This is the question my 12 year old granddaughter recently asked her Mother. The very question is shocking because it reminds us how the accepted standards of life have changed. What would your answer be? My musing on how I would answer led to this blog.
A housewife is what women were when their job was to be a home maker. Then we realized we wanted to fulfill our potentials and we became “liberated” and now have a career. In addition to being, doctors or nurses, executives, accountants, stockbrokers or lawyers we also keep house. This involves, meals, laundry, cleaning, shopping, as well as scheduling children’s activities and all the myriad details of running a house. But most important, we create a home, a place of sanctuary, and safety, nurturing, understanding and love.
Not that I am complaining: reading Betty Friedan’s book, “The Feminine Mystique” changed my life and opened up the world to me. I went back to college to finish my undergraduate degree in Social Work. On that college campus I found my wings. I was no longer someone’s daughter, someone’s wife or someone’s mother. I was myself and I loved getting to know myself in a setting of the freedom of the college campus during the 1970’s.
My world opened up as I started a career. Of course, it was hard to juggle a home, 3 children and their schedules. But having Mom at school and at work changed the family dynamics, also. The children understood that I had to study because they also had homework. My job required that I travel and my husband got home before I did in the evenings so he took on some of the housework. While he never learned to cook, he became a whiz at washing clothes and dishes. My liberation also liberated my family from old constricted notions of a Mother’s role as servant of the family.
I was a pioneer in the revolution called Women’s Lib which enabled men and women to begin the next phase of the revolution- the maturation of full partnership between husband and wife for the evolution of the planet.