After writing my first article on this blog-site, I emailed my Mum to show her what I had started. She was very moved as housewives were often forgotton and expected to work hard. By her kind permission, this is her reply to me:
What an extraordinary memory you have. It brought tears to my eyes as I was reading it because housewives of those days were not often given any regard other than “that is what she should be doing”. They were expected to be a “good wife” who worked hard or a “bad” wife. A husband was esteemed if he had a “good wife” and envied by those who had what was a considered a “bad” wife. Often their wives were not bad – just ill, or worn out with trying to make ends meet, or constant childbearing which did not leave enough time and energy to get just the basic daily chores done, let alone get enough sleep when babies kept them up all night. Every penny was accounted for and even farthings helped to buy another loaf of bread.
It was the expected thing that men, after a week’s work, often relaxed in the local pub with their mates come Friday and/or Saturday evening. That often meant less money for the wife to buy necessities but it was considered the done thing. Woe betide any wife who encouraged her husband to stay at home and keep her company or to help her. I was fortunate. Your Dad did do just that and I got many a sour look from his then unmarried brothers who expected to have him accompany them to the pub, as was the norm before he married me, and considered that I was interfering with his right to do what he pleased. Mother-in-law had told me that “when a man comes home from work, he needs his meal and to put his feet up”. I told your father what she had said and he was appalled and said “and what about you”. That was good to hear those words and I continued to do the things that were best for us both, my children, and so did your Dad.
They were very hard times, especially in the winter and trying to keep the children in warm clothes, enough food for all and a fire going throughout the day. And now look at us all today with all these things that we never dreamed of having. Times have changed dramatically.
I think it’s a subject that gets very overlooked and the word ‘drudge’ applied – which completely overlooks, and degrades, the hard work of such a multi-tasking job.