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.

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