You might have a little understanding of where my mind is at the moment, based on recent blog posts. I am totally immersed in motherhood, and I find that it naturally connects with the traditional idea of being a housewife. This is where I begin to squirm. I do not like calling myself a housewife, and I always used to say that I would never become one. The role seemed boring, unrewarding, and indeed, under-appreciated, and so that would never be my place in life. Oh how the tables have turned!
I am now fully ensconced as a housewife, and get this, it was my choice! What compelled me to give up a full-time paid office job and stay at home with no income to call my own? Initially I cut down to part time work in retail, to free up time for my writing before I published my novels. Then I got pregnant and we started our family. It seemed natural therefore that I would stay at home with the children while my husband continued to work full time and develop his career. After all, I could never earn the same money as him doing the jobs I was able to obtain. My career is developing far more slowly, but at least it is developing, and I am proud of my achievements so far.
But back to the housewife issue. This article was prompted by a piece I found on the website of the UK newspaper The Telegraph. It is a reliable broadsheet newspaper with a reputation for decent journalism. I find it quite amusing that there is a specific section on the website entitled ‘Women.’ I suppose it is a compliment really, that women get a whole section of newspaper space dedicated to topics of their interest. Or is it? To be discussed…
The article I read was originally written in March 2013 and I found it quite by accident. Its title is Mind the career gap: The scheme helping mothers return to the City. Apparently the Bank of America is running free workshops for mothers to enable them to return to work in the City (London to us ‘poor insignificant’ Northerners!) I think the workshops sound really good actually, a great opportunity for networking and a chance for women to feel validated again.
And that is my problem with the whole title of ‘housewife.’ Despite women’s liberation, the feminist movement, and any number of high profile media campaigns throughout the last century, women are still considered to be second-class citizens if they don’t work full time outside of the home. Never mind the hours we spend nurturing our children, cleaning our homes, organizing our families, and all the associated tasks and chores. None of this is important apparently. We do not work, unless we work for someone else or some big corporation. That is the myth of the housewife.
One line in particular struck me in the Telegraph article: One of the mothers interviewed said that her four year-old daughters asked, “Do mummies work?”