Thursday, March 14, 2013

New Zealand Housewife

In doing the research for my studies I explored a lot of psychological theory. One of the many tidbits that has stuck with me is link between individual complexity and personal resiliency. Essentially, it is suggested that the more complex a person's perception of self (ie., artist, student, cook, teacher, sister, brother, etc.), the more resilient they will be when encountering a stressful situation. I have thought much on this as I have grown into my newest role as mother.

Unlike most other roles, becoming a parent has a huge impact on any previously held perceptions. As the changes in lifestyle are enormous and it forces a drastic refocusing of self. All other roles are sort of subsumed for a while as one settles into the newness and utter different-ness of being a parent. I can only imagine this can be the cause of some difficulty for some people as being a new parent is an incredibly stressful experience (as well as hugely rewarding). By being aware that this occurs, I have slowly been trying to integrate my previous roles back into my normal life. Bringing back my crafts, my cooking, my swimming and hiking, and maintaining contact with kid-less friends. But I have also embraced this new role with gusto and have recently begun exploring the more local depths of kiwi house-wifery in a book called Inside Stories: A history of the New Zealand housewife 1890-1975 (thereby integrating both my new role as mum and as a new New Zealand resident - as many of these women would also have been).

The book, by Frances Walsh, explores the life of the housewife through the multitude of publications and magazines over the eight decades before women began leaving the home front in droves for work. While I have only just begun to explore the book, it appears to be separated into the various facets of a good housewife's life including children, cleaning, husbands, neighbours, shopping, worrying and more. The plethora of advice and know-how held between its covers, mixed up with a good dose of kiwi (housewife) culture looks to be a good read.

Even before casting my eyes on the aforementioned domestic tome I had experimented with crossing my different roles. Crafting, for example, is an easy one, with all of my current projects for one wee man in particular. Note the particularly handsome outfit he is modelling below. It appears large because it is large (I made it for the coming winter).

Another easily incorporated role is that of cook. I have loved cooking for some time now (as seen in this blog) and as we have not stopped eating as parents, this is an obvious one to continue. While my chances for creativity are somewhat more limited now (mostly due to my fatigue and lack of time), I have begun looking at recipes I never imagined I would. Enter, the Bacon and Egg Pie - a kiwi standby. I had never made this before, nor had I planned on it. But after living in New Zealand for 3 years, gaining our residency, and becoming a kiwi mom, it only seemed appropriate I learned how to make New Zealand's favorite picnic dish. And so, after careful research (we were given three different Bacon and Egg pies when I was pregnant), I created my own version (see below for recipe). It was great. Especially, when eaten cold out in the Port Hills with our wee little family all plonked down on a picnic blanket.

Finally, my role of explorer and adventurer has made an unforeseen come back as well. While our adventures may be somewhat different than any I would have imagined before having a small child (ie, taking the bus 10 blocks, walking to the library with a backpack instead of the buggy, etc.), they are none the less full of mystery, risk, and careful planning. The examples listed may appear light-hearted and silly, but I assure you the accomplishment felt upon successful completion (or even lessosns learned) is no less enjoyable. Sharing the world with a new person is an amazing gift and being reminded of the wonder and awe in which we are constantly immersed is something that never gets old.

And so I grow in myself. While the various roles I saw in myself have changed (and some are still on the back burner), they have also grown. Being a mum is a huge new role and it flavours most of the other roles I hold (simply because it comes before all else), but it is also giving me the chance to re-examine roles I held previously and reshape them as I grow. I am so, so proud to be a mum, but I am also proud to be an artist, a cook, a gardener, a tramper, an outdoor fiend, a friend, a neighbour, a student, a writer, a daughter, a sister, a Yukoner, a New Zealander, a dreamer, and a woman. I am me.

Hopefully, this is enough to get me through the stress of parenthood...

1 comment:

  1. A thoughtful reflection on getting to grips with the full breadth of life's wonders. You're amazing.

    Love, DDO