Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Skills to Pay the Bills

I was just thinking about what a homemaker's skill set is. What is it that makes that position a skilled occupation?

Homemaking is not rocket science. Neither laundry nor cleaning are college-degree material. So why am I so tired at the end of the day?

There are two parts to the art of homemaking. First, the homemaker must have outstanding organizational skills. Second, the homemaker must learn to proficiency many skills that he or she may or may not have possessed before becoming the homemaker.

Again, doing laundry isn't hard. Keeping up with the laundry so that nobody runs out of underwear is challenging. Making sure that no dry-clean-only garments end up in the washing machine is challenging. Making sure that no garments are shrunk in the dryer is challenging.

Cooking is not easy. Making pasta with canned tomato sauce is easy. Planning for a week's worth of meals, shopping for the necessary items, and keeping up with changing palates is challenging. Making sure that the family is getting proper nutrition is challenging. Add to the skill set cooking food from scratch and making sure the produce is always fresh; now you're getting into homemaking professionalism.

Cleaning is easy. Running a vacuum cleaner, washing dishes, wiping down counter tops, and washing windows are easy tasks. Finding time to clean when you're not cooking or doing laundry is challenging. Oh, or chasing a child.

That's right, there's that monkey wrench. A person who has to be taught everything from holding a glass to cleaning up after himself is part of the daily routine. Try making chicken parmigiana with a one-year-old who wants attention. Not easy.

Staying spontaneously romantic. Properly grooming. Buying birthday and anniversary cards. Sending out thank-you notes.

These are my challenges. Laundry day isn't Monday or Wednesday or any other day. You never know when Mommy's going to need those brown pants for work. JD might decide to pee on his two bath towels two days in a row. Are we having company for dinner? Do I need to buy a gift for someone? Reservations? Add the new releases to my Netflix queue? We're having the family over for brunch and they are soooo excited to eat my french toast on challah with bacon and scrambled eggs?

All of the items I've mentioned are skills that require their own education and honing. There is an art to cleaning a bathroom just as there is an art to getting bread dough to rise.

And that is what makes homemaking an occupation.

My wife, the attorney, has her own skill set. Analytic reading, keyboarding, teaching, and scheduling are all skills she uses on a regular day. She reads faster than anyone I know with great comprehension. She is a go-to person for subordinates to ask for advice on cases. She is a stickler for details and deadlines.

Those are skills that I, too, use on a daily basis.

So while I'm not working for a living, I am working for our living.

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