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Reclaiming the Term “Housewife”

I know what you’re thinking. “Housewife? Isn’t that a bit antiquated?” In a society obsessed with creating terms that cover the widest array of subjects, and censoring any term that could potentially upset anyone, I think we’ve lost what it means to be a “housewife”. We’ve lost the power, the strength, the impact, the legacy and the blessing that comes with this term. We’ve replaced it with an idea of someone who is simple-minded, burdened, exhausted and isolated.

Before we get any further, I feel it’s important for me to introduce myself for the sake of credibility.

Hi, I’m Jordan. I am a Housewife. I haven’t always been. In fact, I have a Master’s Degree from University of Illinois and had plans to pursue my PhD to become the Dean of Students at a large public institution. After years of working to seek fulfillment and to make an impact, I realized I wasn’t going to find it there.

When I became pregnant with my daughter I felt an overwhelming calling to leave the field where I had worked so hard. I felt a calling to invest my life in my family and my daughter. I still remember sharing this news with colleagues and acquaintances. I couldn’t tell you how many patronizing looks and questions I got, “Wait, so you’re leaving your career to just stay at home?”, “Oh that’s awesome! I wish I could quit my job and get manicures and read books all day!”, “Gosh, I’m sure that’s got to be so hard losing your identity for your child”. While it was one of the easiest life-changing decisions I’ve ever had to make, it was then that I realized the place housewives had in society.

When we think of the term “housewife” I think many of us go back to the apron-wearing, 3 course-meal-cooking, perfectly put together woman of the 1950’s. Others of us think of Kyle Richards, Lisa Vanderpump, and Ramona Singer (no shame – I’m a Sonja Morgan fan myself). But my hope is that I can challenge us to change our mindset. To redefine what it means to be a homemaker, a housewife, and a stay at home mom.

“As a homemaker your ministry is in your home. It’s your job to equip the next generation with skills, kindness and truth. Change starts in your home.” – @simplehomemakermeals

housewife

In all honesty, I believe that our society has ingrained in our minds the idea that we are stressed, exhausted, burdened, disrespected and simple-minded. While I know first hand those feelings can exist in moments, I personally feel that we’ve been told we are in a state of mental purgatory suspended between the perfectly put together (and unattainable) housewife and the simple-minded housemaid. We’re told that those moments of feeling overwhelmed aren’t fleeting, they’re forever.

But what if we changed our mindset? What if we stopped allowing society to define what we do, and we defined “housewife” ourselves? I think it’s long overdue for us to have a paradigm shift that alters the way we look at our role.

Let’s Do Something Tangible

I’d love to do a little exercise with you. Now, I know you’re busy, but there’s a lot of power in taking some time to reflect and empower yourself. So, be kind to yourself and grant yourself this time. Go ahead and grab a pen and paper, or open the notes app on your phone…

Name 3 things in your role as homemaker that you do well

Tasks that really only you can do – no one else can do them as well as you. Write them down. __________ __________ _________. Look at the tasks you’ve written and reflect on them.  These are 3 things that you bring to your family that no one else can. 3 things that you are teaching your children to also do well. 3 things that others in your family recognize as tasks you excel in. There is strength and power in that. 

Name 3 things you don’t enjoy doing at all

Tasks that make you grumble every time you have to do them. Write them down. ________ _______ ______. Are they tasks you choose to do or have to do? Why do you do them? Who do these tasks serve? Try looking at these tasks through a different lens. As a Christian, when I am doing tasks that I really dislike doing, I try to think of it as a way to serve God and reflect on how He’s blessed me. If this doesn’t speak to you, try to focus on how the task you are completing serves others. It may sound silly, but even tasks like cleaning the toilet bowl can feel more powerful and enriching when you think “I am thankful I can help provide a clean environment to raise my children, where they feel safe and comfortable”. There is selfless-ness in that. 

Name 3 things you love to do

Tasks that you often prioritize above others because they bring you happiness. Write them down. ________ ________ ________. What is it about these tasks that make you happy? Who are these tasks serving? How can you bring some of the happiness you feel from these tasks to those that you don’t enjoy doing? Find ways to serve and bless others outside of your family through these tasks. If you love to cook, consider cooking meals for those in our community who need them. If you love crafting, consider leading an activity at the Boys and Girls clubThere is generosity and impact in that. 

As you look back on what you’ve written, and how you’ve reflected, I hope that you’ve come to realize that the tasks you do in your role as housewife are strong, powerful, self-less, generous and impactful. Don’t let society reduce you to the sum of your parts. Create a definition for yourself that is fitting for the work that you do.

Personally, I don’t find my worth in my career aspirations anymore. I find my worth in the one who created me and gave me the gifts to raise my daughter in His image. I find my worth in being able to have time to serve others in my community. I find my worth in creating a home that is a safe place for my husband and daughter to rest at the end of the day.

As homemakers we are generation shapers, value preservers, and joyful servers who selflessly give of ourselves to others in an effort to make this world a better place. Just remember that.


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