitor. And maybe your tank gets full with kisses, hugs and unconditional love, but outside the home, it doesn’t bear its weight in gold. You still count these as nothing. You are in the same place ten years after with nothing to show for. Except that you have raised a kind hearted soul who can now draw you perfectly with crayons. Why can’t you put that in your resume?
At a gathering the other day, we were asked to say a few words about ourselves. I admire and applaud a friend who said: I am a mother to 2 boys. And when the host pressed on and asked: “ASIDE from being a mother, what DO YOU DO?” She proudly declared again: “I am a mother to 2.”
And truly, the occupation is Mother/Homemaker, with nothing to append. What becomes of homes, what becomes of human beings, those are the tasks that should upstage any man at the top. Schedules, grocery lists and recipes- that’s an unrivalled Operations Manual. Paying attention to what world a child takes in and wrestling with the distorted world that escapes anyway- that calls for more than just knowing supply and demand. And that we are the starting point, “the bow that sends forth living arrows,” to the men who will later climb ladders and stay at the top, I say that trumps them all.
Let us do ourselves proud. It’s 10, 20 years after and we are still at home but we have quite outdone ourselves. We’re still clocking in hours without rest days and holidays, without pay checks or certificates of recognition, nothing on the 13th month, not even retirement pay. Except we show up for work everyday, with our suitcases of lists, the sheer force of love, and a glimmer that perhaps someday, everything bears its true weight in gold too.
We are the world’s movers and shakers. The first ones there, yes we are.