Right now, I’m sitting at the office, after dropping L off at school, checking emails, and reading about my now-one-year old, G, from my Baby Center subscription, and scrolling through Facebook while chomping down on yesterday’s birthday cake. Then I come across one of the Facebook groups I’m part of, HomemakersPh. Wait. Home. Makers. The only thing I can say I relate to is the PH. How did I even get into this group?
But before I even get all judgey on myself, what is a Homemaker, anyway? Who says I’m not one? You see, I grew up in 2 households, with extreme examples of each. Living in my paternal grandmother’s house, I saw firsthand what the quintessential homemaker was. After all, she was a Home Economics teacher, and an Ilocano one at that. She made everything from scratch, because why on Earth would you spend good money on a finished product, when you can make it yourself? From the freshly-grated niyog, and malagkit rice that turned into steaming hot ginataan, to the roasted peanuts and atsuete, with the meat, pressure-cooked to softness to make kare-kare. Each meal was a well-curated one. One pork/beef/chicken dish, a fish dish, vegetables, soup, and Wawa’s favorite pagsinamit. Put it this way, she was the type of home maker that crocheted coasters, table cloths and even bedspreads! ‘Nuff said.
When we lived with Wawa, my mother took a backseat with the cooking, as there could only be one queen in the kitchen. Not that I think she minded, either, whether out of lack of skill or interest or just survival in your mother-in-law’s house.
When we finally moved out and into our own house when I was 12 years old, it was the first time that it was really just us: my folks, 2 siblings, and our long-time house help/labandera. The garden, and keeping house in general was what my mother had been looking forward to when she finally had her own space. She surely got that covered. Then came the cooking. Turns out, she was the queen of de lata cooking! From her, I learned how to make tuna casserole with canned tuna and Campbell’s mushroom soup, along with the many versions of pasta she could come up with. We also had some breaded pork chop, and tanigue steak. That’s all I really remember, as my mom soon got sick with cancer and passed on 2 years later. And perhaps her limited cooking abilities was also a function of her losing her own mother at only 9 years old. Who knows.
I learned the rest of my cooking skills as a means of survival. As our family home came down to just me and my brother, along with long-time labandera who didn’t really cook, I had to up my game. So I moved out to my own apartment a few years later, and was ready to take on solo living! After living alone for four years, I got married and moved to my husband’s house, where the only help was his family’s long-time labandera as well. So I’d really cook just anything, but nothing too time consuming or complicated. I could stir-fry a veg-protein dish with some oyster sauce and some sesame oil, and feel like I was a master chef! At some point, we took cooking lessons while on holiday in Bangkok, and I could whip up a really good Thai curry! We can gloss over the fact that my husband actually has a culinary degree and actually teaches the subject as one of his jobs, because the man doesn’t cook at home. So the kitchen was still my area of concern.
3 years later, I became a mama. The no-frills Mama! Along with becoming Mama, I reluctantly accepted the need for a yaya. After living alone for some time, I felt that I could go full-time without having a nanny. Good thing my wise husband knew (me) better, and I gave in. At the time, I was lucky because my friend was moving abroad, and her yaya needed a job. So I took her on before giving birth. Luckily, she also happened to cook well! And so started my dependence on other people to get things done.
I had always prided myself in doing things on my own. I once carried 9 grocery bags up to my 4th floor, walk-up apartment all by myself! And so this dependence on other people was not an easy exercise. I had to let go of what I thought my strengths were. After some years of practice, my once perceived strength in doing things alone, had evolved into the art of delegating work, and trusting people to do what they are tasked to do, and accepting the consequences of when they don’t. And who says that isn’t what homemaking is as well?
I am able to help run a business, have a voice acting career, spend time with my kids and have a life with my husband (who I can say, shares with responsibilities at home), all while making sure the food is bought and cooked, the house is cleaned, and we all have clean clothes to wear. All made possible with the tribe that surrounds me and my family, allowing me to do all that. I have a HOME. And I MAKE things happen. So yes, I guess you can call me a HOMEMAKER.