Thursday, 27 September 2012

So you're a housewife?

Women today can work if they want to, there's plenty job opportunities and much more options out there in the world for us than our foremothers ever even dreamed of, thank god. The 21st century Ideal Woman, therefore, is in heels and suit, a CEO maybe, for whom marriage and children are no more pressing concerns, who if she wants, can tackle nurturing babies and looking beautiful and still get back to that board meeting at 9am.

The housewife is a thing of the previous world - she stays at home and looks after the kids, while the husband goes out hunting and brings home the bacon. And I don't know about you, but where I come from, housewives are looked on as exactly that - as remnants of some outdated trend, and they are often even viewed as uneducated, unmotivated, ambitionless and not deserving the same respect a working woman gets. I mean, what do they do? someone would say. Just sit around at home ironing shirts and meaninglessly whiling away the time.

I, however, think housewives are awesome.
They're not glorified maids - they do a lot more than just cook and clean, they're caretakers

Now, I'd never be one. Firstly, my ironing is average at best, I'm too much of a sloth to cook for anyone, and when I see used diapers dramatic horror music in the style of violins plays in my head. I have trouble properly taking care of myself much less anyone else. Plus I can imagine the reaction from the family if I stated housewivery as the whole of my ambition - I KNEW I SMELLED SOMETHING FUNNY IN YOUR ROOM, YOU'RE DOING DRUGS AREN'T YOU?!

Secondly, I'm obviously not for the idea of forcing a woman to get married and stay at home. But when a woman chooses a housewife's lifestyle of her own accord, I think it's admirable.

Being a housewife is not easy. It's not meaningless either. I don't know how it works in all households, but I've seen a few housewives in my time and their lives are full of hard work, dedication and patience - sometimes even more so than any working woman I've met.

Let's follow this fictional account of the life of the typical efficient housewife, who wakes up at 6 in the morning on a weekday. She cooks for the family, she gets ready their clothes, she kisses them each before they leave home. She then proceeds to clean the house from one end to the next, sweep the floors, mop the kitchen, wipe down the tables and mirrors. She checks the mail, gets the bills in order, makes phone calls about things that need fixing, has a quick lunch. She has to prepare dinner for visitors, she drives to the supermarket to get the groceries, she drops the clothes in the washing machine while the chicken boils, she reads the papers while the clothes dry. She checks on the baby, feeds it, changes it, straps it in the back of the car. She drives to school to pick up the kid, she goes to see the other one play his first tournament, then she stops at the supermarket to recharge her teenager's phone. She guides the gardener to re-do the backyard, she gets the plumber to fix the leak, she rearranges the library in the study. She collects the dried clothes in a basket, she makes tea for the evening, checks her emails, rocks the crying baby to sleep. Quickly takes a shower and gets ready for dinner, she manages to look nice for her family, and manages to churn out an excellent meal. She entertains the guests, she puts the dishes in the washer, she checks on the children, pep talks and homework help, she's a disciplinarian and a teacher, gets them to wash up for bed, tucks them in. Joins the husband in bed, who's spent 9 to 5 in a leather chair in an air-conditioned room, talks to him about his day, helps him with his project concept. She falls asleep at only 2am, has four hours of sleep before it all starts again.

So what you might have noticed about this housewife, and probably the reason why her kind is a dying species, is that she serves. All through the day, she is giving, to her children, her husband, her house, to people who visit her home. Although she is in control of the household, she is doing less for herself and more for others - it's sacrifice. And women everywhere have now realized that they no longer have to sacrifice anything for anyone, that they don't need to serve, that they can be as self-serving as men have the opportunity to be.

While it's great that women don't have to be so self sacrificing anymore, I find women (or men for that matter) who choose to make a lifestyle sacrifice, out of love, in order to provide happiness for others - extremely admirable. In a world that has increasingly put such a great value on notions of self-interest, self-serving and every-man-for-himself in this rat-race, I think it's beautiful that someone would choose to be at home to watch over their child all day, not wanting to miss a moment of his life, or spend time and energy and creativity in producing amazing meals for the people she loves, or making the house perfect just so her family can enjoy it - it's beautiful that some people want to dedicate their lives to the happiness of the people they love. In the 21st century especially, you don't always need a degree or go to an office to be an educated person and to experience a full, passionate life of contentment.

Housewives are unsung heroes, who slave away all day (I have an aunt whose life is almost identical to the one I've narrated above - she's one of the most intelligent, strongest and happiest women I know, and has accomplished nurturing her kids into amazingly disciplined trophy-winning all-rounders - I thought she'd have time on her hands and I said 'read this book' and she's like 'when? I never have any time!') receiving barely any appreciation, as their roles are so often taken for granted, and viewed in such reduced terms by most of modern society. So here's to yall. I wish I could be as selfless and hard-working as you. 

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