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AnaLewis
Founder of Women on the Verge, CEO of Co-Op Web, Inc.
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They Used to be Called Housewives

 

Housewives, what a misnomer. Women aren't married to their house. The definition of a housewife is, “A married woman whose main occupation is caring for her family, managing household affairs, and doing housework “. Um, sounds thrilling doesn't it? Housewife is the term my mother used to describe herself.

 

During the 1960s, women were traditionally and proudly housewives. My mother made sure that the house was spic and span, she watched her favorite soap operas during the day, while ironing my father's shirts and she would serve us dinner every night at the same time. Yes, sounds like a storybook, 1960s upbringing. However, many housewives during that era suffered such severe depression, that the term, “nervous breakdown” became commonplace amongst gossip between neighbors.

 

My mother was not a complainer. When she talked to her doctor about not feeling “right”, he led her to medications to solve her “problem”. Luckily she didn't like the medications he prescribed as they made her feel sleepy and listless, but for many others, sleeping with Prince Valium, became an addiction.

 

Then came dramatic entrance of the 1970s. Women's Lib roared and my mother was caught in between. Many of her friends were leading exciting lives that included careers AND college education AND raising a family AND taking care of the home. What was wrong with her? Before, she used to feel like it was enough, now she was feeling lost. The kids (my brother and I) were moving out and what was she going to do with her day? Her day that used to orbit around her family.

 

She groped about, went back to school, but she didn't seem happy. She seemed more stressed and the furrow in her brow was like a canyon. She would stay up late at night studying, seemingly doing what she wanted to do, by going back to school, but if you think about it, she had already set a tone. Did she come home to a clean house? No. Did anyone else make her dinner? No. Did anyone else clean and iron her clothes? No. Why would anyone else do that? No one else knew how or what to do. So after a full day of school, my mother would come home, do laundry, clean house and make dinner. She was exhausted.

 

I was 26 years old when my mother died of acute cardiac arrest. She was on a trip with my father to San Francisco, and they were going to play golf. My father took a shower and thought it was strange that my mother was not awake. She never would wake up.

 

My mother tried her best, to be everything to us and it killed her. Truth is, it was killing her all along. She tried to be a perfect daughter to an abusive mother. She tried to be a perfect sister to her three siblings. She tried to be the perfect wife to my father. And she tried to be the perfect mother to my brother and I. She was unable to healthfully express anger, and she would stuff it by eating. As the only female living with my mother, she and I became very close.

 

Yes, my mother would take out her anger on my brother and I by being a “disciplinarian” as she called it. I think that what would happen is what would start out as discipline, would sometimes get out of control, which is easy to do when you have so much anger and hurt inside. I saw the most of that, but to my brother's credit, he did stand up for me on more than a few occasions.

 

I have had to take a good look at this and try my best to heed its lessons. What can I learn from it?

 

  1. Cut Yourself Some Slack.

  2. Quit trying to be everything to everybody.

  3. Allow Yourself to Receive

  4. FORGIVE – free yourself with forgiveness.

  5. Be yourself

  6. Get a life

  7. Know your dreams and make them come true

  8. Love

 

 

Is Homemaker a better name? Perhaps.  Perhaps not.  Maybe it was the labels and the stereotypes and expectations that went with them that killed my mother.  What I really wish for is that we stopped needing to label people.   What if we just Be,  Lose the boxes, the steroetypes and do your way, with your love.

Ana Lewis
Founder
WomenontheVerge.net

AnaLewis · 1159 days ago
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  •  JennyleefromTN: 
     
    I perfer the title Queen of Improv for motherhood. That way I can sing, dance and act as goofy as the variety show that is my life. Great post...Number 2 & Number 5 are key and Number 7 should always be tucked into every woman's visor on a notecard in her minivan. Daily reminder.
     
     1159 days ago·1 replies1 replies 
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  •  Anonymous: 
     
    I could so see my mother in your post. I am so thankful that my role changes daily, I also hate labels because if I where to label myself it would be different everyday.
     
     1159 days ago·1 replies1 replies 
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  •  Robbie: 
     
    Thank goodness we've come a long way... and though we still have a ways to go...we are banding together to create change... and we have you to thank for that!
     
     1159 days ago·1 replies1 replies 
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  •  AnaLewis: 
     
    Brava Elle!! Talk about passion! What a great response. Thank you
     
     1159 days ago 
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  •  Elle: 
     
    Such a compassionate post Ana. I recognised a little of my own mother.
    However, she thought she had it all but she didn't. She wanted too much and not enough.
    And the discipline, but that's also part of coming from a very strict background. She wanted to impose her Victorian values, got stuck in a time warp. Sad. And a sense of duty, of course.
    Great post, a stark reminder.
    I can't stand the word 'housewife'. In France they call them 'home mothers' (Mères au foyer)
    But then, France is stuck in its own time warp. Mothers are expected to be liberated, not to breastfeed, go back to work, and what kind of society have they got?
    I'm glad to say my husband is a 'new man'. He does the shopping, the ironing...never mind his status.
    For the record, I hate stereotypes and labels. How boring to be just one type of person. How can you define yourself in one word?
     
     1159 days ago 
    1 point
     
Women on the Verge
They Used to be Called Housewives