Tales of a Homemaker

On our recent trip to India, I had an interesting discussion with our guide. I have been mulling it over in my mind these past few weeks and am still smiling at his suggestion. We were having the idle 'getting to know' you sort of discussion and I knew a particular question was coming. Do you work? What do you do?

I am being honest with you when I say that I dislike this question...intensely. It started with our first move overseas.  I have a love hate relationship with travelling. Love the travel, hate the paperwork associated with it. When the little box comes up on the custom forms, asking me to fill in my Occupation, I hesitate, the pen wavers, and then I go on to fill in what I have been filling in for the past 25 years... 'HOMEMAKER'.

Why this term? It was given to me, on my first trip into Sydney in 1986. I had left that box blank. At that point I was newly married, moving to Australia, having left my career behind in the USA. What was I? I had no idea. The customs officer said I needed an answer, he could see I was confused...I was realising at that moment that I could no longer define myself...in a single word. He found the answer for me and wrote it down,  HOMEMAKER. I have filled in HOMEMAKER begrudgingly ever since....that is until now.

I explained my situation to our guide ( because I have a habit of doing things like that) and he replied..."Mrs. H, in our country we have a much better expression, it is one we hold great respect for, we refer to our wives and mothers as a HOME MINISTER". I did not hesitate for a second... Prime minister, Finance minister, Foreign minister, Health minister, Culture minister, Information Minister....surely there was room for a Home minister. I often live in my own world....blogging being a perfect example of that, why couldn't I be a HOME MINISTER?

Our guide went on to say that is a 'most revered position' and is shown great respect within his culture. I declared my love for India at that point and started to wonder if I could throw 'Esq' onto the end of my title. In Britain it is 'a title of respect for a member of the English gentry ranking just below a knight: placed after the name'. In my world, delusions of grandeur were running rampant....Jeanne H. Home Minister Esq.  Move over guys, I am coming in. That might not look half bad on a calling card. :)

...and guess what?....when we left India and it came time to fill in the entry cards into the UK....I wrote HOME MINISTER (Esq. might have been pushing it)...and have been declaring my new found title within our family ever since. Any guesses on how many ways they will use this term in the form of Christmas gifts this year??

For those of you are relating to this post, I leave you with one I wrote nearly two years ago to the day.
How ironic is that? At this point in time, I had been a blogger for all of two weeks. I wanted to start a Dear B ( blogger) series...relating to aspects of life. I wrote two posts, the one below and another entitled Packing 101. I did not think there would be much interest so I stopped writing them.

Interestingly as well, I was preparing for the move from New Zealand to England at that time...not unlike where I am now, preparing for a move from England to Vietnam.

A post written two years ago....from a two week old blogger..

Dear B....Happy Homemaker
November 3, 2009

Every once in a while my mind goes into overdrive and I find the only way to 'get it out' is to write. I wasn't quite sure how to transfer this energy into my blog but I had a thought.  One of my pet peeves in life is the Passenger Information Card I have to fill out when I travel. When I married 23 years ago, I was a happy career woman who left it all to follow her husband on an expat adventure. On our first trip to Australia, I had to fill out the PIC and left the section for 'Occupation' blank because I didn't know what to fill in. I had just married, I was moving to a new country and had no idea what I would do when we got to Australia. The Immigration Officer was not happy and asked me to fill in the card. I looked at him blankly; he looked at me quizzically and he wrote in HOMEMAKER. I was flabbergasted...I wasn't ready...

All these years later and the label has stuck. I filled in the card last week and will do it again this week. Here is my Happy Homemaker (above). I guess this is me, for now. Somehow I can relate. What follows is a letter to B... to express my anxiety and frustrations of the day. The good news is I always feel better when I do this...helps to clear the mind. 

Letter #1

Dear B...
Help! I am using this blog to help 'shape the thoughts that stir within' and the thoughts do 'runneth' over. 
I started this Blog two weeks ago and I think about writing day and night. I have so many writing pads around me that I don't know which one is for which. Is the pink journal for last week's thoughts or this week or is it the blue one? When I take my daily walks I look like a tech psychopath. Camera in one hand to take photos for blog, voice recorder in other to make instant note of thoughts in my head and a mobile phone..well, just because. Juggling all three with a bottle of water and a dog on a lead is not an easy task!
I have changed the photo on my blog and am in despair. I had my favourite pink flower photo...but I love my photo from Papua New Guinea. Am I a pink girl or is my true colour orange??? I love interior design, but I love photography too and then there is travel and all those beautiful blogs to look at. What about books and reading and all the wonderful blogs for that and then there are recipes and more blogs for that and I am now at the point where I am afraid to look at anyone's blog for fear of finding another to add to my list. To follow or to add to blog list, that is the question!
I have mountains of paperwork, I leave on a trip overseas the day after tomorrow, I haven't unpacked from last weeks trip and I am still contemplating how I am going to fit a King size possum blanket in one of my suitcases. That's another story but I wont' go there now.
My friends and family are worried, I fear an intervention may be in the works and here I sit.... hysterical yet happy as a clam...I'm writing:)
Harried but Happy Homemaker

Best wishes for a fabulous day from 
Jeanne H...Home Minister Esq.  :) 

PS..Sorry for the length of  todays post..
there are days when you just have to get it out...don't you think?


  1. Giggling in Hobart, Jeanne! Seriously. Yes, those horrid labels society foists upon us. Until I started blogging, I didn't know I was a SAHM, for instance! J x

  2. as far as I am concerned, there is no need to apologize for the length of the post.. quiet interesting and I can relate to it.. I have been a home minister since a few years now but like to call myself student coach or amateur photographer -) although I guess that would not work on immigration papers either.

  3. Jeanne, from one House Minister to another, I commend you for a post that strikes many of us. When I left my job I felt such pangs of humiliation when asked 'what do you do'? I had never experienced that before & it didn't feel good. After I told them, it was quickly followed up with, "don't you get bored?' There are not enough hours in the day to get bored!

    I'm excited for your next adventure to Vietnam. Just sad you are leaving the U.K. once I've arrived. Exciting times ahead for us House Ministers!

    Cheers x Deb

  4. Love the title...have instantly adopted it.

    However Jeanne, I was much happier when HOMEMAKER replaced HOUSEWIFE!

    We are moving on....good thing!

  5. 'Home MInister' for me too Jeanne....with a little 'esq' for good measure...Of course the title 'superstar' is more apt for us continual homemakers!! xv

  6. I think 'Jeanne H., Home Minister Esq.' is just right. You should order calling cards right now:-D

    Don't apologize about the length of the post. Very interesting. However, I recently did a - for me - lengthy post and also found myself apologizing.Why do we do that?:-)

  7. Stop apologizing! Women do far too much of that!
    Love the title Home Minister and will now gladly respond to anyone who calls me that! Thank you!

  8. I am crazy about the title Home Minister. I am a teacher, but it does not define me as well as keeper of the hearth. My first and ultimate job will always be taking care of my home and those who pass over the thresh hold. The other is my hobby, something I truly love doing. I loved every word of your post. Bonnie

  9. O.K. Jeanne...my situation is even worse. So, what do you do? I am a "stay at home mom" (sigh). "Oh" (is the reply). "Where do your kids go to school?" "I am a stay at home HOMESCHOOL mom". "Gulp." Conversation over. What kind of a title could I have???

  10. Great post Jeanne, a good read from start to finish.

    A grand title indeed, Home Minister Esq. Reminds me of something from the Christopher Robin verses...about Bad Sir Brian Botany at the end of the verse it says that Sir Brian goes about the village as "B.Botany Esq."

  11. I like that quite a lot. So, Madame Minister, these two posts have been very entertaining. Thank you.

  12. With the title of my blog, you know I have to chime in :) For me, 'homemaker' means making a house a home and building a nest for the family. From the mundane washing of clothes to making cookies with the kids and wrapping gifts for under tree (and making curtains for the house - fun!) - this is what homemaking means to me. What it doesn't mean is watching TV, eating bonbons all day :) I do wish our societies would take on the Indian's perception more. No one want to feel under valued :)

  13. Love this post Jeanne ... so many of us can relate.

    Its wonderful to hear of the cultures that hold these duties in such a revered position ... well done for adopting this title Mrs Minister.


  14. You are too funny, Jeanne! What's a possum blanket?

  15. You're so right Jeanne - how do you describe all you do without diminishing it? Home Minister sounds perfect - love it! K xx

  16. Great post, Jeanne! But I have to warn you that the questions never stop. When you get to that magical "retirement" age, like me, the question that will drive you up the wall will be..."do you still work?" I sometimes say..."no, I just sit here like a vegetable waiting to die." But most often, I say.."yes, thank you...harder than ever...the only difference is no one pays me for it now! "

  17. What a wonderful post! And I could just picture you, wandering the countryside, laden with technology and pup, and filled with wonder at the world around you. As always, my dear, you amaze and inspire. Write on H.M. Jeanne, write on.

  18. Thank you Stephanie, you inspire me! Have a great weekend :)
    Jeanne xx

  19. Thanks Joe!

    Retirement, a very tricky subject in our household. I am wondering what I will do when my other half makes the leap.
    I can see where "do you still work?" would put you over the edge. I notice that a lot of people ask if we play golf. Not sure why, as we don't. Do we retire and then go to golf-land? I can't think of anything worse! (apologies if you are a golfer). :)

    Best wishes for a question free weekend!


  20. Thanks Kerri...so nice to see so many on the same wave length. :)x

    I wondered who would pick up on the possum blanket Becky...you and Pamela clued right into that one. It is a long story and a post in itself...stay tuned! :)x

    Thanks Marina...so glad to see that so many can relate! I wasn't sure abou this topic for a post but sometimes you just have to go for it! x:)

  21. Agree Laura...I think what you just described are some of the best parts of life. They pass to quickly, it is so important to cherish it all. :)x

    Angie...you are very welcome:)x

  22. Sarah, I think you are the very best kind of "stay at thome mom"....and admire you greatly! I could not imagine doing so and have a tremendous amount of respect for mothers that do. Title? House Minister Extraordinaire! I think you have the makings for a book... seriously! I did not pick up on the homeschooling on your blog, do you talk about it much? Good luck with your upcoming college search. Have fun! :)x

  23. Sarah, I think you are the very best kind of "stay at thome mom"....and admire you greatly! I could not imagine doing so and have a tremendous amount of respect for mothers that do. Title? House Minister Extraordinaire! I think you have the makings for a book... seriously! I did not pick up on the homeschooling on your blog, do you talk about it much? Good luck with your upcoming college search. Have fun! :)x

  24. Bonnie, you are so kind thank you! I like the words you have chosen, "keeper of the hearth" and think it would be lovely to pass over your thresh hold. It is interesting how you see your teaching job as a hobby. Many people I meet tell me about their job first and family second. It is so nice to read your perspective. Refreshing! x:)

    I think my new found title is getting better and better Angela... "H. Minister Esq"...it works!

    Thank You Carole! It is nice to think the good word is spreading, pass it on x:)

  25. Hello Jeanne

    This is hilarious. Why should a little box on a government docket define us? Somehow it presses our "ego" button. I do believe "homemaker
    "H Minister Esq" "retired", do not even begin to describe the wonderful lives and good deeds the holders of these titles possess. And, I suppose the immigration officers Esq don't lose any sleep over the words printed in these little boxes


  26. I love this fantastic post, Jeanne.



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