Thursday, August 23, 2012

7 Reasons a 1950s Housewife Had it Made Petticoats aside, it was definitely a simpler motherhood
Recently on this very site, a blogger buddy of mine waxed philosophic about how she would have stunk as a 1950s housewife. I totally agree. I definitely am happy to see my husband when he gets home. But as a steeped-in-feminism Gen Xer, the daily lead-up to his arrival, as if he were some combination of George Clooney and the Pope, makes me want to throw up a little. Still, lipstick and petticoats aside, being a housewife back then seems like a far simpler life than now. There are some definite pluses to the 1950s housewife thing. Big ones like these: 1. Letting Yourself Go While I’m sure there was a 1950s-housewife version of letting yourself go, it was nothing like today’s model. If you walked around in a tracksuit the sausage casing industry would envy for its hold and stretch properties, you’d be brought up on indecency charges. 2. Discipline and Spanking Mrs. Fifties Housewife did not agonize over discipline. No poring over the child-rearing literature of the day. No wishing she had a Ph. D. in child psychology. Johnny did something bad. Mommy got pissed off. Johnny got a spanking, either from Mommy, or it was a “wait until your father gets home” kind of deal. All Johnny’s friends got spankings and grew up to be normal men with normal issues. Period, end of report. 3. Simple Food Food was way simpler for our ’50s counterparts. They went to the grocery store and bought food. No worrying about killing the fam with processed food. No need to take out bank loans to eat organic. If they lived a farm-to-table lifestyle, it was because they lived on a FARM, went out back and picked or killed something, and put it on their TABLE. Even the Martha Stewarts of the time didn’t make a home-cooked meal look like something from a Civil War prison camp. 4. Going to Bed Hungry Mrs. Fifties Housewife served her family their simple food. Everyone was expected to eat it (except, presumably, the King of the Castle.) If a child was sent away from the table, he went to bed hungry. If a child refused to eat, she went to bed hungry. No confusion and delay for a 9 p.m. snack. If a kid made his hungry bed, he lay in it. All night long. Because it was that or else he got one of those definitely-not-a-catalyst-for-therapy-in-20-years spankings. 5. Being Honest With Your Child If your kid did something bad, wrong, or stupid, you said it was bad, wrong, or stupid. And while this might have been bad, wrong, and stupid parenting, no one did any differently. You just told your kids the God’s honest and went off to play canasta with your buddies Joyce, Myrtle, and Phyllis. There were things to stress over, but this wasn’t one of them. 6. Men and Housework Back then men and housework were like oil and water — they simply didn’t mix. Men weren’t expected to do much in the way of housework, so most didn’t. No cooking, no cleaning, and very little childcare. Many contemporary women are seething because they expect so much from their husbands. The 1950s housewife knew it was all her show — she wasn’t expecting a co-star. Way easier on the emotions. You can’t be disappointed when you don’t expect anything, right? 7. Supermom Had it Easy To the 1950s housewife, being Supermom would have meant keeping her house clean, and keeping herself, her children, and her husband well-dressed, well-fed, and well-groomed. Supermom led a simpler life. It did not mean keeping a home worthy of HGTV, while rocking the body of a 19-year-old. Nor did it mean having having an income generating “hobby,” and gorgeous, designer-clad, organically-fed, involved-in-a-minimum-of-five-activities kids. That was science fiction.