Whatever happened to homemakers?

I received an email yesterday from a friend that he had shared my blog with some of his Facebook friends, whom he thought might be interested in what I have to say. His description of one of those friends got me to thinking. He said that she described herself as a homemaker. That made me think long and hard about what we call ourselves and the importance of those names…or worse yet acronyms.

I am guilty. I have taken to using the term stay-at-home mum to describe myself and others in my writing. Worse yet this is often shortened to its acronym: SAHM. But what are the implied messages of those words…Stay…At…Home…Mom?

Doesn’t it sound like this person sits around the house all day doing absolutely nothing? Yet as I said a couple of weeks ago between the things I do for my family and my writing, I am working longer hours and harder than when I went to an office and got paid a salary. Admittedly, my husband gets up much earlier in the day to go to his job. But from the time my daughter and I wake up in the morning until ten or eleven at night I am doing something…constantly. But that hard-work is not recognised by the term stay-at-home mum.

And the mum part too fails to recognise the other contributions we make every day to our families, our communities and our countries. Now I am the first to admit that I believe that motherhood (AND fatherhood) are the single most important roles we have in our life and the very fabric of our societies. So I am not advocating that we minimise the importance of mums, moms and mothers. But what about all the other things we do each and every day; like recycling or volunteering or even cooking and cleaning? Those roles too have importance. And what too of our role as wife? If we label ourselves SAHM, then where does that place our partners? Behind our children…and unnamed. What of those blessed and often forgotten stay-at-home dads? Worse yet…their acronym is SAHD…sad. How horrid for such a noble endeavour.

Look though at the simplicity and beauty of the word…homemaker. It implies all the hard work that goes into doing just that…making a home. Yes, it recognises our contributions as mother, but also as wife…and cook, housekeeper, teacher, chauffer, interior designer, and nurse/doctor. Just the use of the word ‘home’ brings up inside of me warm memories; not a house…but a home. The beauty of the word too is that it is gender neutral. Although we may immediately assume this a female role unlike the terms stay-at-home mum or dad or the proverbial housewife (no one marries a house), this term can be used by either gender to describe the beauty of what they do.

If you look at the four core values of family first, saving money, being environmentally friendly and living healthier that represents the Frugal Family blog, then does not the word homemaker…whether female or male…apply more aptly to all that goes into the role? Thank you, Peter and Heather, for making me think about the importance of how I describe myself and others.

OK…down off my soap box…again. I promise no more political messages this week. Tomorrow we can learn how to make a healing and nutritious homemade chicken soup from a handful of meat, a few vegs and leftover noodles.

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