Saturday, May 2, 2009

Another Blog and a Language Dilemma

I started reading stepford dreams, a blog that is written by a young woman in Australia. She put her legal career on hold to be a housewife. Being of the bra-burning era feminist persuasion, I was prepared to be derisive but found myself enjoying the wry wit. I guess the experience of homemaking is fairly universal (no matter what else complicates it), but that's what got me thinking about the language. I mean "homemaking," "housework," "child rearing," "parenting" -- these are all things that get done however one chooses to label oneself at various stages of life.
When I had my first teaching job I had two small children and a husband just out of the army who was going to start college. For a while, he was a "househusband," pretty rare at a time when women were almost embarrassed to be "just a housewife." Now, I know plenty of "stay at home moms" and "stay at home dads" but no "working moms" because that implies that those at home do not work. You have to explain earning an income if you're a woman but explain not earning a salary if you're a man
Some of the labels stay throughout our lives. I'll always be a parent. Some labels get added. I'm a grandparent now too. Some labels get modified. I'm a retired teacher. Some labels just never seem to fit though. I spend most of my time at home now doing traditional kinds of things like cooking and cleaning and gardening and sewing (and enjoying my home immensely!), but I never say I'm a "housewife." I just can't or don't or won't.

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