Betty Friedan wrote The Feminine Mystique in my home. She crafted the book that changed the lives of American women on my 3rd floor. She shone a harsh light on the dark secrets of despair, loneliness and frustration felt by the suburban housewife which hitherto had been shrouded from view.
I can relate only too well to "housewife's fatigue." If you're a housewife, or as we like to call ourselves these days a "Stay at Home Mom," you will be all too familiar with the mind numbing routine of cleaning, laundry, cooking and chauffeuring. The bone aching exhaustion as you carry out these relentless duties is commonplace.
In the 50's, Betty tells us many women felt trapped in their homes, their college educated minds dulled by tranquillizers, their spirits turned to dust. Despite the popular culture of the happy housewife, envied the world over for her gleaming split level home with every up to date appliance, she couldn't shake the nagging feeling that there must be "something more."
The irony is not lost on me that 40 years on I live in the same house where she wrote the book and I am a "housewife". What would Betty think? Would she be horrified, surprised, disappointed? What has changed over the years to make this a happy situation?
Two words make all the difference to my life as a stay at home mum. "Choice" and "Opportunity." We now have a choice. Finances permitting we can "choose" to devote ourselves to our families because that is what we want to do. I spend my time in the kitchen because it makes my heart sing, because I choose to, not because I'm chained to it. We can be proud of our choices and believe in what we do. Whether we work full or part time, have a fully fledged career or are a full time mum, this belief in our choices carries us through the tough times.
With the advent of technology we now have opportunities never dreamt of in the 50's. Every woman has a creative force which, if she is to thrive, must be allowed to flourish. With the world wide web at our fingertips the opportunities are endless. Every conceivable interest or passion can and must be fed. I blog, I write, I teach online cooking classes. There is money just waiting to be earned.
I'm deeply thankful that I had the choice to devote these years to my family while feeding my mind and developing my skills through technology. As my children grow older I have no regrets. I was present. I was and will always be the best mum I can and because of the opportunities now available I have a future.
As I imagine Betty sitting up on the 3rd floor of my home, I realize that my life is perhaps not what she had envisaged for future generations of women, but I'm grateful to her and the battles she fought. We now have a choice we can be proud of and no matter what those choices are, we have every opportunity for a future we can believe in.