The following is a response to a reader’s criticism of housewives. I get lots of hate mail. A few days ago I was berated by a blog reader for wanting nothing more than to be an old-fashioned wife and mother. She said I should be ashamed of myself for encouraging dehumanizing views of woman. And I quote, “I guess you wouldn’t know of women’s real successes and challenges because you’re too busy being a subservient doormat.” Well this post is for you, Leah.
Let me start by saying that I am happy that you, Leah, and your friends are enjoying your corporate and Worldy successes. It was lovely hearing about how much joy you get out of how much money you make and interesting to hear that you don’t feel the need to place any importance on the men in your life. It sounds like a wonderful life for you.
However you should not make the mistake of assuming that women who choose to live as stay-at-home wives and mothers are somehow lesser people than you. I’m sure you have good reason for thinking it. Perhaps you are consulting a top-secret Chart of Domestic Hierarchy that I am not aware of and that’s on what you are basing your opinions, but I have to tell you. I think you are holding the chart upside down.
You see, there is no greater success than performing well your job as wife and/or mother. In fact, you can’t even begin to know what success feels like until you’ve given all of your heart, mind, body and soul to birthing and raising another human being. In my opinion, only when you’ve sacrificed your very existence, all of your time, and given that kind of commitment and done so without a hint of selfishness and with no expectation of personal gain can you ever experience that level of personal victory and success.
I don’t know. Maybe you feel the way you do because you are measuring success by your level of personal pride. Well, let me point out that the sense of pride of a homemaker is different. It doesn’t stem from achievements at the expense of others. It doesn’t arise out of competition for position. Our pride comes in learning new skills, in creating a comfortable, welcoming home, in sewing an outfit for our child. Our pride comes from knowing that our husband and children are proud and happy to bring their friends home. It’s in being there to watch our children in the school play (and bringing a plate of amazing home-made cookies for the bake sale.) We are proud to give of ourselves. Our pride is in knowing that at the end of the day, we’ve done well to be there for and to make the world a better place for our loved ones.
But as a rule, full-time homemakers don’t believe that success begins or ends at pride and personal achievement. Sure we have that too. We donate our time and energy to helping our communities, and some of us even have home-based businesses. (I happen to have three.) But what about humility? We are all called to find humility in our lifetimes. Certainly, finding joy in the mundane daily tasks of caring for a home and preparing meals for your family teach humility. Cleaning up vomit at 2 a.m. teaches humility. Getting up at 4:30 a.m. to make breakfast for your husband before he heads out to work teaches humility (especially after being up at 2 to clean vomit!) And yes. Most certainly, your “ass wiping” comment, falls under this too, but take note that we stay-at-home moms often learn humility in wiping the behinds and tears of other women’s children while we make ourselves available to care for them too, or else who would?
And then there’s those that measure success by love. It’s what this whole thing called life is about, right? It’s also the part of your post that makes me chuckle the most. I’m sure my friends will all laugh at your referring to me as a “subservient doormat.” They will laugh because they all, without exception, tell me all the time how they would kill to have a husband who treats them the way my husband treats me. You see, Leah, stepping back and allowing my husband to be King does not make me a doormat. It makes me a Queen. And I’m pretty sure that puts me at the top of the hierarchy.
Let me close by saying this. We were given Choice by God. There were also a lot of brave women who fought for a long time to secure rights for all women to have a say in how they live their lives. I’d hate to think that you believe yourself qualified to single-handedly take away those God-given rights, and I don’t believe that the women who led the feminist movement would approve of your words.
Last I checked, it is still my right to choose to live in a traditional marriage, just as it’s your right to choose not to, and we should each be able to live our lives without criticism and without contempt. If you do not wish to hear about women who choose to live like traditional 1950’s-style housewives, by all means, kindly don’t open and read blogs written about them. And if you do decide to read them, kindly mind your manners.