Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sometimes a romantic notion....

I came across a charming blog written by a single woman and entitled The Wife. Her blog was featured in a Los Angeles Times article called Hits and Mrs.

Here's a quote from the article:

Whatever the source of their inspiration, a small contingent of women are turning to the Internet to champion the importance of being a good wife and partner. Some of their voices are sincere and straightforward. Others toy with the notion of 1950s housewifery, viewing it through a lens that seems clouded with nostalgia. It seems doubtful any of them would endear themselves to the editors of Ms. Magazine, but they have tapped into a longing.

Whitney Friedlander, author of the article ponders the fact that a Pew Research Center study reveals that 37% of women who work outside the home do not wish to work outside the home fulltime. She says:

Maybe those women are just tired, stressed out by the complications of everyday life amid a recession. Maybe it's easier to idealize so-called simpler times (1945 to '65 anyone?) amid difficult ones. Or perhaps we should examine the role of pop culture and TV, which has a tendency to clothe domestic life in perfect little cocktail dresses.
Has Ms. Friedlander really visited the great realm of blogs devoted to home and family as a full time way of life? It would appear not. Perhaps, she simply stopped by the Disneyworld theme park in that part of the blog-o-sphere -- the area that's devoted to pretty replications of family life. Perhaps, she missed the vast neighborhood of more realistic blogs where women at home share practical advice and discuss meaningful interests over their virtual back fences.

There are any number of bloggers she could have reviewed who truly are wives and mothers at home, rather than those who simply represent a longing for domestic life. These real wives have chosen to love their husbands and children and to manage their households as their way of life and as their career. They offer well-considered support to others who have chosen likewise.

I think this corner of the blog-o-sphere is a much larger community than the author might have imagined, and it is attracting more marketing dollars than the article implies. It ballooned before the recession hit, so it was built and peopled by something other than recession woes. Its inhabitants are also women who have been living this way long enough to be well over the notion of clothing domesticity in little black dresses. These are women who have chosen their role with serious intent, and these are women who expect, with reason, to be taken seriously by society. Is that too much to ask?

Having said that, some blogs do promote a glamorized view of the domestic life -- one which is more about the style and the dream than about the strong heart of home. All of us enjoy dreaming when we are young, and sometimes, we fix our romantic dreams a little askew. When I was a little girl, shows like "That Girl" romanticized what it would be like to be single and to have a career. I was young enough to believe when I watched it that a struggling young actress really could have an expensive and fantastic wardrobe and that "That Girl" and Donald really did remain chaste for years and years.

In her article, Ms. Friedlander spends a lot of time describing The Wife. The single author of The Wife developed her philosophy of being a wife when her affluent classmates were picked up from school by their mothers, and she was shuttled to daycare. The birth of her dream is understandable, perhaps even noble. However, she also makes no bones that she is also all about Style with a capital S. She earns income by taking gigs as a personal assistant to celebrities. In other words, she performs some small parts of the role that wives of lesser income either might leave undone or might perform themselves. The vision she presents of "the wife" is definitely that of a perfect, upper class wife, under girded by possessions of irreproachable quality and beauty, all while being dutiful to the environment.

The Wife is definitely a pretty blog. Is it the most realistic picture of love and family in the virtual neighborhood? Definitely not. Let's check back with Ms. Taryn in about 10 years. If she has become a wife as she aspires to be, I'm sure we'll find that her blog has evolved into a more substantial one. In the mean time, let's let her readers enjoy it for what it is.

Let's face it. Women are exposed to many a romantic notion, and some of these notions have little to do with domestic bliss. Consider a few of the Disneyworld visions that allure us:

1) There is an exciting, fulfilling career out there for every woman.

2) Your family, domestic, and office life can be as perfect as the senator's, rock star's, CEO's, etc., even though you do not have the professional or personal staff that she does.

3) You can wait until your late 30's or even later for love, marriage, and children and have no problem conceiving, no problems adjusting to marriage, and no emotional fallout from a series of sexual relationships without the commitment of marriage.

4) If you don't have children, you can keep your perfect thighs and tummy forever. Or, at least until cellulite, hormones, and too many meals grabbed on the run catch up with you anyway.

5) There is a man waiting patiently out there who will take second fiddle to your career, who will never snore, who will do housework and who will do it the way you want it done, and who will always look like Brad Pitt did ten years ago.

6) It's all about you!

Sometimes, dreams do come true, and sometimes, they don't. If you are young and starting out in life, let me give you some advice right up front. #1 might be true for you. #6 never will be. :)

Somehow, we in America have gotten ourselves tied to a dream that a woman's fulfillment consists solely of whether she has a job outside of the home or not. No matter which side of the mommy wars we are on, we fail to talk about the deeper and larger issues.

Happiness and self-fulfillment are strange things. If you chase them for themselves, you will fail to capture them -- at least in any permanent sense. If, however, you diligently seek the Lord in all that you do, and if you do all that you do in love, you will find satisfaction as a by-product.

In the 1960's through the 1980's, women began to seek careers outside of the home as a means to self-fulfillment, and they began to view home life as something empty. At the same time, many a man hit a mid-life crisis in which he threw away the very career that his wife so eagerly sought. And, while all that was going on, there was a movement of people who were dropping out of the corporate rat race and heading back to the land in order to find happiness.

Perhaps, today's mid-life career crises will see a reversal of earlier cultural trends. At any rate, the restlessness of the male and the female heart probably has little to do with what type of work the person does, but what meaning the person finds in life and work. The person who does not know his Creator or Savior, and who lacks a sense of higher purpose, cannot fill that void entirely through work or family. The person who does all work to the glory of God finds peace in all situations.

To any young woman who aspires to become a wife and mother, I commend her for choosing a noble dream. Likewise, if a young woman has it in her heart to develop a talent or a career calling, this, too, may be a noble calling.

To both, though, I would ask, is your dream founded in the most important thing of all: to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might and with all your mind and to love others as your self? Have you surrendered your dream to the one who knows you best and who has your eternal best interests at heart?


No comments: