Trad Wives Unite

If there is one thing which seems most constant in society right now, it is our propensity to be polarizing. There is no "one way" or "you do you" anymore... instead, we are witnessing a quagmire of ideals which are anything but static - everything has it's hues and persuasions.

While cleaning up in my kitchen the other night, I decided to thumb through some YouTube content an stumbled onto a video from and influencer mom on "The Decline of Momfulencers". At first I found her points intriguing, as a mommy blogger from the early days of the internet, I too watched what was once a supportive community intended to simply share and connect, devolve into a side-hustle for many whose sites were suddenly inundated with pop-ups as they hopped onto the bandwagon of hope to make a little money to help their families out. This vlogger argued to a similar point in the world of YouTube and lamented over a loss of truly helpful and 'real' content.

However, as she continued on in her 27 minute video, what at first seemed relatable, quickly transitioned to what sounded more like bitterness and jealousy. Even the clips she shared of other mommy vloggers didn't seem to reflect women who were confidently, though at times perplexed by motherhood, walking out a call to mom and homemake - they all seemed to bitterly complain about the YouTube competition, economic status of other vloggers, and even their own roles as homemakers and moms.

Yes, we need to be conscientious of unrealistic examples in mom and homemaking culture - not all our hubbies are doctors or business men providing all the conveniences and a big house to-boot... yet, hasn't that always been an element of the American Dream: to dream. We may not have the big house, the fancy car, the perfect ingredients to cook up a Paleo life, or the high-end fashion for us or baby.... however, we can draw inspiration. NOT as a comparison, rather, maybe as diy on a dime, or retooling what we have, or encouragement to save if the budget allows. We may not do Paleo or fancy ingredients, but I can look at other women's cooking techniques and dishes and be inspired to be more creative in the kitchen... I can see the trends they wear and be encouraged to try new things with my existing wardrobe. Most accounts I follow DON'T do weekly hauls or daily un-boxings, rather, I have chosen people who are, well, just that - people. Living their normal daily lives doing normal daily things on a normal blue-collar income.

Instead, women like the one I watched the other night, pool their focus into unrealistic venues, competing for pay and clout and it becomes a virtual cat-fight. I would even go so far as to argue how this influencer did not seem to be a Christian and was looking to self and the world to satisfy - leaving her miserable and grappling, even stating how she finds her value in her monetized vlog, which then brought to point her pain: she was loosing money because of an inundated and mis-focused market = loosing what she valued most. Instead of realizing this connection, she asserted the oddest and biggest attack of all:

Trad Wives are an unrealistic trend.

First of all, let us define "Trad Wife", minus the speculation and political swaying. A simple internet search explains:

A tradwife (a neologism for traditional wife or traditional housewife), in recent Western culture, typically denotes a woman who believes in and practices traditional sex roles and marriages. Many tradwives believe that they do not sacrifice women's rights by choosing to take a homemaking role within their marriage. Some may choose to leave careers to focus instead on meeting their family's needs in the home.

First, nowhere in the definition is it stated that a trad wife cannot work or do anything other than homemaking. It simply states that "meeting their family's needs in the home" is a tradwife's primary focus and some choose to leave their careers to do this.

Secondly, this basic definition does not articulate HOW a tradwife accomplishes her goals.

Altogether, it is a misunderstanding of what a tradwife actually is, which, I believe, is leading to widespread debate over its validity and viability... and causing some to instantly denounce such an idea. Everyone points to BallerinaFarm or Estee Williams as unrealistically portraying this lifestyle - perhaps because of their popularity, but also ignoring the many other influencers more in line with a basic middle-class concept of what a tradwife truly is.

To add to the narrative, many millennials claim they "could never" be a truly tradwife because homemaking bores them and they *have to* make money or DO things beyond housework to feel validated. In this mindset they have also conflated the idea of homemaking as something which can only be done if hubby brings home a fat paycheck.

Naturally, I was a bit ruffled on these points. I have been a homemaker for 32 years now, and homemaking has held different forms for me. If the 2020s term for "homemaker" is "tradwife", well then, I guess you could say I have years of experience as such. Ironically, I am old enough to be the grand-daughter of truly traditional housewives from the 40s and 50s. As I watch everyone debate what a "tradwife" is and isn't - I recognize how they are ignoring its most simple moniker of "homemaker" as someone who cares for the home and makes it a place where the proverbial heart is - I know the facts of this age-old role, from the source.

#1 - TradWives (housewife) never works outside the home

This is approached with a cynical sense of, "What about the woman who monetizes a blog or vlog?" As if, to earn a few pennies for their household, suddenly disqualifies them as a homemaker/tradwife. My grandfather worked as a carpenter until he retired. One blessing was that he and my grandmother were able to afford to buy a house at a discounted price because of my grandfather's work in helping to build their subdivision. My dad was 10 when they moved in around the mid 1950s. For the most part, they had everything they needed on my grandfather's modest income. However, their were times when a little extra was helpful. Grandma worked for a short time at the shopping center around the corner - extreme part time and, when I was growing up, she even sold Merlite - the Jewelry world's version of Avon! As a matter of fact, Avon ladies, Tupperware reps, and Home Interiors were staples well into my early days of homemaking. (Which gave way to Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, and even that basket company for a while). Who were the reps? Who was making the money? Housewives aka "TradWives". These were the monetized bloggers/vloggers of the 20th century. Were they suddenly not homemakers because they were selling plastic and makeup? No. As a matter of fact, the ability to work your schedule around your husband and kids was a key selling point in recruiting more reps! "Wanna take that fancy vacation?" many promotional materials touted, "Become a rep today..." You could earn money to pay for karate class, dance class, a weekend away or even date night with hubby AND you got an easy opportunity to visit with other women without kids in-tow. It was never either-or... it was both.

#2 - You can only be a TradWife/homemaker if hubby makes a lot of money.

Homemaking is not exclusively a white-collar 'career' choice. As a matter of fact, I would argue that homemaking is as much, if not more, a blue-collar lifestyle and often only comes as the result of sacrifice. When we consider that only 25% of stay-at-home moms are in households with an income at or higher than upper middle class, this presumption of high-income necessity is simply not true. I think the impressive point with women like BallerinaFarm is that, even with plenty of disposable income, they still choose a simple do-it-yourself life and raising their kids to value simplicity as well. Yet, with 75% of families not in this bracket, as mentioned, there are a plethora of accounts on social media representing the reality of homemaking. That reality may or may not include selling Wellness Boxes, Essential oils, or monetizing their accounts (the latest modern equivalent of Avon ladies and Tupperware!)... Depending on a family's income will certainly determine the style of content - but one core thing remains: ALL TradWives/homemakers are more concerned about being the caretakers for their families and homes than they are about how much money comes through the door (mostly!).

#3 - Being a TradWife means EVERYTHING is homemade/diy

I think there is good reason for this perception, a lot of tradwives/homemakers do a great deal of homemaking from-scratch with diy cooking and projects. For one thing, it saves a lot of money... and for the 75% of us out there, this is very important. However, not all fall in this category of from-scratch living, regardless of income level - not all mid-century wives did either, especially with the advent of frozen dinners and affordability in other household products. Many families today still make boxed mac-n-cheese, microwave dinners, or grab-and-go... they might buy their pillows, clothes and dish rags rather than make them... that is OK. Sure, a pre-packaged lifestyle seems to be largely frowned upon in recent history as unhealthy and (a term I recently learned) not "crunchy" enough. Because of this stigma, I believe many moms don't share their not-so-diy side on socials, I can't help but think that they believe it just wouldn't 'sell' and/or that they may get an ear-full from the Crunchy Women criticizing their technique. It isn't HOW you care for for your family, though, it is THAT you care for your family. It may or may not include sourdough starters, homemade cookies, or boxed mac-n-cheese eaten on paper plates. Whether dinner was made in 10 minutes or labored over for 2 hours does not make you more or less a TradWife/homemaker.

#4 - To be a TradWife means loosing yourself and your rights as a woman

I think, what many people miss when they make this assessment (often issued alongside #1) is how being a homemaker/TradWife may be the very self a woman wants to find and be. Modern society post-third-wave-feminism believes that the definition of a woman comes from the work she does and "work" is solely defined under the strict doctrine of employer/employee relationship - whether she be self or corporately employed. The sad part of this presumption is how little value is placed on the care of one's family and home. Cleaning, errands, cooking and childcare are all relegated to the term "chores", tasks to be completed as an afterthought by the collective in one household rather than a "job" to be filled by a member of that household, as one would attend a 9-5 pay-checked obligation. Homemaking, aka TradWifing, is a woman's right and, in most cases, is a great opportunity to live as our most authentic self: caregivers, nurturers, comforters, etc. Yes, this is a somewhat traditionalist role, but that doesn't make it wrong or unrelated to today.

#5 - TradWives are more depressed and isolated in their roles

I have been hearing this more and more lately, so I decided to do a little digging. Yes, being a homemaker/TradWife means you are home most of the day, by yourself or with children. For some, this can lead to feelings of isolation, there is no doubt, especially if you live in a remote area. However, the need for human connection is easily satisfied through play groups (if you have children), Bible Study groups, and other social get-togethers which, like homeschooling, do require some initiative. Interestingly, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) published a study last year which suggested that only 13% of homemakers considered themselves emotional or fragile... compared to other studies through various organizations which suggested that over 30% of women in the workforce suffer from depression. Depression and isolation are not exclusive to homemaking and, I would argue, are actually more prevalent in other age-groups and demographic nuances. What the NLM study did not articulate was: How many of these 13% of women were not Christians/involved in church groups... how many of them suffered previously from depression... how many of them were post-partum (which would account for a notoriously higher level of emotional or fragile mindset). I believe the misperception of depression and isolation is perpetuated not just by those who may not know any better, but also by others who wish to deliberately undermine the beauty and value of homemaking. I would even add: how many women struggle emotionally/with depression because of society they feel is pressuring them to work outside of the home and making them feel like less-than for choosing to remain in it. I personally know a young woman who has encountered this first-hand with her in-laws who place higher value in amassing piles of money than they do in encouraging a homemaker's lifestyle. She and her husband can comfortably afford for her to stay home, and had originally planned that. At the beginning of their marriage she was taking great joy in managing their household. However, the in-laws were relentless with passive-aggressive remarks and ridicule to the point that she became very depressed and wrestled with feeling worthless. Finally, she resolved to just go and get a job to shut everyone up. It is not where she is happiest but it is where the people who are around her are nagging her less. Hers is not the only experience I have witnessed like this.

...Why does this matter?...

I guess I am passionate about this topic because I have faced these battles my whole life. Growing up along that boundary of women's lib celebrations and respected traditional housewives, I was afforded an opportunity to choose for myself what would work for my household. Yet, as my husband and I added children to our family unit, grew and lost businesses, passed in and out of ministry, and traversed the decades of feminist evolution from what was once deemed the right to vote and fare job/pay opportunities to becoming what it is now: the expectation for everyone to work outside the home - we have faced our own rounds of criticism and critique. Like matters of the faith and homeschooling, I find myself, with my husband's support, determined to take up the banner of freedom and wave it high - to declare in this crazy, convoluted world which demands rights for everyone but forgets them for everyone who is 'different', that homemaking IS important... that a TradWife isn't just anything but is completely everything to the family who calls her theirs... and that her job is indeed a JOB and is as important (if not moreso) than that of the CEO, business owner, boss-babe, or paper-pusher.

TradWives are so much more.

She works, she strives, she provides, she cares - in a non-conformist way with the tradition of family at her core. She is weary at times, she doubts herself at times, she gets it wrong sometimes, she gets it right sometimes... but all the times she is tirelessly striving to do what is best for her and hers.

So many of the negative assessments out there completely forget the Heart of the matter, too - that one God has made us and called us and equipped us for our tasks. Whether that be in the home or out: HE is our source, our strength and our guide. We don't need to listen to the critics or let ourselves be crammed into boxes of expectations - only God's metrics for me, for us - Christ makes all the difference.

TRAD-WIVES UNITE! Whether you have no kids or many kids... whether dinner will come from a box or a farm... whether you folded your laundry or sent it out... whether you homeschool or walk your children to the bus... whether you monetize social media and run a home business or you have all you can manage with the home God gave you... whether your savings is growing or you can't wait for the next paycheck... we have one thing in common: we are committed to our families and we need not squabble over the rest.

Trad-wife, housewife, homemaker - in all shapes and forms - take pride in the call and turn off the assent. God has a plan and purpose for you and your work in the home.



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