5 Transferable Skills of a Housewife
Recently I heard Esther Perel on the podcast Emerging Women: Grace and Fire. She said something that’s stuck with me since I heard it. Basically she said that the thing about feminism in America is that it said, “We’re just like you, men” whereas in Europe they said, “We’re not like you. We’re different. And we need different things.” The result was completely different.
In my life in America and Germany I see the contrast first-hand. Just today I ran into a man on the playground in Germany and he said “I know many men who left their jobs after having children because their bosses did not allow them to work in a part-time or flexible way.” Can you believe that? It’s beautiful I think. To me it says that the feminine spirit is a respected and ordinary part of life just a bit more than in America. Men can also share the one-year “parental leave” given to a family after a child is born. But that’s another story.
What I want to say here is that when I grew up in America I feel, in part, American feminists did me a disservice. I hardly believe it now, but I really thought I should be - was - just like a man. So I felt terrible about being a “homemaker”. It’s only since my new life in Germany that I understood what Esther Perel’s wisdom. It’s better for everyone all-around. European life has built into it greater balance. Work and play, home and public life: each is an aspect of life, not the whole thing.
In the spirit of “We’re not the same but we’ve got something different to offer” - Here’s a post about the wonderful skills a woman gains when she cares for her children and family home
1. Organizational Skills - It’s not possible to “pop out” for an extra ingredient you missed on your first grocery store trip. There are multiple and differing needs between children. A single outing requires a long list of necessities. Each season requires learning new patterns: seasonal clothing, holiday traditions, new recipes
2. Improvisational Skills - After you did miss that one ingredient, you find yourself stuck at home without it. You’ve got to figure out how to make do with what you’ve got. Multiply this by 10,000
3. Empathy - In businesses everywhere mindfulness courses are being offered. I’ll tell you, a mother who has spent time caring for young children has practiced so much one-to-one empathy that the mitigation against distraction coupled with better social skills (read, not on your Blackberry all day) supposedly offered by a mindfulness course is utterly unnecessary
4. The ability to work under conditions of extreme distraction - To be interrupted at any time is at the heart of the role of “mother”. Enough said. Actually I will add that as I write this there is a German disco children’s song blazing from a hot pink CD player on my desk, a child’s drawing of a house at my elbow, and another child climbs on the edge of my desk shouting, “Arrgh Matey” in her best pirate impression
5. Creativity - The obvious one. The crafting, the recipes, the home decoration, your kids’ fashion, the food your family eats, the holidays you mark. It’s everywhere!