This column is in response “I Don’t Want To Be A Housewife” published on November 18.
American women have options in today’s world. We can go to school, stay at home, become strippers, bloggers, lawyers, or doctors, and there’s a high likelihood we won’t encounter all that much resistance. Women before our generation fought to be heard and receive equal pay. I’m not saying that sexism is a thing of the past, or that feminism is some movement we can close the book on and our daughters will read about it like we read about suffragettes. I’m just pointing out that we have come a LONG way.
I’m grateful for those women. I’m grateful for their sacrifice, and for their endless endurance through everything they went through, both modern women, the women I read about growing up, and every woman in between.
I went to college and received my bachelor’s degree in four years. I work at a very fulfilling, decently paid job. I’ve experienced the satisfaction of a raise, and I sit in my own office when I hang my diploma proudly. I feel fulfilled at my job, and a lot of people in my generation can’t say that. I appreciate the job I have.
The column I’m responding to was filled with a lot of assumptions. While the author was obviously speaking for herself, and not women of our generation in general, the article really stuck out to me, and probed the nagging feeling I’ve had in my head since graduation: guilt.
As I sit here, writing this column with my diploma hanging on the wall in my office with a window, having just finished a large project for my company that received praise, I feel lucky. I’m lucky to be here, and I know that. I know.
I firmly believe that feminism is about equality, and by that I mean equal opportunities. I firmly believe that any woman can do any job that a man can do, and I support women who are offended by any person or institution that wants to tell them they can’t do something just because they’re a woman.
But I still dream of the day where I pack up my office, take down my diploma, and head home (for good) to raise my children. My daydreams don’t consist of a promotion, raise, or award. I want to be a housewife. My daydream is watching my child’s school play, or game, or whatever it is they want to be involved with, getting in my SUV, and driving to a suburban home in a nice neighborhood with good schools.
Does that mean I’m throwing everything away? All of my education? My parents’ hard work? MY hard work? Am I not self sufficient? If I don’t work, will I be letting my degree gather dust because I feel it is what society expects? After reading the recent article, I’ve finally come to terms with my feelings of guilt. I’m doing what everyone has said I should do from the beginning: following my dreams, as cliché as it may sound.
1. I’m Educated
I do not want to be some Betty Draper-esque housewife, trapped in a situation I’d rather not be in, because I don’t feel I have an escape. I will be able to help my kids with all of their homework, all the way through school (okay, I might have to review some of it…I haven’t studied the periodic table since junior year of high school). I can set an example. I pursued my education, believed in myself, but my dreams took me right there, to my kitchen table, helping my child with their homework. And if I don’t have the luxury of having a spouse that makes enough money for me to do that, that’s okay too. I can work, I’m educated.
I won’t be vacuuming and dusting to the sound of Kathie Lee and Hoda. I’m going to be raising money for my child’s school, or organizing a drive for underprivileged children’s school supplies, or helping underpaid and overworked teachers by making costumes for the school play. I can handle it, along with all the responsibilities of dusting and vacuuming, because I’m educated, and I’m confident I can do it.
2. I Enjoy Working
I enjoy my job. They pay me pretty well, and I feel appreciated. I don’t, however, feel any drive to continue this. What would make me happy is working hard to promote literacy or community involvement or whatever it is that drives me at that point in time. Maybe I will take on organizing my son’s baseball tournament. Remember all of those things non-working parents did when we were growing up? Those things will still need to be done, and there will be fewer parents with the free time to do it.
3. I’m Independent
If I pursue my dreams, I will be financially dependent on my future husband. There are very few ways to be a stay-at-home mom without a go-to-work dad. Do I need to have a go-to-work husband to survive? Absolutely not. I’m educated, I enjoy working, and if I drop into my husband’s office some day to find him nailing the intern on his desk, I don’t need him. Will it be a struggle? Sure. But will I have taught my children a valuable lesson, to not settle and work hard for what you want (a divorce)? You’re damn right I will have. I’m not afraid to depend on someone else, because I don’t have to.
4. I’m Not Ready For Children
Someday, I want children. Someday, I don’t want to work. I’m not ready, right now, to stop drinking wine on Sunday afternoons. I’m waiting until my living situation, or financial situation, or whatever stands in the way to be resolved until I’m ready for children. Very few people dream of leaving for college at 14 years old, and I don’t dream of having children for a while. There’s a right time for everything. I’m not ready for them now, but I know what I want when the time comes.
5. It Would Make Me Happy
It’s what I want. If I’m lucky enough to have the financial, emotional, and relationship stability for it, I want to be a housewife.
Women fought for equal opportunity. I’m grateful. If I choose to be a housewife, I don’t think I should feel guilty about that. It won’t be because I’m not educated, because I’m afraid of pursuing a career, because I feel some kind of pressure by society to stay at home, or because I’m not independent. It will be because that’s what I want, and because I am educated, hard-working and independent, I’ll make a damn good one.