Why does housewifery matter so much? What is the big deal? I mean, as women, aren't we suppose to want the corporate job, the important position, scraping for the bacon and finding our name among those who made something of themselves? I am all for a woman's ability to do and be what she wants, but has the feminist movement devalued the simple desire of being a housewife?
What if what I want is to be a housewife? Not a scientist or doctor or CEO.
What if I find my position as caretaker and manager of my home important? What if the bacon I am scraping for is the pieces sizzling in my pan? What if the only place I really care about seeing my name is on the points list for coupons at my grocery store? When did housewifery become so remedial?
In Courtney Reissig's books, "The Accidental Feminist" and "Glory in the Ordinary" she explores the history of feminism and the repercussion and implications to today's housewife... it is startling. (For links to her books visit my "Store" tab above). Honestly, I didn't need her books to tell me what I was already seeing... but her books helped me to understand I was not alone... what I see is not an isolated experience. Her books, I felt, gave me a voice in unison instead of ashamedly letting go silent in my suffering of self-devaluing and inundated struggles with condemnation from the women and men who want to say:
"Oh, you're JUST a housewife...
when are you going to get a 'real' job...
when are you going to actually contribute to your household...
you are just lazy, you don't want to work."
[insert heart-break emoji here]
That's real. That's truth. Do you get it too?
But while these statements may really and truthfully happen... they are not truthful reality to the position and demands of a housewife.
I'm old/young enough to have intimately known the 1940s and 50s housewives... they were my grandparents and great-aunts. I watched them tie their aprons as I sat on their raised chrome and vinyl kitchen chairs with flip-down step-stools, peeling potatoes with a pairing knife onto Formica counters and chatting about chores and baking secrets. I watched my grandfathers scuffle in with their metal Stanley lunch pails, thermoses clasped in the top, pecking their grinning wives on the cheeks before exiting to wash up and change for dinner.
That is what I think of when I see housewifery in its truest form.
My grandfathers and great-uncles delighted in their day-to-day jobs. None of them had the luxury of suit and tie office work, all were blue-color blokes providing for nice homes, vacations fishing on the rivers and lakes of the Midwest, modest well running cars and gifts for the grandkids, nieces and nephews when occasions arose.
The women of this generation toiled about the home, keeping it tidy, the bills paid, the decor in line and nutritious meals wrapped in wax for the daily lunch and piping hot dishes of roast beef or meatloaf with mashed potatoes, real mashed potatoes, on plates each evening. It was a time of fresh butter on a bowl of warm cream of wheat and small juice glasses filled each morning with sweet orange goodness. A time where "inequality" wasn't shouted when little girls pulled out small wooden ironing boards to mimic mother's while Johnny hauled the trash and played with metal pick-up trucks in the dirt.
There were times when this generation of women took in sewing for cash or learned her way around an Avon case to present to neighborhood women who were always quick to support each others pursuits in order to pad the bank account a bit or take care of a short-term wayward bill. They may take odd-jobs in and out of the home, but the home was most important. Community work and volunteering made a close second. Volunteer work many organizations now have to do additional fundraisers for in order to hire the same help which came abundantly for free from the heart only a few decades ago. Less money and resources for those they are trying to help.
How is this less-than?
If we don't clean our homes, who will?
If we spend all day at the office, where is our energy for much more beyond the basics in the evenings?
If we aren't home to do prep work, how are nutritious meals able to make a mainstay on household menus?
I'm not saying that women who work outside of the home are any less.... rather, I am pointing out that woman who work inside the home are just as much.
Is a man who collects garbage each week any less necessary to society than the banker who dons his suit and sits at his desk each day? Is the maid any less necessary to the function of a corporation than the management working there?
Think about it, we pay housekeepers and daycare providers and food industry workers and bus drivers and laundresses and gardeners and landscapers and home designers separately to do the tasks ONE housewife does each and every day... not to mention the planning, management and bill-paying aspect many of us also take on.
So tell me again, how is a housewife less-than? How is her roll any less accomplished then a woman in an office job or corporate space?
I read recently that it boils down to priorities. If we see "accomplishment" as advancement in position and pay, than our priority rests with the worldly concept of what we can attain. But if we view "accomplishment" as what we contribute irregardless of pay, then any position can vie for value.
It could be that our grand contribution in a given day is keeping our children out of danger... it could be having the time and taking the time to help a neighbor or aging/ill family member... it can even be that nutritious meal you put on the table, aiding your family's health and ability to do what they need to do.
Perhaps, in simplest terms, it is the human element we housewives contribute to the greater good of society: home. A body who is always there, always available, always loving and always willing. In an age of momentary pleasantries, kiosk ordering and UPS drivers who ring and run, I think our society is grossly lacking in the love of human care and connection.
We may not feel "connected" as we dust and vacuum in solitary fashion but, in fact, we are more connected than the grocery store clerk who quickly rushes each next patron through the line. Our children know our arms are ready to embrace. Our husband knows the home is being made ready for his arrival at the end of a long day. Family and friends know our voice will warmly welcome their calls at any time of the day.
Don't think you are just a housewife, you are so much more and, even if the only ladder you climb is the one you've placed to change a bulb or paint a wall, as long as you do it with your whole heart, focused on the glory of the Lord and the care of those you serve, then you are accomplished.
Ignore the nay-sayers... you know the truth. Jesus had nay-sayers, but He knew the ultimate Truth. He wasn't swayed, he plugged on, for the glory of the Lord.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.
In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world."
It isn't about whether you have children in the home or not.
It isn't about whether you are young or older.
It isn't about whether or not your family can afford the latest greatest [fill in the blank here].
It isn't about 'what are you doing with your time'... (you know what you are doing with your time!!!)
Even on the tough days when you feel like you have accomplished nothing or gotten everything wrong.. cling.
You are NOT less than.
You are more than enough.
Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all."
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Blessings, sweet housewife.
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