I am a Dona de Casa.
And you don’t have to know Portuguese to gather my occupation. I am Lord of the House. Master of my Domain. The Woman, if you will.
I like this much better than the conventional term “housewife.” For one thing, the construction of this detestable word is reversed. I am not the house’s possession – I do not answer to it, nor do I owe it any obligation whatsoever. Rather, it answers to me.
I also like that I am the Dona. Not the mulher (woman) or the esposa (wife). The Dona. The very word conjures up images of Spanish Dons conquering the frontiers unknown. Strong, fearless and powerful. The Dona. The Queen.
May I get that on a business card?
I hate it when people ask what I do. I often change my answer; sometimes I’m a “stay-at-home mom,” sometimes a “homemaker.” And then I inevitably get the slight raising of the eyebrows and a flash of pity across the forehead. And worst of all, the ahhhh/head nod. That’s the worst. I can just hear their thoughts, “So you don’t do anything, is that right?” Silence follows. It’s not as if I’m an accountant or a secretary or a Peace Corps ambassador. There aren’t any natural follow-up questions. “Which company do you work for?” Little Prince, Ouro Branco, and Mr. Squishy Inc. “How long have you worked there?” Four and a half years already. “Do you meet with many clients?” Yes, we have playgroups. “How did you get started there?” That’s not a topic I generally discuss.
One of the reasons I skipped my high school reunion was to avoid the “and what do you do?” question. I didn’t want to meet up with my old cronies, sans stretch marks, and hear about their fabulous singleton lives. Why on earth would they want to listen to me babble about Ouro Branco’s eating capabilities when they’re traveling the world?
But here’s the thing. I love what I do. Really. Truly. Love what I do. There is no way on earth I would give up full-time mommyship. So why don’t I shout it from the mountaintops?
Because the mountaintops don’t share in my joy.
When you got an ‘A’ on that killer math test, your mom hung it on the fridge. When your soccer team made it to regionals, the whole town turned out to watch and the local paper featured the game. When you tackled the most complicated project at work, you got your face tacked up under “Employee of the Month.”
Everyone needs praise.
Experiencing ecstatic joy with my sons is akin to Mr. Squishy recently trying to eat a beach ball. It just doesn’t fit inside; I have to share it. And then the ensuing frustration when nobody cares. Indeed – what I get is not mutual happiness, but pity and commiserations.
If all the world celebrated and appreciated we Donas de Casa, life would be a different story. No one would be safe from daily updates on Da Boyz. If just once someone answered, “Oh, wow! A housewife! I’ve always wanted to do that. What’s it like?” I’d give them an earful and such a sales pitch they’d quit their job and procreate right away.
Because I do feel like a queen. I may only have three subjects, but they adore and revere me like no magistrate ever was. When I wake up in the morning, the only thing I want to do is cultivate and beautify my little kingdom. I enjoy my work - and it is work. Running my kingdom requires every ounce of physical energy, mental fortitude, and creative faculty I possess.
But however hard I love my kingdom, no one recognizes my municipality. It’s not that I want V.I.P. treatment or my own consulate or even a parade. I just want recognition that my kingdom exists. And I am not a lowly squire, I am its queen. Its Dona – capitalized.