I have always loved to write. Even as a student, I was the weird kid in class who liked writing assignments. Long before the advent of the internet and blogging, I tried my hand at freelance writing and had a few short articles published. Recently, I came across one of them. It was written in early 1980 shortly after the birth of my second child. As I read through it, I realized that my daughter could have written it today and so I decided to reprint it here. Melaina, Robin, Chrissy, Seiko, Natalee, Mardell and all the other young moms out there who’ve made the choice to stay at home with your children, this one’s for you!
The Vanishing Breed
Sometimes I feel as though I am a member of a vanishing breed. All around me young women like myself are having babies, finding sitters and returning to work but I have chosen to be a full time housewife and mother. I do not bother trying to fancy up my position by calling myself a homemaker or a domestic engineer because it simply is not a fancy position. I am on call twenty-four hours a day every day. My job offers no sick leave, no holidays, no pay, no prestige and no hope for advancement.
Why, then, have I chosen this way of life? It most definitely was not a matter of necessity. I have a university degree and could be earning a salary equal to my husband’s. If I returned to work I could easily afford to pay a babysitter and could also hire someone to take over some of my household chores. In addition to this, I would also be able to afford some of the luxuries that I am presently doing without.
I do not believe that laziness was the reason for my choice. My days are very full for mine is a demanding job and I have many roles to fill. I am a teacher, a counsellor, a housekeeper, a cook and a laundress. Sometimes I am a seamstress, a hairdresser, a chauffeur, a gardener, a decorator or a first aid worker.
In spite of its drawbacks I chose my career for purely selfish reasons. I feel that it gives me greater personal satisfaction than any other could. I enjoy my children immensely. Certainly they get on my nerves at times but every aspect of their growth and development fascinates me. I have no interest whatsoever in paying someone else to enjoy their childhood while I pursue a career outside the home.
I would be lying if I claimed that I enjoyed housework to the same extent that I enjoy time spent with my children. I do appreciate a clean, comfortable home and find a certain amount of satisfaction in keeping mine that way but I must admit that I do not become as ecstatic as the typical TV housewife over shining floors or sweet smelling laundry. Many times the tedious household chores are left waiting while I read to the children or take them for a walk.
In spite of the fact that sleepless nights and dirty diapers do not seem to compare very favourably with the glamour of the working world, my job does have many advantages. Because I am my own boss and my schedule is very flexible, I have a great deal of freedom that is lacking in most other professions. I am not constantly trying to meet deadlines and am not forced to compete with others. I have only myself and my family to please.
I do not want to imply that my choice would be right for all women but I do resent the fact that those of us who have chosen to be ‘just a housewife’ are often made to feel as though we are simply unambitious and somehow inferior to ‘the working woman’. Perhaps someday, when my children are older, I will return to work but in the meantime I am proud to consider myself a valuable member of society fulfilling an important and satisfying role.