Housewife…Wait! What? An Exploration of my Transition from Corporate America to Homemaking in Mexico

When I started as a Buyer for a cabinet company in 2007,  I had no earthly idea what I was doing.  I had graduated from college with an English Degree for starters so I had only completed two Math courses the entire time I was in college.  I knew nothing about negotiation and nothing about cabinet materials for sure. Cabinets were made of wood right?  They had to be painted and shipped correct?  This was the extent of my knowledge of cabinets, but I was suddenly responsible for buying many of the itty-bitty parts that went into a cabinet.  I was responsible for keeping inventory low, but never, under any circumstances, running out of material.  It was a difficult pill to swallow.  I would go home every night mentally exhausted.  My brain was overloaded with information.  But this was my job.  This was what I was being paid to do.  I had to perform, or I would find myself unemployed again.  So the rat race began!  A year later, the 2008 economic decline hit the company I worked for hard.  There were layoffs.  People were dropping like flies, there were always crazy rumors floating around, and when someone would weirdly disappear from his or her office, you didn’t dare ask where he or she went.  You already knew.  I always kept my purse and my few other personal belongings close so I could make a quick get-away if HR showed up unexpectedly.  Surprisingly, my layoff never came, but others in my department were laid off which resulted in my having to learn even more pressing information.  So the mental overload became worse until one day I realized that I was used to it.  I could do this, and I even began to even enjoy it.  As a few of my bosses moved on to greener pastures, I stayed in my position as Buyer.  I learned about pretty much every material that goes into a cabinet and/or laminate countertop.  I was in touch with Salesmen and Field Managers every day.  I got phone calls from all departments in the company.  I communicated daily with plant workers along with executives.  After about five years, I felt confident of my knowledge of materials.  I was married to my 2nd husband in October of 2012, and as you have read in my previous posts, this marriage came with a lot of strings attached.  I knew that when I married him, I could possibly be moving to another country, but I did not let this enter my mind while I was working nor did I clue anyone I worked with of my worries and concerns.  Once I found out I was pregnant, the worrying slipped its head above the surface.  It was always there bobbing around in my mind. Not only was I worried about my husband’s pending deportation and how that would affect my child, but I also worried about juggling a newborn with the work schedule that I had so faithfully engorged myself in for the past six years.  I came to the realization that maybe I needed a break.  It was decided that I would take the full three months off (unpaid I should add) that was allowed by the FMLA .  My son made his appearance on the morning of December 20, 2013 after about 24 hours of labor and a non-scheduled C-Section.  We came home on Christmas Eve and thus I began the journey of being a new mother.  My days during maternity leave were the usual.  My TV stayed on all day.  I used the TV shows to judge what time it was. I was getting enough sleep, but at weird times and for short intervals.  My baby and I developed a schedule, and I was thankful for the time I was getting to spend with him.  Three months flew by, and before I knew it, it was the morning of my first day back to work.  As many working mothers will agree, this was one of the hardest things I had been through.  I balled for about fifteen straight minutes after my husband left to take my baby to parents’.  After that, I pulled myself together and went on into work.  I was happy to see everyone and anxious to get back to work, but I did notice my focus was not what it used to be.  I found myself thinking about my baby all day and counting down the hours until I could go home to see him.  When I got home from work, my time was spent cleaning bottles, giving my little man a bath, and if I was lucky, I would get to play with him or just hold him for a little while before it was time for him to go to bed.  Honestly, I was not happy with this situation.  Little did I know, it wouldn’t be like this for long.  A week later, my husband got his letter telling him he had three weeks to leave the country.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, my plan was always for my son and I to accompany him to Mexico if he ever had to leave.  I broke the news to my boss while blubbering like an idiot. My bosses made me feel a lot better about my decision and let me know that I had their support.   I won’t give you a replay of everything that happened the next couple of weeks.  The packing and the goodbyes contributed to the hopelessness I could not help but feel.  After our horrific journey to Mexico, when we got to San Miguel, I had no idea what I was going to do.  I was used to working and bringing home money.  I was used to handling the bills and making sure we were contributing significant amounts to our savings.  Now I was at the mercy of my husband.  I didn’t know the language, I couldn’t drive legally, and I couldn’t work in Mexico because I only had a tourist visa.  I was one of those women that I had never wanted to be. After many years of being a completely independent woman, I was now dependent.  What was I supposed to do now?  Learn to cook authentic Mexican food and wear one of those muumuu-looking aprons with the pockets on the front that the older Mexican ladies wore?  Am I supposed to let my husband sit at the table barking orders while I bring him his plate?  If you know me at all, you are probably laughing right now.  I would rather be dead than be “that” woman.  I am not looking to offend anyone by these remarks, but this is real-life, and these are my honest feelings.  When I got to Mexico, I witnessed these very things.  I think people are surprised when my husband tells them I don’t cook for him.  I can just hear them saying, “Poor Isaac, that gringa doesn’t do anything for him.”  I have talked to my husband several times about it, and he assured me he would not turn into one of those macho men who orders his little woman around.  I think he knew better. I was raised in a household where both of my parents were educated and held full-time jobs. My mom never stayed home with my sister and me outside of the time allowed from her employer.  My dad would often joke when my mom would ask him question about cooking or cleaning by saying “That’s not my department.”  This was a joke of course because my mother holds the same views I do on “gender roles” in the household.  It’s ridiculous and outdated right?  Well, not here.  I was used to hopping in my car to make a trip to Wal-Mart and buying whatever I needed.  Now, I had to tell my husband when I needed deodorant or tampons (which could be found in a tiny section of the store with a label on the back informing the purchaser that it would not affect one’s virginity).  It was demeaning.  As my baby got older, I also would have to ask permission to buy my “mommy medicine” which was a bottle of Bacardi that I would tuck away in the freezer for those days I felt like I was on the verge of coming unglued.  The asking to buy alcohol would come with a disapproving look from my husband who would partake in an occasional beer maybe once every six months.  In October, after being in Mexico for about six months, I was offered a part-time job where I could do all the work from home on a laptop.  I was so happy!  It gave me back a small amount of the confidence I felt I had lost.  I could work, save a little money in my American account and still spend time with my baby.  I was still a “housewife” though right?  I did not leave the home to work, and of course cleaning and disinfecting was my responsibility.  I actually did not mind this part.  I am very meticulous about cleaning especially then because my baby was beginning to get around on his own..  Plus, the hygienic conditions of where we were living at that time were way below my standards.  The metal kitchen cabinets (I guess that’s what they were supposed to be) smelled like ketchup and had a sticky film on them that we attempted to get rid of multiple times.  When we first moved in, the shower that resembled a sink-hole with mis-matched tile thrown on the bottom had about an inch of gunk stuck to it which was removed by several scrub brushes. about a bottle and a half of bleach-based cleaner, and me scrubbing so furiously that my arms were sore for two days.  I went through a bottle of mopping liquid once a week, and the bottle of bathroom cleaner with bleach was drained quite often.  I sterilized my baby’s bottles up until he was weaned off of formula because the kitchen did not have hot water.  The washing machine where I did laundry almost every day was bleached once a week.  By the end of the day, I was exhausted.  Not only exhausted mentally like I was used to when working full-time, but mentally and physically.  I am most definitely not indicating that this is more than the average working mother does. I know there are many, many women who work full-time, clean and even cook which I still had not mastered.  I still had that feeling of inadequacy, and I still lacked the confidence I had built up over time in the U.S.  The phone calls from my family would help, and honestly, we were not in that apartment much when we lived there.  It was within walking distance of the beautiful, clean downtown area which is where we escaped to almost every evening.  We would sit and watch people and secretly I would wonder if the gorgeous ladies there had to return to a crap-hole like I did. Did they have to walk by about ten drunk men standing right outside their door and try to ignore their nasty stares as their husband hurried to unlock the door?  Did they have to pray that when they turned on the light that there wouldn’t be a couple of roaches lounging on the countertop?  Did they have to worry about their baby not being able to sleep because of the inconsiderate noise made by the people upstairs? I have been told by many people that there is a reason I am here, but I struggle with the concept sometimes.  I know I am doing the right thing by keeping my family together, but sometimes I wonder the reason why we had to go through hell to get to where we are now, which is not where I want to be forever of course.  We now live in a new, clean house in a nice neighborhood, but I don’t want to be here forever.  I want to come back to America and get my job back and provide everything I can for my child. I want him to have a good education and learn the value of hard work.  Most importantly, I have absolutely no desire to be a housewife.  Once again, I want to emphasize that I am, in no way, discrediting hard-working stay-at-home mothers. I know it is hard, and I am often envious that I don’t have that natural talent to make cutesy crafts or cook nutritious snacks for the week and neatly label them in Tupperware containers.   Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely grateful for the time spent with my child, but sometimes I feel like my education and my knowledge is one day going to vanish into thin air if I don’t get back.  Sometimes I feel like my time is being wasted, but then I remember that I have a beautiful, healthy child who is developing more and more every day, and unlike many mothers, I am able to witness it.  He is the reason I am here, he is the reason I have given up so much, and he is the reason I still fight every day.  I want the absolute best for him, and maybe by this sudden change in our lives, it is giving me something that I will look back one day and be extremely grateful.  So I have no choice but to press on through the madness.  It is what I have to do for my child, for my husband, and for myself.


2 thoughts on “Housewife…Wait! What? An Exploration of my Transition from Corporate America to Homemaking in Mexico

  1. You so beautifully capture the feelings of inadequacy I think all stay at home moms feel. Like you, I did not plan on staying home with the baby and I miss the challenges and stimulation work brought. But also like you, this time is such a gift and it passes so quickly! Love to you and your beautiful family!


    1. Thank-you Sarah! The time does pass so quickly. Sometimes I feel guilty for wanting to go back to work, but when I did go back (for a month only), I was absolutely miserable because I missed my little guy SO MUCH!


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