Thursday, November 3, 2011
A Woman's Role is In the Home
I really wonder how families with two working parents even do it. There are so many things I have to take care of while Tom's at work. Watching over Sly is the biggest (and most important job). But then there are all the chores: cleaning the house, laundry, ironing, grocery shopping, paying bills, balancing the budget, making and keeping appointments for doctors, making necessary phone calls, trips to the dry cleaner or tailor, cooking dinner, etc. etc. etc.
I seriously can't imagine having to work a full day, and then coming home with all these things waiting for me(/Tom). A number of these errands have can only be done during business hours anyways. So what would that mean? I asked Tom, and he says most of his co-workers often make personal calls at work, or take time off to go to appointments, etc. How terrible. And in the first case, it seems definitely unfair to your employer.
How nice if you could have someone at home, managing all these things instead. If your weekends could actually be a time for leisure, and not crammed with all the stuff you couldn't do during the week. If you could eat REAL meals each night, instead of the unhealthy packaged crap that appears in greater numbers everyday at the supermarket.
Division of labor, man!
The funny thing is, I always wanted and expected to BE a stay-at-home mom one day. And yet I spent thousands upon thousands of dollars going to college to get a degree that...well, I didn't get a chance to use very long. I'm not necessarily saying I would take back that decision, even if I could. But what I want to know is: why didn't anyone tell me that I didn't HAVE to go to college? That it's OKAY to be "just" a wife and mother.
I hate when people throw out the argument about how families can't afford to have the wife stay home anymore. I'm sure this is actually true in a small number of families, just as it always was. But there was a time when most wives, and pretty much every mother DID stay home. So what has changed since then? I'm no economist, so I will concede that there are possibly slightly lower average salaries now. But I have only to look around to be able to name the culprit for most families out there. Materialism. You don't need three HD TVs. Heck, you don't even need a TV at all. You don't need the latest gadgets. You don't need two or three cars. You don't need the huge house when you only have two kids. You don't need to go on vacations. You don't need to eat out. You don't need to buy your kids everything they want. The list could go on. When you actually bother to talk to the little old grandmothers in the older (and Catholic) parts of town, they'll tell you about how every family on the block had at least eight kids, living in tiny 2-3 bedroom homes with no car.
My point is, if American families still had the same expectations as our grandparents' generation, I bet most families would find that they can afford to have the wife stay home. They might never feel financially "comfortable", but they would get by. And I know the family would be better for it.
And while we're on the topic of being able to afford things...I can't believe so many families believe they can "afford" to let someone else raise their kids instead of them. I'm talking daycare, nannies, and sometimes even school, which many think of as "state-funded daycare". Children deserve to be cared for in their own homes by their own parent. Especially the babies! No wonder so many women choose to formula-feed, even knowing that science says "breast is best". If you aren't going to be with your own child all day - for whom your breasts are making milk, expecting that that child will be near you, hungry - it would be so much easier to just drop of some formula for the daycare. Pumping milk at work all day would be a pain.
I can't even imagine how terrible it would be if me and my husband worked all day, picked up Sly from daycare, got home at 6:00, made a quick convenience-food dinner, and then had, what? an hour or so to spend with our own child. And then he goes to bed. How would you even KNOW your own kids? Seeing many modern families, I have come to this conclusion: many of them don't.
In a neighborhood where all the moms stay home, they get to know each other. They see each other around. Their kids play together. It builds community. When moms are at work all day, kids are either away at some sort of daycare of after-school program, or under orders to stay in the house. Kids don't go outside anymore, because there's no one to watch over them if they do. Kids don't play with other kids on their street. Moms don't know each other. So their husbands don't know each other. Suddenly, everyone's a stranger, and no one feels safe letting their kids out to wander anyways. So kids stay inside playing video games and watching TV all day, because that's "safe." Kids work out their strong need for socialization at home with texting, twitter, the internet...which are all poor substitutes for real human contact.
My dad's parents met right after The War. They both worked at the same bank. They fell in love, and got married. The day my grandmother walked into work after the honeymoon, the boss took her aside and told her that she couldn't work there anymore, since she was married. This was apparently very typical of the time, and as far as I know, my grandmother accepted it. Today, people would view this as so discriminatory and unjust. She didn't do anything wrong - she was only being let go because she was a woman and married. But I think society had its head on a lot straighter back in the 40s. Her boss recognized that she was better off being at home. To care for the house, her husband, and her soon-to-grow family.