Friday, February 18, 2005

From a "mere" housewife

I have a confession to make, I used to be one of those people who looked down on "mere" housewives --now talk about karma! The problem with me was that I had always equated money (or being the breadwinner) with power; thanks in no small part to my upbringing. My mother used to (and still does) nag us about "earning our own money" and never to "depend on any man" so I always thought that I would be one of those dragon ladies who were CEO's of conglomerates that you see being interviewed and featured on CNN or read about in the papers (nevermind if I was still single at 40 at least I had millions in the bank!) Well, surprisingly all I can say is that I have absolutely no regrets about the choice that I have made to become a housewife. And coming from a corporate background, this has been a most humbling experience for me. When I first moved to HK, I immediately fell into a deep depression as my "self worth" and "reason for being" (e.g. my job - pathetic isn't it?) had just been taken away from me. Not one multinational company in HK wanted me or were impressed with my credentials since I had no local experience and couldn't speak Cantonese even if I had 5 and a half years of Marketing experience in the mainland! The only ones that accepted me were companies which I thought were beneath me. (Very conceited, indeed, but I was highly conscious of my self worth and my ability to truly be an asset to a company of my choice, given the chance). Admittedly, my job search had been ill-timed with the economic crisis and SARS still looming. And you know what -- because of my depression (and stupidity) I had almost taken for granted the only person who accepts me for me and not for the money nor the prestige nor the power I bring to the table -- my husband! I just had all these blinders on and just felt sorry for myself the entire time. Can I tell you that I am terribly lucky to have met and married such a wonderful and dependable person who never uses his status as breadwinner to "power trip" and use this as a license to become a senorito around the house or worse, to fool around with other women just because I don't dare leave him? No way, Jose! (that's Jay's real name by the way). (Sadly, I do have titas who turn a blind eye to their philandering husbands because he "puts food on the table anyway" or "I get him to buy me whatever I want all the time" or my favorite, "it's just sex"). And, I never thought that I'd say this, but being a "mere" housewife has given me so much more freedom than I have ever experienced in my entire life! Compared to the days when I was a worker drone (bo-ring!!!), I didn't have any free time to do my own thing like pursue my yoga practice; cultivate new friendships (hello thursday group!); be a part time employee of an African safari company (uber cool job! won't ever trade it for FMCG* companies again); and even learn how to cook! Bottomline is, I didn't have the time to become the more well-rounded person that I am today (which is quite contrary to the view I had about housewives doing nothing all day!) Sure, I was earning a good living before but in retrospect, I didn't really appreciate it or fully take advantage of it. I was surely psyched about financing my 2 week trip to Europe all on my own for the very first time in '99; or spending my own money on exotic vacations with Jay back when were both dating each other. But most of the time I was spending it on all sorts of useless things just to fill in the void that was within me. (When I was doing my spring cleaning last CNY, I was appalled to see how much junk I had accumulated thoughout the years!) Now that Jay and I have a joint account (and therefore a tighter budget because of his single salary), it has actually "freed" me to make the right (or better) purchasing choices that we BOTH enjoy, things like dining at good restaurants; art; real estate; furniture; wine; and our perennial favorite, African safaris. I must admit that the only thing that I miss about working full time is the salary, but if I had to give up my current life (and all its perks) just for the chance to earn a monthly wage, it ain't worth it. (now, if someone offered to pay me a hundred grand HKD a month, maybe I'll think about it!) :)

*FMCG - Fast Moving Consumer Goods


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