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 househusband, 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 British 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 labeled. 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 a 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 nine-year-old what he wanted for dinner. "How about some international cuisine?" he answered. "Um, you mean like Chef Boyardee?"