What's Work Got To Do With It?

Should women who do not work for pay be made objects of ridicule and derision? What would life be like in an alternate reality? A search for internal truth from this humble housewife.

Recently, I read an article which had at the heart of its subject matter the real reason "your" wife doesn't want to work, or return to work, or something akin to that.  Being happily part of that not-working for pay demographic, I was curious as to what someone else thought of such a choice.  The crux of the article was a non-working housewife was an indolent brat of a woman, spoiled, selfish, and with what amounted to unresolved daddy issues, or whatever the "pop" psychologist lingo is today.  The article, it should be noted, was by a female psychologist.  It recommended the man force the wife to return to work, and that would build self-esteem and reduce stress.  I gathered from the language and attitude of the woman that not being employed was bad for mental health and put undue burden on the shoulders of the male mate.  I gathered that she was disgusted by women who did not have jobs, and those women were of lesser stature and importance, and should be treated as nasty little children and be forced to earn a paycheck instead of lollygagging around the house all day.  It was even said that these particular types of housewives were often to lazy to prepare meals, and asks the question, "how many nights a week do you come home from work to take-out food?"  

As it was meant to do, it inflamed me to a red-cheeked huff, and I almost responded with a barrage of posts about how degrading and off-base the piece was, how happy I was, how hard I worked, and how I cook every single meal we eat, etc.  But, instead, I had a private discussion with a dear friend, and satisfied my need to be right, and then shared it with my husband, who could not fathom that a real working, decent family man would want to see his loving wife slaving away at a job that sucked the soul out of her.  And that was about that.  Once the fervor of the blazing rage dissipated, I thought about the story in a more level-headed manner.

I tried to imagine my life if I chose to hold employment out of the house:

I saw myself rising early in the day, in the dark, often.  With precious little time, grab a Pop-Tart and one measly cup of coffee as I rush out of the house.

I am no early riser.  I start my day when it is time, I do my crossword puzzle, and learn something every day, some tidbit unknown to me from the day before.  I sip coffee and munch on breakfast, and kiss my daughter goodbye as she heads for the bus stop. 

I saw me tired, fighting my way through throngs of humanity, either in traffic, on a bus, or shuffling about the streets to a nameless, featureless building, sitting for hours doing meaningless tasks with no room for creative thinking or learning opportunities.  

I am no lover of monotony, or throngs, or enclosed boxes of recycled air to breathe.  I need trees and green and long walks in the open, I need activity and variety, nuance and noticeables.

I saw as I dragged myself home, once again in the twilight, fog-brained, dreading the thought of coming home to stacks of dishes, meal prep, laundry, and child and animal care.  I could feel anger and resentment just bubbling up enough to sour my stomach.  I would decide to just stop at a burger joint, to save myself from a couple of hours of hard work.  

I am not into fast food, nor the horrid effects it has on the body. I do not care for boxed food, either, and prefer to do everything lovingly from scratch, and yes, it is very time-consuming. If I had a pay job, I would have never learned to make Baba's special Easter Paska, and that beautiful masterpiece would have been lost forever to time.  I could not have spent entire days making seven layer cookies at Christmas, nor could I have invented an amazing stew recipe.

I saw my cluttered house, my mouthy, detached kid yakking on her cell phone, using profanity and vulgar language. I can see the homework not done, and the last test was a D. I would love to help, and throttle her, and act as a parent, but by this time, exhaustion has settled in, and I do not wish to exert anymore effort. I throw the burger and fries on the table and collapse onto the couch, too tired to even eat. I see my husband, camped out in front of the tv, also tired and grouchy from a long day of work. I would like to love this man again, but so much got in the way over the years.  All inside has gone blank, as I face yet more of the same day upon day.  

What love could thrive in such an environment?

I am no worker. The life I mapped out for myself gives me plenty to do, but I do it for love. I love what I do. The dishes get done because I love the satisfaction of the empty sink.  The laundry gets folded an put away because I love seeing my family in clean clothes. Every meal is carefully thought through and executed with a deft touch only years of practice could bring. I take joy in every new creation, I craft and I garden, I walk far and I see new things each day and I have room in my brain to store the wonders of the world to share with others. I write and play guitar and dance in the private moments and paint.

So, if I am spoiled, and if I am selfish, or even indolent, I count my blessings that I found a man to love me for being so, a man who fosters my love of time to just be what I love. Maybe being a pampered woman is not so bad a thing. Because I am well cared for, I can give back all the care I get, and still have room to live my way. The man of the house allows happiness to be part of my daily routine, and that, too, lessens stress, for a happy woman is a productive woman, a woman who does not mind doing work for her family, of caring for her charge.  

Both sides of this debate have their fierce defenders. I can speak only for my own mind, my own feelings. I chose a domestic life, and for me, I chose wisely.

For I cannot imagine a life without home-made apple pies.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jean Smith October 06, 2012 at 05:40 PM
There is a stay at home mom on our street that her house looks like a tornado went though it, doesn't cook healthy meals, and has children that do not respect adults and cuss like sailors. Every time you talk to her she says she is bored and has nothing to do. Not all stay at home mothers do a good job raising children.
Jean Smith October 06, 2012 at 07:03 PM
Yes KNF did bring up good points but besides these stay at home moms at these meeting there is also moms that work full time, there are also moms that volunteer to be classroom moms, are involved with the PTA, School Board, Den Mothers, Girl Scout Leaders, etc that also work full-time. It isn't just the stay at home moms that do everything. I work full time, but I always put my children needs first and did volunteer at school and was a class mom when my children were little, plus worked a full time job. I never had the privileged of making food out of boxes as I have a child with food allergies/gluten allergies so I have to be careful what I buy at the store. I make my own bread and homemade noodles and we have healthy meals every night so don't think that only stay at home moms only cook healthy meals. The crock pot and the pressure cooker makes it easy to get meals done. We don't have the option of going out to eat or can't order in a pizza. We plan our meals accordingly and every Friday is Pizza night. I just get up earlier on Friday mornings to make the dough before I get ready for work and when I get home I make our pizzas and bread. Should working moms say that the only thing a stay at home mom does is sleep in late, lay around all day eating bonbons and watching soap operas all day. This would be as absurd as this article is.
dormonter October 06, 2012 at 07:11 PM
Exactly NEU - When she wrote "sitting for hours doing meaningless tasks with no room for creative thinking or learning opportunities" - NO work, whether at Starbucks or at an office is meaningless and there is always room for creativity and learning opportunities.
A October 08, 2012 at 01:34 PM
It doesn't sound like she is a stay-at-home mother by CHOICE. I don't necessarily think a non-working mother is a stay-at-home mother. I chose to leave my job to be with my children. Other people may be choosing not to work for other reasons, I guess? It doesn't seem as if that person is being much of a mother no matter where she works/doesn't work.
A October 08, 2012 at 01:38 PM
I wasn't trying to say that only SAHMs are involved. I was saying that I am able to be involved in ways that I wouldn't if I were working full-time. My full-time occupation was teaching, so I obviously couldn't volunteer in my kids' school during the day, etc. There ARE other ways to be involved, but I get to do more than I otherwise could.


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