Tips For Adulthood: Five Signs You'd Make A Lousy Housewife

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

I have tremendous respect for women (and men) who choose to work inside the home. And yet, when it comes to myself, I’m fairly certain that – even if I wanted to – I could never make it as a housewife. (Or house husband, as the case may be.)

If you’ve ever wondered whether you were meant to work primarily inside or outside the home, here are five indicators that should influence your decision:

1. You need help operating basic appliances. I’m not talking about fancy, fuzzy-logic rice cookers or super-deluxe espresso machines (replete with matching grinders). I’m talking boilers. All summer long, my husband and I noticed that the heat would come on at seemingly odd times. We tried tinkering with the thermostat in the hallway, but that had no effect. But then the heat would go off again and we’d forget all about it. The other day, while a service repair man was at my flat fixing our washer/dryer, I asked him if he could take a look at our boiler to figure out what the problem was. He opened the cabinet, looked at the boiler for about three seconds, and then turned to me and said…“Um…Miss? See this large red button here that says ‘On?”

2. You can’t even read the symbols, let alone the instructions. Forget instruction manuals. I think we all know that I’m lousy with those. I’m talking about the little symbols they devise for appliances so that even someone who can’t read (for example) can somehow manage to use the oven. Someone, that is, who isn’t me. I’ve lived in my house for nearly six months and – much like the heating problem, but even more frequently – I’d notice that whenever I put something in the oven, it tended to burn. Then, one evening when I was hosting a dinner party (and burning some lasagna), a friend of mine looked at the oven settings and noticed that the little squiggly lines that emanated off of one of the settings were also present on the setting I was using. “Um, no offense, but I think you’re grilling the lasagna” she said politely. (“Grill” being English for “broil.”) And when she showed me the little symbols, it all made perfect sense. Ah, so you mean you want to “bake” without the squiggly lines…got it.

3. You need to psych yourself up for ironing. Just before school started this autumn, I realized that my son needed his school uniform labelled. And because – between all the sports gear and the regular uniform – he’s got quite a lengthy list of school attire, this was going to take some time. Truth be told, all you need to do is set up the iron and apply the labels. (OK, you also need to iron each one like three times so it’s a bit more involved than that.) But that’s really it. And yet, I must confess that I find ironing completely oppressive. In order to execute this task, I literally had to play loud music, lay out all the clothes in assembly line fashion next to the ironing board and then talk to myself as I ironed each successive item to get me through the ordeal.

4. You can’t even count the rooms in a house. I’m not a terribly visual person (as I think the previous entry attests.) My husband – who is – can corroborate this.  I once famously scoped out an apartment for us in Boston and came home extolling the virtues of our new “three bedroom,” only to have him arrive a short while later and inquire as to where the third bedroom was located. The answer was…nowhere. It’s O.K. I have other talents.

5. You’re a hopeless cook. I recently asked my 9-year-old what he wanted for dinner. “How about some international cuisine?” he answered. “Um,you mean like Chef Boyardee?”

Image: 69/365 housewife with nothing to do by katie cowden via flickr under a Creative Commons license.

  • Reply Lisa

    October 13, 2010, 3:19 pm

    That is hysterical. Grilling lasagna…of course, wiggly ligns are a fairly opaque symbol.

  • Reply delialloyd

    October 13, 2010, 3:24 pm

    yes that was my first line of defense!!

  • Reply lisa@notesfromafrica

    October 13, 2010, 3:28 pm

    I don’t think ANYONE likes ironing. Even those who do the other things on your list okay. It is just such a mind-numbing activity!

    My trick is to load a really engrossing audiobook on my iPod, and to try and forget what I’m actually busy with.

  • Reply Patricia

    October 14, 2010, 3:22 am

    I was born to be a housewife…probably for someone rich and maybe even famous…and do all the charity work and hire people to garden and iron…no lie…the folks thought I was hopeless but organized and I HATE ironing…I only do a bit when I sew, which I can not do at all ( the kids would say “mom’s using the swearing machine again)
    I taught everyone early to do their own ironing…I love to cook when it is for special occasions and healing foods for the family, but not the daily grind.

    So I had to rebel and prove that the “idiot savant” could go to grad school and do other things…

    Now in my 60s I wish we had enough money that I could hire someone to clean and cook and I could just do what I want…instead I live in an orchard almost right downtown in a city…this season, I am pretty much exhausted all the time…pumpkins and potatoes to go…and back to work for a month..yikes

    I think schools could use a few more parent helpers and volunteers….ah me

  • Reply Erin

    October 14, 2010, 11:34 am

    I’m with you on everything except the cooking. I love to cook – every day. I make simple and elaborate meals. I find it calming, relaxing and creative. My husband is quite pleased about it. It was my lasagna that sealed the deal with him! I did have trouble with the ovens here in the UK and burned a few things until someone showed me how to use it! I still hate it – it’s not big enough. Still wondering how I’m going to fit a turkey in there!

  • Reply Rachel

    October 14, 2010, 11:47 am

    I’m right there with you. Except actually I’m lagging behind. Iron on labels? I gave away the ironing board a few years ago to charity when I finally admitted to myself i was never going to buy a working iron. What would I do if I had iron-on labels, I wonder? (Could it be – ask my mother?)

  • Reply Daryl Boylan

    October 14, 2010, 6:05 pm

    My mother required me to learn certain basics (simple cooking, food shopping, clothing care,etc.), but didn’t push too hard beyond basics except for ironing & silver polishing, which she insisted I master to her very exacting standard as soon as I turned 12. She had more than enough to do otherwise, so I did both masterings & acquired a lasting loathing for them. (An excellent cook, she attempted to improve me in that respect too, but finally gave up on a hopeless candidate for a chef’s toque.

  • Reply Hilary

    October 15, 2010, 8:40 pm

    Hi Delia .. and you’re married!?!? No wonder the rest of us reasonably reader friendly, no burnt offerings, able to iron a little .. ladies get left on the heap – those boys are aiming for the bright minds of this life – sans any extras!

    Love the post .. ‘scuse the comment! .. Cheers Hilary

  • Reply delialloyd

    October 15, 2010, 9:38 pm

    ha! thanks for dropping by…

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