Don’t you get bored? It’s a common fatidical question posed to me, usually preceded by the other one we can never escape from: What do you do? And though at times it can be unnerving, I realize I’d probably be asking the same question. As one can guess, I’m the clichéd “trailing spouse” living in Dubai.
Looking from the outside, many think we (though I can only fairly speak for myself) have nothing but time on our hands, spending our days elegantly dressed lunching and shopping with other wives. This may be the case for some, but not all.
My typical answer: I’m here with my husband who works for so and so.
Then eyes usually open wide because he works at such a cool place. And then, almost predictably: Hey, you think he can get me a discount? I try not clench my fists, when I reply I really don’t think he has that kind of clout there.
If looks can kill. Grrrrrrh!
So let’s weigh in on this. You see, many of us gave up jobs to move with our spouses. In my case, my job ended after the plant I worked at closed. “But I can’t even picture myself not working” What, really? Are you serious? Do you not have personal interests? Passions?
Well, here’s my two cents. It’s certainly not two steps backward for self-sufficient women. Instead, it can be seen as a great opportunity for women who have had full careers to do something different and creative with their skills and things they are passionate about. Even start your own entrepreneurship from home. Anything is possible!
So, in retrospect, we are not just expat spouses. We have taken the opportunity as a blessing and created new and productive lives for ourselves. And boy-oh-boy is there so much a woman can do to either give back or pursue lost past aspirations! Best of all, these newly created lives are just as fulfilling as any career — in some cases better if your job was stressful!
So what do you now Ms. Yali?
Although my VISA says “Housewife”, I am merely that. The first time I saw that on my resident VISA I was like Whaaaaaaaat? Who me – a housewife? All of a sudden I pictured myself wearing elegant dresses, high heels, pearl necklaces, hair done up, pretty make-up, and smiling big with a Hoover vacuum in one hand and a serving tray of coffee and sandwiches for the hubby on the other.
Instead, walk into our villa, and you see me looking like Betty La Fea hunched over my PC in boxers and a Hanes tee. I have a cleaning service come in every once is a while because as clean and neat as I am, there are just some things I loathe cleaning: like the shower. Just ew. Asking me to clean the shower is like asking me to clean a sewer. I don’t what is it with that, just can’t. Can someone just hurry up and invent a self-cleaning shower? 😀
I will admit that apart from working my part-time job a Virtual Personal Assistant, pursuing my undergrad degree, providing CV preparation services, and writing this lovely little blog (wish I can write more of it), I love taking care of our home abroad and my darling husband. You see now how all that can add up to a full time job? Never mind the fact that my dear son still needs me to come on Skype quite often to help him with this or that. Kids don’t just become adults at 18; there are still a few years left for us moms to help in their development into real adulthood.
Most women have hobbies and one of mine is all things food, as well as reading. For the first time in years, I have time to actually play in the kitchen and take my time preparing lovely dinners. That is one part of being a “housewife” that is endearing to me. Better yet, my husband loves the kitchen as well, so we pair up and sometimes create some real magical meals from our little kitchen.
For those over-achieving workaholic women who think they can never give up their jobs, it’s not so bad. It is possible to create a new life for yourself that is fulfilling — it’s just a matter of being self-assured and knowing that we can be just as useful in our life’s pursuits even if we slow things down a bit.
Women are known to wear many hats, I was guilty of wanting to wear them all and struggled to wear them right. Juggling family, home, and a career is challenging; frankly, I think Supermoms are overrated. I have to admit, I’m happy to be off that SuperMom track. It seems like someone decided to tell women we can do it all, when in fact something almost always get lost on the way. I’m glad that now I can take longer, deeper breaths and can pursue something I’ve been trying to finish for years.
And to that end, there is just way too much in the world to be done for any woman to ever say she is bored. Volunteerism alone can take your whole day. And that is one of the most rewarding things anyone can ever do.
I may no longer have a 40-hour routine where I drive and punch a clock, but I know for sure that day will come again, which I certainly welcome because I recognize the rewards of both sides of the fence.
I can definitely say that I love not having to get up religiously at 6 am as I did for so many years, but by all means most of us have plenty enough to do each day.
For now, I can say with a big smile: Yes, I am very fortunate to have and share the experience of being an Expat Wife, living, learning, and pursuing my dreams and goals right here in Dubai. And my life is far from mundane. 🙂