I had a rather usual experience yesterday in the doctors office. I say usual because it does happen quite a lot, but I haven’t ever wanted to blog about it before.
Long time readers (if you actually exist…) have probably clued onto the fact that I don’t work a regular job any more. That’s because of many things, but largely it’s to do with my medical history and employers who are unable to look beyond what it says on paper and look at the actual person sitting before them.
With this bearing down heavily on my mind, my then boyfriend (now husband) insisted that it was Ok for me not to have a job. So, all in all, it was then that I made the decision to stop looking for work. I had more that enough qualifications in multiple areas but it all ended up the same:
Don’t call us, we’ll call you.
Over and Over, and Over.
Then came the choice of what to call myself. It’s become a little easier, since we got married, but ultimately… I always wanted to be something more than, Housewife.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had women in my life who have taken that term and completely made it their profession. The Mr’s 96 year old Nanna (for example) has every square inch of her house clean and spotless at all times, no matter who is coming over. She raised 4 children, kept a husband who had cancer and even had cancer herself, had a job at times and kept her house.
As the story goes, her husband was ill with cancer at the time of Her own diagnosis with cancer. She was sick for about a week, before She got back up and kept going because She had to keep the family together and no one else was able to.
That is just nuts. Utterly and completely unfathomable.
But calling myself a Housewife when people asked, did seem to be like a total cop out. One of two things happened when I started meekly defining my role;
1. They’d instantly look me up and down, and say something like; “Oh. You’re lucky. I have to work for a living!”
2. Wrongly think that I must have something contagious and almost instantly make up something, remove themselves to the furthest corner of the room and discuss me in detail with whoever was there at the time.
The contagious thoughts are something I’ve had to deal with most of my life,so that wasn’t a big deal. (Note: I’m not contagious; people with little brains think that because I’ve been in and out of hospital, it must mean I’ve got something!)
But the remark about me being lucky? That has really got my goat from the moment it started. I began to rebut, saying that in fact I’m not lucky because of these reasons… but quickly realised that, that way is terrible at convincing people I’m ok and great at making them think #2.
Can I just say this? …
No, I’m not lucky to have had Open Heart Surgery to correct a major flaw that was causing my heart to swell to 4x the natural size, and not pump the correct amount of blood around my body.
I’m lucky to have survived to where I am today with only one surgery.
I’m lucky to have to not died when my surgeon realised that he couldn’t sew the bits back together and had to replace the entire valve quicksmart.
I’m lucky to have family and friends who were willing and able to help me get back on my feet.
I’m lucky to have a scar on my chest. I have said this to some people and they’ve freaked, but I feel that it’s an addition to my already insane personality.
No, I’m not lucky to have had a Stroke at the age of 19, which wiped out a large chuck of my memories, and the right side of my body.
I’m lucky to have had family and friends there who did not judge my inabilities after it, and help me get back to where I was.
I’m lucky to have had a Mother who would spend hours helping me learn to cook, read, speak and walk again, and physically restrained me when I had outbursts that I couldn’t control.
I’m lucky that my brain was able to rewire itself to this level and that I’ve maintained or regained most of the motor control and memories that I lost.
I’m lucky that people can’t see my troubles in every-day life.
So, these days when I say I’m a Housewife… it’s not as daunting as it used to be. I still see the looks quite often, but I think of what small minded individuals they must be and move on. I still feel a bit cut up inside, possibly because I was a very intelligent person and I did have dreams and ambitions that haven’t been fulfilled. But that feeling is slowly diminishing, and I’m beginning to feel comfortable.
Back to the beginning; A new heart specialist is managing my case, now that there’s more than one person to manage. When I told Her what I did for a living, She grinned and said, You must feel like the luckiest women in the world! (A little over-dramatic, but I’ll let it go.) I smiled a little and said told her, “It’s honestly not as glamorous as you think. Believe me.”
It has gotten a lot easier, because I’ve introduced myself a few times as Mum-to-be, and that gets a whole different reaction. No longer do I grimace when their eyes look me over and smirk. Instead, they smile and ask me So, How it’s all going?
Most people have a genuine interest in you and your baby, and that is the nicest thing in the world.
It’s strange to feel the nice side of humanity again.