Monday, February 13, 2012

13 February 1933 “The View of Freedom and the Homemaker and the Facts of the Cost of that Freedom”

Since I began my project the one thing I often find interesting from peoples comments, rather in real life or in letters or comments to me, is the great divide between reactions to a SAHW. These seem to be either Black or White.

I am either told how little freedom I must have. How trapped or unfulfilled I must be ‘forced’ to be in all the time. And how boring and non stimulating it must be. The other extreme is the often misconstrued vision of the endless freedom bordering on slovenly laziness. Sitting on sofa’s all day eating chocolates and watching soaps, was and sometimes is the general view of a woman ‘at home’. Yet, the reality is, there is a great grey area, much as there is in any life.

I thought of this disparaging crevasse of view today when I read this comment. Now, I am not saying this is a bad comment nor did I take it that way. It was simply a statement of their perception of my life, and in many ways it simply speaks the truth. So, do not think I am ‘picking’ on this commenter.

I am so envious of your life. You get to live in what ever decade/time period that you like, get to change home decor, cooking, and clothing styles. Not have to worry about caring for children or working outside of your home and get to blog as much as you like about what ever whim comes your way. I wish that I had the luxury that you have to indulge in what ever whim of the day I feel like. Such a carefree me-centered life, wow! –anon

This was my response:

anon-yes, I am lucky. I am very grateful for my opportunity. Having a loving husband who understands AND appreciates that what I do do at home is a job. It is true that I get to structure my day, though I still have to work around a schedule ruled by meals as to when hubby goes off to work and returns.
Though, I must say that it isn't as glamorous as it might sound all the time. Blogging all the time is rather hard work. Especially as I spend quite a bit of time studying, researching and just endless going through dry boring bits of knowledge mixed in with the fun stuff. It is very much like being at university and writing your papers or being a journalist. I give myself deadlines, have to try and check facts.
Though, of course, we all live ME centered lives, how can we not? I do still have others to consider. My family, though I have no children, still exist and I do have to and often consider and plan for them as well. I wish, sometimes, that we were blessed with a child. But, with the economy as it is and our continuing look at the coming future mixed with the devaluing of the dollar, and the increase in food costs and university, were we to have a child I would alas have to leave the poor thing to others care. And, to us at least, that just isn't what we would want as parents.
Now, I am not saying that is bad for those who have chosen that role, good for them and they are far stronger and possibly much more clever than I. But, for us, a child would benefit from my being home to teach and love and care and provide stability. In our current climate that is not a viable solution in our income bracket. It rather makes me sad, really, that in many ways the US has changed so drastically that that joy of a child, in the way it once was, has been taken from many of we middle class folks. But, what can one do? I cannot change the whole world and many of the things that lead to it continue to happen. And even the changes those they are happening to could do to try and change it refuse to see it, so we are at the whims of the few and the actions of the masses.
But, yes, overall I am very lucky. And I am very appreciative of my life. There isn't a day that I send hubby off that I don't stop and think, "I am lucky".

It got me thinking again about that perception of one working at home. Now, were I to work outside the home, say even a non professional job such as working at a local grocery store all day, then coming home and sitting in front of the computer while I eat heat up food, this would actually, in many cases, be viewed as a harder worker than I. Now, I am not saying that such a person is NOT a hard worker. But sometimes simply doing a job assigned to you CAN be easy, while have to structure your day to get all that NEEDS to be done so that you can have time for your WANTS does take more skill than some might know.

Now, I don’t want this post to seem to be one of those where I try to defend myself. I have no need. I am unapologetic for my role as a stay at home wife. It works for our family and husband and I are both happy with it. But, it does make me consider that again, there may be many women out there who would love to still become stay at homes. And it makes me sad when we start looking at all the obstacles to that.

First off, I think, there is the obstacle of perception of others of you. That, I think, should be tossed out the window for anyone who really wants to try their hand at SAHW or SAHM. One must, in today’s world, be like a ducks back for such thoughts that you are lazy, for they will surely come. Now, getting to grips with that is much easier than the simple hard facts of just living in today’s world.

That fact being, of course, money. We must have it to survive. There really is little chance for anyone to ever be truly self-sufficient again, for there will always be taxes, and inflation of our money, and various costs to simply own a car or home. Nothing is free and very few things are actually owned. Even when we buy a car it is not done for, as we have to continually pay insurance on it and inspection fees. These are costs that have NOTHING to do with the actual running of the car, yet we MUST or we CANNNOT have one.

I was really thinking of this lately as I begin to look more and more into costs during the Depression. What keeps coming forward to me is that despite our view of it as such a hard time, which it was for many, the standard middle class family fared so much better, or rather had a better chance of getting started, then than now. The simple facts of less cost and there being less required costs for everything simply meant one’s dollar was stretched further. And, of course, the relative value of that dollar was, of course, stronger. It was even backed by gold, which we have not had since 1971 in this country.

We all need some basics to survive. Food, Shelter, and Clothing. These are the basics and quite literally all other is simply the icing on the cake. Various degrees of icing, surely, but lets look at these basics.

Food: We all need it to survive. In 1933 many who hit hard times found they were without much of it but they made do with what they did have. And often had to resort to the help of their community in the forms of bread and soup lines. One thing those folks did have, however, is the ability to cook generally. The skills of the kitchen were more a normal part of most people’s lives. There was never a chance to get used to microwaved foods or fast food restaurants for, they simply did not exist. SO, when prices rose and jobs were lost someone, usually mother, were able to look in the bare pantry and consider ways to make the food stretch. I have heard of pancakes being used as a replacement for bread, as they use less ingredients and can be made to be stretched with the addition of more water. These could have items such as a thin slice of lard in and rolled and taken in the pocket to school or to look for work. The truth being that the carbohydrates of the bread and the protein and fat of the egg and lard would carry a soul further than say a quick ‘energy bar’ today which is mainly carbohydrates. And I wonder how many modern sensibilities would be able to consider even eating such a thing.

Now we can continue down and down the rabbit hole on even the simplest of things when we look to the past. For example the right and ease to have that lard in your pantry. Then one had more rights to ownership of said animals. One could keep them in more places and also be allowed to feed them what they like and to, if they needed, sell off what they could of it to help aid the failing family budget. Today, such actions would have the FDA on you so fast you’d haven’t a chance to even think. That ability of self sufficiency again just a bit further away. One might laugh at such a concept, keeping a hog. But if one were worried of the future and that basic element of food think about it for a moment. One hog would not only feed the family basic meat, it would supply the fat you would not only use for making pastry and bread, but that very same fat, mixed with lye or caustic soda, is all that is required for soap. That soap would clean you and your family.

Now, I am not saying all should have a pig or a be a farmer, but if one wanted to spend less and have more at home to care for to be allowed to stay at home, one simply by law, not do so. Just think that you would literally be breaking the law to simply live as our forebears had. That is a scary and rather shocking realization. And I come upon it often when I am studying the past.

Much goes the same for growing your own food. What if you haven’t the time, but your neighbor does and wants to sell some off or barter to help ends meet. If such a concern becomes big enough for attention, we are now at the whims of the bureaucrat who are paid tax dollars to come around and inspect and make sure we are not breaking the continually increasing laws. Though, as far as I can tell, the large corporate farms seem to have carte blanche to spread and spray chemicals proven to do harm in scientific experiments on food that is eaten by all including the sick in hospital and children in schools, yet one could be in trouble for raising a chicken in your yard, killing it and selling it to your neighbor. Again, we have moved away from the ability to self survive and to exist at a smaller communal level. The very way in which, when times get hard, we must often turn to survive. But, I digress.

It just rather upsets me and really makes me sad the more I look into the past further and further back to see the freedoms the average person had really dissolving. Certainly we have made strides in racial and even female rights, but so much of the average rights and the abilities to CHOOSE to stay at home or try and live more self sufficiently are simply gone. And, of course, the more this happens of course it is not only easier to simply work and work and pay and pay, but it becomes more of a Need and less of a Want. And it is no wonder so many waste hours in front of TV, Computer and phone screens. There is little freedom and hope so one must find the diversion.

Let’s look at some facts. Here are some actual ad prices for homes for sale in the 1930’s. I will do the conversion of inflation from then dollars to now in brackets [].

1933 Sheboygan Wisconsin
10 acre chicken farm large basement barn and small house
$1,900  [$31648.38 would cost today]

  1933 Fitchburg Massachusetts
6 room Cottage, garage and large plot
$2,800 [ $ 33314.09 would cost today]

1934 Oakland California
5 room stucco bungalow , breakfast room , separate garage, delightful location
$3,750 [ $62463.91 would cost today]

Now, to understand how much money we were earning in order to buy or rent homes lets look at income.

Average Median Income Then and Now.

1933: $1970  [$32,814.0 in today’s money]

2011: $31,111

(that number is per earner so a median two income family would presumably earn twice that. It is also of interest to note that the avg median per household in 2004 was $44, 389 thus, much like the beginning of the Depression, earnings are going down)

So, here we see a similarity in earnings in 1933 to today per earner, yet we have two earners as the norm in today’s family, so why is there less chance to stay at home? Well, the house costs is the first indicator. One could own a home with about 1-3 years salary. Surely we could add up today's salary three years and thing that might be enough for a home, but there are endless costs one did not have in the Depression. As stated in a previous post just the costs in insurance, fuel, inspections. Now, add to that the increase in things we ‘need’ such as computers, TV, cell phones for all family members, cars for more than one family member, increased costs in health care and insurance for home, car, payments on credit cards. And, well, I am hardly saying anything we don’t already now. The list goes on. Simply put:

More things, more ‘needs’ =higher costs

more laws requiring payments and more loss of freedom in food production= less income to keep.

higher inflation= less purchasing power of the same dollars as yesterday.

Sometimes, as well, I feel we attack one another rather than think of attacking those very issues which are actually affecting our choice to stay home or our ability to do so. Even in this online world we now exist there is a level of anger and entitlement that just didn’t exist before such technology. Others begin to expect what they want when they want it and if it doesn’t immediately go there way or fit into their current realm of thought, they attack it. It is almost, in many ways, quite animal. One views the opponent either they are friend or foe if foe, then attack! I suppose it is the anonymity of the thing that allows one to feel more brave to say cruel or hurtful things to one another.

We are lucky here on my blog as we often have such lovely comments or if we disagree we do so with decorum and sense. We do not resort to name calling or simple hurtful replies. But, could you imagine in the past, the ‘old days’ as it were, someone coming into a shop or someone’s home and just demanding to be entertained or agreed with immediately? They would be seen as crazy at least.

Well, again, I seem to have wandered off my point. I can continue to list the various costs of things then and now and compare how much more it simply costs  to live today and that many of those costs we cant even do away with as they are required by law. We can, however, choose drastic things as I have, such as one car for the family. Almost no extraneous shopping save for what is needed in the basics of food and shelter and saving up one’s pin money for that special hat or scarf we find at a yard sale or local thrift shop.

But, quite honestly, the vigor with which I started this post is now quite gone due to the commenter above now stating the following to me:

How can you claim that you have choosen to be child-free due to the economy. Thant is one of the most selfish cop-outs I have ever heard. if you choose not to have a child that is your right, but do not blame it on the economy. Think of how many families with a lot of children survived during the depression, and without government handouts. I think that your biggest challenge to mother hood would be giving up your "you" time and unplugging and really doing something productive and meaningful.

Now, I know you shall say don’t let such things bother me. But, I must. I see such responses as the very core of what it is we have become. We feel the need to force and judge at every turn. Really, I can’t imagine why it should seem odd that I have chosen a list of criteria for a child and finding myself wanting chose not to do so is somehow bad? Perhaps it is and as the commenter states, surely I am selfish. But, by that very point, I should make a wretched mother and I find myself back to the same decision. Here was my comment back:

First off, I wasn't aware we were not allowed to have any reason we choose to not have a child. A family should make sure they feel comfortable with the choice, I feel. But, I am afraid anon, that for our reasons I do , indeed, blame the economy. Now, we certainly could go ahead and have one. Many do and, as I said, I applaud them. They are made of stronger stuff than I. I am, perhaps, far too selfish in that way and thus, by that very admission, might make a wretched mother anyway, don't you think. Certainly if you think me incapable of my not being selfish you should be quite glad I have chosen not to be a mother. For what a mess of it I shall have made. No, I shall let other better mother's do their job and be happy and proud for them. But, for my own criteria for Me personally for having a child, I do and will blame the economy. Only because those are part of the set of criteria we, as a family, have set down. Were we more certain of the future, were it say actually 1955, I would, without a doubt, have a child! But, it is not and I am, as you say, self interested. So, there you are and her am I , childless. Yet, I don't think I have less purpose or am less a productive member of society. We cannot all be mothers, can we? It is one of the hardest jobs and requires the best of women and they deserve much praise. And believe you me, I happily give it. But, alas, I could not for myself have a child and then go off to work because I AM selfish and would WANT all the time with the child. I am just sad that we do not live in an economy that would allow me more opportunity to make that very choice, but c'est la vie, what can one do.

I think today, after this nonsensical rambling of a post, I shall just end here. I am off to be with some of my friends today and hubby, we are to our local tea shop. Pretty hats and fun clothes and good conversation. Selfish it might be, but I find myself increasingly wishing to retreat more and more into what is important to me and that being simply enjoying what it is we CAN control within the small framework we are allowed by today’s standards. I hope all have a lovely day, I know I shall.

I shall return to simple posts of fun facts about 1933 and perhaps try to do more daily simple postings, less involved, but more simply stated. I am rather becoming a bore or worse yet, a dilettante. For that, I ask forgiveness.

Happy Homemaking.

31 comments:

  1. I'm sorry, this post just makes me angry. Not at you, but at some of the commenters. Such negative remarks are not warranted. It is everyone's right to choose whether or not to become parents, and any reason is a good reason. I might say its selfish to WANT to bring a child into the world as it is today. But I don't, because my reasons are not someone else's reasons and my life is not someone else's life. I can't stand the judgements. If you don;t like what you're reading, don't read it anymore.

    I for one, love your blog. No, I don't always agree with everything, but I think that is part of the appeal. Making one think of other ways and other times.

    Keep it up.

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  2. Thank you Sharon and quite true. I should find the world a very dull place if we all believed and felt the same. Whatever would we talk about over tea, right?
    In fact, my own mind has changed from one post to the next from commenter's opinions. That is to be adult, I believe, to have a foundation of belief but to also be open to other opinion and to see others reason. Often some other form of logic that some other person has derived is useful and we may, if we are kind and considerate, try them on like a new hat in a shop. And if we find them wanting we may leave them be, but if we like how they look and make us feel that off we go with a kick in our step and new ideas and notions. It is a lovely way to experience life and others.

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  3. Amazing post! As a SAHW, I deal with the same comments frequently. People just do not get it: for them, it is either study, work or retirement, no shades of grey! We are adults and know how to make our own decisions. Our husbands are happy, that's all that matters!

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  4. Good afternoon 50's gal!

    I love your blog, you do a fantastic job! I appreciate the amount of research you must do, and it is such a treat to see the topic each day!

    Michelle

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  5. The Austrian Economics MomFebruary 13, 2012 at 12:25 PM

    I will not be one who will tell you not to let such rude, presumptuous comments bother you. They bother ME, and I don't even know you! I know they will not soften your will to live your life as you choose to live it, though...I've read enough of your blog to know that (I'm up through March of '55 and am also following you along now through '33).

    I am so glad you've decided to explore the 1930s. I must say that while your 1950s life has been truly compelling to read, and that your discoveries have echoed the ones I've accidentally made over the years myself, I feel DEEPLY CONNECTED to the Great Depression woman, and with your intellectual honesty and thoughtful writing style, I believe I'll be along for a life-changing journey with you through the 1930s.

    I think we are about the same age (I was born in the early 70s), and although my family doesn't look at all like yours, I long ago found myself abandoning the career-woman path my parents so determinedly put me on, and have been a stay-at-home since I was 22. At the time, it was an incredibly difficult change to make, since it was so counter to the current running through my family, my social world, and financial realities, but it was all that felt right, and so I jumped in. Over the years, I have been reshaped by life and by my own contemplations into a woman trying to raise a 21st-century family with a 1930s-1950s mindset. I include the 1940s there because I have sent my husband off to war three times now.

    Although the same things worry me about having children as worry you (dollar devaluation, coming economic woes, potential world conflict, degradation of society), alas, mine are already here, and so my focus has had to shift to preparing them and protecting them from the world they will face as they grow older. And if it kills me, that is what I will do. I'm doing my darnedest to set up my home and my finances (including getting out of the dollar as much as possible) to be a safe haven for my family, and to train and educate my children so that we can weather whatever storm may come along, together. I figure it doesn't hurt that I'm learning to can, put up food and supplies, run my home without every modern convenience, and be content without television and every other modern thing.

    My greatest asset is my grandmother, who was born in 1928. She knows so much, and tells me the truth about what she sees. And she sees a GREATER depression on the horizon. I believe her.

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  6. I have been catching up on your life in 1955 and and also enjoying reading this years blog. I am a full time housewife and a part time nanny.

    I love your blog, you have your finger right on the real issues at hand today and I think that is why sometimes it can really heat someone up.

    I work 3 days a week from 9am - 5 pm and I consider those days my easy days. Not to say that being a nanny is easy it is hard work but my day’s schedule and tasks are set by my employer I know what is expected of me, baby and I have fun and take time to smell the roses.

    My home days start at 5:30 am and if I’m on track for the day by 7 pm I can finally put my feet up and knit or sew items for my husband and I or our home. I am more challenged on my home days but I love every minute of it so does my husband.

    Thank you for voicing your thoughts and opinions you have a wonderful way of really looking at our world today through the clarifying lens of the past.

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  7. I think you are brave and rugged to allow anonymous posts. I only did that for a short time, and two negative posts were all I needed to change that real quick! I just do not understand why people feel they can judge others' choices. I try not to because I know someone will be ready to judge me.
    About the 30s, like Austrian Economics Mom I'm feeling the pinch and relying on my depression-era grandparents' wisdom to get us through. Husband may be out of a job in the next two weeks. I love being a SAHM and hopefully he will find something fast.

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  8. I am a younger (30) SAHW, and I am always looking for others in my position, because it can be very lonely. I am caretaker for a very elderly relative, and without that as "my job" I know the comments I get from my extended family and society would be much more frequent and nastier than they can be now (these same relatives, much more directly, of our elder, not one of whom would volunteer as caregivers when one was needed). My DH and I are happy with our choice - we feel a duty to care for our elders AT home (which is what our elder wants) as opposed to shelving them in a nursing home somewhere and going off to live our lives for ourselves. We choose not to have children as long as this situation holds - my hands are full as is, with keeping up the property and the needs of said elder. But the lack of support and the open hostility of both family and strangers can be grueling. I am always amazed by how strangers will feel the need to comment on how we're living "wrong" somehow. I may not follow you that loyally, but I do appreciate knowing I'm not alone in being a happy childless/childfree housewife.

    There are days when I consider having a child, and how I'd love to stay at home to raise it - certainly different from the lonely and rather abandoned childhood I had, always alone in an empty house, having the shame of teachers offering to take me for groceries because my own parents were too busy "having it all" to keep the pantry stocked for their child. Which is more selfish, I wonder? Not having a child because you can't afford it - in both time, energy and money, to raise it as you deem fit? Or having children while remaining determined to "have it all", even it means throwing the kids and other needy relatives under the bus? Of course, being a woman, sooner rather than later I'll have to make a final call on having a child, but that final call remains no one's business but my own and my husband's. The peanut gallery will always feel entitled to an opinion and very entitled to share it loudly with you. It can be very hard to shake off the negativity of such people. But they're not likely to change, and neither are we, so it's best we just learn to agree to disagree - I wish everyone could agree to disagree and move on.

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  9. I must say I can't believe the gall of those who will publish anonymously when they might well put a name to their comment whether or no they have blogger or google accounts...I for one, can't imagine how rude some of the comments are. Politeness seems to be a thing of the past!

    That said, I will say that being a full time SAHW after years of being a SAHM, and a blogger as well, I do fully understand the work required from day to day, especially for one who chooses to keep their home and yard clean and neat!

    Fitting in daily time to study and write and do all the work required in my home, I find it rather difficult to STOP at the end of each day, have had to take a pretty hard and fast line with myself about resting a bit throughout the day and I'm in good health!

    On his work days, hubby is prone to call and ask, "Have you stopped and rested at all today?" Of course, as soon as I tell him all the things I've been involved doing he delights in saying loudly, "So you're sitting watching soaps and eating bonbons again?"so the women he works with are sure to hear him. He doesn't do this meanly it is a joke between us. On particularly hard days I am likely to call him and request he bring home a fresh supply of bonbons!

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  10. 50's Gal, I know this doesn't have annything to do with today's post, but I think you should read this: http://www.consumerismcommentary.com/frugality-is-bad-for-the-economy/
    I was shocked to see such stupidity from someone who had already published in the NY times!! While reading I remebered everything you said about the economy, mass media, etc...
    Can't tell how glad I am to found your blog! =)
    Sarah

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  11. Wonderful post, as always.

    I think you hit upon an increasingly common, albeit unfortunate, nerve in your post concerning "anger entitlement". Although the quantity of communication in the 21st century is mind boggling, I hypothesize much of it is done indirectly under a veil of anonymity. One doesn't need to own up to one's words - talk is cheap. In the massive stream of global chatter, it too easy to make impertinent, angry comments to others outside your cohesive niche because there are few social ramifications in doing so compared to ages past.

    How many people did the typical American communicate with on a weekly basis in 1933? I don't have the data, but I'm sure I would not be communicating with you like this in 1933! They probably communicated with people whom they regularly interact with and developed some level of relationship within a social context, be it family, neighborhood, local businesses, religious affiliations, etc. They knew these people and would have to be on civil terms with them because a person's individual "world" was smaller, more localized. Be rude to the local shoe store manager is permissible today because in a few minutes you can order your shoes online, impersonally from Zappos.com. In the 1930's, you may be hard pressed to purchase your next pair of shoes by bad-mouthing the manager.

    Humans disagree and argue whether it is 1933 or 2012, but today you can find your own subgroup, your own like-minded tribe half-way around the globe and ignore or attack all others. As you stated, "could you imagine in the past, the ‘old days’ as it were, someone coming into a shop or someone’s home and just demanding to be entertained or agreed with immediately?" Have we decreased our willingness to compromise and agree to disagree?

    It begs the unspoken questions of, why should I listen to you, or why should I give you respect when I can just as easily tune you out and listen to someone else in the billions of people I have access to? Then one needs to play the game, as you felt compelled to, of justifying one's thoughts and right for respect but try not offend anyone at the same time.

    I don't have all the answers, but thank you for such enlightening insights. I hope you enjoyed your tea. Conversation is always better over tea!

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  12. Another SAHM here. I applaud your reasoned choice regarding a family. It is appropriate for your situation at this time and does not impact anyone else. The same cannot be said for a woman I met on the maternity ward, where she had given birth to the sixth child she intended to raise on public assistance.

    My children are nearly grown and I also get questioned about "not working". I point out that mine is a volunteer position that I am happy to fill without renumeration. My husband usually brags that I bake all our bread, render lard, hang laundry, make mayonnaise, culture yogurt, grow a garden, cook from scratch, reupholster furniture, clean carpeting, mend clothing, and dozens of other things others have to earn money to pay someone else to do. He defends me more than I do.

    When I worked for pay I was in a male dominated field, with a non-traditional job description and was paid what only a handful of businesses in my area could match. Thousands of men spend entire careers doing what I did. What I do now is infinitely more fulfilling and I consider myself an executive. Out of the workforce for two decades, I would now probably best qualify as a "greeter". I would select the lard rolled in a pancake and my self respect intact than a box full of factory made food and a pre job station pep rally any day.

    The laws that discourage us from self sufficiency, disapprove of direct assistance to other members of our communities, but promote sterile and impersonal financial contributions as the only kind that are worthy, are the kinds of things that make me retreat into my own version of time and place. I would rather provide a pair of size 7 shoes to a child who needs size 7 shoes than $2 to an organization who will buy them. So when I do it, I do it quietly. I don't need a tax receipt and the child who needs shoes gets them. It doesn't need to be discussed.

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  13. I am on the other end of things, I suppose. I have eight children and people assume the worst. They think we are raising them on public assistance (no we are not), that I must be dumb (I have a college degree, fwiw) and that I must rely on older children to "raise" my younger ones. That is untrue as well.
    Actually, I was thinking, when I read your post, that you would make a wonderful mother. You are thoughtful and intentional, you are in a long term marriage and you like to have fun. Sounds like the recipe for success if you ask me. Yes, it would take financial sacrifice but you are resourceful and would make it work, if you so choose.
    I love the phrase of another comment. Anger entitlement. I am going to roll that around for awhile.
    I don't understand why the anon person got so angry and would chose to attack. I am glad you are able to put it in perspective.

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  14. I think that you are missing the point. No one is bashing homemakes/Mother/wifes who stay at home; that is a noble profession. All the post said was that YOU seem to be selfish and misguides in claiming that the economy is the reason YOU chose not have children. This makes those of us who have chosen to have children "in this economy" to feel as if you are judging us for our choices. And some poeple do not have google accounts or blog spaces and that is why we publish anon.; not because we are hiding or fearful. Try to take things with a teaspoon of sugar and an accepting open heart, rather that riddles with left-wing influence and propaganda.

    Mrs. Hollingsworth Ames
    Boston, MA 02108
    Homemaker/Mother

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  15. Love the blog as it's a history lesson.
    I work for a PBS station, and have, on occasion, taken calls where someone is very upset about what's being aired. After calm reasoning fails to placate the caller, I simply suggest they change the channel.
    Anonymous, it is your choice whether or not you read this blog.

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  16. I hope you don't mind if I pipe in. I thought I would copy the comment so I could respond myself.

    "I am so envious of your life. You get to live in what ever decade/time period that you like, get to change home decor, cooking, and clothing styles. Not have to worry about caring for children or working outside of your home and get to blog as much as you like about what ever whim comes your way. I wish that I had the luxury that you have to indulge in what ever whim of the day I feel like. Such a carefree me-centered life, wow! –anon"

    Jealousy is a hard thing to overcome.

    We all make choices. A woman working outside the home is a choice. Raising children is a choice. Accepting the world and the keeping up with the Jones' is a choice.Because one chooses to enhance her role as a housewife by studying how those before did so, is incredible. Just like little girls playing with dolly's is role playing, so is this for The Fifties housewife. How on earth can anyone learn to be a housewife in 21st century? Since I have been married, being a stayhome wife and mom is something that is seen as a failure, or that men created to suppress women.

    The 1960's were loaded with the feminist and the revolution against women. The 1970's took us completely down the slope and the divorce rate skyrocked, as well(sorry to shock or offend) as women wearing the pants(YOU know, I wear the pants in the family). The 1980's began with the largest number of women entering college, and by the 1990's hooking up meant nothing. Sex and a one night stand were cool and the thing to do. Marriage was a joint effort where the man either did stuff at home or Girl, you need to unload that worthless man. By the 2000's who even marries anymore? We are now at the lowest rate of couples marrying~ever. More children are born out of wedlock...oh and check out the financial crisis of our nation. Women working should equate to a more stable economy-yet, it is the opposite. Homes are being foreclosed upon at numbers that are shocking. So how on earth is a little girl able to figure out how to be a wife and mom?

    How is she to learn how to cook? How is she to learn how to clean? How is she to learn how to be a helpmeet of her husband? She will not learn in today's world. She will see images of women in the workforce...as tough~judges, cops, ballbusting women holding jacks. Check out the images and you will see. Feminine women are mocked. Look at the families that have so many children. The hate and vile comments come from women. I find this horribly ironic considering the very design of a woman is to birth children, yet in 21st century this is seen as VILE.

    So I find that here on this blog, seeking role models and advice on how to be a housewife, this housewife found that the 1950's were an exemplary era. Now that she researched that era, she discovered that to see the strength of the 1950's woman she had to see the struggles. That takes one back to the 1930's...

    I connect the dots, and admire this blog. I pray that others see the role of housewife as important. It has changed my life and believe me, everywhere we have ever lived, I am the odd one out(staying home full time),so this blog is a support group of sorts.

    Thank you so much for your efforts, your research, and your honesty. It has been refreshing in the world belittling the housewife.

    Jennifer
    Housewife almost 24 years
    Stay home mom 22 years
    Homeschool mom 18 years

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  17. Mrs. Hollingsworth Ames: I find it funny you should think me left wing. Birds have wings, people have ideas. I choose to not allow myself to be labeled or 'branded', but rather let my opinions and views of the past and our present be based upon facts I derive from various sources. It is this very labeling and putting one in boxes that continues to keep all of the masses (that is us) looking to hate one another rather than the very system which is failing us all.
    And my choice to not have a child does not then put my opinion poorly on those who have had. If I chose to not wear hats because they made me look stupid mean I was therefore saying all other women who wear hats are stupid? Certainly not!
    And, I might add, the very mention of propaganda whilst using the term 'left-wing' in one sentence is almost redundant. One term only exists because of the other.
    Thank you all for such great comments. I do love your long thought out comments it makes it all the more interesting and poignant for me and I am sure, for other readers as well. Brava to all of us, yes even those who think me a harpie child hating mother basher, brava to all of us for coming together to discuss our views and to see those of opposing opinions. I think we need to come together with other's who might seem our polar opposite and find we all, really, want the same thing. A fair world where one can be 'allowed' to do as they please and to please others as well.

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  18. This post made me very sad. Not, 50sgal, for your very kind replies to your anonymous poster, but the feeling that that poster was trying to polarize you on the "children" issue. I found myself thinking of the numbers of dogs and cats reproducing madly in this country due to people thinking that neutering is somehow "unnatural". (OK, strange line of thought, but bear with me, please.) It seems so many think we *must* have children, and I do know a number of families do (I did)and some families have large numbers of them (their choice). Yet why should we feel a husband and wife *must* have a child? Can we not give them the same freedom of choice as others have had? The same freedom to evaluate their personal situation and choose NOT to have a child?

    Your point about costs/expenses/income today versus the 1930s was quite right. And your point about governmental restrictions and "entitlements" was also quite right. The FDA wanted to restrict farmer's markets (quickly revised after public backlash). My city won't allow chickens (or other farm type animals) inside city limits, but my neighbor had can have 6 large dogs next door without a problem. We have come SO far from the self-sufficiency outlook that was commonplace in the 1930s. No wonder we think we cannot survive.

    50s gal, hang in there. I do love your though-provoking posts. I too am a SAHW now. Yes, I will be working from home part time. No, I have no small children or grandchildren. I am choosing to scale back and devote my self, my (relatively limited) energies, and my time to my husband and my home. Thank you for YOUR blog. I do love the old-timey informatioh you bring.

    Kathleen

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  19. Just remember that those who bash you for your choices, are probably insecure about the choices they themselves have made. We humans always lash out towards things we unconsciously find lacking in ourselves.

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  20. I have observed that "class" has nothing whatever to do with income or possessions.
    :)
    Thankyou again for all your researchings for this interesting blog. Best wishes.
    [Valerie]

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  21. I love your blog posts about living the 1930's life and the 1950's life in the past years. This debating, while interesting to some I suppose, is getting a bit tiresome. I know I can "change the channel" and sometimes do. But then I miss a good one!

    Donna, you're smart, creative, educated, interesting, and charming. Don't feel like you have to defend your life choices. I can understand you being sensitive but for every nasty comment you receive 10 or more positive ones. Just keep doing what you love, whether it's shared on your blog or not. I don't always agree with your posts but I've always been able to comment respectfully which has lead to thought provoking discussions. I don't understand why it's so hard for others to do post their negative responses without attacking.

    Sarah H.

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  22. When and if and why you have children is your own private decision. No one..no one..has the right to get into your business. As a child of the 50s I heard plenty of couples say they did not want to have children because of the Cold War and the fear of the bomb. Everyone has to make their own decision. It is not an easy decision. Enough said. You already stated it so well yourself. In this post too you have given some different perspectives for us now verses the people of the 30s than I have seen any where else. Much food for thought. You have me pondering things I had never thought of. As you said you do a lot of research and thought into doing your posts. We will all be here to read your next and your next and your next posts.... Beth

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  23. I think part of the problem is that SAHMs of young children are now being more accepted by society but the SAHW without children has a long way to go!

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  24. Your post about being a SAHW is fantastic. I have to tell you, though, that many SAHMs (of older children especially) go through the same sort of judgmental comments that you are facing, particularly if they are not wealthy, which most aren't. Even if you had a child, people would be asking when you were going to have another, or why you couldn't work with "just one" or "just two" children...it never ends. I think that it just comes down to jealousy and insecurity on the part of the critics. They see a woman at home, childless or not, and they just can't get their mind around the fact she is doing something so "odd", when that something is what the majority did not long ago.

    Whatever you do, if you are not ready for a child, don't get pushed into having one. Trust me, if you do, the critics will only find something else to harp about anyway. I got married, had the kids but find we still cannot afford a house of our own. I stay home to care for my children because that is what is best for our family, but live in a rental. Guess what I hear all the time? Some version of "Why don't you get a house?", even though we live in a very nice apartment. It is always something, really.I am sure if I got the house, it would be "when are you getting a bigger home?" or something to that effect.

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  25. Your comment about keeping animals for food was correct. My sister had to get a $100 town permit to keep a dozen chickens in a fenced in coop in her backyard, which is over 1/2 acre. She gets fresh eggs every day from the chickens and they are better than anything sold in any store. But, my sister will have to sell a lot of eggs just to make up for the cost of the permit and I am sure the cost of the permit is enough to discourage some local families from keeping any chickens for eggs.

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  26. Keep up the good work, Donna.....I love your blog and I love your views....ignore the haters.

    Kelly, England x

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  27. I have been following (and loving)your blog for some time but this is the first time I've posted a comment.I myself loosely follow the year 1928 but only in certain aspects of my life -- music, books, mags, newspapers (my local paper has EVERY COMPLETE issue since 1760ish online!)and I cook out of older cookbooks. Anyway, I have two of your points to speak to. First, I love that you stay at home. It is your choice and a perfectly legitimate occupation. I have two children, one is only 1 1/2 and I'd love to stay home with her but economics make it impossible. But I make home-cooked meals every day just the same. My second point also involves economics: people today feel that they can't stay home because of too many bills. However, unlike our anscestors, their "bills" include cell phones, a second car, cable tv computers, daily starbucks runs, microwave meals.....well, you get the picture. As I said, I work, full-time but I make very little (I used to make 2x my current), and when something breaks around our house, we live without. Our disher washer broke, now we live without it. Our clothes drier broke, now we hang clothes, and most recently our microwave broke. I don't miss any of these items, and not running them has lowered my electric bill considerably. What I am saying is that modern folks often have their needs and wants mixed up. We don't need half of the things that we work so hard for. In some ways I'm glad I don't make as much -- life has become much simpler. Keep up the great work!!

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  28. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  29. What a wonderful article, so much to think about!

    Mel in PA

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  30. I think it's in bad taste to grill people on why they have or do not have children, how many, & so forth. I remember very well the feeling I had when I was the one being grilled, as my husband & I were married seven years before we became parents! If a woman wanted to talk to me about this very subject, & she brought it up, I would certainly feel a bit freer to give a pointed opinion. There is so much about people's lives that we couldn't possibly guess, just by looking at them or even interacting with them at work or socially, that I think it's better to leave certain things alone unless we are asked to contribute.

    I'm sure you're doing very well with the projects you have...not to mention all the help (through the research you do!) you're probably giving a good many at home wives & mothers. Learning to do more with less can be a real boost to their morale...that's no small task. :o)

    warmly-
    Brenda

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  31. My children are grown and I am a full time SAHW/M/G. I live a frugal, but very creative (arts) life. My husband is very supportive of me, and I, of him. It is expensive and a burden to work a full time job and try to keep a "healthy" home.

    We haven't had real real income since December, 1913. Things have declined steadily since then. In fact, they are now declining at break neck speed.

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