The Return of the housewife, the 2008 model

The past 4 years I have spent a lot of time online, in part getting pregnant with mini-me and having no Mom to lean on and being out of practice with the baby thing, I immediately took to researching all I could about having a baby. (you’d have thought I had never done it before, granted having a baby in your 30’s is a whole lot different than having one at 19)

During the course of my pregnancy I researched the merits of vaccines and whether or not we should get them, diapers, cloth versus disposable and a whole array of things. Now I will say that this second go around on the mommy ride I did make some different changes, used a midwife rather than OB, actually used cloth diapers though I will admit it was only because I found an environmentally friendly diaper service (sorry but cleaning shit nearly made me stop eating when I tried). Turned out having a baby these days is definitely different this second time around.

However one of the more interesting things I have stumbled on both online and in my day to day life was what looks like the return of homemaking, new millennium style. The past couple of years I have met more and more women, primarily white women but some of the sistas are there too, who take the task of being home with the kids seriously. I’m not just talking cleaning and cooking. I am talking making everything from scratch, I have met and know women personally who don’t just clean but they even make the cleaning materials, soap and shit from scratch. Then there are the hardcore Mamas who plan on homeschooling or are already homeschooling… now I will be honest I find the idea of homeschooling attractive yet I suspect that my introverted aka give me space personality coupled with mini-me’s very extroverted personality might not make us candidates for homeschooling. Though right now I am doing some initial learning about it since my real basis for seriously considering homeschooling is that I am concerned how mini me will do in a predominantly white school. However school is a couple years off for now.

No, today’s housewife looks nothing like the Mama I grew up with, my Mom cooked, even cooked from scratch but it wasn’t her passion or bliss. She even sewed like many of today’s Mama’s but it was a hobby, she didn’t make all our clothes from scratch. Me, I can’t sew to save my life, lets just say I didn’t get the handiwork gene at all, sadly a sista barely can sew a button on a shirt. I tried to learn to knit a few years ago but gave up after spending gobs of money on materials.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not bashing these women, shit, part of me is in awe since while anyone who knows me will tell you I am a good cook, as my Pops would say I cam throw down in the kitchen and the spousal unit’s slowly expanding waist line could be a testament to my cooking. However I don’t love to cook, its just that living in Maine especially in a small town, its often easier to cook than go out to eat since there are whole categories of food I love but you won’t find in any local restaurants around these parts (hello, Mexican food).

Seriously though while I would never call myself a feminist, though my leanings are more womanist, I do wonder about the long term feasibility of being a housewife. Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband and I trust him but having been divorced and knowing that spouses can check out of life early, I have a strong desire to keep a foot in the work world. There is also the fact that I like working to some degree, not enough to show up every day at 8 am, but enough for the work I do. Plus the pesky fact that I owe a tad over a hundred grand for that pair of degrees I earned and I need to keep Sallie Mae at bay with some monthly cash and my payments are just high enough that expecting the spousal unit to cover them plus our house/family expenses might border on being a tad unfair.

Seems the 1950’s housewife was not really happy and I do wonder if this new millennium model is also happy. I also wonder about the inherent unfairness that keeps many Black women from embracing this model, then I wonder do we as Black women even want to embrace this model of womanhood?

Personally while I find some segments of modern homemaking exciting, I am not sure it feels like a step in the right direction for me, what about you? Do you want to tend the kids all day and being completely in charge of the house but doing everything yourself? If so what is the role of your partner in this? Is he/she reduced to being a paycheck or do they play an active part in this lifestyle as well. I ask because I also know women who are living like this but pissed that their partners are not respecting them.

Ok, Monday morning ramble over, time to drink more coffee and get to work.

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  1. September 22, 2008
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