A huge number of our modern retro homemaking sisters (including myself) have dual careers. Contrary to popular belief that “the woman’s place was in the home,” there is a long history of homemakers also working outside of the home. In fact, both of my grandmothers had successful non-homemaking careers! My maternal grandmother was an astute businesswoman who owned two beauty parlors in Los Angeles and my paternal grandmother worked in the business offices of Sears. It was quite common for working class homemakers to work in offices or department stores, as teachers or nurses, and domestics among other things. And, despite barriers, there were many women in the professions before “the women’s movement” took hold. Before the lines between home and office became so delineated, women worked side by side with their husbands in family businesses and, of course, on farms and dairies.
My point? Being an ideal 1950s homemaker–the Donna Reed Homemaking Ideal– plays out differently for each woman. The common denominator is that we view ourselves as homemakers, first, and everything else, second.
Modern society likes to pit people against each other in a black and white world. Culture wars make it seem like dual career homemakers are engaging in dueling careers and that one or both careers are suffering because of it. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
My version of The Donna Reed Homemaking Ideal will be very different than someone else’s version. It doesn’t make my version right and her’s wrong. It is just different.
For instance, there is a strong possibility that I will be returning to teaching full-time again. However, these past few years of learning how to be a homemaker have taught me that I can seamlessly integrate the two careers. Now I know that I can create a healthy and delicious dinner in less time (and cheaper) than stopping for take-out or going out to eat. I’ve learned how to streamline my homekeeping so that it isn’t devouring hours of my time. And, now I view teaching as a means of showing people how much I care about them and not just a job.
Working both in the home and outside the home doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition. No matter our circumstances, modern retro women understand the joy and satisfaction of being homemakers, first.
To your fabulous Technicolor life!