Social expectations: Why being a housewife isn’t necessarily a bad thing

The other week, we were doing introductions in one of my English classes, you know, the routine getting to know you questions; Name, major, winter break activity, social security number and career goal. Everyone went around and answered the questions. Some people said PR representative, writer, professor, routine English major stuff.

Then one girl took me completely by surprise when she said her dream job was to be a housewife and a mother. There was a noticeable pause in the rhythm and flow of the monotone when everyone simultaneously cocked their head as if to say “I can’t believe she said that out loud.”

Nowadays women are expected to manage it all. Receiving a top-notch education that lands them a dream career, a husband that works yet is always there to sympathize and help with housework, the children who behave perfectly and a spit spot home, not to mention having to be fantastic between the sheets.

I have to confess – I’m hoping to have it all one day and I’m sure many other girls my age do as well. I’m a bit more career focused at the moment since I’m at the young age of 21, and  I feel that weddings and babies and all that ‘grown-up stuff’ is still a bit away.

However, with graduation barely a year away, I’m definitely focusing on the career portion of my life. I carefully select my extracurricular activities, I make useful connections at work and I strive to create a strong portfolio that will come to help with future employment.

But the concept of being a housewife was once a very common, expected idea. And honestly, why shouldn’t it be? If that’s what you want to do, you should be able to say that you want to be a wife and mother without having someone judging your choices.

My mother stayed at home with me and my sister. Incessantly, she mends broken hearts, cooks fantastic meals, tutors on subjects that we’re struggling in and keeps the house from looking like a disaster zone.

She had to give up her career goals when I was born, simply because no one can raise your children like you can and in the early 90’s, the idea of a working mom was still a relatively new phenomenon. But, you know what? She worked ten times as hard as any working mom I know to make sure I had a perfect childhood.

Now, I am not saying that working moms can’t do that. I think it’s fantastic to balance family life with having a career. With modern technology helping to keep tabs on everything from baby fevers to the stock trends of baby boomers, it’s become expected of women to be super-mom, all while managing a strong career.

If you’re not looking into having a career, you’re looked at differently, as though you’re this weird anomaly. The general trend of thought seems to be that the desire to be a wife and mother is very 1950’s and anti-feminist. Why does it have to be like that?

The career mom/wife and the stay at home mom/wife each have their own challenges and triumphs. It does not make you any less a woman if you choose to work and it shouldn’t make you any less of a feminist if you want to stay at home and run a household.

While working the other day, I had an elderly gentleman call me over and he told me “I hope you don’t mind me saying this and I know it’s taking a liberty, but I wanted to tell you that you’re going to make some man very happy one day. You’re intelligent, very kind and have a lovely personality. You’re going to be a great wife and whoever gets to marry you is lucky.”

I thanked him and came away from that conversation with mixed emotions. I felt complimented, but I still had to take a moment to justify feeling good about a compliment about being a good wife. After thinking on it, I thought why shouldn’t it make me feel good? I mean, I certainly hope I’ll be a good wife and not a bad one and I definitely want to have a great career.

No one should feel obligated to be pushed in either direction. In the end, it all comes down to what’s right for you and which path you want to take. Some women want careers, others want a family and others want both. No one should tell you what to do- after all, it’s YOUR life! Go out there and conquer it in a frilly apron, a sharp cut business suit or whatever the heck you feel like wearing while rocking your life!