So, I've been thinking lately (Watch out now!) about how much our society has changed since the 50's- even since the early 80's. I'm only 25, and was born in 1983, so I'll admit I'm basing my "observations" on what I've read about history and what I'm observing and living today.
Mainly, I've been pondering the incredible change in the role of women in all this time. For example, I do believe it would be safe to say that in 1950 most women who were married were at home. I think it might have been common for them to have worked outside the home before they had children, and some may have held part time jobs after having children, but I think on the whole most women stayed home to be wives and mothers after getting married and having kids. It seems to me this gradually started to change up into the 80's when women went into the full time work force in large numbers. Which brings me to today- where do those of us who stay-at-home fit in? Especially those of us who don't yet have children?
A great friend of mine and I were just discussing this question yesterday. Today it seems pretty uncommon for mothers to stay-at-home full time, and almost unheard of for married women without kids to stay-at-home. This post is definitely not meant to pose the question should women/mothers stay home full time or work full time- it's merely meant to help me "think out loud" so-to-speak in wondering how those of us in this position can fit in better where we're at.
I think those wives & mothers of days gone by had an advantage over those of us at home today. It was the "norm" to be full time homemakers, so (unless, possibly, they were out in the country without neighbors close) they had a kind of community around them of like-minded women. A support group of friends to get together with, talk to, and lean on. I didn't really give much thought to the "friend" aspect of being at home full time until recently, because until recently I had at least one daycare child with me almost all the time. For over two months now that hasn't been the case though, so I've been feeling a little lost. What on earth do I do with myself? I try hard to tend to my home- goodness knows there's always projects that need work!, but even here in this small town I've started feeling more and more isolated. (I'm not trying to complain, just observing my own situation!) :)
I know only a handful of women that have a similar situation to mine, and most of them already have at least one child of their own. I've been wondering lately how they deal with the "alone-ness" of either being the only human in the house all day, every day (we love our pets, but they don't really offer much in the way of conversation now do they? LOL), or the only adult around all day until their hubbies come home.
One young mom I know lives 2 hours from me and has a 3 1/2yr old, a 2 yr old, and a new baby at home. I get the impression that she has a network of friends from her church that are full time at-homers too. She's a busy gal from what I've seen- she still has several siblings at home with her parents and her mother is a full time at-homer too, so she spends quite a bit of time there, plus I'm sure she gets together with her other friends on occasion too. I'm not sure if she feels isolated at times or not.
Another friend of mine lives 8? hours from me and has a 3yr old and a 1yr old, and is at home full time. She lives in the country, but does have her in laws and her husband's younger siblings that are still living at home nearby on the same farm. From talking with her off and on I think she probably has times when she feels a bit isolated as well.
Another friend lives 5 hrs from me and is currently job-seeking so is home full time right now. She's like me in the sense that she doesn't have any children yet, and is feeling a bit at a loss at the present, trying to figure out what to do with herself day in and day out. :)
A fourth friend lives in the country about 8? miles from me and is mostly home full time (working just one afternoon a week) with her almost 3yr old, and has baby number 2 on the way. She has mentioned to me before that she sometimes feels a little isolated at home too.
Another young mom I know is about 40? miles from me and stays at home with her two little ones and, like me, does daycare a bit in her home.
So, what's my point? Hmmmm- I'm not certain that I have one, except that perhaps those of us like this are really few and far between these days! And it would seem that we're pretty spread out geographically, too! :)
I remember a past daycare mom of mine that had just had her second child and was home for a 3 month maternity leave. Her older boy was still coming to daycare at my house part time most days, and after the first few weeks she told me she was going stir-crazy and couldn't wait to get back to work! (Granted, once she went back to work full time she decided she missed her kids- especially the new baby- too much and found a way to do her job from home.) I really think that what made her feel that way was the lack of other women around her that were in a similar place in their lives. All of her friends and peers worked outside the home full time, and she didn't have anyone nearby to be a kind of 'support' to her while she stayed home to care for the baby. In a way, I can sympathize. Pete and I live in a nice area of town, but there's only two other young familes nearby and all of the parents work full time. The rest of our neighbors are older folks or are retired.
So, like I said before, I think those ladies of the past had a bit of an advantage on us- they had more access to a "peer group" of women that were in similar situations. And, after tasting a bit of the old-fashioned at-home life, I think that's a pretty valuable thing to have!
I do realize that with kids around there's less time to ponder such things- I definitely didn't wonder about this much when I had a house full of daycare children to take care of! :) And I'm sure, once Pete and I are able to start our own little family, I won't feel at such a "loss" anymore. But I think, especially in the future, I'll be much more mindful of cultivating those friendships- of finding a small network of like-minded women like that. And, in the mean time, I'm going to try to keep busy! The bottom line, I think, is to feel- at the end of the day- like I was productive, that I have a purpose. So, off to do the laundry, make some more bread, try my hand at turning that large chicken in my refrigerator into chicken noodle soup- and I'm sure I'll be finding more things to add to my list if I look! I hope you have a productive and purposeful day too- and if you're feeling the need for an "at-homer" friend, feel free to get a hold of me- I'll most likely be at home! :)