From the title of this post, it is safe to assume that you might already know what I want to talk about this week. The question of “what do you do all day?” has come up a lot lately. It came up a lot when the hubby and I went to Iowa for his brother’s wedding. The family was just wanting to catch up with us, especially since I haven’t seen most of them since our own wedding. The hubby has made it up for visits, but our budget wouldn’t allow both of us to go. I love my hubby’s family, but I couldn’t help but feel judged on some level when I tell them that I am just a housewife right now.
Why Do I Feel Judged For Being a Housewife?
First, I don’t want to assume that I am being judged by my hubby’s family or anyone for that matter in my being a housewife. It really is a “me” problem that I feel like I am being judged for making the life choice I made (I will continue on that later). But, nonetheless, I do feel like some level of judgement happens (for a lot of reasons) by people we know or are related to. I have had people ask me why I do not work outside of the house if I don’t have children yet. This choice in being a housewife seems almost unheard of for women right now.
What Was My Choice?
Yes, I have “chosen” to not work outside the house at this point. After finishing grad school, I had to quit my job at the local community college because at the time, one family emergency after another was happening and I just wasn’t able to continue to work at that position. But, after things settled and I was looking for work again, I just was not able to find a position. I couldn’t go back to my old job. Even though I was having issues going to work, I was also having problems with my supervisor and I was unwilling to go back into that environment. It has been four and a half years since I finished my degree. I have applied to hundreds of positions from retail and fast food, to counseling (which is what my degree is in) and have not received one single call for any of them.
So, when my hubby accepted the position he is in now, he and I agreed that I did not have to work outside of the house in order for us to be financially stable. Also, we decided that we wanted to start a family. We were hoping it would be easier to have a baby than it actually has been. However, when I first decided to stay home and try my hand at working from home as a writer/blogger we thought it would be better than starting a job outside of the house.
It just didn’t make sense to start a job, get pregnant a few months later and then never return to work. I have always wanted to be a stay at home mom, so that was never up for debate. Even though it is illegal to discriminate, I know that I would not be a good candidate for hire in a lot of places because I know that I would only be working for a finite amount of time.
Like I said above, this whole situation is mostly a “me” problem. By that, I mean that I am more than likely projecting my insecurities on others. But I do feel strange to tell people that I am working at home trying to be a writer/blogger. I almost feel ashamed to say that I currently do not work outside of the house nor do I have children to give me a “reason” to not work outside the home.
Why do I feel Less-Than for being a Housewife?
There are several reasons why I feel like I am less-than because I am a housewife. One, is because life has not gone the way I had planned. Two, it is because I do not feel like I am a productive member of society because I do not work outside the home. Finally, other people have made me feel this way in the past.
When I was younger, I had such amazing dreams of doing great things in my adult life. Regardless of what career field I was thinking about joining at the time, I always had these grand aspirations. When I wanted to be a marine biologist, I wanted to be on a team to discover new species or find some way to better communicate with the animals. When I wanted to be a teacher I aspired to be like Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus. I wanted to be THE teacher that all the students loved and make a difference in as many lives as possible. When I was thinking about journalism, I wanted to start my own magazine and become an editor-in-chief and help lead some social change of some kind. When I went to graduate school, I had such high hopes of becoming a counselor and help erase the stigma of PTSD in our military community.
Again, regardless of what I was thinking as a career, I had hopes to do something amazing. At 29 years old, I have not even held a position that would lead me to any of those career goals I listed. I know I did a lot of good when I worked at the community college because I was a writing tutor and helped a lot of students earn higher scores on their papers and helped students make it into their dream college. I even worked with a Marine who suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury and helped him overcome a stutter and relearn how to get his words out. But, none of that seems to come remotely close to the goals I set for myself when I was younger.
Not Feeling Productive
I feel like I am not contributing to society as a whole if I am only working from home. Even though I am writing and posting it on the internet for the entire world to see, I still do not feel like it is enough. This might change as time progresses and hopefully more people discover the blog. But, for right now, I just do not fee like I am doing enough to make any change in the world. Or, even scarier, I am not doing anything that will help me be remembered after I am gone. The average human life is already a simple blip in the whole grand scheme of things (I hate to sound so pessimistic, but that is how I feel) and if I’m not doing what I qualify as enough for society, then I am just doing something that is forgettable.
If you spend any time on the internet, you may have come across a whole swath of people who believe that women who do not work outside the home are somehow living incorrectly. I read on Twitter all the time from women who disparage other women who want nothing more than to be a wife and mother. They mock the woman and then attack the man who supports her as being some kind of misogynist. For every single person who has similar views to my own on this situation, I can find a hundred who wouldn’t hesitate in the least to belittle our desires to be wives and mothers. Being a housewife just simply is not good enough nor does it help “the movement” in a lot of people’s eyes.
Then, I get confused looks from friends and family when I mention that I am a housewife. I’ve gotten the “but you don’t have children yet!” from several people. That just makes me feel like I am doing something wrong. I’ve shared my experience trying to find work with others and I always got people offering advice. Some say, maybe you didn’t try this, or that. After three plus years of trying to find work, I tried every trick there was, put my name on every list I could find to be called for job openings and have talked with all kinds of recruiters.
Finally, because we are living in a multi-generational home, people judge me because we live with my parents. I have gone on before as to why we are living this way (read about it here). But they somehow believe my life is so much easier because of the way we live. It is true that some things are easier in this type of living arrangement. But, other things are harder. I can share the load for household responsibilities (e.g. cleaning and cooking) with my mom. But, there are added stresses to living this way. Our choices do not just affect my hubby and I, but my parents as well, and vice versa.
So, What DO I Do All Day?
I’ve had friends and people on the internet tell me they wish they could be a housewife as well so they could just sit around and do nothing all day. That statement is very insulting to me. Now, I do struggle with chronic illness and some days are more productive than others. But, sitting around and doing nothing all day is not a thing in my life. There is always something that needs to be done at the house.
There is always something that needs to be cleaned in this house. I will be the first to admit that I need to get better about scheduling cleaning in the house. But, I do quite a bit of the cleaning in the house. The only things I expect my hubby to do around the house is to take the garbage out and work on his laundry (he is very specific on how he wants it done). I will ask for the occasional chore to be completed by him. But, other than that, I am the cleaner. Since we are a multi-gen home, my mom also does the cleaning around the house. But, I am doing a lot of the heavy-duty cleaning in the house. If the hubby cannot get his laundry done, or needs me to wash something, I will get it done for him.
Laundry seems to be never ending in our house. In order to be sure there is nothing dirty waiting to be washed, I would have to do laundry every single day. That always takes time out of my day, especially since I have to fold it all after it has been washed.
I feed my husband all three of his meals on most days. I am up at 5 A.M. to prepare some breakfast for him. I also pack his lunch for him to have at work. Then, at least half the time I am preparing dinner for the whole family. The way we cook in our family, it can take up to two hours to prepare dinner and then an additional hour to wash dishes and put leftovers away.
I also make baked goods for the home and some to share for friends and family. Around this time of year my hubby and my dad’s offices have all kinds of events and they usually volunteer to bring some kind of sweet treat. When I make large batches of treats, it usually takes me all day to get everything mixed, baked, decorated, boxed, and cleaned up. I enjoy baking, but it definitely takes a lot of time to do.
My hubby might be the one who makes the money, but I am the one who runs the budget. I am the one who balances the bank book at least once a week and makes sure the bills are all being paid on time. It is also my responsibility make sure we are putting money where we are supposed to for our savings and retirement. I will regularly open the books to talk with the hubby to make sure we are all on the same page. But, he trusts that I will do the right thing when it comes to our finances.
I am in a grocery store at least twice a week. It never fails. I tell my hubby that I am going to the grocery store and ask him if he needs or wants anything in particular. He usually answers no. But, the next day AFTER I have been to the store, he tells me that he needs something. Or, he tells me that he has an event at the office and needs me to pick up some things. Or, he needs me to make things and I don’t have the ingredients to make it. So, back to the grocery store I go.
I also have errands that I have to run where I have to go clothes shopping or shop for essentially anything else that needs to be purchased.
Odds and Ends
I can also work as the in-home IT person, electrician, plumber, carpenter and anything else in between. If something needs to be done around the house, I (or my mom) am the one to get it done while the men are at work. I hate having a honey-do list for my hubby to work on all the time. He has just had a long day at work and is now back in school. I need to be able to get these things done so that he doesn’t have to. But, there are just some things my skillset just does not let me do. But I sure do give it a try before asking my hubby to do it.
I end up doing a lot of errands for my husband as well as for my dad. Picking up dry-cleaning, making purchases for projects, etc. are needed to be done regularly as well. I also end up having to make all the calls needed to make sure everything is functioning. I call the bank, insurance companies, businesses we work with etc. almost daily. My hubby will let me know if something needs to be done, and I am the one who ends up making the call. We have been married for seven years and still some accounts are still only under his name. I have to fight with them all the time to make sure my name is on the account since I am the one who makes all the calls. Fun times.
Lately, a good chunk of my time is spent going with my mom to her many doctor’s appointments. When my mom is ill and in bed, I am a gopher for her to make sure she has everything she needs (e.g. meals, meds, heating pads, etc.).
I also do what I can to take care of our dogs. They are both Mama’s boys, but I am there whenever necessary to make sure they are medicated and fed and given all the love and attention they need/want.
When the hubby is at work, I take time to think of ways to help him and make sure he is 100% mentally, physically, and psychologically. When he is home, I am his sounding board and am there for him to vent to about anything he might be worrying about.
Making the House a Home
I put a lot of effort to make sure my hubby looks forward to coming home in the evening. All of the items listed above help me to do that. But, I also try to decorate the house appropriately for the season and try to make our areas cozy and welcoming to allow hubby and myself to relax. I do all of these things when my hubby is at work so that it is all done by the time he is off from work. That will allow us to spend time together and have time for hobbies and what not. If I wasn’t able to get this done during the day, then he and I would have to share the responsibilities and adds to our daily stressors.
What Needs to Change?
I’ve done a little bit of reflection on this whole situation and have thought of a couple of things that should change so that I do not feel like I am missing out or failing at life in some way. First, I need to work on myself and how I think. Then, I need to put some work in to help society as a whole change how it views housewives and stay at home moms.
I Need to Change My Frame of Mind
First, I need to change the way I look at things and how I view myself as a housewife. I need to understand and remember that I will always have someone judge me for one thing or another. If I were to work outside the house, someone would say I work too hard and neglect my husband and house. So, I will never make everyone happy. That is just a fact of life. I came to the conclusion that if they are not my spouse or if they aren’t paying my bills, then I really do not care what they think about me. This is something I have stated before, but it still rings true here.
It is also important for me to remember that I am exactly where I need to be. I have tried to find work outside the house for several years and had no luck. That could be because I was not meant to work in that capacity. That was when I decided to start this blog. Maybe this blog is where I will make a difference in this world. I really hope so. God guided me to start this blog. I just need to work hard on my writing and do what I am called to do.
Society Needs to Change How it Views the Housewife
Society needs to change the way it looks at housewives. I am a housewife and I really am one by choice. If I really wanted to, I would have found a job somewhere eventually. But, I made the choice to stay at home and work from home. A lot of housewives do not choose to be housewives. I know of a lot of military spouses who cannot maintain a steady job because their family is always on the move. But, there are a lot out there too who wanting nothing more in their life than to be a loving wife and mother. These women are not backwards in their views nor are their husbands misogynists that only want women to be barefoot and pregnant. Society also paints housewives as naive and ignorant to the world. Again, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Most of the housewives and stay at home mothers I know have at least a four-year college degree and were career women at one point in their lives.
In order for society to change its views on housewives/homemakers is for those women to step up and talk about their life choices. I know that can be hard sometimes. But, talking about the choice of staying home and what it entails can change some people’s minds. I don’t want universal acceptance in my life choices, but I at least want people to realize that being a housewife, homemaker, or stay at home mother is a noble calling and is just as important as any other career a woman chooses.
I know that this post is rather repetitive, especially if you have been reading my past posts. I do not mean to harp on this subject so much, or sound like a perpetual rant. But, this is a topic that is important to me and I want to create an open discussion with women of all walks of life. Being a housewife is a noble calling and women who choose to live this way should be respected in the same way career women are.
Question of the Week
Are you a housewife or stay at home mom? Did you have a similar struggle with realizing the importance of your role as a housewife? If you are not a housewife, would you be one if you had the opportunity?