Truth Before Dishonor

I would rather be right than popular

A Real Job

Posted by Foxfier on 2012/04/12


….Yeah, I’m posting on that.  Some idiot talking head makes a slam at a grandmother with MS and everyone has to comment about it.  I think I have something worth saying, though, rather than just talking about it because it’s big.

I’m a stay at home mom.  A home-maker.  A house wife.

I have worked outside the home, before I got married, in a very similar field—I was a Petty Officer in the Navy, specializing in calibration. (Making sure things that measure are accurate enough.)  Before that, I was in another similar field, at least sort of—I was a ranch kid.

Perhaps some folks look at those things and are curious—what on earth is the connection between being a mother, working with cows and fixing stuff that’s used to fix planes and ships?

The hours, for one.

All of those jobs are 24/7 on-call, with holidays usually meaning that there’s more work to get done.  Cows don’t stop eating just because it’s Christmas, after all.

The job description being woefully incomplete, for another.

I was a “calibration technician,” as I described earlier.  I also did janitor work, was a security guard, maintained a half-dozen different collateral duties that included things like “mailman” and customer service.

How serious the situation is, for another.  In all of these jobs, if I screw up, a life might be lost—and it’s almost always a hurry-hurry-hurry and wait situation.  The way that if you do it for the pay, there’s a screw loose somewhere.  Probably several more, though I’ll try to avoid making jokes about uniforms.

I don’t know what other folks “hear” when I say I’m a housewife, so I’ll try to lay out what I do, trying to stick to jobs where I actually do everything a civilian counterpart would be expected to do:

Day care, house keeping, laundry lady, cook (not chef— I’m not that good), handyman, secretary, inventory management and procurement.  (explaining that last one: part of managing the house is making sure we never run out of anything, and we don’t pay too much for anything.  I just know about what the normal price is for most of the stuff we use, and I keep our chest freezer nearly full with stuff that’s on sale, be it hams for 99c or frozen veggies for a third of the normal price, knowing what brands are cheap at twice the price and which ones are over-priced if you get them free.)

After the stuff that I do, there’s the stuff we don’t do:

We don’t have to have a second car, or any of upkeep that requires. (It’s a nice-but-not-required.)

We don’t have to eat out or get takeout. (Yes, my husband brown bags it, although he does eat out to socialize sometimes.)

We don’t take days off for appointments or illness, unless TrueBlue is deathly ill.

We don’t fight over who cleans the house.  (unless I need help moving stuff)

We don’t need daycare.

We don’t fight about yard work. (Unless I need Big Strong man to move things or kill a spider)

We don’t fight over laundry and such, or pay to have clothes cleaned.

We don’t have to worry about our kids getting “quality time.”  They get all kinds of quantity time—which also lets us have mom-and-dad time without as much guilt. (Hey, rule #1 of parenting—you will probably find a dozen things to feel guilty about before breakfast.  Not counting breakfast itself.)

We don’t have nearly the stress that double income families seem to have—when TrueBlue gets home, I can give him time to decompress; when I’ve had a horrible day, it’s horrible in different way than he’s had, so my venting doesn’t add to his work related stress.  (Digression: ever notice folks that complain about stay-at-home only talking about kids only want to talk about the office?)

I didn’t take six months off from work to give birth and bond.

K, you’ve made it this far.  Notice something missing?

I didn’t make any judgments about moms who get paychecks.

I bet I still get at least one comment from someone that claims I did, though.  There’s a LOT of guilt tied up in the topic—I’d guess it has to do with the BS we’re told about being able to do everything and do it well.  Every mom I know that doesn’t have a full time paid job sometimes feels guilty about it; every mom I know that spends any time focused on anything that isn’t the kids feels guilty about it.  “Why” is a psychology type question I don’t care to look at too closely, since it’s broad enough to say more about the questioner than the topic.

Being a house wife is a job.  The lack of a paycheck doesn’t change that in the least.  I suspect that if someone looked at the background and prior statements of the woman that started this whole kerfluffle, you’d find a lot of things that are a rejection of her notion of The Way Things Were as represented in the form of whatever she’s rejecting.  Think something like the famous line about hating what they think the Church is about, rather than what the Church actually is.

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4 Responses to “A Real Job”

  1. There is not a tougher or more valuable position in life than being a housewife, period. It is a job, and no stay-at-home mom, or dad for that matter, should feel inferior to anyone for doing this job. I’d rather have less and be happy knowing someone is watching our children at home than to have everything money could buy with my children being raised by someone else.

  2. Foxfier said

    Found this:
    For thousands of years men were expected to provide for the household and women were expected to manage it. And in Memphis when I was growing up, most of the city commissions that actually ran the city were dominated by married women. There might be a figurehead man chairman, but everyone understood that the power rested with the commissioners, just about every one of them married, educated, and upper middle class. They had the time and interest to participate in self government. And of course most church committees and charitable functions were run by married women who had the time to participate in these associations. That’s not modern, of course. And surely we’re so much more civilized now and the children are so much more civilized since all that changed.

    http://www.jerrypournelle.com/jerrypournelle.c/chaosmanor/

  3. Foxfier said

    I… well, it’s not so much that I don’t agree, Alex, as that I don’t think we SEE it the same way. Kind of like if you look at this:
    o
    you’re just as right to say it’s a lower case “O,” a circle, or a bunch of dots.
    I look at a house-wife and see half of the adult portion of a family. You don’t have a house-wife without having a home and a husband; you don’t have a stay-at-home dad without a wife that is out working.

    As I said, it’s not that I disagree, it just doesn’t… the mental image in my head is kind of everything as parts of a whole. Probably why I suck at puzzles.

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