Recently, I read an article which had at the heart of its subject matter the real reason "your" wife doesn't want to work, or return to work, or something akin to that. Being happily part of that not-working for pay demographic, I was curious as to what someone else thought of such a choice. The crux of the article was a non-working housewife was an indolent brat of a woman, spoiled, selfish, and with what amounted to unresolved daddy issues, or whatever the "pop" psychologist lingo is today. The article, it should be noted, was by a female psychologist. It recommended the man force the wife to return to work, and that would build self-esteem and reduce stress. I gathered from the language and attitude of the woman that not being employed was bad for mental health and put undue burden on the shoulders of the male mate. I gathered that she was disgusted by women who did not have jobs, and those women were of lesser stature and importance, and should be treated as nasty little children and be forced to earn a paycheck instead of lollygagging around the house all day. It was even said that these particular types of housewives were often to lazy to prepare meals, and asks the question, "how many nights a week do you come home from work to take-out food?"
As it was meant to do, it inflamed me to a red-cheeked huff, and I almost responded with a barrage of posts about how degrading and off-base the piece was, how happy I was, how hard I worked, and how I cook every single meal we eat, etc. But, instead, I had a private discussion with a dear friend, and satisfied my need to be right, and then shared it with my husband, who could not fathom that a real working, decent family man would want to see his loving wife slaving away at a job that sucked the soul out of her. And that was about that. Once the fervor of the blazing rage dissipated, I thought about the story in a more level-headed manner.
I tried to imagine my life if I chose to hold employment out of the house:
I saw myself rising early in the day, in the dark, often. With precious little time, grab a Pop-Tart and one measly cup of coffee as I rush out of the house.
I am no early riser. I start my day when it is time, I do my crossword puzzle, and learn something every day, some tidbit unknown to me from the day before. I sip coffee and munch on breakfast, and kiss my daughter goodbye as she heads for the bus stop.
I saw me tired, fighting my way through throngs of humanity, either in traffic, on a bus, or shuffling about the streets to a nameless, featureless building, sitting for hours doing meaningless tasks with no room for creative thinking or learning opportunities.
I am no lover of monotony, or throngs, or enclosed boxes of recycled air to breathe. I need trees and green and long walks in the open, I need activity and variety, nuance and noticeables.
I saw as I dragged myself home, once again in the twilight, fog-brained, dreading the thought of coming home to stacks of dishes, meal prep, laundry, and child and animal care. I could feel anger and resentment just bubbling up enough to sour my stomach. I would decide to just stop at a burger joint, to save myself from a couple of hours of hard work.
I am not into fast food, nor the horrid effects it has on the body. I do not care for boxed food, either, and prefer to do everything lovingly from scratch, and yes, it is very time-consuming. If I had a pay job, I would have never learned to make Baba's special Easter Paska, and that beautiful masterpiece would have been lost forever to time. I could not have spent entire days making seven layer cookies at Christmas, nor could I have invented an amazing stew recipe.
I saw my cluttered house, my mouthy, detached kid yakking on her cell phone, using profanity and vulgar language. I can see the homework not done, and the last test was a D. I would love to help, and throttle her, and act as a parent, but by this time, exhaustion has settled in, and I do not wish to exert anymore effort. I throw the burger and fries on the table and collapse onto the couch, too tired to even eat. I see my husband, camped out in front of the tv, also tired and grouchy from a long day of work. I would like to love this man again, but so much got in the way over the years. All inside has gone blank, as I face yet more of the same day upon day.
What love could thrive in such an environment?
I am no worker. The life I mapped out for myself gives me plenty to do, but I do it for love. I love what I do. The dishes get done because I love the satisfaction of the empty sink. The laundry gets folded an put away because I love seeing my family in clean clothes. Every meal is carefully thought through and executed with a deft touch only years of practice could bring. I take joy in every new creation, I craft and I garden, I walk far and I see new things each day and I have room in my brain to store the wonders of the world to share with others. I write and play guitar and dance in the private moments and paint.
So, if I am spoiled, and if I am selfish, or even indolent, I count my blessings that I found a man to love me for being so, a man who fosters my love of time to just be what I love. Maybe being a pampered woman is not so bad a thing. Because I am well cared for, I can give back all the care I get, and still have room to live my way. The man of the house allows happiness to be part of my daily routine, and that, too, lessens stress, for a happy woman is a productive woman, a woman who does not mind doing work for her family, of caring for her charge.
Both sides of this debate have their fierce defenders. I can speak only for my own mind, my own feelings. I chose a domestic life, and for me, I chose wisely.
For I cannot imagine a life without home-made apple pies.