The Diplomatic Wife (or DW) became a housewife in November 2008. She quit working a hectic marketing career because she was burned out and was getting sick left and right. Add to the fact that her hubby’s foreign mission was looming. They are now assigned in Jakarta, Indonesia. No kids yet – except for the Diplo Dog (as in he was “shipped” from the Philippines!).
|Me, Hubby, Diplo Dog and Diplo Wife|
Livin’ La Vida Lanka (LLVL): How was the transition like for you shifting from being a corporate girl to being a housewife?
DW: It was easy because I needed the rest and my health was suffering from being overworked (14-hour days anyone?). The only thing that was difficult is the process of "rebranding" one's image. Before when I meet and talk to people it's easy to say who you are and what you do. There's also that sense of importance in being part of something big (like a multi-national company or a company that is innovating the way people interact with technology). But when you first become a housewife, what do you say to people and how do you make yourself relevant and interesting becomes a challenge. The conversations would go like this:
Me: So what do you do?
Stranger: Oh I am a diplomat from the so and so embassy. And you?
Me: I am the wife of X, who works with the so and so embassy.
Me: So what exactly do you do? (Then we spend the entire conversation talking about what the other person does)
Do you see what I am getting at here? And there's also that annoying urge to say what you used to do, to show that you were once a person of substance. It's horrible I know, and I should feel like I have to do it, but it's only natural...
Editor’s Note: Argh, I super know how it feels! For my first Sinhala class of course introductions were in order. So you have to say your name (nama), your country (rata), your language (bashava) and your occupation (rassava). So I go: "Mage nama Tala. Mage rata Philippines. Mage bashava Filipino. Mama housewife-kenek." For the first time, in public, I acknowledged that my occupation is such. I suddenly felt saying, Lord please let the ground eat me up. But ok, maybe it was just birth pains. Note to self: NO SHAME! Emotion number 1: Denial.
LLVL: What are the difficulties of being a housewife?
DW: Being a marketing executive that is used to high-levels of stress, I still have a tendency to be stressed about the little things and run my household like a marketing campaign, with Excel sheets, Powerpoints and all. I stick to my personal deadlines and get very upset and stressed when I fail to do so. I guess it's a habit of being used to having stress in my life. I have to reframe my way of thinking to reflect my current lifestyle of having no boss and more flexible deadlines. Also sometimes when you do the little things at home it can become a thankless task especially when people get used to it.
Editor’s Note: I’ve always thought that running a household is being your own General Manager. There is Human Resources firstly – whether “managing” your help, your hubby or kids. There is Operations – I now have a renewed appreciation for Inventory Planning after half our veggies got soiled… I bought for a week, the ref is tiny and I’ve been changing the temp. Talk about poor storage practices. Not to mention Finance – I have a monitoring sheet to track all our spending which I report to hubby (self-imposed). Marketing – literally like going to the market but also marketing what the food is tonight! Hubby has to have a reason to come home early right (food is one of his key drivers)? And Sales – well I have to sell well enough what he has to eat, like it and come back for more ;-) And even if managing the household is the only thing that keeps you occupied – yes, stressful! It’s not because of the load but in my case because of the desire to be a high performer.
LLVL: How about what makes things easy?
DW: An understanding husband that doesn't expect me to be a high performance housewife. And a group of fabulous friends to have ladies lunch with and talk to about the joys and pains of being an expat’s/diplomat’s wife.
Editor’s Note: Understanding husband, check! When oh when will I have fabulous friends to have ladies lunch with and talk about the woes of being an expat’s wife!?
LLVL: What do you like best in being a housewife?
DW: I am learning things that my family never imagined I could do and I'm developing a different side to myself - like cooking, baking, sewing. And the possibilities are endless. I'd also like to take up yoga, regain my health and build up my immune system, contribute to a lifestyle/expat magazine, and take interior design in the future.
LLVL: Any other words of wisdom?
DW: There is infinite joy to being a housewife if one is to explore all the other aspects of one's life and passions (aside from work). Be creative: create food, create art, create crafts, create, create and create... Get a Filipina maid and fast internet.
Editor’s Note: I love it, I think this is the key - that there are other aspects to one's life and passions that may not be necessarily attached to an occupation. But a Filipina maid all the way to Sri Lanka??? Sweetie, she would have more income than I do! Haha! But if and when the baby comes, surely I will ask for help. But for now, I am The Filipina Maid! Haha!
So there you are, the story of two friends who found themselves at 29, fabulous housewives to their diplo/expat hubbies. Now only if they found themselves in the same country!
The Diplomatic Wife maintains a blog about life as a… (guess!)… Diplomatic Wife. Check it out: http://thediplomaticwife.wordpress.com/
Till our next conversation at Interview with the Housewives – where the real housewives talk!