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NewlyNested: The New-New Housewife


a blogumn by Debra Goykhman

Photo Credit: Dan Brady

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?