Simcha Fisher recently wrote an article about the sexism of feminist objections to traditional stay at home mums. The comment stream was as enjoyable as the article.
I’m not disagreeing with what was said, but I’d like to add to it. I think – I’ve always thought – the whole ‘stay-at-home’ / ‘get-a-job’ dichotomy is totally artificial. I’ve worked since I left school aged 18; first as a student, then in various office jobs, then as a mother with a young family (during which time I also did freelance journalism, made crafts, and sold Tuppaware and short stories to help fund family extras), then – and ever since – as a writer and editor, sometimes working for someone else, and sometimes self-employed.
I was blessed for ten years to be able to leave primary breadwinning to my husband, while I was primary caregiver. That suited our family. At other times, I’ve been primary breadwinner – while he went back to university, and more recently when he took several years from work to homeschool two of our grandchildren. Sometimes, I’ve worked from a home office, the better to manage family responsibilities. For a number of years, a business partner and I ran an office that had a homework room, and after-school and holiday supervision of the 11 children we had between us was written into the office manager’s job description. Sometimes, my husband and I have worked our hours so that one had before-school responsibility for the children, and one after-school responsibility.
But every bit of it has been work. Fun work, most of it; but work. The job I’m paid for is work I love; I also love being with children, cooking, gardening, even most cleaning (ironing I could do without, and dirty nappies disgust me – but into every life, a little rain must fall).
I recognise that I’ve had a privileged life, but here’s the thing. Mine is the traditional life. Not the ‘husband is the earner; wife is the homemaker’ type of life that came in with factories and the middle classes, but a life where both parents do money (or at least food) earning work and both parents care for the children. Read the description of the life of the woman who is valued above rubies for a view of the true traditional life. She’s a homemaker, yes. But she’s also a trader, owner and manager of a horticultural enterprise and a craft factory, a teacher, and the family’s primary earner.
I’m a traditional – but not a stay-at-home – mum.