It was what I was trained to do

It was what I was trained to do

The other day I was thinking back how what I am doing now is what I was I was trained to do when I was growing up. It is funny, but I still remember having a conversation about it when I was in my final year at high school.

Of course, I’m talking about being a housewife.

It was what I was trained to do

Being trained

When I was in high school we had a discussion one day about how our teachers didn’t really encourage us to pursue a career. While we were being educated we weren’t pushed to try hard or get the best results we could. For many of us, it seemed to be an unspoken understanding that many of us girls would just become housewives and mothers so there was not a lot of point in pushing us to go further.

In some instances it was true. Tertiary education was not an option, especially for me. There was no way I could afford to go to University, and my parents certainly didn’t have the money or wish for me to go either. Though we could have been encouraged to try other things. Back then you didn’t need to go to uni to have a career.

The expectation really was that most of us girls would go off and marry farmers and have their children. Unfortunately, it was just after the whole women’s lib and we were meant to be outraged at that idea.

It was what I was trained to do

Women’s Liberation

It was something that had to be done, and I totally agree that women should have more choices. They should be allowed to be whatever they want to be and not be held back. The downside to all that is that it became bad to be a housewife.

If you were a housewife you were sponging off your husband. You weren’t reaching your full potential. You had no ambition. Basically you weren’t valued in society.

Then we ended up with a whole half of society that went to work, still did most of the housework and most of the child-rearing, but still not given the respect they deserved. Women are still more likely to be working in lower-paid jobs, and getting less money than their male counterparts. It kind of stinks that here we are over 50 years later and we still have to fight for our rights.

But what happens to the woman who finds herself being a housewife and mother?

It was what I was trained to do

21st Century Housewife

The question really is, do they exist anymore? Well, they do, I’m one. I’m sure there are a lot of women out there who are doing it as well.

Besides being trained to be one, I also sort of fell into it really. I didn’t want to be the stereotypical housewife. I wanted a career and I had ambition, but it just never seemed to work out for me.

Once I became a mother, I was at home with them for nearly their whole lives growing up. I did have a job working Saturdays for a while when they were quite young. Sometimes I worked more and it drove my husband crazy because he knew that I expected more from him. He wanted me to work, so he had to help out. Simple if you ask me.

I did go back to study and my daughters had to become more independent, but that was only for 4 years. So for most of their lives, I was at home for them. I don’t think that was a bad thing.

When my daughter went through a traumatic event it meant that I could be there for her as well. I was able to care for her and take her to everything that she needed to go to. We didn’t have to compromise on her care. So being home was good in that instance.

Though, if I’m honest I also tried to get my photography business going as well. Well on and off. It really is only the last 6 months where I’ve thought, bugger it I am going to be just a housewife.

It was what I was trained to do

So why do I feel guilty?

Why do I feel like I have to justify myself to people? Why do I feel like I’m not contributing to society because I am a housewife?

Good questions. Though really, I’ve reached an age now where I don’t care, but that wasn’t always the case. I know my husband is more than happy to let me stay home while he works. To take care of everything in the house, and outside too if I’m honest. I pay all the bills, I get what needs fixing fixed and I run the house.

Perhaps the biggest reason for the guilt was due to my mother in law who never really felt I was good enough for her son. She worked the entire time my husband and his brothers were growing up. So she always made me feel like I should have been going out to get a job.

Of course, the biggest problem I’ve always had is that I wasn’t trained to do anything really.  Getting a job was difficult as I don’t have experience or the training required.

It was what I was trained to do

Being a housewife is what I was trained to do

Now I need to get those voices out of my head and just say it is what I want to be.

If a woman chooses to stay home and look after the house why should she be made to feel guilty about it? If it is what she wants. It is different from the days when many women didn’t have a choice. Like when they had to give up their jobs when they got married for instance, but that doesn’t happen anymore.

Why do we think that a woman who stays home can’t be intelligent? Working at home is hard work and as the old cliche goes, it is never-ending.

I love it. I’m so happy. I can cook what I want, and bake as well. When baking I often photograph what I’ve baked, so there is that as well. I’m constantly learning new skills, and I refuse to apologise for being something like a 50’s housewife.

Women’s liberation was all about choices, so this is mine.

Wow, this post didn’t quite go the way I thought it would. Oh well, there you go. Take care and I hope you are doing what you want to do as well.

It was what I was trained to do

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  1. My mom was the “typical” housewife until she was forced to leave my dad. She had no skills so worked as a waitress most of her adult life. Times were tough growing up. I swore I would get a college education so I would not have her fate. I went to college and had a career and family. It was difficult at times but no where near the struggles mom had. I do think it comes down to choice these days.

    1. Separation and divorce can really change things. I like the idea of choice, it is how it should be and others should respect that it is your choice too. That is what I would like to see.
      Thank you Nora for your contribution too, it has been a great discussion.

  2. I think attitudes have changed with each generation and changes in the role of women in society. There is no shame or embarrassment in being a “housewife” or “homemaker”. It doesn’t make someone a bad feminist to step away from their career for a while or permanently. To my mind, the important thing is that it is the choice of that individual person and is not imposed upon them. It is only a limitation if your agency is removed. I have been a high-flying, ambitious professional; a full-time stay-home parent; a stay-home parent doing voluntary work outside the home; and now I work part-time hours so that I am home for my kids when they get home from school. I have always felt as if I was making a valid contribution to society in all of those roles and all of those roles was valid.

    1. I know there is no shame in it, but you see people and when you say you are a housewife they often switch off, like you can’t think beyond the house. I agree, it doesn’t make you bad, and you should be allowed to have the freedom to do what you want without people judging you. Well that is what I think. I guess I’ve got to the stage where I know my husband is happy and I am too, that is all that really matters isn’t it?
      Thank you Laura, great to hear from you.

    2. I’ve definitely experienced that sort of judgment. I’ve been judged for being a SAHM and I’ve been judged – mostly by the older generation – for working outside the home when my kids were wee. I’ve also had male friends who were judged harshly for their family’s choice for the father to be the SAH parent. But the problem rests with the person doing the judging and not with the person exercising their free choice and doing what’s best for their particular family dynamic.

    3. I used to get that judgement about being a SAHM, I never understood, if you could do it wasn’t it the best thing for your kids, I would have thought, but then again maybe there was jealously from mums that couldn’t do it. I don’t know. It seems to be with parenting, damned if you do and damned if you don’t. It is nuts. It take a lot of courage to do what you want, and I do know when I tried to juggle working and looking after them, or when I went back to study it was so much harder. They didn’t like it as well. My kids I mean. They were used to an easier life I guess.
      All good points Laura, thank you.

    4. The Feminist in me thinks that society has set things up so that women are pitted against each other. If we are too busy sniping at each other for whatever spurious reasons then we are too occupied to fight the patriarchy.

    5. You could be absolutely right there, it is sad to think it could be happening, but I can’t say I don’t believe it.

  3. Interesting read. My wife is 52. I’m 54. We’re both from the slacker generation, Generation X. My wife, along with an older sister, practically raised her self, while taking care of two youngers siblings. She wasn’t raised to be a housewife, but she was raised to take care of her “present but absent” parents. My wife was only a “work-from-home” (let’s be truthful, taking care of a household and kids is WORK) spouse only out of convenience. She didn’t want to do day-care and my income at the time was more than hers.

    I am happy that things have changed much since the 1960’s. My wife’s brother-in-law has been a house-husband for decades, taking care of chores, and my two nieces. He changed diapers, did the laundry, shopped for tampons and groceries, but also mowed the lawn, chopped wood and maintained the cars. The only thing he doesn’t do is cook. He sucks at it.

    I think society still has much work to do to ensure more gender parity but we are making progress.

    1. I love that, the slacker generation, I certainly qualify for that. I also love that term work-from-home, I’ve been doing that for a very long time as well. It is work, that’s for sure. Daycare, is so expensive and that was part of the problem for us as well.
      I do all the things your wife’s brother in law does, but I also cook, that is the part I love the most. I am happy that have as well, I just wish that when you said you were a housewife that people didn’t switch off like you have nothing valuable to contribute. OH well, still a ways to go.

      I think you are right, it really does, thank you Khürt, great contribution to the discussion.

  4. Being at least 20 years older than you, I was definitely raised to be someone’s wife or secretary! However, I was a latch-key kid throughout my childhood. We didn’t have much money and my mom had to work. Those were the days when a school aged kid could walk back and forth to and from school and be alone afterwards without too much worry. I decided to be home with my kids. That was when women’s lib was in full swing. I was looked down upon. “What do you do all day?” I was asked. PTA and Boy Scouts filled up most of the time. When my youngest went into kindergarten, I went back to school; a returning student in my 40s. Today is so different. There is more co-parenting. When I pick up my grandkids from school each Wednesday (Before pandemic) I see a lot of fathers doing pick up with infants in packs and pushing strollers. Society is changing. By the way, my son is an excellent cook.

    1. Oh being a secretary, not really something you hear too much anymore. I didn’t know what a latch-key kid was until about 15 years ago. I do remember my mum walking me to school on my first day and having to find my own way there after that. It was a different world. It amazes me sometimes how easy it is to fill your day when you are at home all the time, and still not enough time to get everything done. My husband was a good father and he did a lot, but the bulk of the work was left to me. If I was working it was up to me to sort out childcare etc. Haha, my husband is a good cook too, he just doesn’t like doing it and says he likes my cooking more. Thank you Anne, it is great getting all these different perspectives.

  5. You know what–the heck with what other people think, Leanne. You sound so happy now. I worked because I wanted to. I liked getting out and talking with people….and making money. My husband knew that and just let me do my thing. If I was happy, he was happy. I only worked part-time when my kids were small so, like you, I was there when they needed me. Life’s too short. Have fun. Do what makes you happy. I have always liked that expression: “What other people think of you is none of your business.” They need to get a life–you, my dear, already have one! Cheers, Leanne!

    1. I am very happy now Lois, really happy. What makes me happy now is bread and cakes, and I think you will be seeing a lot of those coming up, lol
      Thank you Lois for sharing your thoughts.

  6. I was surprised at your experience since you are younger than I am and my father wanted me to go to university and my mother wanted me either to go to university or become a hairdresser so I had a basis for obtaining work when the children had started school if that was what I wanted. In the event i was never so happy as when I was looking after home and family. Being by then a single parent, I eventually ended up having to go to work while still needing to look after home and three children. This convinced me that two parents working full time was not a good option and that work options should be flexible so that either one parent could stay at home or both could work part time. My eldest, daughter, is the bread winner in her family and her husband was happy to be the one to stay at home with their daughter, though he now has a web design business as well, while with my other daughter, she is the one to stay at home. So I don;t think you should feel in any way guilty if you and your husband are both happy with you taking care of household matters then you are making a necessary contribution to life and you have your photography and blog as well. So be happy and do what you need to do to make yourself happy.

    1. I think it is because I grew up in the country, a long way from cities and my family were very working class, at the bottom really. We never went hungry, but we didn’t get a lot. So my parents would never have considered university, totally off their radar, unlike my husband who says that while his parents never really said anything it was expected that they would go to university. I do know I am very lucky in that my husband and I are still together, have been married for 30 years now. So I was never put into a position like you were. That is great for your daughter, I have heard of other families like that as well, if that is what they want they should do that. I don’t feel guilty as much now, I just don’t care, I’m making it mine, if that makes sense, I want to do this and I’m going to do it. Thank you so much RJ, I appreciate your thoughts.

  7. I think that people should be free to choose their lifestyles, without judgement, and back in the days of Betty Crocker, many people judged a woman who worked outside of the home, and now, many judge a woman who works inside the home. do what works for you and makes you happy.

    1. I think so too Beth, but sadly too many people think they have a right to judge. I get you, weird isn’t it, how things have swapped around. Thank you Beth.

  8. I’ve discovered that for me, the best option is to choose to go out to work part time, and enjoy the satisfaction of being a housewife part time too. Over the years I’ve stayed at home full time, and have also worked in paid employment full time, and I find nowadays I like to have the best of both worlds by balancing both equally. Of course housework is work too, but doesn’t seem to count in quite the same way societally, which is a shame because after all someone has to do it! Food doesn’t cook itself, clothes don’t wash/ dry/ iron/ fold or put themselves away, homes don’t clean themselves, children don’t bring themselves up. I like being a home-maker, it suits my nurturing nature and it’s not something I apologise for in life any more, especially since I studied for my degree. What’s the point in women having fought so hard for the legal right to choose their own lifestyle, but then effectively removing what they consider the ‘wrong’ choice from everyone’s life options? 🙂

    1. Sounds you have found a balance that works for you Ruth. That is really good and I suppose what we are all looking for really. You are so right about looking after the home, someone has to do it. I fought the home maker role for many years, but I really love it now, especially the kitchen and working in there. I couldn’t agree more with you about the last part, so true, we should be able to choose and not be judged for what our choice is. Thank you Ruth.

  9. Maybe we would all be as skinny as your models if we stayed home and ate proper food rather than the processed crap we are fed by the food industry these days. Do you have the nice clothes as well??

    1. Well I can tell you now, I’m not skinny and I do stay at home, so it didn’t work for me, lol
      We do eat rather well, and almost have no processed food. I bake and I cook and most of what I do I do from scratch. That has to be good for us, right? The clothes, no, I wear my Ugg boots all the time with tracky dacks and hoodies. Not one is going to see me, so does it matter. lol
      Thanks Helen.

  10. My wife and I have been married over 40 years. She has a PhD in Molecular Biology, is a certified Project Management Professional, has an M.Div and is a candidate for ordination in the United Church of Christ. She has worked outside the home as long as I have known her. But (unlike my parents) we are members of the “elite”. I think the “Betty Crocker Housewife” married to the ambitious husband is a short-lived modern concept. And maybe one that mostly applies to the elites of society. I look back at my grandparents–my gradfather worked in a shoe factory and every Thursday he came home and handed his pay envelope to my grandmother. It was my grandmother who was peforming the critical role of making a home and raising the next generation. My grandfather was not “self-actualizing” in the outside world. He was doing whatever was necessary to support my grandmother in doing her essential work. This is not to minimize the sexism, misogeny, and paternalism that exists. But sometimes I think we look at the world with a limited and short term perspective. I think we should also be concerned that in today’s economy, in spite of a great stock market, it now takes two incomes to raise a family rather than one.

    1. I don’t know that it is short lived, I think it became very unfashionable. There was a time when there weren’t a lot of choices. I used to work in the public service and had access to old personel files and there were lots where women were told they had to leave the service because they were getting married. Sad really.
      It may be an elite thing now, where only some families can afford to let the woman, or man stay home to be there all the time. We were lucky that we could do that. So what you described with your grandfather was pretty much me. My husband worked and I managed the money. He has always worked in good jobs, so we were fortunate.
      I just wish it wasn’t seen as some sort of sub existence for a woman to choose to be a housewife. We are fortunate that we can do it if we choose too.
      Thanks Doug for your thoughts on this.

  11. Being a stay-at-home mother is the most important job in the world.
    They are there when their children need them.
    They help shape future generations with their guiding hands..

    1. It is a wonderful thing to do if you can, unfortunately these days a lot of women can’t do it, it is almost like there has been some sort of role reversal.
      I’m so glad I could do it, and think I got to spend some amazing time with my children.
      Thank you Mary.

  12. Oh, I hear you Leanne. Although my life story is a bit different, but eventually it’s boiling down to the fact, that in my generation woman should get married and be happy with their role. As a young girl after middle school in Germany, my parents wanted me to become a professional bookseller, going through an apprenticeship, though I had different plans in mind. My two older brothers went to University supported by my parents, but as for me , I was told that I am girl and there fore I will get a dowry once I marry and that was enough what my parents were willing to spend on me. Unfortunately when I got married, I didn’t want a dowry, because my husband and I than didn’t care about all that silver, china and so on , we wanted to travel and explore the world ,which we did, without all that “stuff”. Making the story short, the fact was, that being a boy back than was more of a value to invest in education rather than me as a girl. Forwarding , once I immigrated to the United States, I fulfilled my dream going back to school, College, studying photography.

    1. I suspect my childhood was a bit similar Cornelia, I was raised in the country, so the expectations weren’t high. I get the whole your parents not sending you to uni, unfortunately it still happens today sadly. I’m glad you were able to study, I got to study as well, but that was because my husband thought it would give me more choices in life, which it did. Thanks for sharing that with us Cornelia.

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