Is “Homemaker” A Dirty Word?

Elsa Walsh wrote an interesting piece for the Washington Post about what it is like climbing the ladder at work and finding a way to be a mother at the same time. I found myself at some points agreeing and nodding my head and then at other points wanting to yell at her via the computer screen I read the article on. I’m sure some of her differences come from the generation she grew up a part of and the age difference between us that is affecting the way we feel about subjects. However, I do appreciate that she mentioned how it is almost impossible to be a mother nowadays that isn’t a working mother.

Recently I had a female friend tell me that on an application she wrote that she was unemployed and someone suggested she change that to “homemaker.” She was appalled by the thought and expressed how she much preferred being considered unemployed then a homemaker. It’s funny to think how much our thoughts as women have changed. Long gone are the days of tending to our husband’s laundry and the chores of the house so that we could ensure that dinner would be on the table just in time.

Walsh’s article speaks of how women should now learn to embrace a life that is “good enough.” To be honest, I started reading the article because I was adamantly against the idea of settling for anything that is “good enough.” After reading though, I understand where she is coming from when I think of all my friend who are working mothers now. A balance between work and home life has to be discovered otherwise you end up being miserable at both and missing out on both sides. Elsa actually managed to portray “good enough” in not such a bad light as I originally expected when I clicked the article link.

It was the 80s...when acid washed jeans and neon was in!

It was the 80s…when acid washed jeans and neon was in!

This does raise an interesting question. I grew up with a mother that was a stand up comedian for a good chunk of time which allowed her to be a working mother and a stay at home mom at the same time. She went to work when I went off to bed and therefore during the day she was still available to me during my every waking moment. She took me to school, on multiple occasions chaperoned field trips, and picked me up from school. I felt like she was always there when I needed her and I got the experience of having a mother who raised me during every waking moment. (On the other hand, I’ve just now realized while proof reading this post that I have no idea how she ever found time to sleep in her schedule.) I can’t imagine being able to do that now.

In today’s economy how can a mother even afford to take the pay cut to be out for maternity leave? Then, how do you face going back and knowing your three month old is being sent off to day care to be raised by strangers while you’re at work for eight to ten hours a day? I always said I wanted to find a way to work and stay home like my mom did. I’m still in search of how to balance it all so that a stranger isn’t raising our kids for us one day. It’s getting harder and harder as times change, but I’m not ready to give up on my hope that I can make it all work at this point. My fiancé and I both have jobs that aren’t quite traditional, so I have faith that in our own untraditional way we come up with a solution.

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2 Comments to "Is “Homemaker” A Dirty Word?"

  1. Andy's Gravatar Andy
    May 15, 2013 - 6:54 AM | Permalink

    Untraditional jobs create untraditional solutions. I too had an untraditional job, juggled schedules, worked night and we raised 2 boys with minimal day care. Not an easy balance but schedules can be adjusted to have the best life possible. I’m sure that’s what your mother was thinking when she chose her work hours when you were little also. :))

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