NewlyNested: The New-New Housewife
a blogumn by Debra Goykhman
When I got married I had never planned to be a housewife. I’ve always been career driven, not domestically driven. However, the short version of my married life is that due to the down turn of the economy, like many others, I am now working part-time from home. I fill the rest of my day with my writing, but I still take responsibility for my home.
Life isn’t so easy to compartmentalize. My husband has been putting in many hours at work, so I find that being at home, my job has now become partially keeping the home in order. Instantly, I felt like a failure in this aspect. I can’t always have a warm dinner ready when my husband gets home, the house gets cleaned maybe twice a month, my dogs are like my children and they are taken care of, but my home is still not set up completely. My husband doesn’t care, but I do, mostly because I think back on the image of the 50s housewife as a comparison.
So what does it mean to be a modern day housewife? I certainly know I’m not the only one in this situation. I know many women who, while intending to work full-time, find they are only able to get part-time work at the moment. And I’m sure there are still many women out there who have paused their search for a job and are taking care of the home until the economy picks back up.
The definition of a housewife has changed. The Real Housewives franchise doesn’t seem to have any straight definition of what a housewife looks like. Some are married, some work, some have kids, and none do any daily domestic chores. Does that mean all women of a certain age are housewives?
I don’t think so. As a friend pointed out to me, to call yourself a housewife, there has to be a significant amount of time at home. Since I work from home, I guess that automatically makes me a housewife, but my lifestyle at home is nothing like that of a 1950s housewife. Everything about taking care of the home needs to be quick for me so I can spend the rest of my time on the joys of life. I am a modern-day housewife, but I am not trapped by my home. My home liberates me. It is in my home that I can lounge in the sun and write my novel, that I can travel the world trying new ethnic dishes, and that I can sometimes just lay around in my pjs and watch TV. I enjoy my home.
With all that explored, if someone were to stop me on the street and ask, “What does it mean to be a housewife?” I would shrug and think maybe there needs to be a new term for people like me. What do you think? Are any of you modern housewives?