I’ve known wives and mothers whose ages span from the Silent Generation to the younger Millennials. Having thought about the ways in which they handled the “stay at home mom question”, I’ve realized a few things. Bear with me.
The ladies I’ve met from the Silent Generation, the generation between the Greatest and the Boomers, were all stay at home moms. They worked hard – the image of the mom sitting, watching TV, and eating chocolates while their kids went to public school couldn’t be further from the truth. These mothers ran the school boards, got heavily involved with church functions, and formed ladies clubs. These clubs were integral toward running a healthy and close knit community.
These women organized community events to build up societal cohesion and trust. They organized charity auctions and dinners to help those in the community that needed it. Older women taught classes for younger women on useful skills such as knitting, sewing, cooking, first aid, gardening, caring for animals, canning, and even sex ed. They ran farmer’s markets, hosted baby showers, and cooked a ridiculous amount of casseroles for local mothers who had just given birth, or local families who had just lost a loved one. The stay at home moms of the Silent Generation had a purpose in addition to raising children, and that purpose was bringing local women together in a practical and productive way.
As the years passed by and children grew older, women contributed more to these groups, and to their church, as they had more free time. Once their children were fully grown, these women devoted their time to their grandchildren and their community, never losing purpose.
The Boomer moms I’ve known strayed from this. Once their children reached school age, free time was spent either as the stereotypical bored housewife, or in careers. Many that stayed at home ended up on prescription drugs, and let their kids be raised by MTV. Once their children were grown, they washed their hands of them. Their job was done, as I’ve heard so many say, so free time was devoted to careers, travel, or buying useless things.
By the time the Gen X women I’ve known became mothers the tradition of ladies clubs had been lost. It never crossed their minds to do something like this because it just wasn’t something people did. Some pursued careers instead. The stay at home moms filled their time with catering to their children’s every need and want. It was imperative to make sure that their children never had to lift a finger. As the children of Gen Xers reach adulthood, they’re only just learning how to do laundry or cook a simple meal.
Once faced with an “empty nest”, some of these women move away to nicer areas. Some get a job for the first time in a decade or two. Some become addicted to shopping or travel. They carry Gucci bags, go to brunches with bottomless mimosas, and gush about frequent vacations. Instead of spending more time with family, these grandmothers stay home and watch Real Housewives.
Millennial women, like myself, have been told our whole lives that we must have careers. We must prove ourselves equal to men by becoming CEOs and lawyers. Everything else is secondary to this, even motherhood. Many of us are putting off having kids, or electing to write it off entirely. Some are having kids, then immediately handing them off to be raised by daycare until it’s time to send them to public school. Some have no choice, of course. Cost of living rising and wages stagnating force us into this anyway.
We have an image in our minds of the bored housewife. Working Millennial moms often refer to stay at home moms as lazy, leeches, or gold diggers. If we’re not contributing financially to our household, we’re considered useless. Even many of us who don’t say these things still say: “What does a stay at home mom even do all day??? I’d be so bored!” or “When my mom’s kids grew up, she had no purpose in life anymore. I don’t want that! I have to have a career.”
Women are not meant to become lesser men by pursuing masculine careers. Most of you who are reading this know that. But stay at home moms are also not meant to completely check out of our local communities. Women are social creatures. Part of our job is to bring communities together, organize, and teach. We are meant to be the glue that holds it all together, and we’ve lost that.
Forgive me for the rambling mess this has turned out to be. I’ll end this with a simple message:
Let’s bring back ladies clubs and make stay at home moms great again.