Wednesday, 13 March 2013

From Marketing Manager to...

... housewife? Homemaker?

People ask me all the time if I've got a job lined up for after the honeymoon. When Mr. is there at the time, he'll often give a little wry smile and say, "Housewife...?" - I love how he does that.

And of course I want to give my all, certainly my main focus, to the home we are going to build together. But I know so many women who work because they just don't have that choice, and I feel bad to boast about having a choice in the matter - and making the counter-cultural choice, the easy-looking one. As one colleague ironically put it, 'Are you going to work, or just enjoy the lifestyle to which you shall become accustomed?'

I don't believe for a moment that 'not working' really means 'not working'. Making a home is work. And it's not work I have prepared for, the way I have prepared for my career with a degree. Also, it's not a rewarded kind of work - no salaries, no bonuses, no recognition, no advancement. It's a truly serving kind of job: most of it goes unnoticed (only when things go wrong are they noticed), it's a daily commitment, it's physical work, and it's always in the background. There are no awards for homemaking. If anything, a raised eyebrow when an acquaintance asks what you do.

So I need to...

  • be secure in my identity, value and worth as they come from my Father, not from the recognition and admiration of others. 
  • truly desire to serve my husband. He will continue to go out and work full-time, giving lots of energy to his job; I want our home to be a place of rest and peace for him, and creating that kind of home takes work and commitment - which he probably won't see most of the time, or only be dimly aware of. He'll just experience it and, hopefully, be happy to come home each day.
  • prioritise all other tasks; whether or not I take on any remunerated work. I might work from home as a freelancer, I might do part-time work; how it all pans out is still open. But my priority has got to be home, from now on.
It takes a lot of maturity to do this, I think. And I'm not sure I have what it takes. But I'm willing to try - actually, excited to start!

Sunday, 10 March 2013


It's Mother's Day, and I'm thinking about fathers.

I haven't had a good father. Because I am commanded to honour my father, and because it's not good to speak ill of the dead, I won't elaborate on why —suffice to say that as a 12-year-old, I kicked him out of the family home because my mother didn't feel able to, and until I began following God at age 21 I never acknowledged or spoke to him again. He was dead to me.

God is nothing like my father, he is the perfect father - so I needed to learn what that means. God knew that, and has given me not one, but several amazing fathers in the faith over the years; men who have invested their time and love to show me something about what God meant when he said he was my father.

I have just asked one of these men to walk me down the isle at my wedding in 2 weeks' time, Justin from Winchester. He and his wife, Alexia, have walked with me and guided me through an incredibly intense growth period in my life, a time I still look back on as formative years of healing and change.

There is nothing better than family!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Our new home isn't a house

I struggle to write this down, as if saying it out loud (writing it for all the world to see) could wake me up from a dream and it would all be gone. But it's real, it is really happening - we are buying a boat to live on!

Everyone around us has reservations. Typical questions are, isn't it too small, too dark, too damp, cold, cramped... and funny enough, dark, cold and cramped are exactly the criticisms I have always had about Mr.'s current house. But that's not what this is, at all!

Here are a few photos:

To me, there is a real sense of space - both inside, because of the light and high-quality interior, and outside, where the eye can go into the distance on the water and there is a sense that we could just go there, too. And we could! That's the beauty of this: we aren't stuck in one place. We can go places, right there in our home.

I do realise that not everything will be rosy. It's probably not fun emptying out the waste container on a cold, rainy day. But this has such a good 'gut' feel about it for me - yet beyond that, I've also tried to think about everything (particularly people's reservations). Let's list what I see as the advantages:

  • Heating. She's well insulated (foam spray throughout) - holds the heat very well, and being a small space, heats up quickly. Heating a house costs a fortune, and most of that is wasted - heat rises, so the benefit goes out through the roof, and houses are big spaces to heat and much less well insulated. This barge has central heating as well as a wood / coal burner that really heats the space up. Double glazing too.
  • Space. Of course this move means a downsize for us, and the need to get rid of a lot of stuff. Yet to me, that is an advantage! I like the idea of a minimal lifestyle, of not accumulating more and more 'stuff'. And there's less space to keep clean :)
    However, there is a spacious feel about this boat. Visual spaciousness, rather than physical - the views, the knowledge of being able to move about. It doesn't feel cramped.
  • Location. We could never afford to live so centrally. Everything is here! Yet, despite it being city centre, there isn't that cramped feeling of living on top of each other and never seeing the sky or the horizon. This feels spacious, yet is central.
    I think this is a major part in why I feel this will work for us as a place to live. When you live in a super small place like this, you don't want to spend all your time there (cabin fever?) - instead, it's a springboard to access all the things around. Libraries, public places, cafes, walks (despite it being central, there's a big green open space not far!).
  • Neighbours. Being in a marina, living aboard a boat, there is a real neighbourly spirit and people know each other and help each other out. We are absolute novices, but even the sellers of our boat have said they would definitely be back, take us out on our first few trips if we like, help with any questions. And people with different skills across the marina are happy to help with various things. I look forward to becoming part of a real, local, neighbour community.
Disadvantages do exist of course.
  • No garden. Not a disadvantage to me, because I can't stand gardening work, but it's a bit of a loss to Mr. - however, there are green spaces around.
  • Visitors. Parking isn't impossible, and there are free spaces (for 4 hours) nearby, but any overnight visitors will have to find some solution - either pay for parking, or park far off and we'd come and fetch them. Because those 4-hour spots are there however, I don't feel that is a major issue.
    Overnight visitors will have to stay either in the guest room (as long as we don't have kids) or on a day bed in the lounge.
  • Mooring cost. Bristol Marina isn't cheap. It does have great amenities, and it's central, and there's no other place at the moment that we could have a residential mooring. Out there in Bristol harbour, residential moorings are extremely rarely available. The way I see it, it's best for us to stay at the marina for the moment, have neighbours around and learn everything we need about this way of living, and if at some point we are able to move to a cheaper place that still works for us, then we can still do that. That's the beauty of being able to move our home around!
  • Kids. I can see this working with one, two kids maybe - three would be a stretch. Certainly when they grow older. It can be done, however; there are several kids in the marina. I have a lot to learn about living in small spaces, especially as a family, but I have no doubt it can be done!
  • No pets. That's a real downside to me. It's not that pets can't live on a boat, it's that Bristol Marina won't allow them. So at least for the time we are there, we can't have a dog. I would absolutely love to have a dog... but if that's not to be for the moment, that is a sacrifice I'm prepared to make.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Preparing: Worries

Ask the Mr., and he will assure you that he has no worries about getting married to me. That's lovely, and I'm not worried about marrying him either.

However, I do have nerves about how I will do as a wife. It's a radical change of lifestyle. I'm not going into this venture half-heartedly; it's not like moving in with a new housemate, except one that I sleep with... this is about doing life together, making a home: things I've never done before.

So what are my specific worries?

The first few months - adjusting to life without working away from home. I might get a job later, but to start with, I will need to stay home to manage the move. He will have to go back to work after the honeymoon, but I can take a break and be present to manage moving to a new house. Manage builders, if necessary. Do DIY things like painting.

Funny enough, I'm not all that worried about this initial time. It'll keep me busy. (though I do wonder about how physically demanding this will all be, given that all I've ever done for work involved sitting at desks!)

But that time will end. At one point, we'll have a new house, and we'll live in it. Then what? I worry about how well I'll do at keeping the house clean and tidy. Establish a routine, stick to it consistently. I think of my gran, whose house was always spotless and she took care of any messes immediately. Then I think of my own (rented) accommodations... usually tidy, I'm not a messy person, but dirt will accumulate in corners and behind things over time. This is excusable when one works all the time and only comes home to sleep, but when my work is keeping the house, it isn't ok.

Will I be bored, being at home? Ought I go find a job? (Mr. is happy either way, and thinks - and I agree - that as long as there aren't kids, it's a good idea for me to bring in extra money) Or, as my friend S joked, will this all be a moot discussion because I'll return from honeymoon pregnant?

Who knows... God does. I'm just a worrier.