In the past it was called "Home Making." You can still see "Homemaker" listed in obituaries as a woman's "occupation." When I was a young bride and mother some of my friends wanted to get jobs outside of their homes. They wanted to put their babies in day care and earn their own money separate from their husbands' income. Some of them liked the feeling of being productive and having a set schedule. Others didn't want to feel like a servant in their own home. I had a lot of mixed feelings about it. I didn't mind being called a Housewife. At the time there were still plenty of women choosing that occupation. I couldn't get past the idea of planning to give birth to a child then six weeks later handing it over to someone else to care for eight hours a day. I felt that I was the best person to take care of my baby. I knew that the extra income would help but back then women were not paid as much a men for doing the same job. I did the math and couldn't reconcile giving most of what I earned to a day care. Some women were forced to work to support their families and I certainly understood that situation. Home making began to be a dirty word after a while and I was usually confronted by a nicely dressed working woman who asked "what do you do...what are you into....what are your interests outside of your home and baby?" I envied their independence and their expensive handbags. I saw them driving around town in nice cars. I also knew some of their husbands were not happy about their wives working outside of their homes. One woman arrived home to find that her husband had pulled up stakes and hauled away their mobile home along with their two young daughters to an undisclosed location. She had applied for a forklift job that the company never hired women to do. She had cut off her beautiful, long red hair to look more professional. I heard that her husband was furious over that too. I never found out what happened to my friend. I hope her life straightened out. Home keeping is important no matter who does it. If you have a "magic underwear drawer or a magic refrigerator" thank the person taking care of your home. There are a million things involved in keeping a home and so many of those get overlooked by the person who doesn't have the responsibility. Most of us have seen photos or watched TV shows about compulsive hoarders. Somewhere along the line the person responsible for keeping the home had a mental breakdown, usually from a loss of some kind. Keeping things clean and in order is important to the health and well being of everyone who lives in the home. Say "thank you" every once in a while to the person or persons who keep your home functioning and comfortable. It is a true art and an act of love.
"Do you know how hard it is to make a home?... That's something that a woman does from inside herself. You do it in the face of all sorts of opposition. Husbands are very appreciative when it works out well. But they're not that anxious to help. It's understandable. They don't know how."
SAMUEL R. DELANY, Dhalgren
"Good food and a warm kitchen are what make a house a home."