More to the housewife job than meets the eye
AS I’VE always gone out to work, I’ve never described myself on a form as a housewife. Even when I took five years out to be at home with Fisher Junior. I didn’t marry a house and I’ve never felt wedded to chores.
According to the Oxford English dictionary, a housewife is a ‘married woman whose main occupation is caring for her family, managing household affairs and doing housework: the traditional division of labour between the husband as breadwinner and wife as housewife’.
Two thirds of women questioned by Mothercare who had given up work said they detested the term, while a third of the 2,000 mothers thought it insulting and preferred the title ‘stay-at-home mum’.
The conventional roles have, of course, been turned upside down with changes like civil partnerships and parents working from home. The research reminded us that a stay-athome parent who is caring for a family will not just be dusting shelves or shining windows but will be using many skills, from accountancy and driving to cooking and nursing.
A more modern definition in The Urban Dictionary describes a housewife as a ‘woman who stays home to take care of the house, the kids, the husband and the pets. She works up a sweat, has anxiety attacks and bursts into tears when a two-year-old says no for the hundredth time that day, after having to pick up dog mess. She receives no thanks from anyone and gets no pay cheque.’ Hmm.
I don’t think we should deride the role of what was formerly called a ‘housewife’. We should big it up. It’s a huge job which requires powers of diplomacy, negotiation skills and most importantly, team work.
This would look good on any CV wouldn’t it?
Googling housewife for this piece was in itself an education. My search threw up a variety of options such as ‘housewife hottie’. By contrast, a ‘housewife’ is apparently also the name of a small case for needles, thread, and other small sewing items. Oh dear…
Bad news for Mr F – HP sauce sales are on the decline. He considers himself a bit of a taste toff, but he’s long been a fan of what one commentator describes as ‘an unholy trinity of brutal sweetness, acrid spiciness and a vinegary twang’. A bit like him really!
Email me at bmailbarbara@gmail. com or catch up at www. getwestlondon.co.uk/authors/ barbara-fisher/.