I am a boo-boo kisser. A human napkin. A cook. A cleaner. A heart-mender. In attempts to be politically correct, some may call me a domestic engineer and others, a stay-at-home mom. But I don't stay at home and I'm by no means an engineer. So when asked what I am, I call myself a housewife.
A housewife is defined by Webster's Dictionary as being a married woman in charge of a household. It's a job title that lost its value over the years as more women found work outside the home, but this is changing.
The United States Census reported that the number of children cared for by "stay-at-home moms" has increased nearly 13 percent in less than a decade. At the same time, the percent of new mothers who go back to work fell from 59 percent in 1998 to 55 percent in 2000, according to a recent New York Times article. The glass ceiling has been broken. Women can do and be anything they want. So why would they choose to stay at home and raise their children?
Maybe they like changing diapers all day, smelling curdled spit up on their clothes and having no adult interaction. Maybe they like their family income being slashed in half and having to beat all the elderly ladies to the early morning yard sales. Maybe they like hearing comments from relatives and others about their wasted college degree. Maybe they secretly enjoy watching the purple dinosaur and singing the theme song to Barney, "I love you. You love me. We're a happy family."
And, then again.maybe not.
So, why are more women willing to forfeit their paychecks to stay at home? I can only speak for myself.
My husband had just left for work one day when my son was still a baby. I had propped my son up on my lap, and we were playing peek-a-boo with his blanket. He squealed so loudly it hurt my ears and we both started laughing. I stopped for a second and stared at his little face and big eyes. I knew this was a special moment I could have missed out on if I was working. I knew this time was passing by quickly and I would never get it back. I could always go back to work outside the home, but I wouldn't always have my baby.
When I became a parent, raising my child became my job and no one else's. I felt strongly that no daycare or nanny could take my place. I felt that I should be the one to nurture my children and teach them our family's values. Maybe others feel that way too. Maybe that's why the population of full-time boo-boo kissers, human napkins and heart menders are increasing. I know there are single moms who don't have this option, but I do. There are days that are difficult and times when money is tight. But, every day I thank God for the opportunity to call myself a housewife.
Andrea Harris studied English at Mississippi University for Women. She was teaching in public schools, outside of Memphis, until her children were born. She now stays at home with them and writes during their naptime. Her column, Notes from a Housewife, appears in newspapers across the state of Tennessee and on various websites. Please visit her site at Notes From a Housewife for more information or email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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