My mother was a housewife. It was easier and more affordable for her to stay home with all of us kids. We started caring for foster babies when I was young so there were no less than five of us at any given time. The home was her domain and everything was tidy and clean and healthy supper was on the table nearly every night. In the evenings she and my dad would often escape together to go get a Coke and take a drive with the portable cassette player singing tunes sans children. I always assumed she would get a job when we all moved out. But she didn’t. It took awhile for me to realize, she has a job. And even though my dad is retired, she still has the job. She is a full-time homemaker.
Women are brilliant nurturers, mothers, and just asking one’s husband to get something that is clearly right in front of him in the cupboard but he can’t find it is proof that the home is our domain. Men are our warriors, our providers, our heavy lifters. There are exceptions, of course, but homesteading on a prairie practically off-grid taught me that our roles are not to “put us in our place” or “keep us in the kitchen,” they were (are) practical ways for survival. Yes, we can all switch roles, but it took Doug a quarter of the time to chop wood, move hay, or fix something. And if he goes to clean something, put something away, or heaven forbid, sew something, odds are I am going to have to do it again so we just stuck to our roles! Men innately take pride in providing for the family. Women in the past always took care of the children, took care of the home, took pride in their work, and would often make a little extra money for the household by selling hand crafted items.
We have noticed over the years of raising children, and even as empty nesters, that when I have a job we spend more money. At that point, I don’t have time to clean the house so we hire a house cleaner. I don’t have the energy to cook so we go out. I need a break so we go do something. We spend a lot of money and eat terribly.
I always stayed home or had my own business that I could take my kids to when they were growing up, but what about now? I think about the judgment I passed on my mother in my late teens for staying home and making dad “do all the work.” Is that how society will view me? Now that my businesses have closed we have been talking about me being a homemaker. We are modern homesteaders in the city. We preserve as much food as possible. We have chickens. I crochet and quilt and sew. We use a wood stove in the evenings. I write books and this blog and I do get some small royalties. I teach a few classes in my home and I am an herbalist. Can I give myself permission to be a homemaker too?
We purposely chose a city where our mortgage payment can easily be covered by one person. We don’t have fancy cell phone plans or cable. We have designed a life where I can be a housewife, which is where I am happiest. I love nurturing, folding warm clothes, having a hot meal ready when my husband gets home from work, having the errands done so we can relax together on the weekends, hand making Christmas presents, caring for my animals, and being there when my grown children and grandbabies need me. It is the hardest job I can think of but it suits my busy, independent nature just fine. Yes, I think I will thrive here.
If we give ourselves the option to be anything and to do anything, let us also give ourselves the right to be homemakers. May we all give more respect and honor to the housewives, the homemakers, the stay-at-home Mamas, and the stay-at-home Grammies in our society for they keep the heart of the family and home beating strong.