100 Days to a Happy Housewife 5: Thoughts

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Thumbnail image for HappyHousewife.jpgNow that we're a few days in to my 100 Days to a Happy Housewife project, it seems a good time for a few more thoughts about why it is I'm doing this.

To begin: though I poke fun at my pre-project housekeeping, my house has never been a disaster. Between the two of us, Mark and I keep our house at a cleanliness level that, while certainly not mid-century housewife worthy, isn't too bad. The dishes and laundry get done, the cat boxes get scooped, the floors get vacuumed. Occasionally we dust or mop or go crazy like that. This project isn't about teaching me not be a slob. At least, not for the most part. If I were just interested in learning to be a better housekeeper, I'd join Flylady, or at least use up-to-date resources.

I'm also not a housekeeping ingénue. I was a raised by a very good housewife, even though she had a job outside the home for the majority of my childhood. There are never dishes stacked on the counter at my mother's house, nor does dust lie long on the floor. When she didn't work outside the home, she mopped the floor every day, with a heavy-duty mop and a bucket of hot water and ammonia. I remember waking up on Saturday mornings to her playing albums and dusting. She also believed in chores: I started being responsible for the dinner dishes every evening at about ten, folding the family's laundry soon after, etc. And I still do those things exactly the way my mother taught me (much to Mark's chagrin, as he has a fundamental disagreement with the way I fold towels).

So why do this? Well, partially for the reasons I already outlined--it's an interesting project that's difficult enough to mean something but doable enough to commit to for 100 days that may positively impact my life. There's more to it than that, though. After all, there are people all over the web with blogs dedicated to housekeeping, some to retro-inspired housekeeping (50s Housewife, The Helpful Housewife, Destination 1940, The Apron Revolution, The Vintage Housewife, and Wartime Housewife are a few of them). What makes what I'm doing different?

There is an essential political difference between me and most of the bloggers I listed. While I am very interested in history, in thrifting, and in vintage joys of all kinds, I have no desire to return to "old-fashioned values," or pretend I am living in the 40s or 50s. While I make every attempt to value the work women have traditionally done as the important contribution it has been and continues to be, I have no dream of becoming a housewife, or even a stay-at-home mom. I'm also not a Christian, nor am I any kind of follower of traditional gender roles. I am a professional woman who happens, by circumstance, to currently be working from home in the suburbs. I'm a feminist. The role I am taking on for this project is one part theater and one part nostalgia--it's not a permanent lifestyle choice.

That said, this project is not an attempt to make fun of or disparage the types of blogs I listed above. While I don't share most of those women's goals, traditional homemaking is not my thing, and women not working for pay does raise some concerns for me, I am not doing this as a joke (though I do reserve the right to be funny). There is art and science to good housekeeping. I recognize that, and I am earnestly trying to learn as I go through this process. I reference blogs like the ones I've listed here (as well as several others) not to ridicule, but because I have questions and they often hold answers. Plus they can be really fascinating.

I plan to follow a whole passel of housekeeping blogs while I'm doing this project, and will link to them as is appropriate. Please take these links in the spirit they were meant--information and interest, neither agreement with the politics and spiritual beliefs of the writers nor disparagement of them. One of the reasons I particularly love these Internets is that I can bond easily with those with whom I have something in common without having to share everything with them and find ways to traverse gently around areas of disagreement. Back when I was participating in Vintage Thingies Thursdays, I was always fascinated by the different blogs that common interest led me to--women with whom I'd normally have very little in common. I'm hoping this will work in somewhat the same manner.

So, if you're a regular reader and are puzzled by what's gotten into me, hopefully that explains it. And, if you're new (I am so hoping to pick up some new readers during this project--if you're new, please comment!), please understand that I am neither part of the community of blogs I mentioned nor satirizing it. I'm just trying to learn something, have some fun, and hopefully entertain (or even inform!) y'all at the same time.

4 Comments

I'm new! And what a project you're undertaking. I think it will be interesting to see how your level of enthusiasm waxes and wanes when you are say...30 or 50 days into it. 100 days is a good chunk of time.

I should tell you how I came upon your blog: I was googling alternatives to Disney Princesses, and found your 2 posts from 2008. They came up first in a search, and I am quite glad!
I found the responses to the first post so fascinating, how there can be such division over these cartoon creatures. (Not that I think they are harmless. Quite the opposite!) I've stared my own 90 days project specifically related to DP's. Stop by anytime, and I look forward to following your 100 day quest!

Why are towels so polarized? My DH folds them wrong too. lol.

I am really enjoying the way you're writing this. Despite the fact that I am a Christian, non-feminist homemaker (ha!) I haven't seen or felt any mockery at all. You're writing style is very friendly and I've started at the beginning and am enjoying reading through each post. I wish I had more time to just sit and read and enjoy. Unfortunately, this is as far as I can make it this week.

I hope that you find that you enjoy this project.

Hallee

Thank you for tactfully referencing my my blog! I stumbled across this page through a linkback today. I hope your 90 day challenge went well. I am a homemaker, yes, but not originally by choice. The cost of daycare for 4 kids outweighs my paycheck as an engineer. Equality in pay has a long way to go, if you ask me. But I found that I love to do housework. Small perk! And my mother STUNK at it. I love the idea of June Cleaver; but then again, I am forced to be that. I am in a unique situation and have chosen to embrace it. But you'll find I do welcome working feminists as well. And I try mostly to inform on how to be good at housekeeping without sounding like a technical website for a cleaning product. Just trying to make it fun! So, in a nutshell, thank you for the completely respectful way you made note of me and others. Well done!

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