Monday, November 21, 2016

Why It's OK To Want To Be A Housewife Today


I have a confession to make. If I meet the right man within the next few years, get married, and he's in a position where I can stay at home and earn income on my blogs and freelance writing either full-time or in conjunction with a part-time job outside of the home, I'd be thrilled. I'm also perfectly happy cleaning the house and making dinner for him while he works full-time.

In other words, there's a part of me that fantasizes about being a housewife, albeit a modern (and hopefully not desperate) one.

Is that shocking? A sexist view? Do I sound lazy? Way too old school? (Well, this is a retro blog, after all.) Am I setting my sisterhood of my fellow gender back about a century with that revelation?

I don't think so. In recent years I've come across blog posts...and entire blogs...written by modern housewives. Young ones, too; younger than me in most cases. And they're happy, and they love it. Some of these women don't even have children and they love the arrangement. And they assure their readers that it isn't a case of being controlled by their husband; this was a choice (albeit one they made after confirming that it was financially feasible for their household.)

I think that's the key word: choice. A lot of feminists may not be thrilled by the idea of women devoting most of their time to minding the children and keeping the kitchen floor shiny (without any yellow waxy build-up, the very thing that plagued Mary Hartman.) But if there's one thing feminism accomplished in the 20th century, it's that it gave women choices. That includes a choice of going to work outside of the household, or staying at home.


I realize that not everyone can do it. The cost of living in America has skyrocketed--especially in particular states--compared to when my parents were married and raising my siblings and me. I consider myself very lucky that I always had my mother waiting at home to greet me when I came home from school. By the 1980s, many of the kids in my school were living with a divorced parent and often coming home to an empty house while their mom or dad was still at the office.

And it isn't that my mother didn't want to work. Before I was born, she once got a job at a florist and the store manager was going to train her in floral arranging, and my father made her quit. What the reason was, we don't know exactly, but I believe he was self-conscious and didn't like relinquishing part of the financial power to her. To this day, she still resents it, and says she would have had a nice nest egg saved up as a result. (Later, when I was a teenager and in my 20s, she did do sewing work at home for a woman that ran her own children's clothing business.)

My dad was a control freak, and that makes me a bit resentful, too. The WWII generation was a different animal compared to the guys of today. Great in some ways, but behind the times compared to today in others. My dad never changed a single diaper in his life; today, I don't think I've met a single father that's never helped out in that department.


But back to the joys of housewifery...I have a friend that I met through my Meetup group that is married and stays at home, by choice. She has a degree in hydraulic engineering and did have a full-time job a few years ago, but says she was so bored she was falling asleep at her desk. She and her husband have no children; when they met in college, she told him she didn't want them and he was OK with that. They own a big, beautiful home and travel about 3-4 times a year, and that includes at least one international excursion. She cooks. They entertain. And...they're happy. Really, really happy for a couple that's been married over 20 years. They're huge on fostering dogs and she's very active with a local dog rescue group. If she's not fostering a new dog in her home, she's transporting it to another foster or their forever home.

She probably wouldn't think of herself as a housewife or homemaker; after all, her passion that takes up most of her free time is helping the dogs. But I think she is, just a modern one that again, was lucky enough to have that choice.

I would imagine that for couples where one spouse/partner stays at home, that things have to be relatively less stressful then households where both partners work full-time. Maybe not so if you have babies and/or toddlers or a special needs child, but when the kids are in school I would imagine, in general, that there's more time for a stay-at-home mom to be able to exercise, take a nap, or meet a friend for lunch. I don't have children and yet there were many work weeks where I felt frazzled and like there were too many responsibilities at home that needed to be tended to before the weekend came. I would think to myself how easy I had it compared to a mother that needs to take care of her children's needs on top of working 40 hours a week or more.

And let's not forget that there are a lot of househusbands out there today as well. I saw an article earlier this year about the unfair judgement these men often receive from their female counterparts at the playground and bus stop. These guys have said that they are frowned upon, and often viewed with less respect than stay-at-home moms. Many have lost their jobs and are taking care of the kids while their wife works and supports the household. In my opinion, there's absolutely nothing wrong with this arrangement; they should be commended for stepping up to the plate and raising the kids. It's not like their masculinity has taken a hit because they're home with their children full-time.


There was a time when I thought I'd be bored out of my mind if I didn't have a full-time job. But now, after more than 20 years of bouncing from company to company and trying to prove myself, sometimes to really overly egotistical people, only to find myself downsized...well, the archaic housewife dream doesn't seem all that bad. Maybe it sounds like I'm setting women back, but I don't think there's anything so bad about wanting to keep a house decent looking and providing a hot meal for a husband when he gets home (provided he chips in on the weekends with cooking and household/yard chores.)

And if I do get bored and want to return to a full-time job? I would still want to have that choice.

Well, this is just my opinion, anyway. I have a lot of respect for housewives, both past and present. And if there are any happy housewives (or husbands) that read my blog and feel like chipping in with their two cents and how it's working for them, I'd love to hear it!

8 comments:

  1. Enjoyed reading this Pam! For the record, you're hardly alone... before I 'early retired' from my job, I worked with a dozen women in my office & the married ones ALL used to say they'd happily quit their jobs if their husbands earned enough to support their family.

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    1. Thanks Doug, and I'm secretly relieved to hear that about your female coworkers!

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  2. Hi Pam. I'm a SAHM and I love it!! Financially it works for us, it gives me plenty of time to look after the kids, and gives me flexibility to spend time with my husband at times I wouldn't be able to if I were working a 9-5 job. He runs his own business, and I'll often keep him company on a delivery run, or sit and chat with him when he's home doing paperwork. I really value these "stolen" moments that just wouldn't be possible if I were working outside the home. I'm also much calmer than when I was working. For us, me being a housewife is definitely a positive.

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  3. Say isn't that Colleen Corby in the last pic? Pam, there's nothing wrong at all with wanting to be a housewife. In fact, it is perfectly natural. Until recently husbands and wives typically worked together, albeit it in different roles, for the same common enterprise. That could have been in a small farm or a family business in town. Then came the Industrial Revolution. That was the first big thing that started to tear apart this natural alliance. Then the big one was sub-urbanization after WW II. Now men went to work in the cities and women stayed behind in a box in the butrbs. They were cut off from family and real community and didn't have much to do, no wonder they were resentful. Then came the Sexual Revolution and all that which drove the wedge even deeper. Modernity is really to blame. However, with the new information technology, perhaps that could change. Men and women could once again work together, like in the old days, using their different talents and temperaments to compliment one another. Nothing wrong with that at all!!

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  4. I quit work in 2011 and happily stay home. She Who Will Be Obeyed has high stress job and I am a bit antisocial... It works for us for me to be able to take care of those little jobs that are best accomplished during the week. (I retired from service after 20+ years...) We would rather have peace than the extra money.

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    1. Glad it's worked out well for you and your wife...and thank you for your service!

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  5. Pam, I hope you find that guy. My wife worked part time when our two girls lived with us and that was fine by me; taking care of school and doctor's appointments and guitar lessons and play dates was really a full time job that meant we both worked 2 jobs, mine were paying, one of hers was not. Well, unless you count raising two great kids. I have no regrets in that regard, it was the right thing to do for them. She left when the kids moved out (soap opera that I'll skip) and I now wish that I had a domestic goddess that could take care of the daily chores that I have to cram into every weekend. I admire you for saying it, I think a lot of the problems we have today could be alleviated by at-home domestic partners. Looks like you're batting .1000 on the blog in support.

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  6. Thanks very much everyone for the comments -- sounds like it has worked out well for those that have one partner at home to take care of domestic responsibilities. I think the past 30-40 years where two partners work full time (and I realize most of the time it's due to necessity) is finally catching up with us in the form of stress and sometimes divorce. Maybe this trend I'm hearing more about lately where one partner chooses to stay at home while the other is the breadwinner will become more common in the years to come.

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