ONCE my weekends were about indulgence. Now my weekends are about others. Mostly, ferrying them about and cheering from the sidelines. You see, I’m a housewife, a stay-athome mum. And I love it.
I have two sons, both at school full time, as well as a breadwinner husband. It’s a distant memory but at some stage way back, I was a solicitor. Now I’m an alpha mum, actively involved in the parenting of my kids. Some may suggest too involved — using the term ‘‘helicopter parent’’ as a label of derision. But perhaps their condescension says more about them than parents like me?
My kids are growing up. Time flies and I want to savour every precious moment as it happens. I have no goals for them as adults, this is not my motivation. Rather, I feel a great sense of happiness watching on. It’s as simple as that.
Was my tertiary education a waste of money? Not at all. I use my professional skills to advocate on behalf of my children, to be involved in their activities and, hopefully, improve the way things are done. This benefits my kids but often other children as well. Unfairness, injustice: I can’t sit back. What really presses my buttons are parents loudly achieving through their children. Maybe it’s too close to home.
Have I lost my identity? No. I’m still my own self. Right now I choose to have a lot to do with my kids. I’m not worried about what I’ll do when they leave home. I know I’ll be fine.
It was important for my mum that I became a career woman. Her migrant father had arranged a marriage for her. She rejected this and opted to become a teacher, supporting herself through college selling make-up in a cosmetics department.
She was paid less than my dad when they first stepped into classrooms to start work. She was expected to give up work altogether on having children. This Mum did. Sort of. Throughout her life she chased relief teaching and short-term contracts. But she didn’t crash through any glass ceilings. She struggled with this. Mum felt a failure in the eyes of feminism.
Had she failed her daughters? No way! Both my sister and I followed in her footsteps as mothers. She was our role model. And for that matter so was Dad. Together they showed us how to operate as part of a family.
I cook. I clean. I’m forever at the supermarket. I wash the linen. But I do not iron. My husband does that. My sons do their own laundry. I’ve been active in the administration of some community organisations. But I am still a housewife. I wonder if I’ve let Mum down?
My parents died in a car crash. Killed by a little old lady on her way to a lawn bowls tournament. It was the day I changed my surname to that of my husband. We had been married for 10 years and now had one baby with another on the way.
So, would I be a disappointment? I’m not a partner of a law firm or prime minister. ‘‘No,’’ my parents would say, ‘‘look at what happened to us. We’re glad you’re there for the boys.’’
Yes. I’m a housewife but I’m also a feminist. I believe in equality of worth and freedom of choice. Surely this is what the point was? I chose to stay home. I value this contribution to our family and our community. This is also what works best for my family. Other families do things differently, and that’s fine. It’s true I have no ‘‘me time’’ on the weekends, but with five child-free hours every week day I have time to stroll along the beach with my dog, and ponder.