Monday, February 11, 2013

An Amazing Description of the Plight of Modern Women

Housewife Marjorie McWeeney with Broom Amidst Display of Her Week's Housework, Bloomingdale's Store

I am reading a very interesting book entitled Never Done : A History of American Housework by Susan Strasser.

In one paragraph, she sums up the true plight of the modern woman. Perhaps you can relate; I know many who certainly do.
As women have come to expect that they may leave the labor market during their childrens' preschool years but will return to it eventually, the years at home have become fearful ones. How will they get back, competing with men and with other women who have histories of consistent employment? The rising divorce rate suggests that the decision and the timing may not be theirs and that they may become the sole or major financial support for their children; it compounds the fears, for husbands who encounter working women at their jobs might withdraw both financial and emotional support for those who stay home. Deprived of the nineteenth-century options for earning money at home, those who go out to work confront guilt and fear from other sources; like the turn-of-the-century New Hampshire millworker who took in boarders after her child got burned in an older sister's care, they worry about finding safe child care. Nor is safety the only criterion; they remain concerned for their children's psychological well-being, and for the values of intimacy with which they are raised and which they cannot necessarily find in childcare facilities organized primarily for profit. Competing with men for jobs that are often oppressive, earning money to buy products that merely promise satisfaction, they perceive child care as a woman's responsibility, shoulder the burdens of two jobs that often conflict, and feel guilty.1
The paragraph before this is even more telling of the Catch-22 dilemma of both the working mother and the stay-at-home mom (who may even have a work-at-home job on the side).
Women who held jobs before marriage or before their children arrived experienced the supervised oppression of most outside jobs. Sally, a Boston housewife interviewed in the late 1970s, remembered her years of office work with displeasure: "They used to clock us. They used to watch us, and monitor our work. You only had so much time to go to the bathroom." Caring for her children at home, she said, "I am the boss here and I don't have to answer to anyone what I do all day. I don't have to ask to go to the bathroom. I can cook whatever I want. I can do the wash when I want to." Yet with a husband working at two jobs so she could stay home, she felt unfree there as well. Once he arrived home to find her taking a nap: "I heard the door shut and I jumped up. As though He'd caught me...I feel guilty if I do something strictly for myself, because I think sometimes just being here is a luxury."2 [Emphasis mine.]
Raise your hand with me if you can relate to feeling "caught" if your husband walks in from work while you're napping.

Source: stock.xchng
I see those hands.

Perhaps, if you're taking a nap, it's because you are exhausted from doing the work which is never done, whether it be cleaning house, cooking, doing laundry, or having been up half the night with a sick child or fussy baby. And, if you work outside the home or work at home for a source of family income in addition to these responsibilities, you not only need a nap, you DESERVE one!

As women of faith, however, it may be wise to step aside once in awhile and prayerfully discern whether or not all we do is really necessary. Are our priorities clear and in order, or can we let some things go?

For example, in regard to the added burden of creating income, can you make do with less rather than make more money? In regard to keeping house, are there chores which may be done less efficiently in the short term or which may not be necessary to do at all?

And, though the work is never done, are there others in the family or community who might shoulder some of the burden of running the household or caring for the little ones?

Only you can answer these questions for your own household. But, if you know Christ, you have an ever present help in solving these dilemmas which are unique to every housewife and mother:

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." (Proverbs 3:5, 6)