This was said by a friend concerned that I might find the new life a little short on mental stimulation - "But will you find it fulfilling?" I'm sure it was said in a spirit of loving friendship, but it bothered me quite a lot. For a start, it's a bit late to be expressing concerns after I've left my job and moved house, but there was more to it than that.
All of my adult life, my career has been central to my view of myself - "I'm a psychologist," or, "I'm a scientist," or sometimes, in earlier days, "a philosopher." I've recoiled from the idea of being a housewife. This was partly because my first husband never seemed to take my work seriously, and assumed I'd drop it all and be a stay-at-home mother at some point, so there was something to recoil from.
Grandma once said to me, "It's all very well being so clever, but what's important is that you're a good cook." At the time I found this quite objectionable, but now I'm moving round to, "Well, that's an interesting point of view."
I'm trying to work out why I was so bothered to be thought, "Just a housewife." Perhaps I've spent more of my life than I appreciated fighting to be recognised as something else.
So am I going to suffer from lack of mental stimulation? This morning, after a stroll down to the local shop to buy milk and matches, and a chat with the neighbours on the way back, I had a look at facebook (it's so nice to have the internet again after being deprived of it for a couple of months). My friend Amanda, of Realize Beauty, had posted a couple of links. The first was to an article about the effect of adverts on women's self esteem. "That's interesting," I thought, and started looking for the original research article to read more (isn't the internet great!)
The second was a rant about an article highlighting - shock horror - that beauty products contain lots of chemicals. I share Amanda's frustration with the media demonisation of "chemicals," but I'm also quite keen on using natural ingredients. I've made moisturiser using a very simple recipe - just oil, water, beeswax and scent, and am planning to make another batch very soon. "Hmm," I thought, "I wonder how many chemicals there are in beeswax?" A quick google search (have I mentioned how nice it is to have the internet back?) gave me a rough breakdown of the chemical composition of beeswax - enough to confirm my suspicion that the answer is "lots." A little later, I looked up a psychology research blog, read a few entries, and bookmarked it.
The answer, I think, is no, I'm not going to miss out on mental stimulation so long as I have the internet and interesting friends.
The second part of the question is, is this fulfilling? These are recreational interesting things. I don't have to engage with them and they make no demands of me. I probably won't find fulfilment in that direction if fulfilment equates to a sense of achievement (a question I may consider further some other time). On the other hand, fulfilment may be found in other avenues.
Returning to my day, come lunchtime, I decided that the bread dough hadn't risen enough to be cooked for lunch, so opted for chicken pies instead. I made pastry using lard I'd rendered from leftover bacon fat (rejected for soap-making purposes on the basis of a brown tinge and smoky aroma - turned out to be fine for cooking) and filled the pies with leftover chicken from the roast we had on Saturday with stock made from bones of the same roast. That's something I find very fulfilling - making delicious food out of leftovers, some of which - offcuts of fat and bones - would certainly be thrown away by most people. I take great satisfaction in making food out of rubbish.
There is certainly fulfilment of a sort to be found in this new life. It remains to be seen whether this is more or less satisfying than the intellectual challenges and achievements I had in my old life.
About this blog
- Wales, United Kingdom
- In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.