Last week, during my study of Esther with the Wednesday girls, we were discussing the things we found most tough about being a woman. One of the comments really stuck with me:

[What I find tough about being a woman is] feeling like I have to defend my views on womanhood that are God-given qualities, but [are] constantly criticized by “women’s movements”.

She went on to explain that what she holds dear about being a “housewife” – making a choiceto stay at home to care for her kids and husband – others continually downplay as sort of sad and demeaning. She’s a college-educated gal, after all, and she could do “so much more” with her life. As a “housewife” myself, I completely understand where she’s coming from.This, coupled with the viewing of two recent television commercials for current shows (more on those later), started me thinking about the way housewives have been portrayed on TV over the years:

Late 1800’s – Caroline Ingalls

Depression Era: Olivia Walton
The 50’s – June Cleaver

The 60’s – Laura Petrie

The 70’s – Carol Brady

And then…nothing.

The 80’s shows (at least that I could remember or find) ushered in the “new” TV mom on the scene – the working-outside-the-home mom. While some did a fine job of paying homage to these hardworking gals:

Claire Huxtable

Maggie Seaver
There was also a twisted turn in the portrayal of these moms:

Rosanne Connor

The 90’s brought a return of the stay-at-home mom in:
Debra Barone

Interestingly, this was a mom who chose to stay home, but she never seemed at all content with her decision to be there, and was forever in a state of agitation as she tried to find ways to “matter.” Certainly, it made for funny television, but it always broke my heart, as it was so reflective of how the times have changed the world’s view on motherhood.

And on the heels of that view, we’ve made it back around to the commercials for the two shows I mentioned earlier.

The 21st Century’s take on Motherhood:

The Desperate Housewives

The Real Housewives of New York City

Now, I’ll give you “desperate”…but “real”? Is this really where we’ve come in our views of women who choose the often thankless, but always rewarding role of “career mom”? From the Waltons to Desperate Housewives?

The “real” housewives I know wear baby spit-up like a badge of honor, rejoice over a potty-trained toddler as if they’ve won the lottery and see the walls of their home not as a prison, but as a haven of comfort and nurturing and love. They know which products are best for cleaning grass stains and which are best for cleaning vomit, because they’ve had to figure both out the hard way. They can plunge a stopped up toilet while a birthday cake bakes in the oven. They can switch easily from lighting the fuse of a volcano for a science project, to lighting the fire of passion in their husband, making him feel loved after a hard day at the office. They can put together a Halloween costume from cast off clothes, and climb trees with their little explorers. They can tell wonderful stories, scare away monsters and heal wounds with a kiss. They can feed legions of hungry teenagers and somehow manage to keep an eye on every room in the house at the same time when their group is of mixed company! They have hearts that have been stomped to smithereens and yet, somehow, still have the ability to keep beating with an infinite capacity for love.

Every mom I know that works outside the home could relate to most everything I’ve said about housewives; the ones I know do a great job of balancing both roles. But this post is specifically about the ones who’ve made the choice to build their career inside the home. It’s not a sad or demeaning role unless we allow the world’s view to make it feel that way. Like my friend said, these talents we’ve been given as women are God-given qualities – qualities that allow us to build homes that provide our families with the foundation to grow, happy and healthy and balanced, to face the world that would have them be anything but. Our choice to stay home has the potential to positively affect the future of not just our own families, but their families and generations beyond.

Real housewives…real contributors to a real world who deserve real respect.