Monday, November 15, 2010

15 November 1956 “Pin Money Weekend and War Time Mentality”

 workingwoman This weekend I felt a bit of a ‘Working Woman’. My friend and I made up some batches of jams, cookies and candies and participated in a local craft sale.
stefatsale Here is my partner in crime with our booty for sale. We even took the time to print up labels and made aprons to wear with our ‘logo’. We wanted to make it seem more professional. I think it did help as we almost sold out of everything. goodiegalslogoHere is the little logo we had ironed on our bib aprons. We used a similar one for our tags to label our jam and candies.goodiegalslabel I found, this past week, a new joy in candy making. It was my first time trying it and loved it. The science of it was rather fun. Here are two pans of my brittle waiting to set.brittlebrittlecloseupA fun closeup ‘landscape’ of the stuff.brittlepackagedAnd a little bag all prepared for the sale. I made quite a few fun varieties and the recipe I made from trying a few different versions and tweaking it until I liked the taste. My little sample dishes sold the product for everyone who popped in a taste immediately bought one.
What I discovered, this weekend, quite by chance was the temptation and lure of working outside the home. Quite without any forethought, I had actually thrust myself into a little mini-experiment. I took a contented 50’s homemaker (me) and suddenly placed her in a business setting where I received money for my work.
My hubby and I consider the money he earns to be ‘our money’ as I work just as hard (harder according to him) at home, so therefore I am earning that money as well. I also consider my work here, on my blog and site, as ‘unpaid’ work in that I enjoy it and I do it for others as well as myself. It is my ‘ladies' club work’ similar to committee and voluntary work a middle class homemaker would have fit into her schedule. Of course, this would have been unpaid work, as it is for me.
So, having been so long removed from that ‘work world’ where where does a specific task and then is given money, it was odd, really. Here, at the end of it, I find myself thinking of our 1940’s sisters. And, in fact, my own marriage would have happened during the war and so I most likely would have found myself in the working world while hubby was off defending the country. To many women, this was a much appreciated freedom. Yet to some, like me I think, it would be an unexpected one.
I love my homemaking. I find I have been my most fulfilled in this career and I have had many before this, so I do feel I have some form of comparison. Yet, having been ‘at home’ for the past two years, it suddenly felt quite real, as if I was an old time homemaker suddenly in a working environment. The comradery of the other women, for it was mostly women at this craft fair, the gossip and coffee in between sales. The chatting to complete strangers about your day and your wares and then receiving money from them and letting it stack up in your little envelope. It was, rather, thrilling really.
Now, here is what I found in my mini-experiment of two days: At first I rather thought, ‘hmmm, I could surely do this a bit more. The extra money would be lovely for sure.” Yet, by the end of yesterday I had found myself already planning out spending this as of yet un-earned money. Then hubby and I sat down and also figured out how much he had spent.
You see, though normally I am prepared with things ahead of time, the rush of candy making mixed with logo design, apron making and decals, preparing for the sale, it ate into my homemaking time. In two days of hubby having to get his own lunch at work and one breakfast out he spent half of his weekly cash allowance. I also ‘splurged’ and bought myself lunch as well, because I was too busy to bother once I got home and had to prepare for the next day.
You could see, how easily our modern lives get into that cycle. We must both work, so there is no specific chore set for anyone, so much of homemaking is left on the wayside. Both are tired and yet delusional that thinking two incomes are better than one, so both spend more on eating food bought and car fare and ‘treats’. I saw how easily, were I to take a job outside the home, I would need to really sit down and re-adjust my schedule so I could both do my homemaking and my outside work.
This lead to my next realization: Why did I instantly think it was my job to do both? I think many working women today find themselves more the homemaker than their hubby yet they make work just as much or even more than their hobby's outside the home? Why is this? Surely, after so many centuries of being the homemaker, when women were suddenly thrust into the work place during WWI and then WWII again, when the peace time came and some women continued to work, it just sort of happened. What is interesting to me is many women today write to me and tell me they are working women and they still do more than 90 % of the home and child care. In a way, what a raw deal for we ladies. Surely, we should be able to work in any thing we choose, I don’t want to give up women’s freedom, but have we taken on a new shackle of servitude by simply thinking, “Oh well, I guess I do the house things and work” without wondering why?
I still wonder, too, if many women who currently work could actually become a one income family (obviously one needs a partner for this of course). I recall one follower telling me she and her hubby lived a year with her working but not using any of her income for anything but savings to see if they could manage with just his salary. A very sound plan and a good way to ease one into a single salary lifestyle.
Now, back to our wartime sisters. Here they are, the little dears, content little homemakers, very little contact with the outside world save the grocers and shop keepers and other stay at home ladies. Suddenly they are thrust into an environment that really is much out of their control. I don’t care what anyone says about the cage or oppression of a Homemaker, we have almost total control over our days. WE decide when and how things get done. We might be the worker, but we are also the boss. So, to suddenly have an actual boss, and most likely a strange older man, telling us when and where to be and how to do something must have felt strange and odd. Also, the rush out of the house in the morning and the return in the evening exhausted.
I felt last night, after only two days out, how lovely it would have been to come home to my own homemaker, a warm meal, a smile and nice conversation. A clean home and no worries of the dishes. I certainly appreciated what I do EVEN more after just this weekend of working out and coming home to have to only ‘catch back up’.
Those women, then, with their new freedom of work and comradery amongst other ladies and men who were not their husbands or relatives, what an odd change it must have all been. To many, it was as freedom they were happy to keep. Some, I am sure, were unhappy to give it up after the war, but the men did deserve their jobs back, as they had literally risked their lives while away. But, I think there must have been some ladies who enjoyed their time out in the working world, but found their being at home again even more wonderful. The joy of again having control over one’s own day, the quiet and simple comforts of the home. And, really, the less chaotic home life as time spent with family was fun and not ‘rushing about to catch up all the time’. Certainly, one cannot argue that vanishing of a stay at home mother has really made home life completely different from once it once was. Many people may complain that their children won’t or couldn’t enjoy more time at home or more ‘family time’ but really, why should they? They have never really had it as they were growing up. Day care, school at earlier ages, play groups, sports and outside ‘classes’. All of these things make them busy little people who do need their own palm pilot to keep their schedules in order. To suddenly expect such busy little child ‘executives’ to be happy at home of a Sunday evening playing snakes and ladders after a crazy week of day care, video games at friends, trips and classes and I don’t know what, is probably not realistic.
Now, I am not saying this is good or bad. It is simply different. The very nature of the nuclear family has changed greatly since the 1950’s. Yet, even that was a new thing at the time. Before the War, many families still lived in the ‘old way’ in which extended family, such as grandparents, married couples and their children and unmarried aunt’s, uncles, or cousins would often make up a household had suddenly stopped. The new increase in money and building allowed the nuclear family we associate with the mid century to be born. Yet, it seemed short lived. Now, we have the same make up of parents and children, but much more time is spent outside the home. We moved further and further from the supportive concept of relatives to just  a parent group and now even that parent group is outdated and children are often more raised by others and machines. What is the next step, I wonder?
I think what is sad about the loss of the old pre 1950’s system was how much more economical and good it was all round. Surely relatives got on one another’s nerves all living together, but Grandma and Grandpa felt needed and helped raised the grandchildren (no day care costs and no wonder as to how the children are being raised) This also was nice for the elderly as opposed to simply living in old people facilities we have today. We just, for whatever reason, have become more and more separated from one another since the post WWII days. It is rather sad, really.
So, I found myself tempted by the outside ‘working world’. I began tallying up my ‘earnings’ before I received them and soon was planning away my days further away from my hubby and my home. It happens so quickly and so easily. Yet, back at home, catching back up from this weekend, putting my home to rights and sitting here in my little sitting room, makes me realize for me at least, Home is where my heart AND my work is. While I may still do a craft fair here and there to sell some candy and take orders, it will be pin-money only work. I will squirrel it away for a rainy day and be happy for it. But, I don’t think I could go back to the old rhythms of my life. The flow and structure of homemaking these past two years have become far too interesting and rewarding to me to find myself on the rocks lulled by the Siren song of the workplace. I gladly put on my apron and return to the kitchen, for to me it is a choice and one I cherish and am thankful for having the choice to make.
I do recommend, though, to any of you who could try it or would like to have a go at it with some ‘talking into’ with your hubby, it is worth a go. You may, at least, find yourself even happier to work outside the home again, not wanting to be a drudge at home. Or, you might find yourself blossoming and finding all theses skills and abilities you’d never thought you had appearing like buds in a Spring garden.
Well, back to my own home and have a lovely day. Happy Homemaking.
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