OK, OK, you gleaned the truth from that title, didn’t you?
There is a tiny part of me–just a tiny part–that still, after all these years, feels insignificant. As a creative blogger, I am still trying to soothe the indignant inner housewife who is still, yes STILL, upset that I was once labeled as “just a housewife from Michigan.”
(Get over it, Kathy. There is nothing wrong with being “just” a housewife. A housewife is a wonderful occupation! Husbands and wives attempt to quit their 9-5 jobs daily, begging one another, “Can’t I please be a housewife? Can’t I please be a house husband?)
Nonetheless, you shall have to remember.
Some of us grew up in the 1950’s and 60’s and 70’s when the word “housewife” brought images of a stay-at-home happy smiling Mom who is perfectly satisfied in serving the needs of her almost-perfect family. Think: Leave it to Beaver. Think: June Cleaver. Think: perfectly coiffed Mom with apron scrambling eggs for breakfast.
There is–or was–a deep cultural bias both for and against housewives. We are the meat & bones of America. We are the worthiest of the worthy for raising our little blessings to become the best blessings they could be. We sacrifice ourselves in the name of vacuuming and dusting and car pooling to raise the future presidents, corporate executives, college professors and physicians.
We’re what makes it all possible.
Some women fit the housewife role like a gaily patterned apron. Some women thrive. They can’t imagine, can’t imagine, anything which better suits their nature.
I am not one of those women.
Make no mistake. I think I was a pretty darn good mother and housewife. OK, a good mother anyway. As a housewife, I was neat. Always straightened everything up so our Little House in the Woods looked neat and acceptable. But experienced a little challenge cleaning that deep-down dirt and wood stove dust. Still do.
Let’s move back in imagination to the 1980’s and 1990’s. Something in me felt delighted, thrilled, overjoyed to be raisin’ young’uns in the Upper Peninsula Woods. I had to hold two part-time jobs to help make finances work, but I was mostly a housewifely sort. My world revolved around family. I adored them.
Except something felt missing. It felt terribly missing. Something in me longed to be wildly creative, wildly appreciated, wildly productive. Something longed to be free, traveling, writing epic novels, spiritually enlightened. Something wanted more than the “housewife” title.
So I traveled as much as possible. Attended a few spiritual workshops. Followed local Anishinabe (Ojibway) Native Americans into the woods and prayed in sweat lodges while the full moon rose. I once “accidentally” sweated with sixteen men. Long story. It made me feel brave and respected when the elder called me “courageous.”
I just wanted to be something other than an ordinary mother and housewife.
I wanted to follow my heart’s calling.
But it didn’t come with directions.
It didn’t come with GPS.
Some people look interesting, don’t they? They wear bangles and jangles and scarves and fancy clothes. They find a fashion statement to wear on the outside, explaining to the world who they are–or who they want to be.
I wear blue jeans. Today, a light blue extra-ordinary sweater. No makeup. Glasses. Not even fashion glasses. I look like an ordinary housewife from Michigan.
Not like a creative secret spy. Not an other-world adventurer. Not a wild & crazy dreamer. Not a spinner of tales, a moon-singer, a forest sprite, a baying wolf, an artiste in Paris or Barcelona.
Once, in the mountains of Montana, I swapped stories with a Chicago executive.
“And I thought you were just a housewife from Michigan!”
Ladies and gentlemen readers, I am here this morning to tell you something very very important.
Lean in closely.
Do not–do not ever–mistake a person for his or her vocation. Do not mistake what a person does for a living, for work, as who he or she really truly is.
Do not ever think a person is only a father, only an accountant, only an engineer, only a software consultant, only a mother, only an invalid, only a retiree, only a helpmate.
We are not “only” anythings!
We are magnificent beings with infinite possibilities.
We are limited only by our self-definitions and never, ever, ever, let yourself or anyone else define you by a “just” or “only”!
Stepping off soapbox now.
It is time to vacuum. (Don’t gasp, Barry!)
For the next half hour I am a housewife from Michigan. After that…perhaps tax collector or meditating monk or forest sprite. You never know.
P.S. Storm and snow photos next, I promise. Unless of course the wild & unpredictable non-housewifely words insist upon another story…