In January there was the Women’s March. In March there was “A Day Without a Woman” for International Women’s Day. I want my daughters to live in a society in which they are respected and have equal opportunity to their male peers. Yet with this recent surge in feminist awareness, many times I still feel like a 1950s housewife. While it’s not all bad, it does give me pause sometimes.
When my husband and I began seriously dating, I was up front with him about my desire to have children and stay at home with them as they grew up. Fortunately, he also envisioned this for his future family.
After we got married, we began preparing for a baby — even though we weren’t ready to have one. We made decisions intending for me to become a stay-at-home parent. We drove economical (read: boring) cars and bought a cozy home in a town with a good school system.
The hardest decision we made came when I was offered an alluring (and lucrative) job promotion that would have required us to move halfway across the country. I was disappointed to turn it down, but I knew the job would not work for what I wanted longer term.
Meanwhile, my husband’s career flourished. He had an interesting job and was well respected in his line of work. He went back to school to get his master’s degree and completed it a year ahead of schedule. While I was turning down promotions, he was positioning to become the solid breadwinner of our family.
Now my career is focused on raising our daughters and keeping up our home. I recently found this blog post about becoming the ultimate housewife — allegedly according to a 1950s home economics textbook. As I was reading it, I realized I do most of the suggestions the author makes. I race through the house just before my husband gets home, putting toys and clutter away. I have a homemade dinner hot and ready on the table when he walks in from work. And I even open a beer for him for when he comes downstairs after changing out of his suit!
At first I chuckled to myself thinking of how I was cheerily on my way to becoming the ultimate housewife. Then I stopped. Am I teaching my daughters that a woman’s “natural” role is to stop working after she has a child? Am I modeling subservient behavior by making sure our house is tidy for my husband’s arrival and by serving him a prompt beer and hot dinner?
I want my girls to grow into confident, self-assured, and strong women. I want them to have the freedom to make life choices for what’s best for them. After all, I made the choice to stay at home to raise our children full time. Therefore, I consider myself a woman who took risks and made sacrifices toward achieving a very big goal. I hope I am modeling a woman — a mother — who is confident in her decision to stay home and is self-assured enough to know it’s what’s best for our family. I anticipate that one day our children will recognize and appreciate the sacrifices we have made in order to give them the somewhat-unique experience of being raised by a stay-at-home parent.
At times I might feel a little too much like June Cleaver, but I have an immensely supportive husband. He is unwaveringly appreciative and tells me as such. He backs me up on the decisions I make for our household and our children. We discuss finances as equals. He encourages me to take time for myself and never inquires how much money I spend to do so. He makes sure I am able to sleep in almost every Saturday and Sunday morning. Perhaps most importantly, he regularly discusses with our girls how hard I work and how lucky we are that I stay home with them.
It has been almost four years since I quit my career to become a stay-at-home parent. Most days I have zero regrets. I am proud that my husband and I have worked together in order for me to stay home with our children. I take great joy in our daughters and love engaging, playing, and learning with them throughout our days.
There might always be a little nagging voice in the back of my mind taunting me on my “ultimate housewife” status. But I don’t have time for that voice — I have to get dinner on the table.