Posted in Thoughts on...Thursdays

Thoughts On…Thursday: (**Edited on Friday to Be Much More Coherent) 10 Minutes to Discuss Feminism. Go!

First of all, I’d like to give a quick shout out to the first person to comment on this post on Facebook.  His comment really helped to give my revised version a sharper focus.  Thank you! 

Today’s topic is being a housewife or stay-at-home dad.

I’m curious as to when women getting a job came en vogue. Did it start after women’s lib or did it start with the whole Rosie the Riveter thing? (Or was that during the same few years? History was never my strong suit.)

I also wonder who took care of the household when men were off to war and women were out working.  I guess that’s where the decline of “housemaking” as it’s traditionally known started.  That’s where we did get the introduction of the whole “want it RIGHT NOW” era, of microwaves, shorter news articles, coffee obsession, and multitasking.

I’d like to go out on a limb and say that “workaholic” is the modern epidemic.  People sacrifice sleep, a healthy meal, their sanity, and healthy relationships in order to make ends meet.  No wonder there are so many people in the modern world with physical and mental ailments!

Now I’m not going to lie and say I’ve never done overtime because I either needed the money or wanted to avoid my home life.  But I truly think that when people start getting paid to stay at home, those reasons for working overtime will disappear, and the families that have become so broken in these past decades might start to be repaired.  When people are paid to stay at home, they’ll put that much more effort into making a home as workaholics normally would at their job, simply because they can provide for their household (i.e., bring in money) by…what?  Oh yes.  Providing for their household (i.e., meals, chores & family caretaking).  Wow, what a concept! (insert dripping-with-sarcasm face here)

I have absolutely nothing wrong with women who have jobs; in fact, I very much admire and respect them. Now, to answer the questions you might be thinking: no, I’m not currently employed, but I have been looking. And yes, I’ve had jobs I’ve loved. And, like most of us, I’ve had jobs I didn’t love quite so much. But to keep from going into too much backstory…

I’m one of those “strange” women who actually like doing housewifey things. I don’t mind doing chores during the day because it gives me a routine and a checklist (and y’all know how I love my checklists!). I like interior decorating and figuring out how to sew and all
that. Many of my hobbies and crafts are of the “grandma chic” (I’m totally working on coining that phrase) variety…crafts that I’m sure housewives back in the day enjoyed doing.

I like to experiment with recipes and have a hot dinner for my husband to come home to.  He can probably attest to the fact that in most cases I go all out.  My meals take at least an hour to make because they’re very homemade, and I’m quite proud of the fact that I make my own breadcrumbs, create sauces, make soups from scratch instead of a can, cook pasta dishes from scratch instead of a box, and leave meat in the oven for roasting instead of microwaving processed, precooked, frozen meat.  I enjoy a more involved creation and cooking process, with lots of thoughtful flourishes (though it makes for a very hungry, waiting-too-long-for-dinner hubby sometimes).  For example, one of my very favorite meals to make is enchiladas with Spanish rice, where I make the Spanish rice, tortillas, sauce, and filling from scratch before putting the whole thing together and baking it in the oven.  I always feel so accomplished when making this meal.  (And any other meal that I make from scratch, for that matter.)  Now of course I CAN do this because I don’t currently have a job, and it’s really a tragedy that working gets in the way of a healthy lifestyle, both mentally and physically.

Now, of course having to be a housewife because you don’t have any say or choice in the matter is no fun. I can fully admit that. Women should be free to do what they want. As such, I think that if women want to be housewives, they should. By the same token, they shouldn’t be looked at as being “lesser than” the women that have jobs outside the home, especially when the one staying at home is working just as hard as the one who is working outside of the home.

Like any other job, my humble opinion is that you should be compensated for the amount of work you put in.  Those who did the 40s/50s housewife work should get paid more than the housewife of the current era (I’m speaking stereotypically).  Those who put a minute and a half of effort making a meal vs. 3 hours should without a doubt get paid less (also because I’d assume that the one who does the minute and a half meal probably already has a job outside of the home and didn’t have the time to do the full-on 3 hours, so she’s already making money).

What do you guys think of this notion?  Do you think that all people in a shared household should be required to work, even if the household is living quite comfortably on just one salary? Do you think women being housewives is one step backward for gender equality, even if being a housewife was the woman’s choice?  Do you see a housewife/stay-at-home-man as the “slacker” in the relationship, or do you see them as pulling their own weight because they’re working, too?

Also in the spirit of equality, I don’t limit this to just the woman. If the man wants to stay at home and take care of kids and do chores while the woman goes out and makes the money (because the woman wants to of course), by all means he should also be able to do so.

Long story short, if a girl/guy is putting in an 8 (plus) hour day like any other full-time employee, then it should be labeled as a job and should be paid accordingly.  The only problem is figuring out how to get paid for the upkeep of your own home.  I’m not a fan of welfare, mostly because people abuse the system so much and take advantage of what (I hope) started out as a well-meaning program.  So no, I don’t believe that government should be paying homemakers at all.  At the same time, I don’t think it’s fair that people get paid for doing the housework at other people’s houses.  If people are getting paid to do the same chores they would do in their own household, then why is it that they get paid for one and not the other?  If one is legitimately doing the same amount and quality of work at either house, there should be payment.

If I were a little gutsier, I’d try to start some sort of movement for these people to get paid.  Honestly, I don’t think they get the credit they deserve.  I think the recent developments of everyone in a household being pressured to enter the workforce as soon as they’re an adult may be contributing to some of the downfall of society.  I’m all for independence and making it on your own, but not at too high a cost.  People need to sleep, have time for a healthy meal, and to spend time with their family.  I’ve thought so before, but even more so I believe that America is overworked as a society.  The inventions that have come about for ease of convenience for a workaholic society is making us all unhealthier as a whole.

I’m not quite sure how to solve this problem unless there is some sort of Residence Owners’ Association that is formed to do checkups on the household to make sure that it is up to cleanliness, familial, and food healthiness standards.  Like most jobs, they would get paid twice a month.  Also like any job, if the standards are not up to par, they lose their jobs (or in this case, their home).  Now, to keep a choice in place in this matter, the ROA would only go around and do checkups on those adults in the household who were otherwise unemployed.  If everyone in the household was employed outside the home, then that particular household would not be checked for standards, as it would be implied that this person wouldn’t have the time to keep the house up to standards.  In this way, every adult would the choice to either work outside the home or inside the home as a homemaker.  As a bonus, if one person wanted to make extra income or take on the challenge, they would have the option of being both a homemaker and someone who worked outside of the home.  Personally, I think I’d keel over from exhaustion if I tried to take on both, but there are people out there who can do it.

Of course there would be a lot of resistance to this new system, most especially with invasion of privacy. So in no way do I really think this would ever happen, but I think that if homemaker were to ever become a valid occupation, it should be able to be assessed like any other job.

What I’m wondering is what changed so drastically in society that it wasn’t possible to survive on one income anymore?  Was it because prices of goods raised at a disproportionate rate to what we were getting paid?  Was it because both sexes had just become used to working and so both think it’s their duty to join the workforce, even though combined household income was more than enough?  Was it because back in the day our indulgences were less expensive?  Obviously sipping tea on the porch or playing football outside with friends is a lot less expensive than having the latest video game systems and corresponding games.

Perhaps I’m just in denial as to how much a recession can hurt society.  A lot of people are working to survive now, not because they actually like their work.  It’s sad to see, and the stress that comes from broken families—the children because they never see their parents, the parents because they hate their jobs and work too many hours—has really taken a toll and changed the face of families as we know it.  It’s so uncommon to hear about families gathering around a dining table for meals anymore.

I didn’t realize an economic downturn could have such drastic consequences that it takes you away from what’s really important.  Wasn’t there a time in the 80s when the economy was good and people bought things right and left and took extravagant vacations?  Was that really all because of the advent of credit cards?  And when the economy had the illusion of looking better, were more people inclined then to stay at home because they didn’t have to worry about the expenses?

I wonder if it will ever be possible to go back to a one-income household as the norm.  I think it will be difficult because 1) it will be awhile before people are comfortable enough with the economy again that they don’t feel the need to work to make ends meet, and 2) I think (and please, especially if you’re a female, let me know if I’m wrong in this thought) the female mindset has evolved so much over the decades to result in them thinking that the best way for them to contribute to a household and to look successful is to have a job outside of the home.  This, in my humble opinion, is quite unfortunate.

For what it’s worth, I honestly don’t know where I stand with myself on being a homemaker.  As much as I love doing it, I still want to feel like I’m contributing to the household.  I’m stubborn in the fact that I want to prove that I can make it on my own, even though I have an extremely supportive husband (I’m so so lucky!) that would never put me in the position to test if I could make it on my own.  Also, I do have that whole wanting to be a poetry therapist thing, and that most-certainly is a job that is not homemaking!  😀

Anyways, I’m hoping for a day where the pendulum will swing back to a more home-based society, but I think that’s a lot to ask for.  Ah, well.  That doesn’t stop me from dreaming!

Here’s to Living Your Own Dream of Doing What You Love and Getting Paid for it,

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10 thoughts on “Thoughts On…Thursday: (**Edited on Friday to Be Much More Coherent) 10 Minutes to Discuss Feminism. Go!

  1. Wow, writing this is harder than I thought. I think Rosie the Riveter was more indicative of the necessity of the time, than a true social drive to integrate the workforce. This can be seen by the return of many women to home life after the war. Feminism (or at least 2nd Wave feminism- the first being the suffragists around the 1900s) didn’t really get going until the Boomers in the 60s and 70s, and this was in large part alongside other social movements, such as the anti-war movement, the civil-rights movement, etc. Combined with the growing economic necessity that rose from a rebounding global market and trouble at home, I’d say by the late 70s, early 80s it was probably pretty normal. Remember the old Adam West Batman? They used to use the woman who played Batgirl in PSAs to encourage women to get into the workforce, and the 80’s is when you first started hearing the expression “latchkey kid”, to describe a kid who came home from school to an empty house, and had to use the house key hanging on the latch to get in. The same economic reality is true today. We can’t be like our grandparents- living in a house with 5 kids, only one parent working and making enough money for vacations, with guaranteed job security, etc. A lot of families find they NEED both parents to work to make ends meet.

    I don’t think there is anything strange at all about you wanting to be a housewife. Feminism is about choices, and if that’s what you want, that’s what you want. It’s also a generational thing. The Boomers rejected a lot of what our grandparents believed in out of hat. It’s only natural that there should be a cyclical effect, and that we should develop our own values separate from them. In fact, here’s a short video on that concept if you’ve got the time: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SJNz98OaDA

    We live in a world where we theoretically have more options than any other generation before us. But at the same time, we have less direction. This can burn us out, and leave us wondering what we truly want. Couple that with the Recession, which set a lot of us back, and it’s not surprising we might come to conclusions that might stray from “the norm” we were sold as kids.

    I have read statistics which suggest women still get paid less than men. However, I have also read that women are now going to college more than men, which to me suggest that this could change in the future. There are also more and more men who are apparently deciding to be stay-at-home-dads where they can afford it.

    I think a couple should do whatever works for them, and whatever makes them happy. Even if it goes against the grain of how we were raised- we’re the ones who will decide our future, and we’re the ones who create the new paradigm.

    Sorry I haven’t replied to your other stuff, but I’ve been kinda slammed with school work. I’ll get back to ya soon though!

    1. Hi GBN!
      Thank you for reading another blog post! No worries about getting back to me anytime soon. School takes precedence, in my opinion.
      Wow, I never realized where the term “latchkey kid” came from. I love learning something new. It makes me wonder how long it took for both kids and parents to have to get used to that change, or even if they really actually ever did get used to it. It would be interesting to see a comparison chart and see if there is any correlation between both parents working and the breakdown of communication and functionality of a family.
      That’s really why I think it’s essential for at least one person to stay at home. Kids need someone to come home to to give them both structure and support in their lives. Even more so than when we were kids. I feel with each generation, the lives of kids just get more and more difficult to muddle through.
      I would love to watch that video and look forward to doing so soon. But for now, errands call. (And isn’t it ironic…don’t ya think?)
      Good luck with your school stuff today. Go knock ’em dead! Oh…wait. Ha.
      ~Violet~

  2. I think the first commenter made some good points, and I think it boils down to choice. Every household is different, and I think finding what works for your own personal household can be a challenging, but important task to manage. I think the question “do housewives pull their weight” is so not something that be answered in the generic plural sense. It depends. It depends on what that one woman is doing. It depends on how her partner feels she is doing. It depends on how satisfied and complete she is in her own life.

    As someone who works full time with a partner who’s only part time, I will say there’s a part of me that gets a little grumpy. I know I do more chores than he does, but I also know that he does the chores I really hate doing (cooking and dishes). It’s a balance–when I’m tired at the end of a long day, I get a little irritated knowing he got to do fun things with his time.

    I wish I could stay at home all day and craft. But I can’t–it’s not what works for my household, and I know (deep, deep down) that it’s not what works for me personally. I don’t think I’d feel fulfilled and productive if I didn’t work, but that’s a decision I make on very individual-specific level, and it doesn’t mean I think someone else is living an unfulfilled and unproductive life.

    I think the big change is to not compare to others–find what works for you (and your household), and then pursue that to the best of your abilities.

    (Although I will say that it is a more expensive world that we live in, and that it is very difficult for a two-person hosuehold to make ends meet and plan for the future on one income. Typically.)

    (Also there’s this really interesting book, The Next 100 Years by George Friedman, that has absolutely nothing to do with this topic, with the exception of a little blurb in the first chapter about changing family dynamics and how women who stayed at home “back in the day” really did a lot more than women who stay at home now (on the whole), because of larger family sizes and more manual labor requirements for chores. It was an interesting blurb that I am not doing justice toward at all!)

    1. Sequins,
      I definitely agree that it is a balance. Though it’s unavoidable, I think it’s unfair that you don’t get to have more fun during the day. In yours and your partner’s case, I think you should be able to have more fun, rather than him having to work more. Alas, that is a weird, utopian concept and if that were the case, no work would ever get done.
      Like you, I really don’t think I could stay at home all day and craft. There is the whole poetry therapist thing I eventually want to do. 🙂 At the same time, I don’t think I could work in a job all day outside of my home. I like my home and am always saddened by the fact that most people (aside from when they go to sleep) spend less time at their home than at work.
      I suppose this brings up another problem: perhaps it’s not so much that people spend so much time WORKING, but rather, that people spend so much time working at a job they don’t enjoy. By no means am I insinuating that you don’t enjoy your job (from what I know, it’s quite the opposite), but unfortunately most people don’t. They’re working just because they need the money.
      Maybe that’s more what people need to concentrate on, rather than figuring out what constitutes as “work.”
      I will end by saying this: I do know that there are days that I wonder how much I would’ve liked living in the era where being a housewife wasn’t the minority. I think I really would’ve enjoyed it. In today’s world, though, when I start to think how much I would enjoy being a housewife, I feel uncomfortable saying so for fear of people thinking I’m not carrying my weight. So looking for a “just a job” right now I think is more for keeping up with appearances that I’m a responsible person rather than the true desire. When it comes to my long-term goals, though…those are things I truly want to do.
      Thank you for the book suggestion. It’s definitely being added to my “To Read” list!
      ~Violet~

      1. Yeah I think in the perfect world, having David and I both work maybe 30, 35 hours a week would be ideal. I do love my job, and I am very fulfilled by it, but it does not and should not be the only thing I have time for. I think the only reason I work 40 hours instead of looking for a job with less hours (I actually just recently turned down a job offer that was 30 a week, and believe you and me, it was difficult to do!), is because I need the health insurance. So that’s the big influence for my decisions.

        I do think the need to work lots of hours or make a lot of money stems from an inability to budget, and a level of greed that our society perpetuates. I remember I was whining about having to work so much to my dad, and his response was the very strange comment that I don’t spend a lot–I have (comparatively) a really small budget, so I don’t feel the pressure to make more money to fill the gap. It was a nice compliment, and one I try to remember when I’m tempted by the “next big thing” I want.

        Things like societal greed and access to health care are way off the original topic of “Should Vi feel guilty for wanting to be a housewife”, though.

        My answer to that topic is a resounding NO. Don’t feel guilty for anything you want. Work through why you want and determine whether it’s appropriate for you to work at getting, but never feel guilt. 🙂

    2. I think the things you brought up are not off-topic at all! It’s true that many people work to be able to survive, which I have nothing against. Insurance, most especially health insurance, is something I believe all of us as human beings should have. Unfortunately that is not the case here in the U.S. so people have to work to earn that.

      Related to perfect worlds, I also think that in a perfect world, everyone would be paid a reasonable amount to do the things they absolutely love–the things that they would voluntarily spend all day doing anyway. I’ve often gotten the advice “Follow your bliss and the money will follow.” From a child until my early twenties, I clinged to this advice like my life depended on it, wanting desperately to believe that all dreams came true if you believed in them hard enough. Eventually an older me and a realistic husband stepped in and made me realize that unfortunately this can’t always be the case because some things that people love to do wouldn’t get paid enough to survive. Also, that would take away the opportunistic mentality that the U.S. has–the one where, if you WORKED hard enough (at any job, never mind if you actually enjoy doing it or not), you could earn a living for yourself and provide for a family. I think that if working people were polled, there would be an overwhelming majority that would not work at their current job if they didn’t have to make money. I wonder how occupations would shift around if people were left to their own devices as to what to do for a living. I have friends sitting on both side of the fence: some saying that nobody would ever do the “dirty jobs”–janitors, garbage men, etc.–the others saying that everyone is different and there would still be people left who genuinely like to do those jobs. I really don’t know where I sit with that.

      The other great thing you brought up is the influence of greed. It’s very rare to find someone who was okay with just what they have. People in today’s world always want more. I’ve had the conversation both my mother and my husband where it seems as if no matter how much your income is, people always seem to live right up to the higher end of their means. When I first started out in the working world, I made minimum wage and lived in a less-expensive apartment and was able to afford food and get by just fine, but felt like I still needed just a little extra spending/fun money. Each time I started making more money, I’d upgrade my lifestyle and would still be wanting for a little extra money. I could probably be a billionaire and still feel lacking. (Which is very hard to admit for someone who always prided themself on being non-materialistic. I guess I’m not so much materialistic as much as I like either getting gifts for people or have the money to go to more social outings.)

      Even when I was assistant manager and making good money, and that was coupled with my husband’s income, we felt like we needed more money. The funny thing is, now that we’re only living on my husband’s income, we’re still living in a really nice apartment, able to afford insurance and other life expenses (food, gas, etc.), and still have money leftover to put into savings. Once I secure a job, that money would really only be used for luxury items: spending money, money for my future master’s degree, and an upgrade on food (i.e., brand-name vs. generic lunchmeats and the like). But I know once that time happens, we’ll probably once again adjust our lifestyle and still feel like we need to make more money. It’s an unfortunate cycle.

      We’ve discussed this subject very openly and honestly and he has agreed that if we didn’t need the extra income, and he knew for sure that homemaking was something I genuinely enjoyed doing, that he would have no problems with him being the breadwinner. But the truth of the matter is that we do the need the extra income. And I’ve done some thinking since I published this post, wondering whether I was seeking a job only because I felt guilty for “just” doing housework all day. What I realized was though I do enjoy doing housewifey stuff, I have other goals in mind for what I want to do with my life. But I now think I can start to be comfortable with knowing that housework does contribute to the betterment of the household just as much as money does, just in a different way. This discussion has helped to solidify my opinion that housework is definitely not the lazy way out of anything, especially if you spend all day doing it.

  3. I am going to echo the other two commenters. I honestly believe that in the new wave of feminism, whether or not one partner in a relationship is working is up to the people in that relationship.

    The current feminist ideals are all about choice. If you are choosing to be a homemaker, anyone who tells you that you are wrong for it needs a good verbal smackdown. You are not being oppressed in this choice, and you certainly aren’t setting the feminist movement back by staying at home.

    I do understand how you feel when you say that you want to contribute more financially. That’s one of the main reasons that I started my own blog. I want to build a good readership and an engaged community so that I can write a sex-positive sexual education book.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t find it strange that you enjoy things like decorating and cooking. I love them too, and I find deep satisfaction in the compliments my boyfriend gives me when he enjoys these things. This doesn’t make me a bad feminist, it makes me someone who enjoys providing for the people who love me.

    1. Nice Girl,
      I am so honored that you chose to comment on this post, as I know the topic of feminism is not only near and dear to your heart, but also one you are quite knowledgeable about. So thank you so much for taking the time to read this! 🙂

      It’s good to know that I’m not the only one who thinks that feminist ideals involve CHOICE rather than fitting into that “girls need to start acting more like guys” mold that some people think all feminists fit into. One thing that I still take with me from my Psychology of Women class is that of course there is a such thing as male feminists and feminine feminists. So many people seem to forget that.

      I love what you said when you wrote, “This doesn’t make me a bad feminist, it makes me someone who enjoys providing for the people who love me.” My wish is that more people would think that same way.

      I’m excited for you and the journey you’ve chosen with wanting to do your sex-positive sexual education book. From what I’ve read in your blog, I think you’re really well on your way to having a good and plentiful community of readers. I, for one, will definitely be buying it when it comes out! You are doing wonderful things and it can only go up from here.
      ~Violet~

  4. Wow, where do I begin? I read your initial post early this morning, but decided to wait for you revision before I responded.

    First off, I’d like to say that I have been in every role you described with the exception of one. I’ve been the full-time working wife, I’ve been the stay at home wife and I’ve been the stay at home mom. There is a difference, which is something I’d like to point out. I have yet to be the working mom, but that will change in a few months.

    The reason I list all of these is to validate my opinion with experience. I completely disagree that a stay at home housewife does just as much work as a working wife. When I worked full-time I still did all the same things I would’ve done as a stay at home housewife. I still cleaned the house, did laundry, took care of our animals, paid bills, went grocery shopping, etc. The only thing I didn’t do was cook and frankly it’s because I suck at it and my husband loves cooking. But I can tell you when I stayed at home the last few months of my pregnancy, my life was a lot easier than when I was working full-time. There is a lot less stress. So no, I don’t think stay at home housewives should get paid for doing the same thing working wives do as well. Not to mention, where would the money come from? Taxes?

    Nor do I think anyone should get paid for taking care of their home. That is crazy talk! No one pays me to take showers, but I still do it. I do it because it feels good and that’s the same reason why I clean my house. I don’t clean my house expecting a reward. My reward is the feeling of cleanliness and accomplishment. And like you mentioned, I would NEVER let someone in my house to inspect my cleaning! That is beyond invasion of privacy. Lose my house if it’s not clean? It is my business whether or not I clean my house. Whether or not I stay at home. That goes against so many of our rights.

    Now, on the flip side, stay at home moms, work their asses off. I know I’ve only been a stay at home mom for 2 months, but I work harder now than I’ve ever had to work before. There are no breaks in this round the clock job. Do I think I should get paid? Of course! Haha, what mom doesn’t? But, I know that I’m getting paid in the long run. And, being that I live in Germany, I actually do get paid. The German government pays parents to stay at home for the first year of a child’s life and also you get supplemental income for the first 18 years of a child’s life. So yeah, I’m getting paid. It’s not much, since I haven’t paid into the system, but it’s a couple hundred Euro I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

    I don’t think stay at home wives or moms are anything less than working wives. But I do think that it is a slippery slope. Women who let themselves become too dependent on men are playing with fire. With divorce rates at 50%, it’s a gamble no one should be so quick to take. I have seen marriages of over 25 years go down the drain one day and the woman who stayed home all those years is the one who gets screwed over. Try going into the work force when all you can write on your resume for the past 20 something years is stay at home mom. Yeah, now those women are paying the price, working two shitty jobs, just trying to make ends meet.

    Women need to be able to fend for themselves, no matter how wonderful and stable their marriages are. Yeah, they can get alimony and child support if a divorce goes south. But even that will only get you so far. If there is one thing I was raised with, it was the idea that independence is the only way. People are fickle. In the end, the only person on this planet who you truly know and can always trust is yourself. Don’t misunderstand, I love my husband and trust him. Yet, I’ve seen my own father turn his back on my mother after 27 years of marriage. And NO one saw it coming. Not even my poor mother.

    So yeah, if people want to stay home and they can afford it, go for it. Just know the risks associated with it in this day in age.

  5. Cindy,

    I very much appreciate you reading my post. I have to admit that your response is the one that made me think the most. I had to reread it a few times before I could come up with a response of my own, as you brought up many valid points.

    I commend you for having been the three things you mentioned. I’ve always known you to be a hardworking woman and the experiences you talked about just go to further illustrate that fact. I absolutely, 110% agree with you that stay-at-home parents have the hardest (yet one of the most rewarding) jobs in the world. I specifically say jobs in the plural sense because parents, if they are good ones, wear all sorts of hats—nurse, chef, and counselor to name just a few. I don’t think there’s a parent (or a person who knows a parent) in the world who would disagree with that. The job is made more difficult when the job (I still maintain that housekeeping should be labeled as “job” status, even though you may disagree) of keeping the house is added to the mix of child-raising chores.

    I think the one thing I failed to make clear to distinguish in my post is when I discussed those working outside versus inside the home is that the two occupations are separated. I’m talking about a household where one stayed at home and one worked outside, and the two wouldn’t mix. To elaborate, that would mean the person who worked outside the home would be solely responsible for THAT job, and the person who stayed at home would be solely responsible for ALL the house chores—animal care, bill-paying, grocery shopping, cooking, etc. There is a difference between your idea of a working wife and my idea of a working wife. As you mentioned, “[w]hen [you] worked full-time [you] still did all the same things [you] would’ve done as a stay at home housewife.” So of course you think a stay-at-home wife has it much easier than a working wife. I don’t argue that point at all.

    The point I’m trying to make is that the sum of all the housework is at least equal to the work that one would do outside of the home. When I had a job, there were many times where I believed I had it much easier than if I were at home doing dishes or laundry. In fact, during this stint of unemployment, while I’m folding the fourth basket of laundry for the day, I lament the fact that I couldn’t be doing office work instead. Perhaps this is where a lot of the arguments come from: it depends on what you do outside the home. Some think their outside work is harder than housework, and vice versa. Lucky for me during the times when both my husband and I were employed, we split up the household chores. We believed it was only fair that we equally share the work outside and inside the home. Since we were both working, we agreed that neither of us should have a disproportionate amount of housework. We would take turns with all the chores. If I got home first from work, I’d be responsible for dinner and vice versa. We alternated days when we’d do laundry and dishes and vacuuming and other general cleanup. Whoever left for work later in the day would walk the dog in the morning and then the other person would walk the dog at night.

    The fact that housework is something that involves time and effort is why I believe people should get paid for taking care of their home. I brought up above that maids and housekeepers get paid for doing chores, so why shouldn’t we? They get compensated for working hard and doing the exact same thing that we do every day in our own homes. Do you think, then, that maids and housekeepers shouldn’t get paid? If so, then maybe I could start to understand your train of thought. Yes, I agree people should be responsible for cleaning up their own houses (or hotel rooms, or tables when they’re out dining for that matter), but the fact of the matter is that these same people are busy doing work outside of the home that they simply don’t have the time to do more work when they get home. So they hire someone else to do it, and these other people get (in my opinion, rightfully) paid. So again, if stay-at-homers are putting forth the same chores and effort that housekeepers and maids (and bussers, etc.) are, they why shouldn’t they get paid for it? I don’t think that’s crazy talk at all.

    Also, yes, no one pays you to take showers, but by the same token I don’t think you’d turn down money if someone decided to pay you to do it. And why shouldn’t you expect a reward for cleaning your house? If you feel accomplished by doing it, then don’t you think you should get compensated for all the effort put forth in accomplishing a clean house? As for the shower thing, I don’t usually feel accomplished by taking a shower because it doesn’t take much effort to clean yourself. At least certainly not as much effort as keeping house. I usually don’t clean house because it feels good; I clean house because it’s necessary. I’d much rather be out playing or doing crafts or taking naps cuddling with my dog—those are the things that make me feel good. Those things, no, I don’t think I should get paid for, but again, I wouldn’t turn the money down if someone decided to pay me for it. 

    I think I brought up the ROA (housecleaning inspectors) as a fictional means of paying housekeepers that didn’t involve taxes. I fully realize that most people wouldn’t let someone inspect their house for cleaning. As for myself, if I were getting paid to clean my house, I think I would NOT actually mind. I support higher ups checking up on their employees to make sure their jobs get done, so I don’t think it’s so absurd for people to check up on the “job” that is keeping house…again, only if housekeeping is listed as their job. If something else is their job, then THAT’S what they should be getting a performance evaluation on, not the cleanliness of their house. Do you also think that getting a job evaluation goes against your rights? True, people CHOOSE to get a job and get exposed to that situation, but in the fictional world I set forth in the above post, I would also say that the stay-at-homers also CHOSE to stay at home and therefore sign up for having their housework evaluated.
    I didn’t realize that the German government paid parents to stay at home. Does that happen to come out of taxes? I also wonder if people abuse that system and just keep having kids so they are able to have money. By no means am I saying that’s what you’re doing—I reiterate that I know you to be a hardworking woman and would never do something like that—but unfortunately there are people who will abuse the system when they can.

    I also agree that women in relationships should never let themselves become too dependent on their partner. It’s something I’ve struggled with, and still struggle with to this day, to give in to the idea that being married means that things like expenses are shared. I’m used to fending for myself, to have the resources to depend on nobody else but me. But if there’s anything I’ve learned in the last few years, it’s that it’s not so much dependency but support. And it’s mutual and equal—no one person in our relationship depends on/supports the other more. That’s also where some people would disagree. They would say that right now my husband’s supporting me more and I’m depending on him more. But while I’m depending on him for income, he’s depending on me to have a clean house, a walked dog, and dinner ready when he gets home so he doesn’t have to do it. We love each other equally. And we know that if our situations were reversed, I would only too happily take on the responsibility of bringing in income while he tended house. The beautiful thing about this, though, is that we both agreed to this situation ahead of time.
    To share a personal story, in November of 2010 my husband was in extreme danger of being laid off due to the failing economy. Even though I was burned out from my job and wanting another one that didn’t stress me out as much, I vowed to him that I would stay right where I was—perhaps even take on an additional crappy night job—in order to make things meet, even if it compromised both my mental and physical health. I gave him the option of leaning on me in his time of need. Luckily, he didn’t lose his job. When he got this news, he told me he’d support me in leaving my job to pursue something I loved. So (save a couple of events in between), that’s where we are now. But knowing we need extra income, I’ve started the job search again. And if his job were compromised again, I would go and get all those odd jobs in order to make ends meet.

    By no means am I saying that you and your husband wouldn’t likewise support each other. I guess what I’m trying to say is perhaps I’m much more trusting of my relationship than what others would consider a safe level. But I don’t know how to live any other way than to believe in our relationship and that it won’t end. I don’t think I’d ever be able to stay in a marriage that I didn’t believe in 100%. We have a mutual trust, as I know your husband and you have as well. At any given time, either he or I could bail on this relationship. It’s not a one-way street. Either one of us would be completely screwed over if the other left. There are more ways to be screwed over than financially, and to be honest, I think I’d be able to deal better with being financially screwed over than emotionally screwed over.

    On a related note, I never knew about what happened with your parents, and I’m truly sorry to hear about it. My heart goes out to your mother, who must have went through so much hell in that experience. She may still be going through hell, for all I know. But the naïve, optimistic side of me holds on to the belief that my husband and I will make it. I stubbornly refuse to believe anything otherwise, because that’s what faith in marriage is all about.

    All that being said, in the end that’s why I do still seek employment—that, and the fact that I really don’t believe housework is the job I was cut out to do for the rest of my life. My wish is that “housekeeper” in the stay-at-home sense WOULD be a valid option on a resume, because I truly believe it’s just as respectable to put that you held that position for 20 years of your life than if you held the position of any other occupation in the stereotypical working world. It is definitely a risk in this day and age to be a stay-at-home person, but I am hoping for the day when it’s not a risk at all.

    Thank you again for your thought-provoking response!
    ~Violet~

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