Home Life: Making it Sweet and Secure AgianCredit: Home lIFE
Should We Return to the Way Things Used to Be?
By: J. Marlando
It is my intent in writing the following observations to paint or, as it were, to pen a portrait of home life in terms of a lost art; an art that has been all but eliminated by the demands and motivations of modernism. It is, I believe, a subject worth contemplating because it is applicable to our world view and to the future. Indeed, I begin with the theory that modern marriage and so family life needs to be redefined but let’s take a short jaunt into our yesterdays to start our journey in reaching our conclusions.
In overview home life disassembled in the 1970s at least in the U.S.—We had gone through the traditional 1950s, the rage and radicalism of the 1960s, the sexual revolution of the later 1960s and earlier 1970s, the beginning of credit card mania by the mid-70s along with the oil companies making their first real initiative to raise prices.
As an aside *a government oil official in the 70s would show how Exxon, Mobile, So-Cal, Texaco, Gulf Oil, Dutch Shell and British Petroleum were controlling the supply and marketing of oil at that time and forced a dependency on Middle East oil with an eye on greater profits. This gauging and manipulating has never really stopped. In April of 1977 the Federal Energy Commission discovered the Gulf Oil Corporation had overstated by 79.1 million its cost for crude oil obtained from foreign affiliates, passing the false cost onto the consumer. Around this same time **the milk industry wanted to raise prices but our government saw the potential drain on the public and refused to sanction a hike in milk pricing. Then the milk producers began “donating” to the Nixon campaign—their donations exceeded $400,000. Not surprisingly but quite suddenly the government made a “new analysis” and permitted the milk industry to raise their prices from $4.66 to $4.93 a hundredweight. The price increases added $500 million (a half of billion) to dairy farmers mostly owned by big corporations. These are merely apparent examples of how the system and big business work together against the interests of the rest of us, the average consumer.
SIGNAL OF THE SMOKE & MIRRORS OF GAS PRICES
This is not to say that this sort of thing started in the 1970s—government had always weaved big business into its fold but this is to say that it was during those 70s that the cost of living, new laws and manipulative regulations along with governments special interests began to interfere with what one might call “the American way of life.” The two-income family was emerging and home life was destined to be changed forever.
Few children born in the 1960s, 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond will ever know what life was before Darwinistic modernism spread its wings over what has come to be called “the Computer Age” and the constant widening of the gap between rich and poor; the successful and the struggling.
I devote this article to those who now hold the future in their hands.
Aspect of the Society: Then and now
The great American motivation has been the great American Dream for nearly all Americans. The right to private land and home ownership has been the driving inspiration of rich and poor most virtually since the advent of the country. Indeed, the possibility of owning one’s own “place” was exactly what brought most virtually countless foreigners to, if you will, the base of the Statue of Liberty. ***I was mostly raised in my grandmother’s house—it was a shack I suppose but a castle for those who live there; a place of love, trust, comfort; freedom and security. She had paid $1,700 for the house and the big lot it was built on. There was nothing more important to her than keeping up with the mortgage payments which were $17.00 a month. Those payments were a struggle for her from time to time but soon enough the old house was paid for and life became better than ever. After all, there was no place…like home.
In many ways labor was king prior to the 1960s—it was virtually possible for anyone wanting a job to get one and his dollar plus an hour paid for his car, his shanty of a house, and with a garden and a few chickens in the backyard he managed to feed his family. And yes, while he and his family lived in stark poverty, they were generally happy in the security of their own privacy...in their own home!
Poverty, however, was different back then—it wasn’t rebellious or hateful and while it wanted more than it had, it was grateful for what it had. And, in this regard, what a great many pompous, critical people who accuse poverty as being created and sustained by the lazy and inept miss, is that poverty, like wealth, is inherited.
In any case, there was a strong and substantial middle class even into the 1970s.
While women and so wives were herding into the workplace, the widespread necessity of the two-income family had not occurred by then. Women, by and large, were protesting against the traditions of home-making and rising up in the name of a new feminism. A major motivator of this movement was Betty Friedan—a housewife herself and psychologist—whose book, “The Feminine Mystique” told mothers and wives that they were bored and condemned to non-fulfillment as human beings and that they needed to gain their identities and independence by working outside the home. A great many women nodded, becoming part of the Friedan fraternity.
This was back in 1963, the years of Martin Luther King’s famous, “I have a dream” speech, the assassination of President Kennedy, the advent of Pop Art and the first signals of an escalating Vietnam War—called a “conflict;” those final days before the entrance of the hippies and their challenges to society.
With wives working outside the home, infidelity and so divorces became more common and female-headed families grew. Nevertheless, in overview the country remained prosperous and the American Dream intact. Again, this would begin to change during the 1970s. Nevertheless, by 1963, the year of Friedan’s book, 1% of all American women over age 14 was in the labor force. That was 6.3 million more than women working outside the home in 1950. Today, however, women comprise right around 45% of the U.S. labor force.
Certainly one reason for this that is outside the demands of a nearly impossible cost-of-living standards that challenges home life, is that far more women are educated in modern times than ever before. And just as certain is that more women want to try their talents out in the world of competition than ever before in history.
The cost for all of this, however, is clearly paid for by the loss of home and family life. This is something that most new-wave feminists groups permit to slip through the cracks while promoting superiority in the guise of equality; female power in the guise of fair-play politics.
No one is denying that women have been discriminated against and in ways still are even in our times—a woman, in general is still not earning as much as males in the same or similar job. But this is not the issue when it comes to being wives and mothers/husbands and fathers. The issue here is how social changes have changed the home.
Deconstructing the Security of Home Life
While we find it easy to get involved in equal and civil rights, what I see as a problem is that importance of home and family life has obviously been exchanged for importance of social concerns. Well, there is no denying women are the other half of our species and therefore the other half of our society. In the U.S. they have the same unalienable rights as males do...and should. The historic chauvinism that remains is a product of final male arrogance based on a platform of ignorance. But, what needs also considered is the fundamental male and female natures; the nesting and mating process is defined for all species by nature and the only major difference is that we humans can choose to abandoned the natural order of things and go our own way privately and/or culturally. We humans after all are not condemned to monogamous relationships; we are free to choose promiscuous relationships and/or other variations of mating behaviors. Disregarding the cultural mores involved marriage is an absolute option and today because of the modern marvels of advanced pharmaceuticals, having children is, most virtual, a matter of choice.
For a great many couples this is an option that should be seriously considered long before they walk to the altar together—children along with food, clothing and shelter need attentiveness, affection and nurturing. Two working parents cannot provide all these needs…adequately.
There is something else; a subtle change that takes place with many working women. It has been found ****that women who work in managerial and professional occupations have higher testosterone levels than women who don’t. Testosterone is the male hormone and thus masculinizes the female sex to one degree or another.
The question is did this high testosterone level come before or after the woman’s entrance into the professional work force. (My guess is afterwards in at least most instances since it seems obvious that nature endowed her with more important qualities than running a clinic or becoming the nation’s Secretary of State. Not that she is incapable of doing these jobs and obviously much more than some men but the point is that many of her mothering instincts are diminished in the trade).
In view of the above the traditional aspects of marriage are deconstructed and the art of home life lost. There is nothing wrong with this as long as couples are willing to make commitments to the life they expect to build together. Yet, it is not fair nor is it possible to, in a term, have one’s cake and eat it too. And what is meant by this is that two-income households create a marriage model that is not conducive or healthy for raising children. Not that it is necessarily “bad” for children but that it is unfair to children. A great many couples realize this and put off having children until they are older and financially stable enough to create a secure and consistent family life.
(None of this incidentally even touches the challenges and hardships of single moms. Single moms however, are a subject for a future article since so many mothers are victims of inept and irresponsible men who are sometimes also called husbands and fathers).
Before a serious decision is made between couples here is a list of informative statistics that should be contemplated:
- Default rates for credit cards are at an all-time high
- Two income families are actually making 75% more in inflated-adjusted dollars but have less money to spend than families did even in the late 1970s.
- Health insurance is more than 60% higher than it was even a generation ago.
- Two-income families are spending less on appliances and over 20% less on clothing and food than one-income-families spend just a generation ago.
- Every 15 seconds a family files for bankruptcy.
- The Marriage rate is 6.8 per 1,000 total population
- The divorce rate 3.4 per 1,000
We have no idea how many married couples are living either aptly or unhappily ever after.
We have no idea how many children are feeling neglected and abandoned even by the most well- intended parents.
We have no idea what the reality of the American Dream is for most people in today’s modernism or…even if it is a “dream” for many Americans anymore.
In view of all this it becomes apparent that the constructs of marriage have not only changed but absolutely changed with love and romance becoming mere bonuses for its more subtle motivations; money and acquisitions.
Younger people are still marrying out of passion but most of those marriages go by the wayside quickly and sometimes have grave consequences.
In the shadow of all this, the art of home, homemaking and home life have gone the way of the 4 cent postage stamp of 1959, the 31 cents per-gallon of gas of 1960 and the 1975 Big Mac for 65 cents.
And so, based on all of this, let’s talk about what family life was, when it was still considered the foundation of the entire country.
Home Sweet Home.
Home until the last few decades was never about being a place to hang your hat, toss something in the microwave and watch some TV before bedtime, falling asleep and heading off to work the next morning; home was never a place where kids were mostly brought up by baby sitters or their aunt Mary, most virtually only seeing their parents on weekends and holidays.
Actually, it was Mom who made the home environment because Dad worked; in fact, many said that a wife’s place was in the home, which a great many women would resent starting back in the 1960s and 70s, but the art of making a home was, regardless of the intellectualizing and discontent of the Friedanians, not only an artistic achievement but a loving achievement; an achievement that created the family cohesive, content and yes, happy.
How the heck did Mom do this?
In order to answer this question we need to go back to at least the 1950s in order to attempt to capture home life at its most proficient and, if you will, precious; as it was in those last years of traditional Americana.
The home, big or small, was first of all Moms’ domain: Mom created the feeling of the house; put the heart into the environment into the home. And yes, I am well aware that there are exceptions to everything and so every woman who has had children are not necessarily…the kind of mothers I’m referring to. This article, however, is not about them. This article is about those women who fulfilled their roles as wives and mothers; as homemakers.
I will attempt to define that homemaker in the following:
Moms first of all were timekeepers: they made sure things were done on time like getting up in the morning and getting to school in time. When you went to bed at night, you never had to worry about missing some appointment because you knew that Mom would be waking you up. Moms invariably knew everyone’s schedules—this was part of her magic because even when you forgot you had something to do…she seemed always to remind you.
Moms worked hard too. She kept the house clean and neat and she worked hard to keep it that way while everyone else seemed to mess things up—you know, like forgetting to get the mud off shoes…leaving the newspaper comics on the floor or spilling stuff.
Moms kept everyone’s clothes clean too. She washed and she ironed. Sometimes that was pretty hard job but mostly she did it when no one else was looking.
Back then she sewed. That’s an art that has all but disappeared these days. Back in the 1950s there were lots of fabric and sewing stores to shop at—today maybe only one in most mid-sized towns but back then Moms made dresses, patched clothing, kept buttons on shirts and sometimes even made her own table cloths and curtains. Quite often she would do her sewing while she and the family sat around listen to some radio show—no one sews and tries to watch TV and everyone watches TV in our times.
Moms cooked too. There were no microwave ovens back then and even when fast food started creeping into the American diet; it was seldom that families ever ate food that wasn’t cooked on their own stoves. Cooking was different back then too: My mom took a good seven to eight hours cooking her spaghetti sauce. Moms back then took a lot of time to prepare the dinner meal, called supper in a lot of homes and more often than not they spent hours at it. That was when families ate together and dinner time was a time for sharing good conversation—ideas and experiences—not some television program. But back then there was a lot more to life than sports, weather and news…really!
Moms spent a lot of time with you too. First of all they listened to you. It’s very important to be listened to and moms were the best at it.
Moms read to you. They helped you grow your imagination and at the same time they helped you forget your boredom or upset or loneliness: Sometimes they read you to sleep and sometimes they read to you just because you wanted to be read to. As busy as Moms were, they were never too busy for taking time with the kids.
Moms would play with you sometimes and that was the most fun. She knew exactly how to make you giggle. And, there few things that made you feel better than a good giggle!
Moms did a lot for her family: She was the one that kissed away the pain and put on the bandaids. She was always there to dry your tears and to encourage you when you were in doubt.
Moms had a great secret too—she knew that a hug could do amazing things like make you feel good about yourself and the whole wide world. In fact, sometimes, out of a clear blue sky, you’d be out playing or something and run into the house for nothing else than…a hug.
Moms knew how to make you feel special too. In fact she’d take the time to put all your art work up on the refrigerator door just so you knew how talented she thought you were. But moms were that way, they were proud of you for just being you and that was self-assuring and supportive. And anyway, it was awfully nice to know that your mom knew everything in the world about you and loved you anyway.
We’ve talked a lot about moms but how about dads? Well, dads made it possible for moms to do all that and that’s one reason that he was loved so much.
Dads of course were there for family outings and family meals and now and then he would join the games we played on the kitchen table just to be part of the togetherness. That made everyone in the family a little happier, that made everyone remember that they were, beyond all else, a family.
None of this is saying that mom's are no longer accomplishing these challenges as best that they can. What is being said is that because so many moms are now holding down full time jobs that they neither have the time or the energy to accomplish everythig it take to, so to speak, turn a house into a home; to recover the lost art of home making.
It is not shocking news to any adult, life is challenging and can be difficult a lot, if not most of the time. For sure the socio-political system is imperfect and unfair. As for wealth inequity, 10% have accumulated 80% of all financial assets and the bottom 90% on 20% of all the U.S.'s financial wealth. For a great many people, this affects the national view of family life--that wonderful old American Dream has already gone away for a large portion of the population. Indeed, if my grandmother was living today, she would never be able to own a home, not even a little house by the tracks like the one she had and where I was raised. She would be stuck in a two or three room apartment on poverty row with no yard and a view of the Freeway. In regard to all this, one statistic tells us that 62% of U.S. families worry about keeping their heads above financial water in their daily lives. And, those who are fortunate enough to have homes spend nearly 70% more in inflated-dollars on their home mortgage than their parents did only a generation ago.
This financial pressure serves to bring greater stress and so insecurity to many, many married couples and especially those with children. And, for a large percentage of households, two incomes are necessitated to keep up with even a moderate lifestyle. Propaganda likes to blame the individual for his and her financial woes—they tell us that over spending, too much credit card debt and lacking frugality are the problem-makers for troubled citizens. The truth, however, is that most poverty (even ghetto environments) is the result of governmental constructs as opposed to the peoples faults and frailties.
The point is that marriage and family life in modernism live under new social constructs that heavily burdens a great number of people. And, the two-income family is not truly working well enough to make those burdens go away. For only one thing the high cost of living drains income while, at the same time, the average person’s spending power is greatly reduced by mandatory spending among other neccessary expenditures.
No, I am not neglecting the fact that people mess up—over charge, over indulge themselves and so forth but I am certainly not condemning them as the sole cause of the financial problems in their lives.
And this brings us to the question this article asks: Should we go back to the way things used to be?
First of all, we obviously couldn’t if we wanted to—modernism has awakened us from the American Dream as it was in the 1950s—modernism has greatly diminished our spending power as it was during the 1960s and 70s—modernism has in fact created a great chasm between the citizen and the government even as it was last observed going into the 1980s. And while there was never a Norman-Rockwellian America there were the Golden years that, in the least, gave tremendous support to a strong and healthy middle class. There is nothing on the furthest horizon that gives even a thimble of hope that those positive and prosperous years will ever return, indeed, quite the opposite. And so, does all this mean that the “art of family life” has become a relic of the past—that dad at work and mom at home is a mere reflection of how things once were and can never be again?
First of all I do not believe that the vast majority would return to the days when it was believed that “a woman’s place is in the home.” After all, in our times, we are all well aware of the tremendous talents and abilities of females. There is a great count of woman who actually earn more than their husbands; there are woman who excel in the work place and would be discontent if they were somehow forced to stay at home and be solely committed to being housewives.
Yet, what has not changed are the needs of children and the security and joy of having a mom at home and so the family structure that constructs a strong unity of caring and love. As a result of this belief, I offer that people need to be extremely mindful of what kind of a lifestyle they wish to have for themselves before they marry. Do they want BMWs in the garage so to speak or children in the yard? There is no right or wrong answer here—no morality or ethics involved. The question is merely so the committed, modern couple will not fall into the trappings of emotionalized decision making as so many couples have. And why, some readers may ask, is this important?
While it is absolutely true—a woman’s (a wife’s) place is not in the home, it is where she wants to be. On the other hand, a mom’s is needed in the home at least until her children are old enough to fend for themselves on an intellectual and emotional level. Something to think about!
*/** Zinn, Howard* A People’s History of the United States* Harper &Row
***The wonderful old house was located at 824 South Wasatch in Colorado Springs,
Colorado. I hear that all those sweet memories are buried beneath townhouses now.
****Harris, Marvin * Our Kind *Harper Perennial