The other evening, I went out with some girl friends. From part time to full time, all of these amazing mothers are in the workforce, and almost all of them have a cocktail or glass of wine when they get home from work (I go for a hike first). This practice reminded me of how I envision the typical family of 1950s America, where the working father is greeted at the door by his lovely, stay-at-home wife with a cocktail. Sure, an alcoholic drink can be a good way to decompress from work and transition into home life; but I was more struck by how modern mothers do it all, cocktails and all!
Our grandmothers and mothers fought for equality. They fought to work outside the home. They fought for equal pay. They fought for equal value in society. In gaining all of that (or most of it), women took on extra responsibilities.
Now, not only are women working outside of the home, whether part or full time, but they are also homemakers. It is like having two full time jobs. Psychology Today explains:
The unpaid work of mothers is what Ann Crittenden calls the “dark matter” of our economy. Women’s work in the home is romanticized as a labor of love, its economic importance swept under the rug. Economists who include homemaking in the GDP have been called “potty chair” economists. How did the most important job in the world get trivialized?…
The Industrial Revolution altered women’s role in the family, and the family itself, by undermining the economic importance of domestic work. It emphasized individual wages over familial earnings and competitive self-interest over collective sensibility.
With the addition of women as equal partners in the work force, it seems that salaries have not kept up with inflation. Most families could not survive financially without both parents contributing income. Psychology aside, the 50s model of homemaker mom and working dad just isn’t realistic in today’s financial times.
Modern fathers have taken more homemaking and child rearing responsibilities than their 50s counterparts, but in my experience, mommies are still pulling the brunt of the work load. I am amazed by my friends, and the truth is we really don’t have much choice, although we have more options than our grandmothers. We must raise our kids, clean our house, and earn money. It’s life, and I’m not complaining.