The Domestic Goddess Is A Feminist

I am on the outrage bus at today’s article in The Daily Mail and the Mumsnet nazis are chipping in too, nodding furiously, and telling us to grab your pinny girls, keep the home fires burning, and raise your children. Don’t work, don’t have a career. Husbandry (why is it called that again?), child rearing is a career, and this is where we really belong.

But, it’s black and white – have job, and destroy your children’s lives, or, be a housewife, and nurture, cherish them and you won’t ruin their lives. These are your only two options. But, I disagree, we could perhaps forge our own path, and take charge of our own destiny. We could create genuinely, flexible, working opportunities to enable us to retain some independence over our lives.

It has taken me a long time to find this path, but I have found a genuinely flexible working environment, which enables me to be there for my children and earn money. To be honest, I haven’t even finished building my flexible empire. Cath Kidston who emulates the domestic idealism, to which we are all supposed to aspire, is clearly not a stay at home mum, but an entrepreneur, who is building a financially strong, business empire of her own!

Life doesn’t stop when you have children. Yes, you juggle more and yes, you have to be flexible to ensure there is a balance between meeting their needs and your own needs. It is a choice, but it doesn’t have to be one, or the other. I would like to think that we are a community where we can help women balance both, their intellectual needs, and their domestic responsibilities. I love my children, and I love being with them, but they do not nourish me intellectually. As an independent, free thinking, woman, I need more stimulation than the endless repetition of domesticity, and the incarceration that being bound by this duty entails.

This challenge of how do women balance their lives is not as a black and white, as career, or housewife. It is not one, or the other. The world is a dynamic, evolving place, and we are no longer bound by operating hours within the constraints of 9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday. We need to adjust how we think, and only then can we achieve genuine liberation. The domestic goddess is a feminist, she outsources her housework, and mundane chores, raises her children, and runs her own business, so that she can have genuine flexibility.

The blissfully happy, stay-at-home mums, lead a privileged existence because they can afford to stay-at-home, even with their alleged frugal living, (pah! It’s probably cheaper to holiday abroad then it is to holiday in delightful Kent and Scotland!) so their faithful, employed husbands are not drinking, or swinging their fists, or withholding their housekeeping. They happily give them direct access into the family coffers, and they are handing over their pension too, are they? What happens when he leaves her for a younger model, or they become another divorce statistic, and she is fighting for child support, where does that leave the idealism of the home maker. Women need to protect themselves, and their children, because if you find yourself alone without an income, and without a Prince Charming, then what?

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33 thoughts on “The Domestic Goddess Is A Feminist

  1. Let me use the analogy of when it all goes awry on an airplane – you are advised to give yourself oxygen first before giving it to your children. The way I see it, is that in any relationship, whether it be with husband, children, other family members or friends – is that it’s far more important to be genuinely fulfilled, to be self-sufficient and be truly happy. That’s how anyone would want their children to be, as grown ups, surely? That’s the shining example, everyone should set. And, yes – being a domestic divine means leveraging happiness in every area of your life and not JUST doing the things that you think will make other people happy. Silly old Daily Mail – they only say these things for attention. Great blog BTW!

  2. I went back to college when I divorced becasue becoming a teacher was the one thing that I could fit around my son. Can you imagine me in lectures reading child rearing books all about SAHM!! I have seen what happens to women who devote their lives to their children. When the children are ready to fly they either dont out of guilt or they do & mum is left bereft!
    My first MiL never got over her only son leaving her when we got married!!

  3. I am a stay-at -home Mum of 4, two away at boarding school, every time I have tried to go back to work it has coincided with a posting overseas, back to UK, pregnancy and Op deployments! so I have decided not to bother – for now. I used to teach but the thought of re-entering the profession scares me stupid as I don’t think I could do it nor am I sure I want to do it. I know that if I had wanted to keep my career as a teacher I probably wouldn’t be married as happily as I am now as both of us would have had to compromise and I’m not sure about that either. I don’t bake cakes, I loathe housework but I enjoy my baby son and I like picking up my youngest daughter from school. My mind is not stretched on a day to day basis regularly but at the moment this is my “lot” and I am doing my best to enjoy it. I chat to friends and family who juggle full-time work and family and they are so stressed out, that I have no desire to join that club. So who will employ a woman in her early 40’s who can work 10-2 and needs every 3rd Friday off to collect older children from school, who was last in the workplace in 1997?

  4. I am the product of a family that could not afford for my mother to stay at home… can’t say it did me much harm (although others may dispute that).

  5. Flexible working and working from home are the way forward for me. I’m technically a stay-at-home mum, I guess, but it was never because that was my dream or because my husband was rolling in it and we could easily afford it. We couldn’t afford the childcare if I DID work and I was wanting to start a new career anyway, one that could be done from home, so that’s what we went with. It’s been a tough gig, that’s for sure, but I’m certain that working full time would be as well, no doubt.

    I wrote about the same article over at my site. πŸ™‚

    • I don’t think any of the choices are easy – especially as we get older and tireder and those little ankle biters suck the living life force out of us! I need intellectual stimulation on some level, plus I need the cash too!

  6. I’ve been working for myself for over 19 years or so! WOW! Didn’t realise it was that long. One thing I’ve realised – being women we will always feel guilty. We are guilty the moment we conceive and we continue to remain guilty for the rest of our lives as Mothers. I have experienced guilt that I’m short-changing my children whilst I work, and I’ve experienced guilt that I’m short-changing my clients. Swings and roundabouts. But at least I’m the one in charge of the timetable and I control the balancing act!

    • And also Vix, you know that you are able to support yourself and your family, when others let you down! I don’t have guilt. My mother died, and I grew into an adult and survived. I love my kids, I am alive and here for them and I know that I can give them all so much more than I can dead. It’s better than nothing and therefore, I feel no guilt because I am here and I doing my best. It’s all I can do.

  7. There was another version of this in one of the Sunday magazines…another selection of folk who wasted their parents and taxpayers money at University, and the place which could have been taken by someone who was going to use that education in the manner for which it was intended. Its all very well saying you are using your education to teach your children, but you can’t really say that modern languages or English or whatever degrees equip you to do that any more than someone who never went into higher education, chooses to be a career mum (a choice which I have no problem with, incidentally) and does a great job at it anyway. I can understand the situation where it is not feasible to go back to work as the childcare costs would be more than the wage earned, or the satisfaction gained…..and I know people in this position who intend to go back once the kids go to school and it becomes manageable. This is very different to making a choice to give up all that you have previously worked for, and all that you are outside your role as wife/mother/homemaker, or whatever the term of the moment is…..OK, maybe there are women out there (and maybe men too?) who do find immense satisfaction at devoting themselves to their children, but I would bet that there are more who would go back if life was flexible enough to make it workable, as suggested in the blog post. I would prefer to work four days a week. Its not possible with my job, so I either work full time, or not at all. Mini Homer goes to full time nursery, and has come on in unimaginable leaps and bounds with all the challenges and fun stuff he does there. In the evenings and weekends, we do things together and I am certain he is not insecure or damaged by the arrangement, but that he still has a deep attachment to his parents and can show independence by dashing off into the room at nursery with not a backward glance as he sees his friends. I get to go to work, have adult conversation that does not revolve around what new words, naughtiness, or food fads have developed in people’s kids this week…exercise my brain and feel useful to the wider community over and above my role at home. In turn that makes me less frustrated, and I am lucky enough to make enough money that it is still financially worthwhile even after paying the extortionate fees to the nursery. Maybe one day mini Homer will be proud of what Mummy does and respect the effort that goes into working and raising a family, instead of snidely blanketing all working mothers with supposed inferiority because they made a different choice than the Kidston mafia of the current media articles.

    • Obviously, I am with you sister!! Spread the word and the love!! It is about choice but we have to understand that if you give it all up for your man nowadays, or even in olden days, there is no guarantee that your man is going to give it all up for you! I am loving your contributions because I know from them that I am getting to the heart of the issues.

      • I did go off on one there didn’t I?! I got a bit carried away with indignation when I started writing….and yes, you are getting to the heart of the issues….I look forward to seeing a new post from you, as I know it will be thought provoking and relevant.

  8. Well. I’m one of those stay at home mom’s. But I’m also a realist and I know that things could fall apart between The Hubble and I at any time. However, I’m educated and determined and I will 1) have no problem getting my career going and 2) fight him tooth and nail for not only child support but also alimony. I’m not stupid. But I did choose to stay home with my daughter while she’s young. My husband gets a check deposited in OUR account and I am in charge of that money and let him know when and if he can spend money. He actually has an allowance. LOL!

    I do not agree that all women should be home raising children. And who’s to say if you stay home and raise your kids they won’t turn out to be serial killers anyway?? There are no guarantees!

    I also admire women who juggle a career and being a mother. You all are braver and better women than I.

    When my daughter starts going to school, I will go back to school as well. Get my Master’s degree then start my career. For now, I’m happy with the stay at home thing. πŸ™‚

    • I think it is a choice and I don’t think anyone should say that any of the circumstances are right, or wrong. Getting your hands on that pay cheque is a wise move. I think that we should never become complacent, because life is not that simple and I have seen it time and time again. Humans are devious, complex beasts and we need to be vigilant at all times and keep our wits about us – it’s a jungle out there!! πŸ˜‰

  9. Very interesting. My mother was a working mum in the 70’s and had aspersions cast upom her by the 90% of mothers around her who didn’t n went to coffee mornings etc. Hard to believe this prejudice is still going on. Who writes these articles and on what empirical psychological basis do they base their arguement? I would have thought the benefits of a nurturing, well-nourished and fulfilled working mum was obvious. Beyond the arguement of being financially prepared for whatever the future may hold, kids can thrive in a wider social context of family help and carers, as is the case in some other cultures, and our own previously. Since when did we have to be a self-sufficient family unit behind closed doors? Let the sunshine, and others who can enhance fsamily life in!
    I have spent many happy hours, months and years as an au pair and nanny. I have to say that both I and the children would always love our time together, and I was alwaus grateful for it. As was the mother who was off working or, god forbid, enjoying her holiday! (And yes – aren’t they neglectful mothers? was asked to me) I pointed out that there are MANY hours in the day before I arr at 9am and after I leave at 5 for mother and child bonding. And I can tell you, by 5pm I don’t know who wd be happiest – me because I was leaving, or mum because she was home!
    Part-time kids – works all round.

  10. Well put!

    I work full time not least because it fulfills me but because I need my own identity and my hard won career gives me that. Having work in my life makes me a better Mum because I’m not worn down by household monotony.

    I also work because, in an industry with few female role models, I want to show younger girls and hopefully my daughters that it is possible to combine a job and a family. Yes it’s hard but it is possible

    • And who said life was going to be easy. I learn this everyday but bring it on I say. I think you have to do what is right for you and if you believe in your own success then the world is your oyster. We should all celebrate our own sucess – it makes us stronger.

  11. I have two small children but I work. I work from home (not by choice but because we moved to London from NY and I wanted to keep my job). Sure it’s hard but I have to have something for myself and a steady income. My mother always taught us to be able to take care of ourselves no matter what. And she worked – she was a very successful woman, more successful than my father, she put four children through school, maintained her job and we are all the better for it. I never felt slighted or neglected and I hope to be the same role model for my children. I think that different things work for different women. People should just shut up with their ridiculous opinions and let us run the world (as we could do that and still have dinner on the table and kids bathed and put to bed on time). No problem!

    • Ha ha ha! Yes, I agree. The fact is we do run the world, we just haven’t taken the flag yet and made it known. But we will, when we are confident as gender to say ‘right, enough is enough!’ all of you greedy, power crazed, warring arseholes, unclench your fists, get on that naughty step and have a good think about what you have done and don’t do it again!! I am ready when you are! Plenty more rants where this one came from but softly, softly gently, gently, catchy monkey….

  12. I would just like to say that this attitude also applies to us childless types attempting to make our way in the world as a creature with bumps in their top, and not their trousers.

    • Absolutely – this is for the girls with, or without, the little ankle biters!! Please exhange mum, for wife, or woman! Although I know a few fellas that are sporting bumps in their tops and trousers! MOOBS!!

  13. really sensible and perspicacious post, Clare. Also I love the comments of Lyndsey. I TELL MY FEMALE PATIENTS THIS ALL THE TIME!!!!! It is so important to regard looking after yourself as the first part of looking after your family. But the guilt thing gets in the way so much. I think guilt is the single biggest reason for the wage difference between men and women. You can’t shame men into doing something they are not being paid for whereas women feel guilty and do it anyway (in general, obviously). The other key to female inconsistency is to ask them what they would be advising their daughter/son/mother/whoever if they had the same set of problems and you can bet your bottom dollar they wouldn’t be advising them to sacrifice themselves at all costs and yet we do this to ourselves. It’s bullshit and it must stop.

    • Firstly, I must compliment you on your exquisite use of the word perspicacious! Yes, we need to look after ourselves, which includes our brain muscle. But, I think women need the confidence in themselves to find the balance and also to understand that their is no easy answer, or easy option, every road is hard. Life is for living, every second of every day, not vicariously through others but for ourselves.

  14. I have been working since I was 18, and took the obligatory 6 months off when I had my son. It was back to work then, and for a brief couple of years after he started primary school, and I was forking out horrendous amounts for after-school club, I cut my hours so that I was home for him in the afternoons. Once he started at secondary school, I was back to a 40hr week – and I’m still there.

    My son is the most level-headed, conscientious, hard-working young man I know, getting fab grades, got excellent GCSE results and he’s on track to get 4 A* A Levels… all this considering his mum spent most of his life at work!! What a dreadful mother I am… πŸ™‚

    I can’t imagine not working – it’s even been said that were I to win the Lotto, I’d still be working – I think it’s important for my self-esteem, for starters!! Having said that, I don’t think anything less of women who choose to stay home and look after her children – we all know it’s a damn hard job!!

    • Absolutely, I just think we should stop demonising the working mum and turning the SAHM into angel of self-sacrifice. It’s about what works for you and your kids. Congratulations on turning out a hardworking, conscientious boy, soon to be man!! Any top tips you would like to share? I still am growing an errant atom!!

      • My top tip is “he’s a boy” – I’d like to think you want a man, not a mummy’s boy, so from a young age, I encouraged independence. If he could do it himself and not endanger himself, then he got to do it himself! Yes, we’ve had hairy moments – getting a phone call from the police after he crashed off his push-bike in spectacular fashion wasn’t fun – we ended up spending 6 hours in an A&E waiting room on a Friday night! However, he’s still alive, within days he had recovered from his aches and pains and best of all, he has another scar to add to his growing collection (first one gained at three after falling off a swing and earning himself a fabulous gravel burn on his face)! πŸ˜€

        I don’t know if it made a difference that he’s an only child, and yes, I’ll confess to spoiling him when he was younger, but he now knows the value of money, having started his first job last summer, as a lifeguard. I wanted to encourage getting a job that was also something useful (and it does help that I work at a health club where he could get a job once he qualified πŸ˜‰ ). In fact, even at 17, I still feel like it’s one big learning curve – there’s still plenty more to come, after all!!

        ~Wanders off to count her grey hairs, all earned from being the mother of a boy~ πŸ˜€

      • I am weening mine into independence but he’s fighting it tooth and nail. He’d be back in the womb if he had his choice! Yes, feet up. Thanks for adding me to your blogroll – I’ll pop over and have a browse when it’s less manic at my place. The offspring have returned!

  15. Pingback: Feminism Is Not A Dirty Word – It’s A Form Of Solidarity « Amodernmilitarymother's Blog

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