Tuesday, July 12, 2011

12 July 1957 “The Childless Homemaker: Is it a real Job?”

50scouple I saw a comment the other day that has made me think. As many of you know, who read my blog, I am often apt to brood. Most likely it was a negative trait in some respects, for I have often been told I ‘think too much’ or ‘over think’. Were I able to shut it off, sometimes I think I would, happily. Though, in many cases it has lead to much self-discovery and even the initial attempt to journey into the past was brought about by such contemplation.

 50sfamilyThe comment, though I am sure meant light-hearted and not in any way negative or hurtful, did make me feel a bit wounded at first. But, as I said, I don’t think the commenter meant it that way and I am not attacking her. It was her own feeling and I was glad that she commented and her meaning may have been miles from what I interpreted. That is, after all, one of the main problems with modern communication of typed words on computer screens, cell phones and the like.

Here was the comment:

Oh, my darling,
When I saw the title of your post I thought that you & your husband were expecting an addition to youre family.
I was looking forward to following your journey past the 1950s "honeymoon period" into the reality of homemaking/Mother.
Perhaps someday ... until then, enjoy your play!

Now, I am certain that this comment was simply meant as a happy, enjoy yourself, sort of comment. But, as usual, I read much into it. It made me feel as if as a Homemaker, if you are childless, than really you are not doing a real job. Or perhaps, because your job must be easier without children, perhaps you should be doing something else.

Then, as I usually do, I followed my thought path further and thought, “Well, what if this is simply my own opinion of what she said?” and then the inevitable, “My, goodness, is this what I actually think?”

So, I had a good sit down for a few minutes and really thought about it: The role of the childless Homemaker. In today’s world, many Homemakers with children are already viewed as people ‘wasting their time’ or ‘why don’t they get a real job’ or ‘how can they stand being trapped at home all the time’. But, and here is the rub, they often might get, “Well, they do have their children to care for”.

Does this mean then, in the eyes of the majority that the childless Homemaker must be the biggest lay about of all time? And, horror of horrors, would even other Homemakers with children feel this way about their childless Homemaking sisters? I am not sure.

Now, concerning my own thoughts on this. That, after all, might very well have been what lead me to interpret the remark that way. Do I, childless, feel as if my job as a Homemaker is less of an occupation as I have no child? My quick response is yes. But, having only over the past two and half years come to realize the importance and real work in the home for the Homemaker, certainly there must be some residual modern thinking of ‘at home, no kids, no job, lazy’.

In my response to the comment I mentioned that I felt one would not consider a maid not a real maid if she hadn’t children following her around all day while she did her job. This, later in the day, of course came back to me and made me think: do I really think Homemaking is only equivalent to a domestic? Not that a job of  maid is not a good or noble profession. Nor, should any domestic feel their job is not important, but what made me at first choose that as the equivalent. Why, for example, did I not say, “Would we think an executive any less of an executive if he didn’t have children to care for While he did the bulk of his work?” Because, quite honestly, what  a Homemaker does is not merely cleaning. Surely, that is a large part of one’s daily chores. But, the managing of meals, the organizing of the house, the managing of the money and subsequent organization of important paperwork;planning, preparing, creativity, drudgery, multi-tasking, all of these are the qualifications and duties of a Homemaker both with and without children.

Now, surely I should NEVER claim my job is equal to a mother of two or even one child. But, then if one is a mother of say seven is she meant to be a harder worker and more a Homemaker to one who has only one child? What are the degrees? And,  if someone say worked at a bank and had a child who was in daycare. Is that person MORE or a harder working bank teller because of the child? Does that perception pile over into other professions.

Again, I now adding children adds literally thousands more things to think about. Yet, I know it also had thousands more wonderful things and moments of joy that a childless homemaker could not feel. They certainly HAVE to work harder to feed more, clean for more, and also add in being a teacher to their brood. So, yes they are harder working, it is apparent. Yet, if one is childless, rather choice or not of their own, are they viewed, because they are women at home, as having not only less work but less purpose or even, dare I say it, value? Do we value women based upon their children? I would hope not. I think we should value and praise and raise up all mother’s for there is no more important job, but I would hope that should be a separate value from women as a sex. I would hope that we, amongst ourselves, would not value each other based purely on their offspring. But, I don’t know, do we? Do I? And if I do, do I feel, in some way, that I am not quite of the same value as I could be? And if it comes to be I cannot have my own child and could not afford adoption, would I then have to live with this evaluation of myself and others as less a woman, less a Homemaker…less a person?

See, I told you I over analyze and over think. But, that is perhaps because I do spend quite a bit of my day with myself. Would this personality trait become less with a child to focus on. Yet, I don’t honestly feel as if I am not hard working or that I am not doing a real job. I don’t find that because I have more time to my own thoughts without a child’s need of attention that those thoughts are then not as important. If I did feel that and had a child, would I then feel my own child, were she to choose or have to be childless, also have less right to her own time or thoughts? I would hope and like to think not, but I wonder if it is lurking under my subconscious somewhere and perhaps all of we women that a Stay at Home without a child has less value.

I shall endeavor to overcome these thoughts because I think they are not warranted. Though, as I said, I would NEVER claim to be as busy as my Homemaking and Outside the home Job sisters with children. There can be no way as by the very amount of added work a child brings changes that amount of work. Yet if someone has a job that is very fast paced and busy, say an E.R. physician and someone else has an important job, but is more sedentary and in an office, same pay, same social scale, is the E.R. physician more of a person, have greater value, or a ‘better’ person because of the added work? Is the very definitions of their jobs also the definitions of their self worth and if so, does that also apply to homemakers. Or could it be that a Homemaker with no children is still equally as important but their job is not as hectic but still equally as valid and valued as the Homemaker with two children. And, then, the Homemaker with two children is not as busy are harried as the Homemaker with seven, so they are both still valued equally, right? One has more physical labor and mental gymnastics, but they are both doing equally valid jobs, correct? Is a college professor who has to deal with adults viewed less of a job compared to a grade school teacher who has to deal with their students being young children? They both are doing the same type of work, education, but having to approach it differently, one being more physically demanding, so is one more valid or valued?

I hope this is the way I think and hope most others see it this way, but am now quite curious. Therefore, any and all out there who would like to share their opinion: what is your initial thought of the Homemaker with no child compared to one with children? Do you think it is the same way you feel about equal jobs where in one requires more physical work to the more sedentary? It can be very enlightening to us to see how we view one another and ourselves.

There is no news today and as always, Happy Homemaking.

44 comments:

  1. I am embarrassed to admit that my knee-jerk reaction is to think, oh she hasn't had kids yet. Probably because I am home with two kids. That said, as I think about it, it is hard to determine who works harder only by whether you have kids or not. It depends. You might be doing all kinds of things for your household that I don't have time for. I might be watching soaps or facebooking all day while my kids tear up the house :-) (okay I am not really.) I think the important things are that you feel great about how you are living your life and that you and your husband have worked out how to manage your homestead. Plus if homemaking is your passion, and one spouse can bring in enough money, why not stay home and improve the intangible value of home life for both? I'd add that a lot of people who work outside the home can be very vocal about women who stay home even with kids. I think it is sort of a symptom of our materialistic culture that some people simply cannot see the value of an adult person not earning wages.

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  2. I for one do not think at all that you do not have a "real job" or that not having children means you do not work as hard. I don't think having children means you necessarily work harder or do more...it's just different stuff that you are doing. I've often been amazed reading your posts at everything you do and all you are able to pack into a day. I have other homemaking friends without children and have thought the same of them. I think all women wonder about others' perceptions...what do people think of me because I stay home with my children, or stay home without children, or work outside the home while my children are in daycare. I don't want to ramble, but I think there is value in how we manage our households, however those households look.

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  3. First off, that comment you received seems to be passive aggressive with an undertone of judgment. But, that's just my opinion.

    When I was much younger and before I was married, my mother and I were at the mall and we ran into a friend of hers. After the conversation was over and we walked off, my mother commented in a rather angry tone that "I just think people who don't have children are selfish." I never knew she felt that way and she later apologized for saying it. But I do think there are opinions out there that people have because of what they have gone through personally and therefore they think everyone else should have to go through exactly where they have been.

    Fast forward 16 years and I am childless and sometimes I wonder if my mom still feels this way, but it's not something I worry about or change just to please someone else. It's a hard balance because it can make you doubt yourself, but overall you've got to be proud of who you are and not let other's opinions make you second guess your own life.

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  4. Good comments so far and I agree. I don't want anyone to think I am not still happy with my choice. Only, I was surprised by my own initial reaction wondering if my 'reading into' the comment was merely me projecting my own hidden belief.
    Yet, I do feel very much what I do is a job. I have had jobs outside the home and do have a comparison. I know there is no 'I'm away from the office, therefore the work is out of my mind' as my work and home ARE the same locale. Yet, I really enjoy and appreciate my ability to stay home. We make some sacrifices in that we aren't going out all the time, have to miss out on things friends might do such as concerts at $150 a ticket, as we just wouldn't budget for it. These choices are that though, and for it we feel we have more harmony and both hubby and I feel we are satisfied with how are life is run overall. We have certainly learned value in the quality of life and its living over how many things or how many outside the home trips/activities we would need to do. It is not for everyone. I am sure there are others out there that could not imagine going an entire month without eating out at a restaurant, or going to a movie or play. If we were wealthy, perhaps we would add these to our list as well as my being home, but not really sure it would actually add that much to my over all quality of life.
    I think we have learned, happily so, to enjoy the simple aspects of living and are happy.
    If we do eventually decide to add a child to the mix, that will come with more sacrifice as we would not do so if I could not also continue to stay home. That is our decision and does not reflect on those who have and love children but need to both work. We all have our own decisions.
    In many ways this project and this blog has helped me to grow and understand myself, my relationship to my hubby as well as my relationship to the world in general. I am happy to continue self evaluation and know, of course, what others think is not as important as my own view of myself. But, I also like to understand views of others in general and our individual roles in our society as women. They certainly have changed so drastically for women over the past century, have they not?

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  5. I can add yet another perspective as one who dealt with secondary infertility...My children are 23 and 10!
    Thinking back to the 50s, a time when family was everything, a woman who was infertile or who chose not to have children must have felt like an oddity. The infertile woman must have felt very alone as her friends and family expanded their families.
    Our modern society lacks in many ways, but fortunately those who have a single or childless lifestyle have many options that weren't available in the 50s.
    We all go through periods where we question our lifestyle choices and we do the best we can!
    Have a lovely day.........Denise

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  6. Sheesh, I think that was quite snide. When my last son graduated from home school people wondered what I would do all day. I am busier than ever! A homemaker's "job" is what she wants it to be whether there are children or not. I think people who send comments like that are a tad envious. I have enjoyed your blog from the beginning and never thought you were "playing" at it!

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  7. I am a childless homemaker, and am NOT childless by choice. God made that decision and it still can be painful. Concerning the comments that it must be easier today being childless than it would have been in the 1950s- NOT! The longings are still there and one still feels less like a woman at times because of it. The so called "lifestyles" today make it harder to bear actually- no real family ties, no real affection, no real understanding at all.

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  8. I have been a stay at home wife and mother for 23 years. My youngest is nearing 16 and my sons are 18, 19, and 22 so I am now asked what am I going to do when the children move out.

    This makes me smile as I have more often than not been asked while the children were young what do I do? Don't I want to be something? You are so smart you could do anything? And on and on...

    I am doing something and I plan on continuing. I am not defined by an occupation but first by being blessed to be a woman. From there I then became a wife, then a mother. I am and always will be a wife and a mother, but my mothering role will slow and my role as wife will continue.

    I make sure that my husband is cared for so he can care for the unit financially and all else. I make sure we are all fed healthy, homegrown, organic etc meals. I make sure our clothing is washed, mended, ironed and ready to go. I make sure that the home is clean and neat and ready for company but more importantly ready for my husband and I as well as the children to relax and visit and enjoy eachother's company.

    I apologize for this long comment but this is something I have been thinking of a good deal as of late.

    Have a lovely day.
    Jennifer

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  9. You be encouraged, and know that you're doing good. I commend you to the highest. I'm a mother of two--20 yrs. old, and almost 19 yrs. old. You may not yet have children, but I believe that you're being who God wants you to be. It blesses my life to read your blog. So, again, be encouraged.

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  10. I also believe this comment is not nice. I am also a homemaker without children and I get a lot of mean comments all the time.

    As I get older, I just realize how nice I am as a person for not verbally criticizing others. Being a homemaker is a rewarding job that most people don't get. I blame it on radical feminism that has invaded our media for 50 years. I find that I never have time to actually do everything I want to do every day!

    Having children is a personal decision. I'd rather see people wait to have kids to be sure they truly want them. No one has the right to criticize your life for your decision.

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  11. What an interesting post. I went through the same sort of process, being childless and contemplating quitting my job and staying at home. I'd have to say I was truly shocked by the massive negative response I recieved from every corner, male and female. I'm not quite sure what has changed over the years, but I am an intelligent, thoughtful, responsible woman who simply doesn't want to be tied to a desk any longer. I'm through being an unending consumer and want to explore being a more creative and available person. I don't believe this has a darn thing to do with working longer or harder than another...its about me being inspired to use my time differently. I now walk, alot. being out of doors has refreshed my spirit, helped my weight and reminded me of better ways. I now have time for my husband of 20 years. I mean real time...time to talk with him and truly spend time with him. I can say the same for my friends and family. I used to know more about my boss and co-worker's lives than I did my own sister's.
    In the end I believe our only real "job" is to be true to ourselves, whatever that may mean. For me, my choice to leave the workplace, has made all the difference.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Its good to know that I am not alone!

    Patricia

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  12. Why is our society in chaos today? Maybe it's because the values of people are all twisted and blown around in the wind. Standards of living were set higher in the homemaker days. Back when the homemaker was seen as a lady instead of a lazy. Today being a homemaker is seen as not doing anything. Now, I may be a little "old fashioned" but it's a wonderful thing for the wife to get to be a homemaker (if she wishes). The homemaker's role is not "play." With or without children, it is most definatly work. Keeping the home neat, tidy and cozy and preparing HOME COOKED BETTER FOR YOU meals, keeping work clothes washed, packing lunches, budgeting, the list goes on and on. A dear lady once told me something...."Keeping a home together is a job all by itself. Little children just add innocent excitement to it all." Notice, she said keeping a "home" not a house. She was a homemaker, too. Don't let other opinions get you down, truly, they really don't matter. All that matters is how you feel about yourself.

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  13. Great Post! I also am a childless homemaker and I don't think it has so much to do with how hard one works, I think it has more to do with ones money. Technically you do not make any money or bring in a paycheck. (Although I believe that half of what your husband makes is yours just as half of what my husband makes is mine.) I think people view you as "lazy" because without children what could you possibly do all day that would take all day? You must be useless without bringing money into the home, I think it all comes down to money. And at one point you even said it yourself, people are valued by the size of their pocketbook.
    (Good to know I'm not the only over-thinker)
    Meagan

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  14. Donna, I don't think you are "playing" for one minute and rejoice and count your blessings that you are able to do what you love and have the support of your husband behind you. You are industrious, thrifty, tidy, self-sufficient and President/CEO of a very important enterprise--your home!

    Being a homemaker is being able to put love in a house through creating/making/doing and it doesn't matter if that love is for self, two, four or ten-plus people.

    You've inspired me so many times during the past few years with your blog and you know what, this isn't an experiment anymore, this is who you are and what a great adventure you've had finding your passion. Thanks for sharing it with us!

    Chin up,
    Carrie

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  15. I am a childless homemaker and in my late 20s. My husband will tell me every now and then how his fellow co workers ask if I have a job yet or if I'm going back to school or when are we having children. I find it so offensive. He just tells them I am my own person and will do what makes me happy.
    I grew up with my mother staying at home with us so I never thought this was not a job. It never crossed my mind what others may think until my husband told me what others have said to him.
    Your blog encourages me to keep at it and try new things I wold have never thought of. I had never sewn before reading your blog and now I have two new homemade dresses and one in the works. Thank you!

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  16. I am an almost 31 year old childless homemaker. Not childless by choice. But it is what it is. I do work part time from home. I wish people could just stop judging others by their own ideals. :) I aspire to be as good of a homemaker as you are!!

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  17. Dear 50s Gal,

    I am sorry that my comment caused such a stir. I am not sure why you thought I implied that homemaking without children is not a "job."

    The only point I meant to get across is that homemaking with children and homemaking without children are 2 different occupations; with many similar qualification.

    I have been impressed with your experiment into the 1950s, and thought it would be interesting to see you continue on your journey with the added duties of Motherhood.

    I myself, have been a proud homemaker for 57 years, the first 10 years I did not have any children. I do so hope that you do not judge my innocent post as some how being anti-homemaking, and as devaluing a female's role in the home.

    Also, by "enjoy your play " all that I meant is that you are young, and this time in your young married life is full of fun & hope & play.

    Sorry is I offended you .. that was not my intent.

    Mrs. Hugh Ames

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  18. Wow, again, thank you for your wonderful comments. Sometimes I wonder if my little 'dog and pony show' has run its course. But, I am happy to know that many of you are still happy to come here and read my ramblings.
    I am also glad to see many don't view the childless homemaker as a loaf about. It is good to kick around one's perception, though, I think. To really 'get under the hood and tinker' with our we view our world. As I said today, sometimes I surprise myself and wonder, 'hmmm, do I really think that? I better think again.'
    Thank you all again.
    Minnie-I am so excited to think my little scribblings have encouraged you to the sewing machine, isn't it a wonderful feeling to make that first dress? You feel inspired, powerful, and suddenly ready for the world. A feeling much more rewarding than simply swiping that credit card, at least for me.
    Amy-I am sorry you are not by choice and I wish my best to you. I have worried, probably rightly so, that due to my age, if we decide 'yes' that it may mean very little. This would of course mean adoption and that is a very expensive undertaking. Of course we are not wealthy enough to ever consider hiring a surrogate (not that I would when I think of all the kids who do need homes, though I can understand why those who choose that route and can afford it feel the need.) As far as judging, we seem to be a judging sort of animal. I know I am constantly judging others, though I try to catch myself at it and think, "Now, would you want such a lens pointed at you?" but I am sure many of my judgments go un-analyzed.
    Carrie-You are right, I have certainly gone past experiment into simply 'lifestyle' at this point, happily so. Though sometimes it does feel as if life, in general, is an experiment, doesn't it?
    Meagan-we over thinkers sometimes are our own worst critics, non?

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  19. You are fortunate enough to do something you love, something God has fitted you for. It brings out your creativity and and sparks your intellect. No wonder it looks like play to that woman, and no wonder it seems like play to you.

    Your husband, however, probably wouldn't call homemaking play. If he had to be a full-time homemaker, he would probably find his tasks puzzling, dreary, and repetative. He would probably call it work. And so it would be, for him.

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  20. Oh, Mrs. Hugh Ames, I did not mean that you meant it negative. In fact, I hope in the beginning that I put it that you were simply putting out there as a fun thought, while it was I who over analyzed it. I did not mean for anyone to think poorly of you. But, as I like to do, I like to share with all of you, from time to time, how my mental path wanders. And when it does, what it is that I am actually thinking more so than any original intent. In fact, I am sure many misunderstandings are simply those of the receivers own ideas rather than what was originally said. So, please know I was not picking on you and actually left your name off, but as you said, you meant no harm.
    I hope any who thought you were being snide can see the fault was all my own for being far too sensitive for my own good. But, at the same time, my own misunderstanding lead me to evaluate my own place in the world, dissect it, wonder, question, and then after all reiterate to myself how happy I am with my choice. And that I can say with a resounding YES, to a homeless homemaker is as much a home professional as is a homemaker with children. So, if anything, thank you for your comment it, even though I took it the wrong way.

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  21. I meant a childless homemaker, not homeless. That would be an entirely different sort of post, I believe.

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  22. anon-quite true. My husband fully appreciates and understands what I do as work. He is happy to focus on his own job and know that my job makes his home life more enjoyable. We were together in the grocery store the other day because we were out on an odd errand and found we needed to stop. We laughed as we tried to remember that last time he had to set foot in such an establishment. He was happy to be free of it, while to me it is simply part of my job. Funny, that.

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  23. I found that comment rather snarky. Don't brood about it, because you know your husband appreciates you, as do most of us out here. Unfortunately, there will always be rude people in this world.

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  24. Oh, no, she wasn't rude. She even explained herself, please don't think I was trying to have a bad gossip behind my hankie at the water cooler gals. I was just saying the way I interpreted it made me think about how I was thinking about my own role. And because of it, I have sorted my own feelings out about it even more.
    My goodness what a wretch I am, I didn't mean to make it seem I was thinking she was having a go at me, I am sorry for that. But, I really appreciate the comments and am happy many others view the childless homemaker as a legitimate choice as well. Thank you all.

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  25. I can answer this honestly because I've been a homemaker/childless, homemaker/children, student and working. I do think the homemaker/children and working mom is more difficult combo of all of them. However, I don't think it should be viewed as less valuable or useful than any other job. It's a shame that our society doesn't value this more. I blame the baby boomer generation. I think many of them went to work because it was the beginning of the keeping up with the jones, materialism. They saw their mother's working hard during the war. My jaw drops every time I hear my MIL say her mom didn't work a day in her life. My husband's grandmother didn't work outside the home. She constantly talks about how she was spoiled and not understanding what it's like to work for a living. I think this maybe where the lazy mentality came into play. I wish people viewed the home as a private company. It takes great organization, planning and being able to carry out things to be a good homemaker. By the way people tend to view teachers differently based on the group, I get more respect as a college instructor than an elementary teacher. People used to ask me why I was tired, all I did was play all day! If they only knew...

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  26. Donna, I think our society's perception of a "housewife" has changed over the years so Mrs. Ames' light hearted comment was easily misconstrued with a negative spin. As you've posted before, prior to the late 1970's and 1980's the "housewife" cared for the HOME and others who lived in the home. The "SAHM's" focus is caring for the children but since she's home the housework is hers too. (Same goes for most working mothers- go figure.) The terms SAHM and housewife are sometimes used interchangeably but they're really different things. The implication is that a childless housewife has nothing to do because so much focus is placed on child rearing. Those dumb "housewife" reality shows don't help.

    We "over thinking housewife rookies" can really learn a thing or two from a housewife "all star", Mrs. Ames. I hope you share more of your experiences.

    Sarah H.

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  27. So I have to say being a homemaker with children is hard - that is why schools were invented! I have had 2 weeks 'holiday' from paid employment with my children (five 6-17) on school and uni holidays, and i have had a day at home to get it back into shape, and I need longer. My 17 year saw me cleaning today and got cross when the younger ones didn't appreciate it! (I did make him help a bit).
    I get negative comments too - 5 kids,"don't you have TV" -"know what contraception is" etc (by the way I wanted 4 and got twins last). I have to work, it is our company and times are tough, but hopefully that will change.
    My 15 year old daughter is doing 'career day' at present. She said she didn't know what she wanted to do when she grew up. I told I didn't either - but yes I did want to be a mum, so I have achieved my career goals! I spent 6 hours cleaning and organizing two kids bedrooms today (kids are messy)I would not have to do this without children so technically it is more work,and I have to cook for 7 each night. BUT it is my choice (well except for twins), and at least I have better things to do than watch IDOL or survivor etc. Lets all just be glad WE have choices and are able to support each other - ignore the turkeys girls. In the 50s you had to stop work when you married and had kids - we have a choice, I know, but it isn't always easier.
    At least going to work means I wear nice clothes, heels and red lipstick every day, and to school pick up- of course I look weird as all the other mums are in trackie dacks and thongs. Then I come home and read 50s gal and feel normal - thank you!!xxx000 Sorry if i ranted a bit!

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  28. I am still reading your blog 50`s gal, summertime has captured more of my attention with regards to the care of my children. (reason for not replying to your daily posts) and we had to put our beloved Gizmo to rest, so we are mourning the loss of our baby shi zhu pooch of 15 years.

    Never ever question what you are doing with regards to the noble profession of housewife. Housewifery is a forgotten treasure that requires momentous amounts of skill, economy and intelligence.

    Whether children are added to the equation or not, you work at tirelessly as the rest of womanhood in your daily tasks.

    My boys are now 6 and 10, for the most part independent young men who only seem to require me when they are hungry, need clean clothes or to break up fights.

    I find myself with more pockets of freedom unimaginable in their first few years of childhood.

    Does that make my present work any less valuable then when my children were in the infantile stage, I hardly think so.

    The same is with you dear lady, you will always have merit in whatever work you do for your home and husband. You are tending the homefires and creating a refuge for your gentleman from the rest of the world.

    And your blog is a testament to this, I enjoy reading it and venture to this quiet corner everyday.

    With my heartfelt thanks,
    Mom in Canada

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  29. I for one think it boils down to the issue of 'freedom'. I don't mean as in equal rights, or anything like that. I mean it more as when I didn't have children or only had one, my life was MUCH less restricted, more spontaneous. I could pick up and go at will. Now, to leave the house with 4 kids is a good half an hour undertaking - finding shoes, packing a diaper bag (one is potty training), dealing with whatever catasrophe always happens (I can't find....[insernt item of choice], or "so-and-so called me this, I wont sit by them in the car", or we just get loaded up and "I have to go potty! Right now!" - which really usually happens about five minutes after we have left, even though I ask REPEATEDLY for them to go). I have to plan at least a week in advance if my hubby and I want to go out alone for something. We can't just have dinner out at will, or go anitque shopping or what have you. It requires thinking out our actions and planning accordingly.

    When I was a childless homemaker, I could plan my day around what I wanted to get done during that day. Clean something extra well in the morning, spend the afternoon working on a project or running errands. Now, with 4, I work around them and their needs. One is potty training - so that means taking him to the potty numerous times a day and waiting for him, he also has asthma and requires two nebulizer treatments daily (which take around 45 minutes). I also have to break up 'fights', answer 8 trillion questions of how come, why and what if, keep the boys from torturing the girl too much, stop them from eating the ENTIRE cake I made in one setting....so on and so forth. Yes, I am being a little facetious...but not much.

    I would love to be able to spend time on sewing, crocheting, cake decorating, and other pursuits...but, I have resigned myself to put off much of those things until the kids are older. Having a 3 year old in the house negates my thoughts of sewing machines and needles around. He is a very ROWDY little boy. To do something that requires time and concentration is just not in the cards right now.

    So yes, it may feel like you are playing to mothers, but it is more that you have the freedom to do as you wish with your day. And good for you...I chose to have my kids...you chose not to. I have never been able to stand people who judge women by how many kids they have...I would rather see someone who knows they don't really want and chose not to than one who has kids and mistreats them or what have you.

    Thanks for the time,
    Lorie B.

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  30. I agree with you Lorie B. If someone feels that they would not be a good mother, then they should not have kids. I think that sometime people cave to the pressures of society, do what they do not want to do, and the results are a a disaster. It is OK to say that you would not be a fit mother, and choose to remain childless.

    Jennie J.

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  31. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  32. I am a childless homemaker too and for the longest time felt guilty about it. That is until I started reading blogs and realized that I am not the only one! That has been *such* a blessing. I should have been fine with it before since my husband and I were both felt good about our choice, but it's hard to feel like you're one of the only ones.

    I'm glad the original commenter came back to explain herself because, to be honest, her original comment came off as rude and condescending. I don't think you took it wrong-I think most people would have taken it that way. It may not have been her intention to come off that way, but her comment, in fact, DID come off as rude and condescending.

    As you say, we have to be *extra careful* how we express ourselves, in the social media of blogging, where you can't read facial expressions or hear tones of voice.

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  33. I was a childless homemaker for several years. Yes, I got raised eyebrows -- you can get away with being a full time homemaker if you have children (and they are still at home), but if not, you must get a job or you are bored and have nothing to do.

    When I had children, like other commenters here have said, my workload changed. I was doing other things, not as much baking and stuff like that.

    I have to admit, I went overboard with my housekeeping after I had my babies, because it was an over-reaction to all the people who would smugly say to me, when observing my clean house before I had children, "Well...you wouldn't be able to keep your house this clean if you had kids!" I really hated that -- a put-down of my hard work.

    So, after I had kids, I ran a tight ship and you know what? My house was just as clean!! So, there! But, yes, things like baking took a back seat until the children were old enough to be entertained while I baked. I also used a lot of paper plates when they were very small.

    And, yes, I know that people with many children work harder than people like me with only two, but I notice that the older children begin to help with the housework and child care. So...

    A friend of mine who didn't have children would always be asked to do errands for her friends or her church, "because you don't have kids," like that meant she didn't do anything and had time to run around for everybody. She really resented that. She would have been happy to do the favor, but didn't like when it was attached to "you don't have kids," like she had nothing to do all day.

    I'm sure that commenter did not mean for her remark to be snide.

    We do have to be careful of our remarks, don't we, that they don't come across as smug or snide or potentially hurtful.

    I remember back in the 50's, my parents had several childless friends, and nobody seemed to think that those wives didn't have anything to do, or that they were in a "honeymoon stage." They just seemed to have more time for other types of housewife activities, like baking and caning, that new mothers of very young children might not have time for.

    Tasks change with growing families; they don't necessarily diminish.

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  34. My friend Mary recommended me to read this post, so this is my first time to your blog.

    I just wanted to say that you are not alone in being a full-time Homemaker who does not have children, for I am in the same situation. Since most of the people I "know" who are Homemakers are also Mothers, and sometimes, I often feel like I am the "only one" who is a childless Homemaker. Mind you, I am NOT choosing to be childless. I married late in life, and God, for some reason, has not chosen to bless me with children.

    I also did not like the comment that commenter had stated. If someone had said that to me, I would feel hurt too. It's difficult to be a Homemaker in these days, when most of our society seems to be against it, and when you are a childless Homemaker, sometimes, you feel the "sting" even more.

    At any rate, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this subject. I appreciated them very much.

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  35. I think we ought not to be concerned with "equality" so much as doing our own duties to the best of our ability. Even comparing the perceived value of our own work and someone else's suggests an underlying insecurity about our own position. This isn't a competition, among homemakers or vs. Working women. VThe fact is, that even if it does end up being true that a wife raising ten kids is more important to society (which I do not believe, since I don't think the contribution of any one person is quantifiable anyway), what does that mean to you? It's just an ego thing. You still have your own family/husband/home/small pillar of society to uphold, and no one's going to do your bit but you.

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  36. I have really thought about if I should leave this comment or not, but now I do:

    I think the hardworking difference is that e.g. I work full-time and I still have to do everything you do when I come home. I am tired and stressed and have absolutely no energy coming home from my job and then I only have a few hours before going to bed do what you have all day to do. Believe me, a lot of planning goes on to be able to do it all. I also have to prioritize what to do, I cannot bake all my bread and cakes (which I love to do), I haven’t had time to sew since I got son (he turns 18 in less than two weeks), the only thing I sew is repairs and curtains. I haven’t much time for training and hobbies, but try to do so since it makes me happy and healthy. I have a clean, tidy and nice home, but I envy all you homemakers SO much, especially when I’m stressed and some of you complain that you are SO busy and have no time. To me you have ALL the time in world. And you know I don’t watch TV, so I cannot just watch less and then have more time. And you also know I’m not rude, so I hope we’re still friends, this was just an opportunity to tell you all that you should count your homemaker blessings, because you are all very lucky. I envy you SO much!

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  37. I think the hardworking difference is that e.g. I work full-time and I still have to do everything you do when I come home. I am tired and stressed and have absolutely no energy coming home from my job and then I only have a few hours before going to bed do what you have all day to do. Believe me, a lot of planning goes on to be able to do it all. I also have to prioritize what to do, I cannot bake all my bread and cakes (which I love to do), I haven’t had time to sew since I got son (he turns 18 in less than two weeks), the only thing I sew is repairs and curtains. I haven’t much time for training and hobbies, but try to do so since it makes me happy and healthy. I have a clean, tidy and nice home, but I envy all you homemakers SO much, especially when I’m stressed and some of you complain that you are SO busy and have no time. To me you have ALL the time in world. And you know I don’t watch TV, so I cannot just watch less and then have more time. And you also know I’m not rude, so I hope we’re still friends, this was just an opportunity to tell you all that you should count your homemaker blessings, because you are all very lucky. I envy you SO much!

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  38. Sanne,

    I know that many of us can identify with you. I felt the same way when I worked. After sustaining a back injury in Jan., I had to quit working outside the home, but still can't get all that much done since I can only do standing/walking type things for 15 minutes before I have to sit to relieve the pain.

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  39. I'm late to this thread but it has been so interesting!

    I am 33 years old, I have three children ages 6, 3 and 1. My husband works out of town M-F and I stay home with my children and am now homeschooling my oldest.

    I've read your blog from the beginning and I've always found it interesting. But your perspective on homemaking and life is so very different than my own because I just don't have the luxury of time that a childless homemaker has. I think perhaps you have more choice in how to structure your days, more time to do elaborate meal planning, sewing, cleaning and so on. Of course I cook, clean, garden, mean plan, lesson plan, homeschool, grocery shop, coupon, host play dates, get my kids to swimming lessons and activities, visit the library, schedule dentist and doctor appointments and so on.

    It most likely takes me more time to accomplish errands and complete tasks because I am more often distracted or have all three children along. I've often wondered how much time I've spent in life just getting the kids buckled in and out of their car seats and into strollers, grocery carts and whatnot! I also think that cleaning is an entirely different scenario when you've got little kids - I could mop my kitchen floor 3x per day and there would still probably be crumbs and things on it at the end of the day. Laundry and cleaning are just never-ending with little people around.

    I don't think I work *harder*, I just think my list of necessities is a little longer. It would be easier for a childless homemaker to slide into laziness though that doesn't mean I think you do. It probably takes a lot more will-power and fortitude to stick with it if you have nothing external driving you on some days. I can think of a lot of times which I wouldn't want to cook or clean something or even get dressed and yet I have to because the kids need to eat and go some place.

    So, I guess my opinion is that I think women with children have a lot of their plate and do have a lot of additional tasks daily that a childless woman does not have. But we all manage our time as we see fit - I've known some lazy neglectful mothers and I'm sure there are other childless homemaking women like you who are really motivated to do their job way and manage their households well and stay very busy and work hard.

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  40. I am childless homemaker as well. I think the comment that sent you down the path of this blog brought up two different issues for you and you kind of lumped them in one. That can be a bit overwhelming to say the least.
    I had the cicumstances of having to deal with each issue at different times.

    I spent my first anniversary recovering from a hysterectomy. There have been only two comments in my life that have ever hurt me over this. The first was being called "barren". To me the person who called me this saw my only, or at the very least my primary, reason to be on this earth was to have a child. It seemed they were trying to make feel less important because I wasn't going to be a mother. How very wrong they were, but it still hurt. I think mostly because the reality of being childless was still new.

    The second comment came from a complete stranger. Mother's Day was approaching and a customer asked if I had any children. When I smiled and said no, she said, "Maybe next year." Again I politely smiled and said "No. My husband and I weren't having any." She had the nerve to proceded to tell me how selfish I was. I quietly let her finish her rant. (A difficult task for me.) With what little control I had left, and no longer smiling I simply told her it wasn't a consious decision I made, it was I couldn't have any. The only concious decision was we decided not to adopt. The woman couldn't stop apologizing. I wasn't hurt or angry because I was childless. I was furiuos that someone would make a snap decision about me on so little information. Even though being blonde, I have dealt with that to some degree my whole life with the dumb blonde jokes.

    Fast forward a few years. My husband was an army reservist. A year after 9/11 he was activated, but remaining stateside. I quit my job to be with him. His unit was activated for 1 year, but he decided to stay in and "finish what he started". He went where he was needed which for a few years meant moving every 6 months, sometimes even quicker. My family gave me plenty of suppport. They know I can be fearless and explore my new suroundings all on my own and even enjoy it. Plus even though I don't have a child I have dogs that need care. I know having a child and having a dog are two seperate commitments, but I have had special need dogs. (A lot of people have made insensitive comments about that as well.) My husband's family hasn't been as supportive. His mother would constantly ask my husband what I would do all day and ask why I wasn't "working". After being polite for longer than his usual limit, he finally told her in a stern voice that my job was to take care of him, and that was the way he liked it. My husband has retired from the army and we have "settled down" for now while my husband puts in his time at his civilain job. "We" are hoping to retire in about 5 years.

    Whether you have a child or children or none, people will judge you. Whether you work outside of the home or not people will "say something". Our world is full of different people with different beliefs. Some make comments out of ignorance, some out of misguided beliefs, some out of hate. And in the land of computers where there is no inflection it is sometimes hard to read what is actually being said. As long as you know what you are doing is right for you and your family, no matter the size, that is what matters.

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  41. I am a wife with no kids. I work a full time job and come home to another full time job. I "make a joke" regularly that I need to go to work so that I can rest...because my job at home is way too hard. But it's true.

    It is so unfair that society doesn't put a huge value on housework and homemakers anymore. I just don't understand it. Nothing recharges the soul like a home cooked meal or clean sheets or a cozy little house. And it's never done. That is the exhausting thing...

    Sometimes I think that the price we're paying for feminism is double duty because many of us work and come home to work some more.

    If you and your husbandd are lucky enough that you can afford to live on one income, I think you should just be happy and enjoy being able to create a wonderful home life for your little family!

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  42. Hey! I have been married to myhusband for almost 6 years! My husband does not drive and this has been my job for the past 6 years

    I have worked full time hours in physically hard jobs I.e unloading trucks ect.

    Only to come home to cook, and clean as if I were a house wife any way!

    I would wake up at 2am after only getting 3 hrs of sleep to cook my husband a full breakfeast, no not cerole. I cook him Eggs, bacon, potatoes, salad, Then pack his lunch (home made sandwich) then drive him to work. And go home to try and get sleep before I had to go back to work.

    Then every other weekend I would take care of my three step daughters and here is the funny thing it was way way easyer when I had my step kids over! Helping hands! even when they were 3, 5, and 6!

    Oh did I mention I am on call 24/7 for any thing my honey needs! At a drop of a hat "honey get me this or that" my time was not my own!!! I belive in submitting to my husband so he gets they pic of the tv shows and control of the radio! After work was about getting in all I couldn't for my family do to work.

    Now God has blessed me with the ability of posible being a housewife and I have to say if you a momma that thinks your days are full sister walk were I have! Then please don't pridfully judge another again!


    By the way I really am not complaining I love being a wife to a incredable hard working forgiving loving man

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  43. I've been struggling with this dilemma myself. My husband is a high-functioning traumatic brain injury survivor, which means he has a professional job as a geologist and everyone who speaks to him or spends limited time with him says he's fine.

    In reality, he has very subtle long-term effects that manifest mostly at home, primarily with executive dysfunction.

    He had a very long, five-year recovery and during much of that time I didn't work or freelanced. Neither of us want children and, when I was in-between freelance gigs, I chafed and worried constantly that my family and friends thought I was a lazy moocher.

    It was even more complicated because I discovered, to my absolute shock (I didn't even want to get married for the longest time!) that taking care of us and our home was a.) a full-time job and b.) immensely fulfilling.

    Once hubby had a career I got hired full time again. At first I thought, great! Life can get back to normal and I can re-focus on my career again.

    But wow, did I ever underestimate how much me being home and doing the domestic engineering, as I like to call it, improved our quality of life.

    With me working, we're both more stressed, have gained back a lot of weight because of our respective commutes -- with me cooking every day, and I mean every day, from scratch, we'd both lost quite a bit of weight-- (and don't talk to me about prepping food ahead of time; most of my precious free time already goes to bills, laundry and cleaning; the thought of even 20 minutes grilling and freezing chicken or chopping or cooking makes me want to cry), are constantly exhausted, etc.

    I agonized for quite some time about it. We both talked about it and, while he supports me in my career, we both also acknowledged we loved life more with me at home. But I still feel like I "have" to work, although once we're out of some debt, I really won't "have" to, though we won't be rich, which is fine with me.

    And I finally, and it took months of soul searching, made peace with the fact that there's nothing wrong with my husband and I making choices that make us happy. I know I'm not lazy at home. The TV was never on in the evening and I often ran out of time. Monday was groceries, meal prep day, Tuesdays errands, Wednesdays home projects (repairs, hang curtains, wash the bedding, things like that), Thursdays were laundry and pre-cook weekend meals days and Fridays were my deep cleaning days. Weekends I kind of had "off," but I still cooked, clean, fed the pets, etc.

    And that's not lazy. It's full time work. It's fulfilling work. And just because it doesn't come with kids or a paycheck doesn't change the fact that it's physical and mental labor.

    And, no else lives in my husband's and I's home or life. So really, they can talk about us behind our back (in which case I don't have to hear it) or say snide things to my face (in which case their lack of manners makes me lose respect for them and their opinion, quite frankly).

    It's nobody else's business or problem how you decide to find your own fulfillment and happiness in this world.

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  44. I'm very happy to have found this - we are engaged but still have this lifestyle. I do personal PR for him, he owns a company and VC firm. This gives me a flexible schedule to keep the apartment clean & organized (we live in NYC so this is a feat lol), make meals, do food shopping run errands etc... and keeps me available for business dinners where it;s customary for me to attend. It's what works for us and neither of us want to have children. When I worked outside the house full time wasn't making us as happy as this arrangement. People either think i'm a gold digger (even though we met in college when there was no gold haha) or 50's housewife with no identity. Very frustrating

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