Housewifery In Italy

   This is my first time to be a true housewife–I am a housewife with an Italian twist. When my kids were little, I taught part-time. Then I stopped teaching at the university and began homeschooling, which is very different from being a housewife. It is a very special kind of work. Although I was home all the time, and still cooked and cleaned, my primary duties were educational and my mind was on executing lessons and overseeing schoolwork all day long. Then I went back to teaching at the university. And then went back to homeschooling once again.
    Now here I am at 47 years old, and for the first time in my life, all my 6 kids are all in school. I do not have a work visa here in Italy, and so teaching is not a possibility right now. Homeschooling is illegal in Italy, so that is not an option either. It is amazing to me that after I drop the kids off in the mornings, I have their entire school day, until 1:30 pm. alone.
    First, I go grocery shopping. Because our kitchenette has no storage and is the size of a postage stamp, I go every day and get fresh food just for that day. I work all morning toward the 2 pm lunch that is the biggest meal of the day when all the kids come home. I put away groceries, clean breakfast dishes, and put on laundry. Then I scrub and chop vegetables, brown meat, and start a pasta sauce. Each lunch usually consists of a pasta with a homemade sauce, then a meat and a vegetable and fresh bread from the bakery. Or else it is a big stew like chicken cacciatore, coq au vin, beef and vegetable stew, or tuscan white bean soup. I also make one or two vegetables each day, like huge platters of roasted cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, artichokes or zucchini. These meals take between one and two hours to prepare, just because the kitchen is so small that you can only do one thing at a time, there is such little counter space, and you have to clean everything as you go. It’s like making quasi-gourmet meals on a sailboat, motorhome or campground site.
      Then, I have to vacuum and mop the floors every day, because Charlie, our 100 lb. Golden Labrador, frolics in the vineyard all day and tracks in dirt and mud. If you measured how much dirt he brings in on a given day, it would probably be at least a cup full. It hides in his paws and fur. Plus he sheds. So, on a good day, we leave him out all day, and then bathe him when he comes in for the evening. But many days, he sneaks in and out with people entering or exiting, and then we do not get to his bath in the evening. So we live with a constant layer of soot, just good, clean dirt, coating our floors. I fight a losing battle every day cleaning them.
      Then I rotate the laundry and try to get three loads in. The washing machine is tiny, and the shortest cycle takes 1 hour and 4 minutes. Then the dryer, equally as tiny, takes 2 hours and 17 minutes. So I run the first load and then put it in the dryer. Then I run a second load that will get air-dried, and then run a third load that will get put in the dryer after the first load. All that takes 4 hours and 34 minutes. That is almost exactly the amount of time I have from the time I get home from the grocery store to the time I have to go pick up Sebastian and Annie.
    All that takes until about 11 am. While the food continues to cook and the laundry to run, I then have about 2 hours to myself. I exercise, check emails, run errands. Last semester, I had enough time in there to write a 40,000 page manuscript.
     This semester, what will I do with my free time? In addition to working with the press on revisions, I want to write the Metaphysics of Motherhood, essays on this topic that has interested me for 10 years. I also want to write a book, For Mothers Who Fail, because so many mothers struggle with failing at their job and the Christian message, I think, has a strong message of consolation and seeing the situation with a different lens. I want to take some classes in theology at the Angelicum so that I can eventually write a theology of motherhood. I also have to study for the Italian driver’s license, the patente, which is a monster and so should be very time consuming. It seems like a lot to cram into hours a day. But I’ve never had so much time to follow my interests in my entire adult life. What a pleasure it is to be a one-of-a-kind housewife in Italy.