Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Career Day

Today was a Career Day at the elementary school, which is always fun for the kids. Katie learned all about how a taser works, and the about importance of physical therapy, and about how Weight Watchers can help you meet your nutritional goals. There were farmers and firemen, a policewoman and a librarian. All the major occupations were represented, save one.

"I should have come in for stay at home moms!" I joked when I picked her up from school. She rolled her eyes from the back seat. "I could have taught everyone how to make homemade Play Doh and change poopy diapers and check homework and make dinner, all at the same time."

"Mom, I actually think you're called a housewife, and it's not really a job."

I could have seriously injured myself whipping my head around like I did.

The hell it's not a job. And that term...housewife, does anyone actually say that anymore, aside from my 10 year old daughter? The word conjures up visions of women in pearls, serving meatloaf at precisely 6 PM to well scrubbed and buttoned up children and a Brylcreem husband. That is not me, that is not my family. Even if we did have meatloaf tonight for dinner.

It's a word that I associate with subservience*, and there is nothing second class about my role in our family. My staying at home was a choice my husband and I made together. With it came sacrifices and adjustments. But I love it, it works for us, and I'm thankful that we can make it work right now.

I don't care what other parents do. I don't care if both parents work full time, or if the mom stays home, or the dad stays home, or they work from home writing a dumb blog where they constantly reference their bowels and say the f-word. But I do resent the implication that what I'm doing isn't work.

It sure feels like work.

I missed Career Day this year, but I'm already preparing my presentation for next year. And when the sign up sheet comes home, I will resist the temptation to list my occupation as 'housewife'.

*And admittedly, I don't know if I should. Is housewife acceptable? Outdated? Derogatory?


  1. You tell 'em!

    As the daughter of a stay-at-home mom, I feel like you just summed up all my thoughts on the subject. I respect my mom for staying at home just as much as I'd respect her for being a CEO, and I get mad when people make derogatory remarks about it. Someday, your daughter will too.

    And yes, I do think "housewife" is a little outdated.

  2. I read just the first two thirds of just the very first line and started laughing,,,, now back to finsh the rest ...

  3. I struggle with this. Eight years ago, I gave up my job as a flight attendant (after clocking in a decade with the friendly skies) to be a stay-at-home mom. I feel like a lot of people criticize or disapprove of my choice. I see their eyes glaze over at cocktail parties as they look over my shoulder to search for someone more "interesting" to talk to after I just announced my job ("mom"). I want to shake them when they ask what "exactly" I do all day with all that time. I want to say, "I do exactly what your full-time nanny or day-care does, but I do it for free and I do it 24 hours, my shift never ends." This would be the precise point where they politely excuse themselves to get another apple martini and oh-it-was-so-nice-meeting-you-but-I-really-gotta-run.

    I feel your pain.


  4. Either term, housewife or stay-at-home-mom, doesn't have the exact title (which it should) down yet because it equals "person who holds the family together, takes care of all of the business of the home, raises the children to have values and a solid foundation, works without ceasing, no days off, no pay/therefore no raises in pay, every day for as long as they live". Personally, I think it also equals HERO and BACKBONE OF OUR SOCIETY.

  5. As the primary stay at home person I think about all funemployment payments I receive.

  6. I personally object to any title anyone wants to give me except "Awesome".

  7. 'Housewife' does sound a little 1950s. I have a neighbor who just says she's a MOTHER: "Master of the Home and Everyday Responsibilities."

  8. When my daughter was young I alternated between working outside the home and being a SAHM. During a SAHM period I attended a lecture series/class where everyone told everyone what they did for a living on the first night. When I said housewife every woman in the room looked at me blankly (I live in NYC). Suddenly the silence was broken by a man who shouted out, "if we had more of those kids would be a lot better off!" I found you on the NaBloPoMo blogroll.

  9. High fives all around! Thank you all for commenting, I think it can be a touchy subject, but what's important to remember is that the whole idea of feminism is the ability to choose. And choosing to stay home is an equally valid and important choice.

    As for title, I'm going to go for Awesome MOTHER. (Thanks for that!)

  10. My mom stayed home with us and my dad always referred to her as a homemaker. I've actually seen him get into arguments with people over the term housewife.

    I SAH part-time and I've asked him if he's disappointed in me (my brother is a lawyer and my sister a CPA) and he he looked at me incredulously and said something to the effect of "I respected being a homemaker when your mother and I made the choice for our marriage and I respect the choice you've made"

  11. Anon - I think Iove your dad.