Tuesday, March 29, 2011

29 March 1957 “The Little Woman At Home”

womanreading I recently have begun to consider how different my day has become in the past two and half years. What often seems normal to me now will sometimes suddenly become apparently alien to the majority of the United States: My being at home.

I am often so buy (even without children) just caring for my home, researching and writing my blog, that the days seem an almost homogenous bubble in which I exist. There was a time when driving everyday, dealing with traffic, or just dealing with more people in general in the city, was a normal part of my day. It can often seem odd, now, when I will stop in the middle of what I am doing and notice the quite.

I rarely listen to music for the majority of the day. I once always had some noise on: the TV, music, headphones and i-Pod. Now, when I do listen to music, it is an intentional act. Perhaps I might like it on if I am ironing in the kitchen or making breakfast (then I use my old-look radio that has a hidden CD player with old music/radio programs on it). I have become so ‘lazy’ about the need to constantly have new or different music that I realized that same CD has been in there since last Thanksgiving. I like the old songs sung by Ella and Louis, and ‘The Colgate Comedy Hour” which technically ended broadcast in 1955-so even in 1957 I can be an anachronism.

Sometimes, at my lunch time, I will take the time to put a record on. Again, I have had a Doris Day album on the turntable for some times and I simply play the same side. I compare this to the old modern me who found it normal to always be finding new artists bands and new songs. It makes me wonder, how the songs created by bands/ musicians now have to be assembly lined. Can there be a classis song from our time? Other than one or two pop songs that might infiltrate all levels of popular society, songs seem to be brought out and used so quickly. And of course then used in advertising, the other constant sound of the modern world.

Not having advertising in your life is a strange experience. Occasionally  I will click on a program such as HULU just to see what advertising is happening now. I am at first always taken by the noise! The sheer constant barrage of sound mingled in one commercial. The last time I did this, maybe two weeks ago, I made it through one commercial and it made my stomach turn. I can’t recall if it was for a service or the device, but there was a father watching a show on a large wall television, then he moves to his desktop computer. It turns into a cartoon and he removes the monitor (Which is apparently also like an eBook or something) and hands it to his children who were just begging for his attention. When he hands it to him (despite the fact he was oblivious to their needs prior) they suddenly go comatose and lose interest in the father and watch the show. Then the parents leave the child with a sitter.

There was also another similar commercial where shows for children went from TV, to computer to hand held devices to car seat monitors all with the idea that the child luckily is kept busy with his/her shows on the go. What about looking out the window? Or engaging one another in conversation (language skills and social skills are really learned at these early stages, with less and less actual human interaction but only faux magical online/TV interaction, how is this skewing children’s reality, I wondered?

Needless to say, I don’t do this very often. But I am always taken by the noise and sound. I even notice sometimes if I am visiting a friend who may have the TV on most of the time. There is this high pitched electric sound I was never really aware of before. You can hear it in spades in big box stores that sell electronics, I am sure (Though I have not been in a big box store in quite awhile either.)

When we lived in Boston it was normal to see the majority of passersby self-engaged with their i-Pods. I too would walk with my headphones in and it seemed normal. Yet, looking back, I can see that last bastion of community, the city, slowing removing its inhabitants to some pseudo-self world that allows you to carry yourself around to the exclusion of those around you. Less random conversations are started when a train full of people are staring into space with headphones or staring at little screens furiously typing away or talking on phones. The social engagement of people to people in person seems a fading possibility.

That is when I began to think of my own isolation here. Certainly I am trying to relive to a certain point the 1950’s homemaker’s life. There would have been those quiet at home moments, no TV or noise and just you and your thoughts. But, what there would also have been is houses and houses full of people doing what you were doing. And a relationship amongst those “little women at home”. A pop next door to borrow a cup of sugar. A shared ride with Betty because it was her day with the car, to go to bridge or marketing together. A chat over the fence or a chance encounter on the main and high streets of towns and villages and cities.

Sometimes I will walk to the end of our drive and look up and down our road. Look at all the houses and see them basically empty. Though we do live in an area of many retired people without jobs, they are often off at the shops and such. Our neighbors next door, a young couple, are almost never home. Their cars are their only indicator. I think sometimes in the summer I will see them together but most of the time they leave at different times, arrive home at different times and occasional share a ‘hello’ with me when they take their dog out briefly and return to the house and then are gone.

It is odd to me that the increased freedoms multiple cars, jobs for all, and endless entertainment has only seemed to produce more isolation in a way. Even when people are together they will stop in a conversation to answer a phone call or continue to ‘listen’ while typing away a text at the same time. Perhaps, it is just me and my own personal location that results in a sense of isolation. Perhaps many of you in other parts are constantly engaged in public situations and conversations, but being a vintage housewife in 2011 is rather like being on a deserted island sometimes. Not that I mind all that much. When I consider what is out there: the Noise, the traffic, the endless downturned heads and little screens, eyes not seeing, ears not hearing, and the constant movement. In many ways I am happy and consider myself lucky to be at home. Though I know many who have said it would “drive them crazy, all the quiet” and it makes me wonder, why? Why do we not want to stop and listen to ourselves. To have the solitary conversation or mull over ideas and thoughts alone. Even our alone time is taken up with music, emails, texts, and constant communication. Yet, in person, our communication is almost non existent. The 21st century seems a time of disparaging contrasts, doesn’t it. And, for me, I am not sure now how I can ever truly live IN it any longer. I am not really welcomed back in time, for all the housewives have gone on, and the modern world might as well be an alien culture to me.

Is it possible to get culture shock from your own culture?

How do any of  you, who are simply constantly modern, find the world different from even say 10 years ago? I’d love to hear.


  1. I'm not a modern woman at all, in fact, my daughter tells me I'm "old school". (Thank you!)
    I used to work at two part-time jobs, but a move last October ended my employment. At first I felt guilty for not working and a bit lost. I have grown to love being at home and the quietness is intoxicating.
    I'm not bored, but I do need to remember to reach out to others rather than being totally introverted.
    My husband loves coming home for a home cooked lunch.
    I'm able to join my son at school for lunch from time to time and watch his antics on the playground. Another plus is that I have had the opportunity to get acquainted with his friends.
    Boredom isn't an issue for me since there is lots to do. My husband works at a bank, so there is ironing each week. In my spare time I can oil paint or sew or do embroidery or crocheting.
    Once the weather improves, there will be gardening and yard work.
    Sometimes I think of the 50s when women like me would have been in the majority rather than a minority. It must have been lovely.

  2. Wow what an insightful post honey. I am so amazed at the rate of technology we are at. I teach high school and can't believe how many kids can't spell, or interact with others because of texting. What happened to good old fashioned conversation? I hope you have an amazing Tuesday! Stop by and say hello! Kori xoxo


  3. Donna, I think if you had children you'd feel more of a connection to your neighboors, if they had children too, and the outside world. For example last week a neighbor needed brown sugar for some baking. She called to ask and I sent my son over with the bag. He ended up staying for a while to play with the neighbor's boys and when she dropped off the bag later we talked for a while.

    What's changed too much for me is that my job as a wife, mother, and housekeeper never seems to end. It's a lot like those in paying jobs who are always reachable due to modern technology. I often get emails sent from other moms in the early morning requesting playdates or asking for volunteers for this or that. And at night when I get into bed I find myself sending emails via an IPad to confirm appointments or lessons for my children and set up playdates too. I consider all this as part of my job and try as I may to get it done earlier after cleaning up after dinner and getting the kids ready for bed (baths, homework, laundry etc) this is the time I have left.

    A friend of mine noticed that younger mothers use texts more often for the planning purposes I described above. We're in our mid 40's and these mothers are probably 7-10 years younger. Nothing wrong with texting but I guess I'm just an old fashioned email girl. ;)

    I think the neighborhood feel can vary depending on where you live. My neighborhood was built starting in the 1930's. Our homes are physically close together (a driveway's width apart) and we have sidewalks. So kids can walk to school and there are many parents watching or out walking themselves. There's a sense of community spirit and congeniality. People say hello when you pass them on the street. I've mentioned this before: The street is a bit narrow if cars are parked on the sides. Most people are polite and pull over to let others pass. The driver who is given the right of way usually waves a thank you, even young teenage drivers. We joke that we live in "Pleasantville" but we know we're lucky.


  4. My daughter just turned 6 months old and I have been staying at home with her since a month before she was born. And I love it. I honestly thought I would get lonely but I have managed to create such a wonderful little community by meeting new mom friends, and I manage to keep quite busy with the house too. I rarely watch TV, rarely have music on, and I only pick out the important stories from the news. I love the quiet, I love not being barraged by ads (and I used to work in advertising!!!! can't imagine going back to that), and I love having control over my schedule. It's depressing to think about when we were both working, and how much we compromised on health/prices/convenience just because we were so exhausted from working. And while it was nice having the extra income, my job is here now. We weren't even doing anything smart with the money anyway, it just enabled us to buy bigger TV's, bigger vacations, etc. I am happy to skip out on that stuff in order to spend this time with my daughter- I wouldn't even call it a sacrifice!

  5. I'm never bored at home! In fact when I am home, it makes me wonder where I find the time for working since there's always something to keep me busy!

    Mary Ellen
    The Working Home Keeper

  6. Sarah, I loved your post! Those early days of motherhood are so precious. I remember when my oldest was that age and I'd hang out with her at home thinking everything we needed was right here. We lived in the city so we could get groceries delivered and we didn't have to go out unless we wanted to. It was a special time. I look at my children now (they're 13, 10, and 7) and wonder when they outgrew their chubby little baby knees. Seems like one day "kid" knees just appeared.

    Sounds like you're enjoying your little one. I know some days maybe less than joyful but they pass too.

    The other Sarah

  7. Great post! Your comment about the blaring of the advertisements made me think of the few times we have taken the kids to a movie. I worked for a movie theater for years and got free movies, so now it pains me to pay for them. We go once, maybe twice a year, and I'm always blown away by how loud everything is. At home I actively fight against too much media---no iPods because I'd rather share music with my family, no video games (yet) because I've raised the boys to believe that if they spend that spare time and nervous energy on musical instruments they can create rather than consume something, and we all limit our television viewing (on the one tv we have in the house) to an hour or two a day. The more we leave the blaring behind, the more sensitive I'm becoming to it.
    Also you reminded me of my childhood...we lived in an urban neighborhood next door to my gram who kept me while my parents worked. Neighbors were always popping in for cups of coffee and gossip. And my mom was always hosting card clubs, my dad was on bowling and softball games, and we spent most of our weekends "getting together" with family or friends. I miss that!

  8. RMH-that is what I am most likely missing here, the fact that the stay at home mothers are almost non-existent coupled with our living in a retirement/vacation community.
    Kori-Are children allowed to have cell phones and text during school hours? Is that true? I mean, forget about getting caught passing notes, how easy to type away with a phone in your pocket!
    Sarah-It sounds as if you are indeed lucky! Certainly, and I know this, if we had a child it would be very different. But, then again, I am still uncertain how I would want to raise a child. Hubby and I have one year and half left for our 'decision' for a child. We are still about 50/50 on that decision. However, our conversation about raising that child is always interesting. We are so anti-modern cell phone/ texting etc. that we would almost want the child not to have access to all of that right away to build their skills BEFORE having that ability. Yet, to do so might almost seem child abuse in modern light. So, still on the fence about that one. But your neighborhood sounds a lovely place to raise a child.
    Sarah-that often seems to be the case in those who write me. They are two income families, make more money because of it, yet are still unable to save and get out of debt. It seems the more convenience and the more available mixed with two incomes and the need to feel that you 'deserve it for all the hard work' is the perfect recipe to stay in the debt loop. It is so hard in this country. I like that-email is 'old school' while times are a-changing rapidly.
    I wonder what the other mother's would say if you simply said, "I don't have an email or i-pad. I only get calls in my home or via mail"? Would people just laugh, not believe you or what? I am sure there would be stares.

  9. Shannon-it does seem, overall, that we are too busy or too isolated or to entertained to be more communal. This might simply be my own perspective concerning where I live and no children, but I do get letters quite a bit from mothers who say, though they are run ragged, there seems to be no real family time.
    It is hard to unplug and every year we are shown a new product we MUST have that simply pulls us further apart.

  10. great post and really I agree with everything you said. We made a conscious decision two years ago to turn everything off, and now we occasionally have some music playing, but rarely, the computers and TV are kept to a minimum and the children aren't allowed them at all. It makes such a difference to our quality of life. The children are able to entertain themselves for periods of time (along with plenty of play with me), they play outdoors nearly every day, and are fit and healthy. They have advanced reading ages for their actual age, because we do a lot of reading and looking at books. I love the silence now, when I used to have to have music on all the time.
    As a homemaker and stay at home mum, I am always busy, and I am lucky that in our neighbourhood, and through my children I know a number of other stay at home mums to socialise with, although I do know what you mean as until recently many of our neighbours left at 8 and didn't return home til 6, and our street was a bit of a ghost street (save for the delivery drivers who always make a bee line for our house). It makes me laugh when my working friends say what do you do all day/I couldn't do it - taking care of the home is my number one job, but then, if I am done I am free to do whatever I want - what's not to love about that kind of life ?

  11. bohomumma-so true! Every so often I will ask my hubby if he resents my being home. Though he would like the time as well, really besides work all his free time is truly free time. He LOVES not having to deal with grocery stores, bill paying, meal planning, laundry. I think it a fair trade off. It is true we would have more coming in if I were working, but when I did work, I spent more. I think we actually (sad enough to say) save more now with 1/2 our income. How is that for honest American consumerism. I often, when working, felt the almost NEED to go out and buy to 'reward' myself. Yet always felt I didn't have enough time to myself. We do live in a very interesting time. I wonder, however, how long this debt/spending cycle (and I mean states and governments as well as individuals) can really hold out. Our lifetime? I don't know, I wonder sometimes if the late teens of the 21st century won't be a serious re-organizing how we have to live as modern people and not because we all CHOOSE to, but because we may have more debt.
    And I agree, what is not to love about making one's own schedule and time alone. I know if we do have a child, it will take up so much time, I really feel for working parents. I don't know how they have time to do anything! But, I suppose you just make it work. I wish it could be easier for those who do want to stay home with their kids possible, but I know it is hard in today's economy.

  12. I listen to a lot of music as I go about my day. It always lifts my spirits and puts me in a good frame of mind. I listen to a mix of old radio programs, big band, and singers like the Andrew Sisters.

    I agree with your assesment of commercials! Appalling.

  13. I am old school as well here, I can`t find my cellphone and it`s probably dead because I never use it :) I love turning off the TV and enjoy the silence when my children are in school, I love talking on the phone as opposed to e-mail and such.

    I still find it odd to see parents at the park with their children and typing things into their phone, that would not have happened ten years ago when my oldest was a baby. It`s just a disconnect that is discouraging, I mean you go to the park to focus on your child, not on who you text.

    Alot has changed in the world and I have not caught up to it, which is fine with me :)

    Mom in Canada

  14. Donna, do you have a dog? That's a great way to connect with neighbors and have chit-chats... I walk my dog in very unfriendly Miami and always have a convo while I'm out. Having a cute or small dog helps.

  15. I have two small adorable dogs. When I lived in the city I was stopped all the time and many conversations happened due to them.
    I am not really sad or upset that I am more alone, merely making observations.
    We have been considering a life change but we are still trying to decide what that will entail. Our feelings about modern society and community living will play a major role in that decision as well.

  16. Donna, to answer your question about what would happen if I didn't have email or a computer- I think moms would take the time to call to set up playdates. I didn't mean to imply email is the only form of communication. Many a playdate has been set up when I run into the mother while at the post office or grocery store. What would be difficult is the emails from school. In an effort to cut down the amount of paper sent home (for environmental reasons, among others) 95% of the notices from school are sent via email. My children often have homework that is to be done via computer and emailed to the teacher. So not having a computer in my community would be hard. The library has free computers but would require an extra errand. But I suppose if one only used the computer for homework and emails once a day one would have more "free" time.

    I did a little experiment last fall. I was overwhelmed by the constant emails and set up an automatic reply that said I was checking email only once daily and if something was urgent to please call. (I didn't leave my phone number so only those who know me could call.) The response I got was very positive, except from the few spam companies who took my auto reply as interest in their product and sent a new barrage of emails. Everyone else, from mothers to my doctor to the staff at school really liked it and appreciated knowing I wouldn't get back to them immediately. I'm thinking of making it a permanent thing.


  17. Sarah-that is so interesting. And how funny that children have to do some homework on line. What an interesting experiment. It was good that you mainly got positive response. I have found that when we do something counter current culture with good reasoning, many people respond well. I bet you made others consider their own amount of computer/email time. I love little social experiments like this, good for you!
    That is why if our hypothetical child comes into being he/she will most likely be homeschooled by us and tutors as well. I guess I would want the choice to say no computers but not even say it, simply not make it an option.
    We have considered if there is a yes to a child, moving either to a more isolated living allowing other like minded people to be around or possibly moving overseas in some effort to provide a different than the current American experience for the child.
    It is really a tough decision. God bless all you parents, you are doing the most important job out there.

  18. I think technology has crept up slowly so that we don't notice how it has taken over our lives. I've worked at the same company for 18 years and in the beginning we had a desk phone, desk computer and occasionally on weekends were "on call" with a pager. Then came cell phones that replaced the pager for our "on call" weekends. The result was you had to respond immediately or else. No time to gather your thoughts and call someone back. If you were in the shower, too bad. It's all instant.

    After that came the full time cell phone that we have to carry during our off times or when we are away from our desk. It became 24/7 really. After that, laptops. Now we can work from home even when you are sick. Even further, air cards so i can do other work while I'm working at another location having even a few minutes of down time. Sometimes I wonder what is next? How far can the intrusion go.

    And that is just work. I also have a personal cell phone, laptop, ipod and tv. Gosh, please don't ban me as a reader!!! :)

    The point is, for me, it's just added slowly and part of it is forced because of work, but part of it is voluntary and I can't say I enjoy it. I crave peace and quiet. I agree we are isolated now with real contact face to face. My neighborhood is similar to yours. I look outside and nobody is home. I occasionally see my neighbors but they work too and it's rare we have a conversation.

    There is a rumor going around at work that there will be a big relocation coming up soon to consolidate offices. I'm halfway rooting for it to be so because I will not relocate for the job. I'll have the opportunity to be a housewife for the first time in my life and if I get that chance, I'm jumping on it.

  19. I also wanted to point out that I think your blog posts are so well thought out and composed because you have the time during your day to devote to this. I really appreciate it. It's nice to read a blog with original thoughts and not something just slapped up there, usually lifted from somewhere else. It's why I've had to abandon my old blog, time. I enjoyed it once and now it's just another thing that I've had to weed out to have more time to fit in chores after work.

  20. Stephanie-firstly, thank you so much for the compliment on my blog. In many ways my writing (though again editing not my strong suit) has simply become a part of my day. Even on a day I may not post, I am still writing or researching for something.
    At first I thought this an almost 'cheating' element to my original 1955 task, but as time has moved on I have found that this would simply have been a paper journal and pen, a typewriter with a few local 'opinion' articles to my local paper, and that book I worked on in my spare time. I am not really even trying any longer to have a specific restrictive set of 'rules' for my project. I have gone beyond that. But, what I have found by ditching the debit/credit card for cash, the 'pay instant online' for good ole' check writing, shopping with lists, no TV modern Mags modern movie modern advertising, no modern clothing therefore no need to 'hit all the sales' and the desire to downscale what I have rather than hit stores for things all the time is a serenity and peace. I often use the Alice through the looking glass or down the rabbit hole scenario and that is me, only I am staying on the other side.
    Or, is it that leaving the modern world was the crazy land of talking Rabbits and mad tea parties and now I am really home?
    I can't imagine having to be 'on call' all the time. I mean if one were a doctor, but they expect a lot out of workers today and then ultimately just move off shore to 'cheaper' areas. This is indeed an odd time in which we live. It's not longer 'back when I was young' now it is 'remember 5 years ago when the world was completely different?' this cycle seems to keep speeding up.

  21. They are two income families, make more money because of it, yet are still unable to save and get out of debt.

    At this time, my husband desires that I work outside of the home (as well as in!), so we are a two-income family (two full-time incomes). One thing that has helped us is to not spend or live above our means just because of the two incomes. We are debt free except for our house, which we are in the process of paying off early. We also have savings of several months worth of expenses for emergencies. We continually make choices that allow our incomes to work for us.

    Mary Ellen
    The Working Home Keeper

  22. TWHK-Wow, good for you. That is wonderful that you are able to do that. It would be nice if more could do that, but I think more often than not a two income family often finds themselves even more in debt-the need for two cars/insurance/repairs etc, fuel costs, work clothing and food and the list goes on.
    It sounds like you have a good system worked out and hopefully other two incomers can do as you do.
    I know when hubby and I both worked, we (well I really) spent more. Now, however, if I rejoined the outside the home workforce, I think I would treat it differently.

  23. And for me 50s Gal, I think if for some reason I left the workforce, I would be prepared for life at home with less income! That's why I encourage other working moms to learn homemaking skills. Breadmaking, gardening, canning, cooking from scratch, making your own cleaners, etc. aren't just for SAHW/Ms. Those are skills EVERYONE would benefit from knowing!

    Mary Ellen
    The Working Home Keeper

  24. Oh, of course, many of my readers are working women striving to learn such skills. I think these skills are good for children as well, better to learn now, as many will be single college students one day and those skills will help them feed themselves as well as organize their study skills and life planning. Homemaking is for ALL!

  25. My home has always been relatively quiet as I have worked at home as a writer since my children were little. What I find different is how much time now, even than 10 years ago, I NEED to be online. Not because I'm addicted but because most business (writing, family business, son's business too) is done online and everything brings it's own "must be kept up with" expectations. So when I take a day off, it's to rest my EYES not my ears!

    It does make me appreciate the simple things, of reading a book, doing household chores, cooking, shopping. Good question!

  26. Good blog and comments! We have a big family and I've been home for many years. When my oldest were little, my neighbor friends and I would joke about our "Cleaver Neighborhood" (like Leave It To Beaver..) because nearly all of the moms were home. This was in the late 80's, newly built subdivision. We all moved in around the same time, all got to know each other very quickly. Lots and lots of kids!! Our homes are average sized, I'd say, but definitely smaller than what's being built now in terms of new homes. For e.g. very few of the models here have master bedrooms w/bath. That type of thing. Big yards though. Several of us have added on to our homes instead of moving. So, like Sarah H commented, a lot depends on where you live.

    When we moved in: No cable TV yet, no cell phones, no computers, even cordless phones were new. But my gosh my days were busy! If we went outside we always, always ran into neighbors who were out. The kids played, us moms talked. Someone was always borrowing an egg or coffee filters or butter or something for a recipe.

    We still live here, as do the majority of our neighbors from when our homes were first built. I'm still home and some of the new moms are, but many have gone back to work full/part time. We're all still very close and get together a lot - we have a monthly BUNCO (dice game, fun) group and the guys get together sometimes to play cards. New neighbors that have moved in have met everyone very quickly, especially if they have kids in school as everyone meets up at the school bus stops.

    We had a huge blizzard this winter; EVERYONE was out shoveling/snow blowing, helping everyone else. SO FUN!!

    I agree again with Sarah H. who commented on communication with other moms is now txt messaging/email. I find the same thing. I don't mind, actually...when it was all by phone before we'd end up on the phone too long sometimes, which could be OK but also really cut into the day.

  27. I do feel there's the good with the bad, on both ends of the technology spectrum. We were w/out our main computer for about a month. I didn't think we'd miss it but I really did, mostly for communication and information. I missed being able to email some pics that I'd taken that day to family members out of state. I also wanted to find a recipe for something and missed the convenience of being able to find it online. Stuff like that.

    I did, however, write several SNAIL MAIL letters! THAT is what I think is the biggest loss with computer communication. I still have many letters written to me over the years (years back). Letters in my grandma's handwriting, etc. She's gone now but I have those letters.
    My folks still have all the letters they sent to each other when my dad was in Korea. Very precious keepsakes.

    On the other hand, today families that are separated can "skype"/video chat. Wonderful use of technology! When my Dad was overseas, Mom said she forgot what his voice sounded like...eventually he was able to cut a record and mail it back to her...it was the first time she'd heard his voice in over a year. I don't think anyone growing up this day and age can comprehend that kind of separation and lack of communication.

    Many years ago we had a sudden situation that required we get somewhere as quickly as possible. When I got the call about it, my hubby was out running errands - no cell phones yet, so no way to contact him. I'll never forget the hour I spent pacing the floor, waiting for him to get home. As it was, we were too late for where we needed to be. Sometimes when I remember that, I think how different it would have been if I could have just called/txt'd him. But, oh well, that was then.

    Could I write letters still, even with my computer here? Absolutely!! Do I? Sadly, no. That's the main thing though - how to mix the best of both. I can still email, but I should write letters as well. That lack of effort isn't the computer's fault, but squarely mine. :)

  28. Dear 50s gal:
    Thank you for your thoughtful post. I agree with you. I love being home. I think it is a noble calling, and one that I wouldn't trade for anything. Yes, I sometimes wish that more of my neighbors were home during the day. I love the idea of having a cup of tea and chatting with a neighbor but it's just not reality where we live. We live in a rather upper middle class neighborhood where many women work. I try not to dwell on what others are or aren't doing. I do feel VERY blessed because I have the luxury of staying home and a husband that values that. Yes, things are financially tight for us compared with our neighbors and friends but there are so many more blessings than costs. Money isn't everything. That is a foreign concept in this culture but it's true. The quality of one's relationships and personal growth are things one cannot put a dollar amount on but have a huge impact on one's happiness and legacy. Thank you again for your interesting blog!

  29. I don’t think communication in Denmark is as in the US. I’ve heard about it, and here in DK the teenagers are much like you describe, but we keep telling son to take out the earplugs and live in real world. I think the teenagers are very social together – sometimes they watch TV together, but often they just talk and laugh and drink sodas. We, the “old” grown-ups, are very social and enjoy it. All our neighbours are friends, and we help each other a lot. We have different talents and are of different ages. E.g. DH helps our 83 year old with her garden, he also repairs our other neighbour’s (he’s 20 years younger than us) professional gardener machines, but then he helps us with building the patio (I’ve written about it previously) and we didn’t even have to ask, he just came and started working. I think we still have many of the good old values here in DK, perhaps because our country is so small.

    When I walk (about 5 kilometres for exercise) son always asks why I don’t use my mp3-player, and I say that I don’t like it, I like to hear the sounds around me. He has an eternal soundtrack going on, but I suppose I had too being a teenager. I remember I had a Walkman (for tapes, it was in the eighties), but it consumed a lot of expensive batteries, so I don’t think I’ve used it that much. At home I’m completely in love with forties and fifties music, and have a nice little collection. I love music, but I also love the silence. Time and silence is a luxury in my life.

    Great post as always, although it made me a bit sad. I hope you are happy in your own way, and I do believe we (one woman at a time) can change the world. Good manners and politeness never goes out of fashion I’m sure.

  30. Commenting again - reading through these (some for the second time!) as I have my coffee. So many, many good posts and 50's gal, as is your original blog post and comments to posters. Sarah - what you wrote about being with your little one is absolutely precious.

    Sanne - great post, all of it. Love what you say about manners...has anyone seen "Blast From the Past"? Movie with Brendan Frasier...basic plot is he is born in an underground bomb shelter, 1950's, where he grows up with his parents in a 1950's "home" totally isolated from the world above. As a young adult he ventures into the modern world. You can imagine the clash...

    Funny movie but what a serious study in society and cultural changes! At one point he says that his mom taught him that manners are a way of showing others you care, or that they're a way of being nice to someone. Something like that. That line always stuck with me. Being polite is is never old fashioned. :)

  31. Sanne-that sounds wonderful. The more we learn about 'overseas' lately (coupled with my own love having lived there in the early 90s) the more we have considered a move there. Then I get so frustrated with all the new immigration laws. Many countries are getting very strict about immigration now particularly with the incredible influx of immigrants coming from the Middle East and Africa due to it being so war torn.
    If only I spoke Danish, right?
    Fullhouse-It's funny you should mention that movie. The other day we were saying if we were to have a child the poor darling would end up like that, raised in a way we would think important and then sent out into a world as alien as another planet. Not sure that is fair to the child, but also not sure I could hand my 2 year old an i-Pad or let him watch the same Spongebob cartoon over and over again while he eats boxed cereal eyes glazed. I know there must be a happy medium in there, but once a new child gets technology and is around other children with it, they will automatically want it all the time. It is only the parents who are suppose to teach children self control and moderation, but I am not sure we have had parents like that for generations, they were probably the grandparents and great grandparents of today's generations.
    I love our conversation here.

  32. It IS a difficult balance for older kids between being part of the current "world" and at the same time keeping the values that never go out of style and not being overwhelmed with all the negative things. Heck, it's hard for adults!

    I do think that home values really do carry a lot of weight with kids. That's not saying that even the best of families might still have problems with their kids, so blanket statements aren't really fair. But I mean overall.

    For e.g. maybe two different kids both have cell phones - one thinks nothing of using it to bully other kids, txt non stop even at times they shouldn't be (church, dinner table, family events), whereas the other kid uses their phone appropriately and knows the phone isn't allowed at the dinner table, knows it can be taken away by their parents at any time, etc.

    Same thing for Facebook, video games, watching TV, etc.

    I fear the biggest issue is that kids today (oh gosh, I'm sounding old, ha ha) is the amount of time they have unsupervised while at the same time they have access to hundreds of TV channels, the internet, etc.

    America is consumer driven, but it does varies a great deal depending on where in the U.S. someone lives. Not only regionally but even within the same state or county. Some areas are very consumer-oriented; others are very chill. For e.g. what is considered a fancy wedding varies considerably from one place to the next all within the U.S. Same for housing, vehicles, Proms/dances children's birthday parties, etc.

    I guess it depends a lot on availability to shopping and disposable income (which one comes first? Disposable income leads to stores or numerous stores lead to the "need" for more disposable income?).

    So much to think about!!

    Everyone has such good input on here - wonderful stuff to read and consider!!

  33. I agree about the quality of the comments. This is the only blog where I keep returning to read all the comments afterwards. The posts are so thought provoking that it spurs more great thoughts. Bravo everyone!

  34. Fullhouse, interesting chicken-egg thoughts about consumerism and disposable income. It's really hard to tell which came first. But I think that much "disposable" income isn't really disposable. We're are just told by manufacturers and stores that it is.

    Sanne, it's nice to hear American capitalism hasn't taken over the world. That may sound unpatriotic but I don't think our big corporations are doing anyone any favors by mass expansion, except of course themselves.

    Donna, I think if you had a child and set rules about using technology, just as you would about anything else, your child would be fine. Wouldn't you tell your toddler that crayons are to be used on paper? Or not at the dinner table? Setting limits isn't child abuse. It's common sense. My children don't always like the limits my husband and I enforce but they know there are consequences. They are free to make their own choices but there will be consequences to bad behavior.

    Sarah H

  35. Thank you, ladies.
    I've heard Danish should be a difficult language to learn, but I could be your teacher. :D
    Wishing you all a lovely weekend.

  36. I am so happy to see more comments. I have been off the computer, well the internet, for the past two days. I am still working on my children's book drawings (it might take more than two months, silly me) and didn't want any distraction.
    I am happy to see we are adding more. This is what I always loved about our discussions, they are very thoughtful and make us all consider.
    Fullhouse: I think something to consider when we think about localization or really what you were saying, our own areas=different values. That is true to a point and was more so in the past (for example even language was much more divisional where in one could identify areas of a state that someone lived by their accents).But, today the 'young people' are plugged into a global ideal of culture and 'style' ( I use both of those words very lightly here) and the majority of it comes from our American shores. So if we have shows such as the Jersey Shore (which someone just told me about the other day. I don't really understand it, but it seems really awful behavior being exemplified and even copied)and their ilk, and media is the main conversation and babysitter of young people today, it stands to reason there is more homogeneous attitudes rather one lives in TN or NH, certain Rap artists and their attitudes toward dress, language and women would be a shared value. The style for Prom dresses would also be heavily influenced by shores and movie/singing stars which is readily available no matter if you live in a one room walk up apartment or a shack in the deep woods or a mansion in CT. What is amazing to me is there almost seems to be a sort of nation-wide comatose state wherein parents are so enthralled themselves with media movie stars reality shows etc that they TOO are plugged in and pay little attention to their own children's activity. And the children simply learn to plug in as well, by watching the parents. Again, I often feel that as the last of the WWII generation dies, we are a world being left without grown ups. It is like someone bought a big expensive house, filled it with toys and easy money, and dangerous corners and drugs and alcohol and then left all of we children in it to see what happens. And boy are we running a muck!
    And people won't even make connections between things, instead we have a elementary school mentality of 'this is my team and I am against your team'.
    Then again, maybe I am just getting old and want to sit on my parch and say, "You darn kids" although I also want to say it to the grown ups.

  37. Sanne-I might take you up on that, Denmark here we come! I am getting more and more concerned and frustrated with my own country, but what can one do?

  38. I swear you were looking inside my brain when you wrote this! LOL! I, too, am unusual for my time and culture.

    I am often shocked by advertising, especially on television. It practically screams at you and beats you down at the same time. Thankfully, any TV that's watched in my home (not by me) is either movies or commercial-free children's programming.

    I relish the silence that I have by staying home. I don't understand the need for disconnected connections, i.e. iPods, that many people have. I recently downgraded my cellphone to a very basic model and dumbfounded the salesperson in the process. I don't feel the need to be that connected, if you will.

    I'm delighted to have discovered your blog! I'm happily reading away in the archives and really enjoying myself.

  39. Welcome, Sarah. I am always happy to find kindred spirits, or 'bosom friends' as Anne would have said.

  40. I was in the process of being born during the years you are living. However, even from my early childhood memories, I don't think women at home were isolated because there were so many women home during the day in a neighborhood. They checked in with one another for a cup of coffee and played bridge together and the like. My mother and her friends had a "bridge day", which was the day the maid came and babysat so that mom could play bridge at someone else's house or host a bridge party at ours.

    There were more women at home even in the early 1980's when I was having babies of my own. Even if I were in my home, tending quietly to my family, I knew there were neighbors around. That was comforting. We also popped in for glasses of tea or cups of coffee, minus the bridge, and we took our children to the parks and to McDonald's and Chucky Cheese.

    Then, neighborhoods became daytime ghost towns. Now that the Internet has enabled more people to work from home during the day, I think the neighborhoods are filling back up a little more during the day. At least in our area, there are some who work from home via Internet.

    And, I think that there are many ways young moms connect. The groups that's now missing from the neighborhood are the middle-aged women with empty nests who used to do a lot of community service and also help and encourage younger women at home.

    Having said that, I do remember that houses were quieter during my childhood. Of course, we all had TV's, but we didn't have them on constantly. And, we had to talk on land lines, so we didn't use cell phones or text constantly. Once I got be a teen, though, my generation was blaring stereos out at levels that hurt our parents' ears. I think it's been a continual generational process: my parents had longer attention spans and enjoyed more quiet, my generation had somewhat shorter attention spans and more addiction to media, my children's took that further, and, voila, we must be attached to our techno gadgets 24/7. A recent power outage showed me that I am as badly addicted as anyone.


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