Ya know that whole pressure toward "have a career; you're wasting your mind on staying home!" thing aimed at women?
Being a housewife/mom is damn hard. Really damn hard.
I spent six years in college. Had a blast doing so, too--I really enjoyed the discussions of the reading assignments, and I really enjoyed the intellectual challenges in classes I wasn't as well-grounded in.* Loved languages, the rules of the languages, and linguistics and how languages developed. Enjoyed learning how language was acquired, too.
The last two years of college, I was taught how to teach writing. Somewhat. Half-assed. Mostly learned by example, and used what I learned from my instructors to be a better instructor, since the ones trying to teach me how to teach didn't know how themselves.
I spent a lot of time and mental energy teaching, thinking about teaching, writing, and thinking about teaching writing. It's what I was trained to do. I knew how to do it, and I was good at it.
And then I had kids. First one came eight weeks early--right at the mid-point of the semester--and I had to leave campus. No big deal, I thought, I'll just switch to online teaching. From teaching on campus. From '03 (in grad school) to '08. I didn't have any training or guidance on how to do that, but I managed. And I continued teaching online and stayed home with my son.
And then my daughter.
And I learned that the teaching stuff I'd been trained to do in no way translated to what I needed to know to do the mommy stuff. Which I had to learn on the job, because that? Yeah, the "how to" resources on parenting suck balls.
And that's leaving aside everything else.
I am still a teacher--but now, I'm learning things just before I teach them. Instead of previously being the expert in the room.
I am also a general manager, an administrative assistant, a short-order cook, an economist, a personal shopper, an efficiency expert. I deal in finance, in triage, in tailoring, in housekeeping. I have deep base knowledge in history, philosophy, religion, and several different sciences.
I have training in none of those things. None.
Thing is, I should have. My mom was a stay at home mom. I didn't get taught how to cook. I got chased out of the kitchen: "Oh, you're making a mess, just let me do it--get out of the way." And there was nowhere in the kitchen that was out of the way, so I didn't learn by watching, either.
I didn't get taught how to keep house.** I didn't get taught how to drive until my other half taught me. And I don't really blame Mom for that--somebody prone to panic attacks should not teach somebody prone to panic attacks how to drive.
I am still not entirely sure how I learned to budget, how to stick to a budget, or comparison shop--Mom doesn't do either, and didn't from the time I started paying attention. I don't know how I learned to differentiate between "go to the doctor with this" and "don't bother going to the doctor--they won't be able to do anything about it." Mom's always been a hypochondriac. All the way up to when it actually counted, and now she won't go to the doctor to have her cancer dealt with.
I read, incessantly. I research things I don't know, and that is the one, single thing that translated over from learning to teach research and writing to house-wifing: I can tell when something's sorta right, when something's totally bullshit, when something's been spun so hard in the presentation that, even if the facts are true, it's still false.
It's not wasting my mind being a housewife. It's not wasting my talents being a stay-at-home-mom. It's really freakin' hard, and there are so many jobs that I have to transition between, without pause. Or sometimes multitask doing jobs that DON'T go together, and still somehow managing. This is far more intellectually challenging than teaching college--or really, any other single-focus career--could ever hope to be.
There really is something for Heinlein's take on what a human being is.
*Except math. I hated math. I could never figure out which equation to use in what situation to get the outcome being demanded. And biology--I preferred my coursework on paper, not my hands.
**That's...not entirely Mom's fault. She was directed by the head of DFS that she wasn't to make my sister and me pick up after ourselves. It really needs to be a daily thing, and a routine habit, and I never learned it.