In Defense of REAL Housewives

So clearly I’m single but I’d like to use my blog for a second to defend what most of my friends do as their careers- be a housewife or a stay at home Mom.  In recent years the term housewife has gotten more media coverage but not in a good way.

In fact, it has kind of gotten dragged through the mud. I’m afraid most people today think of prima donna’s who throw lavish parties and have cosmetic surgery.  Between Bravo’s Real Housewives franchise and Desperate Housewives the term almost has no meaning any more.

Housewives...hmmm. This was the most modest photo I could find.

When I was growing up I was fed a different impression.  Women like Claire Huxtable on the Cosby Show had 5 children and yet were lawyers with perfect bodies of course.  Seemingly a woman could do it all (Growing Pains and Family Ties are other examples).

The admittedly charming movie Baby Boom showcases the 80’s version of the perfect woman. In the movie Diane Keaton is a powerful executive with no interest in a baby but she is bequeathed an infant by her distant cousin.  Eventually she finds a job as a baby food maker that blends the powerful work life with motherhood perfectly. (It is a stream on netflix right now)

This was the illusion of the 80s- that you can find a super meaningful career and raise a family at the same time. The idea of being a stay at home seemed dull and unimportant.

Here’s the thing I wish the young me understood- Adult life is mostly boring, most of the time.  I don’t care if you have the most exciting job in the world it still involves a huge amount of routine with the dull repetition of tasks.  (Ask me about the days I spend entering data into a 27,000 item spreadsheet for hours at a time and I have a masters degree!)

I can’t think of a job where you don’t do the same thing every day.  Think of someone like Angelina Jolie.  She seems like a real glamorous person living an exciting life.  Have you ever heard about how a movie is made?  It is taping the same shot over and over again from different angles until it is perfect.

I am not saying you have to stay at home to be a good mother.  How would I know about any of that? I’m a single woman. Every woman must make choices with how they want to live the life God gives them.  Just understand that whatever you decide will be boring and repetitive a lot of the time.

Any time in your life you can have a career you believe in despite all the tedium and fatigue than you have it made. Most of the housewives I know can say, even with all the stress, they believe what they are doing has value and matters to the future of the country.  Most people can’t say that about their jobs. Why do you think there are so many shows like The Office about the stupefying tedium of the corporate workplace? Its what a lot of people live.  I lived it for 3 years and it was awful.

In this economy people are lucky to have any job without worrying about a dream job and indeed many women can not chose to be a stay at home Mom and must make other career choices. Regardless, most jobs are 80-100% boring, repetitious, hard work, so if you can find something you believe in and can do you as your career, you are a very fortunate.

the old idea of a housewife

Maybe the problem is most women in the past didn’t have a choice to be a housewife or not.  The customs of the era insisted they stay at home and with rare exceptions most followed.  I don’t think this is the case any more or it shouldn’t be.  Most women today chose to stay at home and raise their children a certain way.  And like I said to have a job that you believe in and have chosen is a very lucky thing.

In the past there may have also been a stereotype of a housewife as an indentured servant instead of a mother/wife. Hopefully this isn’t as common any more (although I’m certainly aware domestic abuse and violence still exists). At least nobody I know is treated so badly or forced to stay at home.

I love this article on Slate.com called Why I Can’t Stop Reading Mormon Housewife Blogs.  Its really funny.  The atheist, feminist author talks about how she is inspired by the Mormon Mommy blogs:

“the basic messages expressed in these blogs —family is wonderful, life is meant to be enjoyed, celebrate the small things — are still lovely. And if they help women like me envision a life in which marriage and motherhood could potentially be something other than a miserable, soul-destroying trap”.

I don’t have my dream job.  I’d love to get involved in politics and make a difference in some small way to my community,and it may happen someday.  However, my job allows me to fulfill my other more important dreams such as the open water swims. It allows me to work despite my pain (a HUGE blessing!) and to have the lifestyle I love.  I consider myself very lucky and watched over in my career.

I think anyone is lucky when they can lead a life of their choosing that fulfills them most of the time.

Go housewives!

http://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/not-ready-for-female-president/

http://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2011/06/16/mormon-feminism/

12 thoughts on “In Defense of REAL Housewives

  1. That’s funny the article Why I Can’t Stop Reading Mormon Housewife Blogs we read in class and I took it in a very different way. And it isn’t true that most moms stay at home with kids, in most of the world moms have to work and take care of kids. I don’t think there is anything wrong with staying home with kids if thats what you want to. As you pointed out its great we have options! But for most people, they dont have that luxury

  2. Thanks for the comment. I agree about the luxury of staying at home. I thought I had pointed that out (paragraph 9) but it bears repeating again. Perhaps I should have said most of the women I know have been able to stay at home but I realize that is the exception to the rule. In the last census 5 million American women listed themselves as stay at home Moms. Some people find having one parent stay with the kids to be a more affordable option than day care. I obviously haven’t researched the issue so I don’t know. That’s just what I’ve heard.

    How do you think your generation was taught to look at the choice of becoming a homemaker? Do they look at it as a valid choice or is there still some disdain for it? Were you taught you could do it all as the 80’s so clearly pushed?

    My main point was to answer the criticism that being a Mom is somehow a cough out to the exciting life of the workforce. I think this is an illusion. Most jobs are pretty boring and routine, so if you can find something you believe in and think is important, like most housewives do, you are a step ahead in the work department.

    I’d be curious to know how your class analyzed the article because my friends (both Mormon and non-Mormon) and I all thought it was very funny, and some of the blogs she listed are great. Interesting.

  3. I really liked this quote in the blog article:
    “It seems that a lot of popular culture wants to portray marriage and motherhood as demeaning, restrictive or simple, but in the LDS church, motherhood is a very important job, and it’s treated with a lot of respect,” says Natalie Holbrook, the New York-based author of the popular blog Nat the Fat Rat. “Most of my readers are non-LDS women in their late 20s and early 30s, college educated, many earning secondary degrees on the postgraduate level, and a comment I often get is, ‘You are making me want kids, and I’ve never wanted kids!’”

    I just think anyone who has found something to do that they believe in is a lucky person. Its easier said than done.

  4. This is what I was referring to “Most women today chose to stay at home and raise their children a certain way.” I was just saying that statistically that isn’t true.
    Well I feel like I was raised with the idea that the only thing you should do is be a stay at home mom. Thats just what I thought growing up was the only way to go.

    1. That’s true. It isn’t an option for many. Most don’t have that choice. Thanks.
      I was pretty influenced by the media, which is interesting because it wasn’t very present in my home. Curious. Plus, I had the contrast of dealing with a lot of the tough sides of mothering from a young age without the benefits of them being my own kids. This gave me a unique perspective on the issues and my idea of housewives.
      There has been a trend in recent media of having a stay at home caregiver in the home such as in Up All Night or Modern Family. Interesting trend.
      I guess I think everyone should find something that they believe in to do but also expect it to be coupled with a lot of hard work and tediousness. That’s life.

    2. Do you think that view is common of girls your age? I’m just curious with these tawdry versions of housewives what most younger women think of being a homemaker. I would never have thought of a housewife as the characters portrayed in the series I mentioned. That’s for sure. What a change.

  5. There is just a split between mormon culture and not. both go too far. I think most mormon girls are taught that you are only good if you are a housewife. Someone asked womens chorus how many people wanted to be a stay at home mom and I was the only one that I could see who didn’t raise their hand. I’m guessing there were maybe 8 others out of 180

    1. That’s true. I was one of the 8/180 too :). It kind of makes me sad because a lot of those girls are not going to be able to do it. My life might not be perfect but at least I’ve never felt like I missed out on my purpose because I’m single. I feel bad for those girls that feel that way.
      I think its great to dream and work towards a great career, whether it be a housewife or not. I’ve just heard a lot of people say things like (and thought myself in the past) that I could never be a housewife because its so boring and seemingly unimportant, doing stuff like laundry and changing diapers.
      What I’ve learned in my life is that most jobs are like that, so if you can find something that you actually believe in despite the boredom than you are a step ahead. May sound cynical but I think its true.

  6. Don’t you think there is something to the fact that education teaches us to be dreamers and make a difference but they never say ‘whatever that difference is will be coupled with a lot of tedious, boring sludge?’.
    The key is to just find something that satisfies you most of the time and that gives you the life you want. If that is being a stay at home Mom and you believe in it, I think you have a step up on many people.

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