I proudly own being a housewife, or “stay-at-home-mom”.
It’s damn hard. Harder than graduate school, and I trust me graduate school is hard –I know what I’m talking about because I did that twice. Shoot, being a housewife makes graduate school seem like a walk in the park. No, this housewife stuff is not for wimps –it’s like having ten jobs rolled into one with no vacation time, no sick-leave and no pay. Yup, it is one of the hardest things I have ever done by a large margin.
So, even though the reality is that I’m an over-educated and under-qualified housewife, I’m proud to own this wildly under-appreciated and under-estimated occupation. Mind you, I wouldn’t get any Joan Cleaver or Donna Reed awards, in fact I might be a bit of an embarrassment to the profession… but I guess you don’t always have to excel to feel proud of your work.
Cleaning house and folding clothes aren’t my fortes. I can put in a good effort: well, maybe not with folding. (I have to admit that even my best effort to make a store quality rectangle out of a t-shirt often looks a bit more like an origami crane that someone stepped on.)
I had never intended to become a housewife and thus didn’t possess many of the necessary skills. –I held out for as long as I could on the cooking. (Hey, I grew up during the 80s women’s lib movement and that home-economic stuff was not cool.) The cooking thing got the better of me though because I really love to eat.
With the grand exception of cooking, I’m not sure how I manage. (Or perhaps even including cooking because, all modesty aside, I have an unsurpassed gift in the kitchen… for making the most colossal mess–I’d probably be in the running for the Guiness Book of World Records for the category of kitchen mess-maker if the right people knew about me, but they don’t).
I try to make up for it in the garden and by mending the holes in the roof …and replastering the even bigger holes in the ceilings when I don’t succeed in mending the holes in the roof.
In short, I’ve often thought I’d be fired if I’d actually been hired for the position. But, I wasn’t. I didn’t even choose to become a housewife. I just kind of “fell into” the position.
Some people make being a housewife seem easy and effortless, giving the illusion that it is a life of ease and leisure. (Even I have even been known to throw the occasional eight course dinner party complete with full china settings and elaborate floral arrangements.) Don’t buy it: it’s a trick. The reality is that it is a thankless 24-7 job that, when done well, is taken entirely for granted but when done poorly results in judgment, criticism or the ultimate insult and most dreaded slight from a proper Texan of “well bless your heart”. I take my hat off to women (and men) who do it well and don’t get burnt out: they are truly masters juggling selfless altruism with self-love and worthy of the highest praise.
C.S. Lewis on the profession: “I think I can understand that feeling about a housewife’s work being like that of Sisyphus (who was the stone rolling gentleman). But it is surely in reality the most important work in the world. What do ships, railways, miners, cars, government etc exist for except that people may be fed, warmed, and safe in their own homes? […] So your job is the one for which all others exist…”