Confessions of a Housewife: The Working Family VS SAHMs


1920 Homemaker with the Press.
1920 Homemaker with the Press.

 

I woke up to the sound of our neighbor’s dog, and my husband’s alarm blaring some hip hop music from across the room. We placed his phone far from reach so the snooze button wouldn’t be a temptation. I set my alarm as well, just in case my dozing dear decided to snuggle up and snore. Ten minutes later my ears where rung by the sound of a fog horn – Yep, that’s mine. Up and at ’em early at 4am. My hard working man got up, put his uniform on, and leaned in for a kiss. I hugged my pillow tight and said, “I love you” – to my husband of course.

I decided to open my eyes up again, to the sun this time, at 8am. My daughter is visiting with her dad in Florida, so I figure that this is my time to soak up some sleep while I can. Rolling myself into my cozy blanket, I slid out of bed and made my way into the kitchen for some breakfast.

Time for some Good Morning America! The dogs were begging me for a bite of my oatmeal (weirdos) so I put down my breakfast and fed them first. Forgetting my thickening oats in a now cinnamon laced milk, I glance across the counter towards the bathroom. Yummy. “Oh ya, that needs to be cleaned.” Not long after that thought I began scrubbing all the toilets in the house, and lost my appetite for what’s left of my morning meal. *sigh*

Usually I would go for a walk but it’s windy and chilly this morning. Instead I’ll probably clean, take a shower, play with the dogs, and maybe hit up the garage for some much-needed rummaging. Laundry basket is glaring at me so I may give in and have the washing machine put in some scrub time. Our dog Kona has a toy that seems to be losing life and string all over the carpet. Looks like I’m vacuuming today. The dishwasher has been doing its job well, and now it’s my turn to put everything away. Sheesh. This makes me think about how life was for housewives back in the day. We could go way back to the big butt skirt wearing, ‘ol ghost town days with the washboard and basin for soapy clothes! Instead I found some history on the more recent. Some stuff has stuck!

1910 – These women were all about how they approached their social life. So many unwritten rules of ‘manners’ and ‘principals of behavior’. They used methods such as cleaning wallpaper with a stale loaf of bread, and conserving every last bit of meat, juice, bone, and butt when cooking. They had ways of keeping mice away from books for goodness sake! Most of all the term ‘housewife’ to them was that you were to be a gentle mother, an outstanding cook, and you take care of the home and the health of everyone under its roof. If your ‘house dress’ was soiled that just would not do. You should buy 4 dresses in 4 years, and have your ‘fine dresses’ as well neatly kept. “The mother should always be an illustration of the lesson she teaches, else they will not be seriously considered.” Amen to that 1910 woman. Information took from “Practical Suggestions for Mother and Housewife” by Marion Mills Miller.

1920 – Appearance, appearance, appearance. Your home must not have too much clutter or furniture! Children should be neat, but plainly dressed. New freedoms came into play during this era. Mostly young single women got to enjoy these changes of the time. The housewife however, were held back by beliefs of gender during the 1920’s. Their job was to take care of the home. The housewife would make sure to carve out enough time in her day for some current event reading. When the husband returned home from work they could talk about topics that appeal to him. These women understood that their fashion depended on the income the husband brought home. They respected that, and doted on him every minute. Time cleaning and caring for the home decreased by this time, regardless of social class, due to inventions like washing machines, frozen meals, and nannys. Only 15 percent married white women, and 30 percent black women, found work outside the home during the roaring 20’s. Information found by various sites such as ehow.com.

1950 – So here’s where it gets juicy. The housewife evolved into superwoman. You were to plan weekly meals ahead of time, have your nails painted, hair fixed nicely with no exceptions, must be in a good mood, and find interesting things to lift the husbands spirits when he came home from a hard days work. Women got 15 minutes of routine rest, and then touched up their make-up to perfection. The mirrors were spotless because housewives know that to clean a mirror properly you must use newspaper and soap. A warm welcome was expected with perhaps a nice hard drink waiting for the husband. The wood table shining from cleaning it with essential oils and vinegar. Send the children to play upstairs because you were to fix them dinner prior to hubby’s arrival. We wouldn’t want them to bother at the table while he enjoys your meal. You were to listen and keep your mouth shut about finances, or disciplining the children. Wives were to be an encouragement only. A typical schedule was to wash clothes on Monday, iron them Tuesday, bake and cook on Wednesday and Saturday, housekeeping days were Thursday and Friday, and Sunday…..DAY OF REST!

Whoa. Looks like I need to take some cooking classes, buy some hard liquor, and read up on things! There are days when I feel guilty. Very guilty. I don’t contribute to bills when we feel like we’re drowning (a good housewife wouldn’t talk about finances!). I have grumpy, stressful, sad days (there goes the ‘must be in a good mood’) part. When Chloe comes home I will be busy teaching, playing, bathing, and dancing, on top of all the other housewife duties. However, just because I’m at home alone doesn’t give me a ticket to lounge on the couch and reap the benefits (in all honesty I do need a new dress). My job is to clean our home, cook, pay the bills, keep our finances in order, and give my husband everything he needs to be happy, healthy, and successful. He works hard everyday, and this place should be his sanctuary. My job is to make it so.

 

Happy dish washing...
Happy dish washing…

 

Those that work full time and raise their children…to you I have the utmost respect. I believe that both SAHM and working parents can raise a wonderful family! In my home we raise our child as a team – it works for us. Those of you single mom/dad’s who work so hard to be mentally, physically, emotionally and financially awake to your children daily, I applaud you! I would be a complete idiot to say that my “job” is harder than yours. I don’t know how you do it! Some of you choose to work, others enjoy working over staying at home, and some are taking classes to advance their trades – each choice creating a better future for their family. It is your choice. Society turns the working family and the housewife against each other, when really it’s dependent on the family’s circumstances and personal preferences. Your family needs you and your time, and if you can provide financial stability and be present for your kids as well than you’ve perfected the “balance” YOU need. In the end, we have common goals:

• Provide, and instill character in our children.
• Love, and be available to our family.
• Be an example, in all things everyday.

We are all doing our best, and as long as we have our priorities in line we can manage a healthy and happy household.

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