I used to have a job description. I had hours, and a lunch break, and yearly goals. I knew what was expected of me and someone paid me to do it. Then I moved overseas as an accompanying spouse.
“What will you do when you move overseas?” people would ask. As an accompanying spouse without a specific job I would answer, “Oh, I’ll be a full time mom and who knows what else.”
Who knows what else turned out to be a legit part of my new unwritten job description.
Of course over the last five years there have been a lot of predictable tasks. Language learning, culture learning, home schooling, cooking, cleaning… But this post isn’t about those predictable tasks. This post is all about the Who knows what else that we find ourselves doing without any explanation other than, someone has to do it so it might as well be me.
Animal nurse: After the local vet killed 4 of our kittens with a vaccine overdose, I sucked up my ick factor and got to it. I can dusk chickens for mites, clean and tend wounds, and keep a dog’s persistent case of mange in check.
Gardener: I’m not naturally a green thumb. In fact, I have yet to successfully grow cilantro or jalapenos. This is one of the great sadnesses of living where I do. However, I have successfully grown tomatoes, cabbage, green onions, pear squash, basil, and lettuces. There are no less than 19 lettuces in my garden at present because while flavorful Mexican food may be out of reach, salad is not.
Medical advice enthusiast: “Please let me take you to the doctor.” is a request I’ve made numerous times. I’ve portioned out pills, given endless reminders of doctor’s orders, tended wounds, and felt the helplessness of watching a hurting person seek help from a traditional method that harms more than it heals.
Club Starter: I led a chess club today. Never saw that one coming. But here, you quickly realize if you want your children to have an opportunity to participate in activities they are interested in, you will probably have to start it yourself.
Local fool: Wish my neighbors a Happy Birthday instead of a Merry Christmas? That was me. Insult someone’s cooking when I meant to compliment it? Yep. Smile and nod when I have no idea what’s going on? Absolutely.
Butcher: The first time my meat arrived in a black plastic bag still attached to the fur was a bit of a shock. I lifted the hunk of flesh and was grateful ears were still attached so at least I had an idea what part of the pig we received.
Pro Tip: Soak the chunks of cleaned up meat in bleach water to kill off maggots and eggs, and don’t forget to semi freeze meat before grinding to minimize blood splatter.
Librarian: Children’s literature is one of my loves and I’ve managed to collect hundreds of books, even here overseas. Anisha, I’m looking for a book. Do you have a book about… is a request I can usually help with.
Baggage mule: My hand luggage has included spices, shoes, mobile phones, seeds, frozen ground beef, sausages, exercise equipment, medicines, letters, broccoli, strawberries, papaya… When you live in a town only accessible by air, “Can you take with you…” and “Can you bring back…” are common and reasonable requests.
I think I’ll write myself a new job description. It’ll be short and to the point. Narrow enough so I know what’s expected of me, but broad enough to cover other eventualities. Maybe something like:
Position: Accompanying Spouse.
Duties to include:
Nope. Can’t be done. At least I tried.