I love some aspects of being a “homemaker” like cooking and gardening so at first I thought I’d be happy if I really threw myself into those aspects of the job. But, I discovered that after the initial thrill and stimulation of installing bees, setting up chickens, figuring out the annual gardening cycle and how to cook every edible part of seasonal vegetables, well… while my family eats delicious eggs and honey and I’ve been thrilled by delicious additions to my diet like broccoli leaves, baby artichokes and chive flowers… it isn’t enough for me (and, let me assure you working with bees for the first time is quite the adrenalin rush). Even after I’d mastered the art of making French pastries from Paris-Brest with its simple crème puff dough to a frangipane Gallette des Rois with its homemade puff pastry complete with 3,000 layers (or almost that many), the arts of the homemaker weren’t driving away my blues or my frustration and desperate lust for mental challenge (and, trust me it took several tries to get that puff pastry right). Busy doesn’t equal happy.
To the outside world I must have looked more at home in the role than I felt. I’ll never forget one of the many invisible slaps in the face I endured as a housewife when an acquaintance was pitying a woman with a B.A. who had left a “wonderful” secretarial position in the States to move to France with her husband and wound up as a “lowly” housewife in a charming village which had won the official title of “Most Beautiful village in France. (That was just the wind-up. Then came the slap…) “A woman with an education like hers just can’t live without mental stimulation.” It sounded like the idea was that they were going to do everything they could to help her get a job and move back to the States. I probably composed my face into a serene empathetic smile while inside my mind was screaming, “For God’s sake, what about me? I’ve got two M.A.s! I’m ready to blow my brains out from lack of stimulation and I’m not in one the France’s most beautiful villages, I’m right here –help me!”
I was raised to be independent, not to ask for help… so I didn’t get any. She did. And I learned some a valuable lesson.