I woke up this morning pondering how I became a housewife. Six years ago today, before I got pregnant and ended up as a single mother starting college, I would have laughed in your face if you even suggested I’d be where I am now. Even the identity of my future husband, who was actually an ex boyfriend to me at the time, would have been wildly amusing.
These days I stay home with our two children (he’s adopting the oldest) and try to keep the house relatively clean. At the same time, I’m pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and attempting to study British Traditional Witchcraft in what little time I have to spare. Ultimately, while all the rest of this is going on, I’m trying to pursue my passion for writing and eventually I hope to find a way to get paid for it.
As my life unfolds before me, I am becoming aware of a deep-seated and long ignored problem that has faced women in this country for generations. Once upon a time I may have called myself a feminist, reading magazine articles about Riot Grrls and cheering for equal rights. For a short time, in my late teens and early adulthood, I absorbed my father’s conservative thinking and scoffed at women who bitched about fair pay for equal work and glass ceilings and the like. Finally, I’ve settled somewhere in between. I don’t believe that women are being actively oppressed, or that my gender is an excuse to throw up my hands and start mourning. At the same time, I can’t deny that the work I do on a daily basis reaps no financial benefits for my family. When my husband sometimes tries to imply that I “get to” stay home all day with the kids while he’s working, it really pisses me off that he’s looking at this as if it were a permanent day off.
Now I realize that life is about balance, but I still feel this overwhelming sense of unfairness when I look at our financial situation. My husband works 40 hours a week and brings home a paycheck to support our family, and to keep a roof over our heads. I’m sure every wife in the history of America has heard these lines. It’s true, he does work hard.
But taking care of two young children (and a puppy, who is like a child with claws and fangs) is also hard work: hard work that you don’t get paid for. Cleaning the living room and wiping a few asses is not going to pay the mortgage or the credit card bills. All the young couples I know (most of whom are having their first child now) have been playing the “American Dream” game, transferring impossible debts from one credit card to another and taking out personal loans to keep from going under. All the while we’re each wondering why working hard and raising a family is not enough to keep the bills paid and our marriages stable.
Has this country changed so much? I’m not quite 30, so I don’t really have memories of a time when gas, cigarettes, and coffee cost less than a dollar each. I never walked to school uphill both ways in five feet of snow or worried about communists infiltrating our country to steal our secrets and destroy Democracy. We have new fears now, and new prices for everything. Sometimes it feels like the beginning of the end.
I hope you enjoy my new blog. Somehow the story of my life seems awfully trivial at times, but I’ll be damned if the trauma doesn’t sometimes cross over into hilarity.
That is all.