May 17, 2011 by Leah
Ever since we moved to Long Beach from my hometown of Anchorage in May of last year, I’ve been struggling with being an “accidental housewife.” I started applying for jobs in March 2010, and, fourteen months later, I am still jobless. I had two serious leads that didn’t pan out. I learned a lot of new skills. I spent time volunteering. I spent time daydreaming about when we might move to a new place where I might actually have a shot at getting a job.
Over the last few days, our next move has gone from being a hazy “I know it’s going to happen at some point” to being a near-concrete “we will be moving to Walla Walla, WA in August.” With the Federal Government being the guiding hand behind this move, though, things are never completely certain. Once, our neighbors (Aaron’s boss’ family) were all set to move to Mississippi (?) and had gone on a house-hunting trip and everything, when they were suddenly redirected to Denver with one month’s notice. So, anything could happen between now and then.
That said, Aaron and I are certain enough that this move will take place that I’ve called off the job search. Suddenly, all the feelings of being worthless due to not having a job are back with a vengeance. Now I’m not even LOOKING (until we arrive at our new destination, anyway – a magical place where the average commute is, I kid you not, 14 minutes). My (grain-free, sugar-free, almost-totally-booze-free) days and nights stretch in front of me, empty, and I am fairly certain I will just continue to bury myself in books and sleep unless I do something constructive about this.
To that end, I came up with a job description for myself. Enjoy.
Job Title: Homewoman (I borrowed that from my grandmother who borrowed it from one of our ancestors who told it to the census taker when he asked her for her occupation)
Salary Range: $0 to $115,432.
Reports to: This position generally makes up one half of a decision-making team, which ultimately reports to occupant’s own overactive sense of guilt.
Summary of Position
The homewoman is responsible for most on-site, and several off-site duties and responsibilities within a household. S/he generally works in tandem with a partner to ensure the safety, security, and well-being of the nuclear family to the best of his/her ability. This position emphasizes traditional skills, logistical ability, and requires some capacity for learning and creativity.
Duties & Responsibilities
Collaboratively generate budgets, rules, goals, hopes, and dreams for family as a whole.
Feed family three times a day, preferably with meals concocted from whole, organic ingredients. Previously frozen and reheated meals are acceptable, provided they were assembled using the aforementioned methodology and are not reheated in the microwave.
Procure food and necessary household items, either by producing on-site or by purchasing (always following established budgetary guidelines).
Ensure home is furnished in a useful and tasteful manner.
Keep home reasonably clean (family members decide together on acceptable dirt level) by utilizing appropriate technology (vacuum, washing machine, etc.) but eschewing toxic chemicals and excessive energy consumption (clothes drier, e.g.).
Ensure plants (indoor and outdoor) and pets have adequate water and nutrients and are cleaned regularly.
Ensure pets receive appropriate amount of exercise on a regular basis.
Act as medical assistant to family members (including pets); provide transport for and reminders about appointments, administer medication and advice as needed.
Manage household subscriptions and memberships, including but not limited to: Netflix, local educational and arts facilities, and community supported agriculture (CSA) groups.
Act as social coordinator for family members. Make social appointments, provide directions if not transport to said engagements, or host such engagements on site (to include appropriate food, drinks, and entertainment).
Act as holiday coordinator for family, making sure to distribute immediate family’s presence among various branches of the larger family in a respectful manner, and to learn and uphold family traditions for celebrations taking place at home.
Act as family historian for both birth family and partner’s family, if applicable; pass stories on to future generations.
Act as primary travel agent and tour guide for family. Brainstorm, research, and book domestic and international vacations or family visits. Provide logistical guidance once en route.
Other duties as assigned.
Skills & Knowledge
Must have thorough command of food preparation and storage techniques on a scale appropriate for a small household.
Must have current knowledge of organic gardening techniques, be aware of potentially dangerous household chemicals and pesticides, and understand the larger implications of buying into the industrial food system.
Must be able to navigate locale using several different methods of transportation (bicycle, bus, foot, automobile), and to discover the locations of useful retail establishments (including farmers’ markets) and CSA drop points on a regular basis.
Must have excellent research skills.
Must have a good understanding of mathematical and financial principles for use in gardening, home maintenance, budgeting, and shopping.
Must have basic understanding of principles of modern psychology so as to analyze self regularly and better communicate with partner, if applicable.
Must have basic understanding of canine needs, behavior, and communication techniques.
Must have basic understanding of human nutrition.
Must have basic understanding of child development.
Must have basic understanding of Western (and preferably global) history so as to assimilate current events into a broader worldview and translate significance for family members.
Must have rudimentary understanding of organizational skills.
Must have experience with hand tools. Experience with power tools including circular saws and nail guns preferred.
Education & Experience
No specific education or experience in the field required. A B.A. in English, subsequent M.B.A., and several years’ experience running an independent household are preferred.
Generally light to moderate, with the exception of gardening and home improvement projects which will require the lifting of loads up to 100 lbs. as well as potentially hazardous repetitive motion, bodily contortions, and work done at heights that on a federal project would require fall protection. Must be able to walk on a daily basis. Must be able to lift 50 pounds of objecting canine into and out of the bathtub. Must have enough upper body strength to knead a loaf of bread in case of appliance failure.
Noise level is moderate to high on most weekdays between the hours of 7 a.m. and 4:30 p.m, as site is situated adjacent to a working construction zone. After hours and on weekends, noise level drops – leaf blowers and power tools of hired grounds staff notwithstanding.