Monday, November 21, 2011

Hausfrau's Identity

On our second day in Wiesbaden, in autumn 2010, we went to open German bank accounts. I was officially on summer vacation but would start my maternity leave in couple of days. However, I was still pretty much in 'work mode'.

In opening the bank accounts, the bank clerk filled the system database with our personal information. When he came to the part of my occupation, he looked at my baby-belly, and stated: "Hausfrau". I looked at him in confusion. Yes, I was going to be home for a while with the baby, but I didn't feel is was my 'occupation'.

Quite a big part of how I see myself has been built during the years in university and at work. So, this new 'job title' caused a bit of identity crisis for me. I had prepared myself on becoming a mother, but 'Hausfrau' indicated something else. In English, the term is quite similar, 'housewife', but in Finnish we say 'kotiäiti', literally 'home-mum'.

It has now been about 14 months since the incident in the bank. I have kind of adapted to this new role, although I still feel more familiar with the term 'home-mum' than with 'Hausfrau'. And if someone now asked for my occupation, I would still give the title of the job, which I have waiting for me back in Finland...

But I want to make something clear here. Even though I have struggled a bit with this Hausfrau identity, I in no means want to downplay this occupation! It just doesn't feel like 'me'. And I must acknowledge that it is great that in Germany this kind of occupation exists. In Finland, the bank clerk would have asked about my education or my 'real' employment, as being home would most likely be a temporary thing. Or if I hadn't had any job to go back to, he would probably had marked down 'unemployed'.

And being a Hausfrau is most certainly a full-time job!

Hausfrau and her baby exactly one year ago

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