Being a housewife and homemaker is a vocation that has been dragged through the mud for decades by feminists and pop-culture alike.
When most women think of the lifestyle housewives live, they either think we’re miserable maids, day drinking to cope with the mediocrity of our existence, or kept trophy wives who do little more than sit at the vanity, powdering our noses all day. Neither could be further from the truth.
These caricatures are meant to degrade and demean the joyful and meaningful lives of women devoted to family and home. Films and TV have shown us the exciting and hilarious situational comedies of working women in the city, making it seem far more glamorous in comparison to our rural sisters at home baking bread in a hot kitchen to the sound of children’s laughter.
How Did We Get to the Point of Demeaning Housewifery?
By painting a picture of housework as degrading and beneath modern women and by making working life seem more appealing, society lured women into the workspaces that men had previously occupied alone. In doing so, the workforce doubled and consequentially wages decreased. If you’ve always wondered why back in your grandparents’ day a man’s salary could provide for a whole family and a comfortable lifestyle, but today it takes both husband and wife working, this is part of the puzzle.
Being a housewife shouldn’t be seen as a luxury only for the rich.
Not to mention we feel we need more than we did back then. Today, modern families believe they need two cars minimum, all the latest gadgets, frequent holidays, expensive clothing, and all the other consumer experiences city life has to offer. They enjoy these things in exchange for 40 hour+ work weeks and their children growing up in daycare.
If we were willing to live a humbler existence and be honest about what we really do and don’t need, I still believe it’s manageable for most people to thrive on one income, though it’s not easy. Being a housewife shouldn’t be seen as a luxury only for the rich. I myself do without much to be able to afford to be at home and raise my son. It’s always a matter of choice and priorities, though most women will decry necessity up and down to justify paying others or expecting men to do the work that was once exclusively done with love by our grandmothers.
To bring some truth back into the conversation about being a homemaker and stay-at-home mom, so that young women can feel it’s a worthwhile and valuable choice, I would like to dispel some of the major slanderous myths regarding what it’s like to be a homemaker.
Myth 1: Housewives Are Slaves to Their Husbands
This myth always makes me laugh, not only because it’s incredibly melodramatic, but because in reality, we’re freer than working women. G.K. Chesterton once said, “Feminism is a muddled idea that women are free when they serve their employers but slaves when they help their husbands.” I would much rather work in my home for my family than be under the thumb of a man who doesn’t actually care about me or my wellbeing.
When women serve their boss in a 9-5, for some reason most people think this is a form of freedom or liberation. Yes, you have money in your bank account that you earned and can do whatever you want with, but is that how low the bar has been set determining a woman's empowerment? By the size of her bank account? We must have higher standards for what freedom means, in my opinion.
When women serve their boss in a 9-5, most people think this is a form of liberation.
Homemaking is a calling for many women and, unfortunately, because the culture is so devoid of representation of happy, fulfilled, women who are homemakers, many women won’t take seriously their autonomous desire to be stay-at-home mothers. They find it much more likely that we have been tricked or manipulated into desiring such a lifestyle.
When a woman finds a man who wants to marry her and provide to her the resources and security required to be a housewife, it’s far more likely that she’s participating in this agreement out of her own will. Let’s be honest, it’s a great deal, and here’s why.
Housewives fill their own schedules and organize their days as they choose. No one tells a housewife that she must do the laundry at 3pm and sweep the floor at 3:15. A housewife is free to do her work in her own time, at her own pace, and in the order that suits her best. The freedom to spend your days in the comfort of your own home or garden is hardly recognizable as enslavement. If anything, the women clocking into their barely-above-minimum wage jobs doing thankless work for people who don’t care for them far more closely resembles a kind of modern wage slavery.
Our husbands are no more our slaves for providing than we are for homemaking.
We serve our husbands and our children because we love them and it’s our calling to nurture the growth and health of our families. Our husbands are no more our slaves for working to provide for the family than we are to them by making sure there’s a warm meal ready to eat when they return from a day of hard work. Our husbands love us, and we love them. It’s an honor for us to fulfill our duty as mothers and wives, not oppression.
Some women may think housework is too boring and tedious to do joyfully, but I’m grateful to have a family to do housework for. Housework still needs to be done if you’re a single, working, city girl, unless you prefer to live in filth. I’d rather be doing that housework for the people I love rather than for myself. Perspective is everything.
Myth 2: Being a Housewife Is Easy
While being a housewife is enjoyable that doesn’t mean the work itself is easy. Running a tight ship at home means meals are cooked on time or prepped in advance in the fridge, ready for hungry hands to grab at a moment's notice, things are organized and cleaned regularly, and the extra comforts of homemaking, like looking after décor and making sure clothes are hung unwrinkled are all made even more challenging if children are a part of the equation.
Managing little humans is hard; managing little humans and keeping the house orderly is on another level.
Managing little humans is hard work in and of itself; managing little humans and keeping the house orderly is on another level. Multi-tasking and list-making are essential. Knowing lots of skills like how to sew, cook, how to make a budget (and stick to it), schedule making, and having the discipline to keep things organized and clean are all aspects of nourishing your family so that they’re able to thrive, thanks to your efforts.
We take great satisfaction in our work for our husbands, which is why many of us work hard to make sure that we do our very best. When the chores are done, we can do the things we want to do for our own enjoyment and pleasure. The more efficient we are, the more free time we have to play with the little ones and work on our hobbies. Meaning we have a great incentive to be good at what we do. When you work for people you love, you work your hardest because you know that the work is not just to earn a paycheck, it’s to support the most important people in your life.
Myth 3: Housewives Don’t Contribute Financially to Their Household
Many housewives do in fact bring money into the home because they have the time to nurture their skills. They often have very creative and unique side hustles that bring them joy and allow them to bring money into the home while keeping family life as their main priority. Everything from seamstress work to selling handmade goods at local markets is a common money-making activity done by housewives.
Making money and prioritizing our duties as wives and mothers don’t have to be either/or things. Many of us are able to find a balance between our passions wherein one doesn’t detract from the other.
They often have creative side hustles that bring them joy and money into the home.
Women often tend to be more creative in their natural skillsets. This is why so many women find themselves burnt out and miserable in traditionally male occupations in offices or corporate settings. When women have the freedom to choose work because they love it and the pressure to produce as much money as possible isn’t a part of the equation, we see women taking on such tasks as becoming artists, healers, writers, painters, musicians, gardeners, tutors, online content creators, and craft makers.
These are the roles that bring most women joy, and homemaking not only doesn’t hold us back from doing them, but it also makes it easier for us to do them because our focus shifts from acquiring as much material wealth as possible to nurturing and embodying feminine creativity.
Myth 4: Housewives Don’t Contribute to Society or Have a Life outside the Home
What’s more important to society than raising the next generation with loving care and dedication? Of course, housewives have thriving lives outside the home through church, community events, markets, homeschooling circles, volunteering, exercise/playgroups for moms and children, etc. More importantly, though, housewives create happy homes, which means men have the stability to be heroes and hard workers and children have the safety to grow into functioning adults. For this reason, I’d argue housewives contribute at least as much to society from the home as most lawyers or businesswomen do.
The first building block of any great civilization is the home and the family. Without it and the structure it provides all else crumbles. When children are raised by TV, strangers at daycare, and the state, we see the rising prevalence of drug addictions, crime, mental illness, and generally dysfunctional behavior. When marriages are ending in divorce at an ever alarming rate, both adults and children are hurt.
Healthy homes and harmonious marriages create healthy societies.
Healthy homes and harmonious marriages create healthy societies, and the essential work of housewives and homemakers is a crucial aspect of that. The complementary role of the homemaker and its counterpart, the husband-provider, lends itself to a more natural marriage, where the division of labor is split and understood.
As women have left the home and entered the workforce, abandoning their natural roles, men have also become less likely to take on the hard work of being protectors and providers with gusto. I’m not blaming all society’s ills on the lack of women at home, but it’s impossible to deny that it plays an important role in the slow disintegration of normal life that our grandparents once enjoyed.
Not all women will flourish in the homemaking and stay-at-home mom role, but I believe that a vast majority of women would if they were married to good men who also fulfilled their side of the equation. For many women, the difficultly of finding a man who is willing to be a provider also inhibits their willingness to see homemaking as a viable option. A woman who wants to be a homemaker as her vocation needs her counterpart, the working man, to willingly fulfill his role.
If women prioritize finding a good man who will honor their dreams of homemaking, then they will carve out a path to being the architect of their own lives once again. Maybe we could even avoid the next generation of young women ignoring the internal whispers and longings for home and family, as many Millennials have. If we can encourage more young women to not waste their twenties and to honor their natural desires for feminine roles in the home, we will have potentially saved entire networks of future families, all of which will have untold positive effects on the wider world around us.