I apologize for this post coming so late. It coming on late summer, I am stretching my time between playing with the kids at the pool, getting into the gym, normal household routines, and canning everything I have picked in my own garden and in the pick-your-own places nearby. The kids and I went to pick blueberries this morning and came home with 14 pounds of them. I spent the afternoon making blueberry citrus preserves and getting ready for canning tomato sauce tomorrow. Canning is extremely easy to do, but it’s time consuming. In the process of cutting tomatoes over and over and over tomorrow, I will have time to think. To just sit back and think is a wonderful thing. Working on the blueberries today got me thinking about this thing Betty Freidan coined called “The Problem that Has No Name”. She has this to say about it in the beginning of her book The Feminine Mystique:
The problem lay buried, unspoken, for many years in the minds of American women. It was a strange stirring, a sense of dissatisfaction, a yearning [that is, a longing] that women suffered in the middle of the 20th century in the United States. Each suburban wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries … she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question — ‘Is this all?
I think a lot of women in my position, that of housewife and mother, may have asked themselves this question one time or another. Something I have learned is that if we are suffering from this mentality it is our own responsibility to deal with it. Due to homeschooling our children I have learned that so many of the things I never bothered to learn or was never taught, are right there at my finger tips to learn now. Especially in this day and age where information is a few simple key strokes away, finding something that one wishes to learn about or learn to do should not be terribly difficult. It does not have to be “Is this all?” I’ve chosen to learn to garden and save seeds, I’ve learned to can, and I’ve learned an awful lot about cooking. I know these are typical housewife things one might think of, but I am also going to learn Latin this year with my kids, I am hoping to start to learn more about classic American muscle cars and I have taken up reading the Great Books of the Western World. The possibilities are nearly endless with what one can learn from home these days.
Now, I realize that one of the problems with this “Is this all” mentality from a housewife is that she won’t be going out to get a job anytime soon to put al of this learning to good use. Going out to a job and showing ones uses and intelligence are rewarding and validating. But how long does the validation last? How long before one realizes that it’s just another thankless job? While reading Betty Freidan’s description of The Problem that Has No Name I immediately thought, “How many men have asked themselves ‘Is this all?’ after going into dead end or soul sucking jobs everyday?” If you are lucky enough to be able to stay home and raise your kids and care for your family, not only are you able to take extra time to learn and expand on nearly anything you wish, but you are raising your family. While the day to day rewards may be difficult to grasp, I ask you, what could be more rewarding and validating than that? You are giving your children their very best chance in entering this world. One needs to realize, that is everything.