Monday, 18 April 2011

A Blog About Home

I have just spent a happy hour reading through my old blog posts. I'm so glad I did it. My blog read like the diary of a young mother who was very contented in her role, and I was. I think, when I'm dead and gone, my kids and grand kids would be happy to read it and get a glimpse of the old days - the days when some women stayed at home to look after their babies. As, to be honest with you, I think we may be the last generation of women for whom stay at home mothering was something of an option. For despite the apparent resurgence of middle class career women giving up careers in banking and law for the delights of chickens and Boden dresses (so flattering), the future does not look at all rosy for the kind of woman who would rather suck out her own eye jelly than put her six month old child into nursery. And, although I don't want to make sweeping statements about womankind, I think that most mothers would prefer their children to have at-home care until they reach at least primary school age. My instinct is that my daughters may be too crippled by university debt, unable to find affordable housing and be haunted by the kind of job insecurity our economy seems to demand, to even think about "committing career suicide" for as long as I did.

Now I know that these thoughts make me sound that I'm a bit low, nostalgic for my old life, but I'm not. I'm quite happy, really. I enjoy my job, but it's not my life: my life happens at home. If you have a good home life you can pretty much withstand anything, as I so often see in m y work. A good home life is a real blessing and I'm glad the DH and I put down those foundations for our children and ourselves. Where am I going with these thoughts? No-where in particular, perhaps the few readers I have left may care to contribute? What do you truly think about the change in women's roles over the past fifty years? Are you as passionate about home-life as I am? Would the men in your life be happy as a sole wage earner? If you're a man, how do you feel about the issues I've raised in the (crappy) post, or on my blog as a whole?

Well, I'm off now to make some curtains. Yes, the domestic arts still flourish chez Domum (if only in the holidays)! If you're out there and have an opinion, please comment.


Lucy said...

I do stay at home and we home ed. Our two are 7 and a brand new 4, and my dh is the sole bread winner. It is a huge burden for him, trapped in a job he wouldn't have picked even though he really likes the guy he works for, and we barely make ends meet. I am preparing my children for a world where they will not get to be a stay at home parent. I suspect it will be the upper class and the under class who will be at home (to varying extents "with" their children) and the rest of society will be desperately trying to make ends meet. I didn't use to feel so bleak but with the debt burden our country has and the likely future, I think staying at home with children could become a huge luxury. Right now we are trying to brain storm ways we could continue to give our kids the full-time at home parent they need, but maybe split between the two of us, because in our income bracket it is not possible to carry on as we are.

Sue said...

I was banging on about this the other week on my blog. Not so much about the changing role of women as the fulfilling nature of being a housewife. I did muse on the fact that I thought my daughter would not be able to afford to give up work as I did due to the inevitable massive student debt. I find that very depressing. Mind you at the moment she doesn't want to have babies because it will hurt.

monix said...

It is goood to see you back and being as thoughtful as ever.

My children were born in 1977 and 1979 when all of my friends were stay at home mums. I loved every minute of the ten years I had at home, although I did a lot of voluntary work as well, which was very satisfying.

I went back to teaching when my daughter was 8. I think having the same holidays as the children was a huge factor in that decision. It was much harder for my friends who had other jobs and their children tended to spend the holidays with us. Childcare was not so readily available as it is now.

Now my children have babies of their own and are faced with the modern dilemma of needing two salaries to keep the household afloat. My daughter is taking a career break since the birth of her second child. She is loving her life as a full-time mother but she can feel the pressure of the economic situation building and may have to go back to work sooner than she planned. I find it very sad for mothers and children today.

debbie bailey said...

I think a huge factor in women having to work is that people think they have to have so many things that women long ago did without. Our wants have become needs. If people would lower their standard of living then maybe the moms could afford to stay at home and be happy. Things that used to be luxuries are now considered necessities.

Laura A said...

Ah, so glad to see you posting again!

Very interesting what you're saying here. Student debt has been very much on my mind, but I hadn't quite put it together with the ability to stay home as a mom. (I'm sure I should have, with a 16yo daughter, but for now, her mind is on music, not marriage, and perhaps that's just as well.) At the rate things are currently going here in the US, it might eventually get to be so bad that parents are still paying off student loans when their kids go to college!

I thought student debt was more of an American problem than a UK one, but I guess not. Would you care to elaborate a little about student debt in the UK?

I've been very blessed to be able to stay home to raise my daughter, working, when I did, part time at home. One thing I've noticed even among my stay-at-home mom friends, though, is that their husbands (and mine) have to work incredibly hard for them to stay home, and that separates the family painfully even so. Perhaps this is an NYC thing; I don't know. I'd be willing to do without a lot of what we have, honestly, if it meant my husband could spend more time with us.

Anyway, we're working on a possible partial solution, albeit one that wouldn't appeal to everyone. I'll post something about that on my blog later.

Nice to hear from you!

Dulce Domum said...

Thank you all for commenting. I tried to respond to you all in detail ut blogger ate my comments! I'll try again over the next few days.

Gumbo Lily said...

I just checked here today for the first time in a long while and was glad to read your thought provoking posts on SAH parenting and future of it.

I have been a SAH mom and a WAH mom all my life. We work on a cattle/sheep ranch which means all the family members pitch in and help. I have to say, as much hard work as is involved in this way of life, I'm glad that we could raise our kids like this.

I have to agree with Debbie's post that we in America think we *need* to have it ALL -- a Big house (not a modest, affordable house), every amenity (250 TV channels, internet, computers, 3 TVs, new appliances, new furniture, etc.), new cars (not just a ride), and plenty of money to eat out, shop with the girlfriends, and go on vacations. Most Americans have so much stuff that they buy storage sheds to hold all the stuff they don't use.

If we did a little research on the household finances of the 1950s or thereabouts, I'll bet you'd find that most families owned their modest home, owned their modest cars, paid for their own educations while working part time, and lived a very modest life. Not many luxuries. Re-use, repurpose, and recycle were a way of life, not just a catchy slogan to "save the planet." Compare that lifestyle to today's.

I think if you tallied up the cost of a wife/mother to go to work for minimum wage (or a little above that), I think you'd find her costs (clothes, gas, car, childcare, lunch out) would eat up her wage.

My own daughter just had her first baby and quit her part-time job to devote her time to caring for her baby girl. She doesn't intend to go back to work. She recently disconnected their TV cable and they have reevaluated their small budget so that she can be home. No luxuries. Just the basics.