Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Heather Magee

GET UPDATES FROM Heather Magee
 

Is Being a Housewife Too High Risk?

Posted: 02/10/2013 1:22 am

2013-02-08-hhousewife.jpg

Housewife is hardly a term I'd use to describe stay-at-home moms these days. The '50s era-term evokes images of June Cleaver and women holding feather dusters with perfectly coiffed hair. Hardly a reality today.

Yet, if you refer to its official definition, a housewife is a married female who is not employed outside the home. In that case, I suppose the term still applies. That's not to say these women are kicking back playing a few rounds of FoxyBingo while popping bonbons. Oh no, housewives are perhaps the hardest working women on the planet.

I have a lot of respect for women who choose to stay home to raise their children. My mom, who today is a successful executive, stayed home with my brother and me until we were both in school full-time.

Most working women today wouldn't dream of taking five years off. Personally speaking, this would translate to career suicide as the job market has become fiercely competitive. There's always someone younger, willing to work harder for less money waiting in the wings. So for me, it's important to maintain my spot at the boardroom table.

In Canada, we are indeed lucky to have the option of taking a year off for maternity leave. That is, if you can afford it. The nominal amount we're offered through Employment Insurance is only a fraction of what many professional women earn today, so taking a year off is not only a huge financial blow, it could potentially take you out of the race altogether.

I'll never forget having former female executives I had admired reach out to me following a year of maternity leave, seemingly lost with all the changes in technology that had occurred. It doesn't take long to land in the category of dinosaur if you're not careful.

Aside from a loss in earnings and falling behind in your career — which for many women is a sacrifice they're willing to make for their families — there are other risks to consider. What if your husband falls ill, is injured or can't work? What if the industry your husband works in is facing a downturn and he ends up unemployed? How would a family make ends meet then?

This is what begs the question: when does being a housewife become too high risk? Shouldn't we as women be able to head out into the workforce if all of a sudden we're the sole financial provider? As someone who lives in one of the most expensive cities in the world, I can't get my head around how women can walk away from their careers without a worry in the world. Isn't it irresponsible?

Fast forward a few years, when your kids grow up and eventually leave the nest. What if the relationship you have with your husband grows sour and you're forced to start again? My parents split when I was in my twenties, and luckily my mom had a solid career so she didn't face a lot of the risks lifelong homemakers might. In fact, at the time of my parents divorce, my mom mentioned a few of her friends who wanted out of their marriages as well but wouldn't leave as they simply couldn't afford it. I couldn't imagine.

I'm not suggesting women should give up child-rearing for their career. But for any young women out there reading this, be strategic when it comes time to having a family. Don't put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak.

In 2013, I think it's safe to say the term housewife has been retired. The bigger challenge these days is figuring out a way to jungle all the roles we want to conquer. Kudos to all you working moms making it happen.

Loading Slideshow...
  • Stephanie Radivo

    Some real Vancouver women answer actual questions posed to applicants for the reality TV show "The Real Housewives Of Vancouver." <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/02/08/real-housewives-of-vancouver-profiles_n_2641508.html?utm_hp_ref=canada-british-columbia">Read more here</a>. <em>What characteristics define the Vancouver Housewife? </em> Sarcasm and attitude without a doubt. In order to live in this city you need at least 5 umbrellas, a MEC raincoat, a pair of Hunters, a specialized light for seasonal affective disorder and a muddy buddy for your child. You all know what I am talking about!

  • Amy Lee

    <em>Have you ever had cosmetic surgery, Botox, Restalyne injections, etc.? If so, please provide details. If you haven’t had any of the above procedures performed, would you consider it?</em> Nope, nope, and no. What is Restalyne? When I was younger, I did consider getting a facelift when I'm 60 (if needed), but now that I have a daughter, I do question what message that is sending her. Shouldn’t we teach our kids to appreciate our own unique beauty and know we are perfect just as God made us?

  • Emily Wright

    <em>What characteristics define the Vancouver Housewife?</em> </a>Yoga pants and ponytails. In my neighbourhood, the paradox of expensive strollers being pulled out of the trunks of Hyundais or wheeled out of three-storey walk-up rental buildings. Organic groceries and $12 bottles of wine. Ennui.

  • Jen Schaeffers

    <em>Do you have "staff" in your home? (E.g. nanny, driver, chef, etc.)</em> As a working mom of two children, help is a must! We have a dog walker who comes twice a week and a wonderful cleaner who comes twice a month to clean the stuff I loathe cleaning – bathtubs, showers, toilets, stove top etc.

  • Eschelle Westwood

    <em>Are you a good representation of a Vancouver Housewife? Why?</em> I am unsure what a good/bad one would be but I would definitely say that I am a unique one. I say thing mainly because both my fiancée and I are very young. I got pregnant at 19, he was only 20 at the time, once he was born I was 20 and “hubs” was 21. We had been together a couple of years before getting pregnant and were in no way ready for a kid, I never think you ever really are ready.

  • Connie Peters

    <em>Have you ever had cosmetic surgery, Botox, Restalyne injections, etc.? If so, please provide details. If you haven’t had any of the above procedures performed, would you consider it? </em> I’ve definitely considered Botox, and I’ll go when the time arises for sure.

  • Sarah Blackmore

    <em>What characteristics define the Vancouver Housewife?</em> It depends on the situation! For me, I would say, hardworking (you gotta be, it costs so much to live here!), outdoorsy, the willingness to don yoga pants for any given occasion, and passionate about their city.

  • Stephanie Von Dehn Schick

    Are you a good representation of a Vancouver Housewife? Why? If being a good representation of a Vancouver Housewife involves being a surgically enhanced fashionista, then No…. I am not a good example…..I proudly represent the other subset of Vancouver Housewives who prefer to wear jeans and T-shirts and who model the “just got out of bed and haven’t had time for a shower or makeup” look.Are you a good representation of a Vancouver Housewife? Why? If being a good representation of a Vancouver Housewife involves being a surgically enhanced fashionista, then no, I am not a good example. I proudly represent the other subset of Vancouver Housewives who prefer to wear jeans and T-shirts and who model the "just got out of bed and haven’t had time for a shower or makeup" look.

  • Bianca Bujan

    <em>Are you a good representation of a Vancouver Housewife? Why?</em> I do love me a good pair of yoga pants, and I definitely drink my share of lattes, but that’s probably where the buck stops for me. I’m a huge carnivore (also known as the BBQ master in my house), and am not a huge fan of tofu and couscous. I have only recently taken to exercising (slowly working on becoming a barre star).

  • Taslim Jaffer

    <em>Other than your children (if applicable), what is the accomplishment of which you are most proud?</em> I am most proud of how I am stepping into who I truly am after years of being unsure of what that meant. I left a steady, lucrative career and started all over again, following my dreams of becoming a published writer. And I published my first book within one year of making that decision.

  • Lisa Corriveau

    <em>Have you ever had cosmetic surgery, Botox, Restalyne injections, etc.? If so, please provide details. If you haven’t had any of the above procedures performed, would you consider it?</em> I’ve never had any cosmetic procedures, but I do have a dozen piercings & several tattoos with plans to get more ink. From the stats I’ve read & the skin I’ve seen this summer, I think tattoos & piercings are a lot more common than nose jobs & face-freezing in Vancouver.

  • Justine Boulin

    <em>Tell us about your stuff. What do you like to buy, collect, etc.?</em> Stuff?? I have a mountain buggy stroller that’s worth $800.. yet I wear old navy jeans. Does that count? I honestly don’t have a lot of stuff. I don’t collect anything and I hate clutter so am constantly getting rid of things.

  • Brandee Villauz Foster

    <em>Are you a good representation of a Vancouver Housewife? Why?</em> Yes, I love my Starbucks, but I only wear my Lulus to work out in, and don’t drive an SUV. I will admit, though, that I got a gorgeous Coach purse for Christmas from my husband, but before that I had a little “purse” that clipped on to my diaper bag (you know, the one I haven’t carried in about 2 years). I don’t do yoga though, and there is nothing about me that would ever have you mistaking me for a "housewife."


 

Follow Heather Magee on Twitter: www.twitter.com/urbancowgirl

FOLLOW CANADA BRITISH COLUMBIA