Working Women and House Pride

I am struck by the reality of a working woman’s hours being so diminished by earning a living that there is no time left for the house. I remember when “houseproud” was a positive word.   Now the whole idea seems to have vanished along with cooking meals, having the family sit down for dinner without the TV on, a time set aside for daily and weekly chores where the entire family was required to participate.    Taking care of your house was in the same category as taking care of your personal cleanliness.   I remember having a conversation some years ago about Women’s Liberation with a friend who had chosen to stay at home.    Her husband was a physician and earned enough money so  that for her having to go to work was not necessary.    She said to me “if everyone works, who does the laundry, the house cleaning, organization, etc?     A good question.     Who does these things now?

For the working poor woman the housework just does not get done.    The laundry piles up, the house is in disarray, the cooking is whatever fast dinners she can put together on a limited budget.   There is not enough money in the budget to allow for a cleaning lady or someone to do the laundry.     Looking at the checkbook, one has to decide, who gets paid this month:the health insurance, the car insurance, the plumber  or the mechanic?    Overwhelming to say the least.     Who teaches and models the behaviors and habits needed to teach the children that everything is not a throwaway, including the house, the clothes, the food?  

Some would say this is about choices?    Perhaps.   I could go on and on about how we are indoctrinated by corporations  to want more than we can afford and certainly to  buy  things we don’t need.    For sure now there seems to be little choice about going to work.   Few women have the choice any longer to stay home  and even fewer have a choice about having a career and also paid help in the home.

There are fond memories of my childhood helping my mother do the laundry, cooking enough meals for the entire week and canning and freezing food and even a time when my brother and I wheeled our laundry to the local laundromat once a week while my mother worked the night shift at a local hospital to pay the bills.   Some of this was about choices, some was that the dollar was worth a lot more than it is now.    Some was about a value of not being entitled to things we could not afford or that our parents owed us anything other than a safety net and kindness.   


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