Sunday, July 11, 2010

Old Wash Tub

Welcome to Laundry Week here at OPOD. We will be looking at people doing their wash over the last hundred or so years. The picture is from 1900, and shows a family doing laundry the really old fashioned way . . . using wash tubs and wash boards. When I was growing up in the 60's, we would visit Mexico, and you would see people still doing the wash this way. Near where I lived, some people still had the old outdoor washing machines that had the hand wringers on them, but still they were a step up from this.

OK, I am going to be politically incorrect here, and most likely get the ire up of a lot of visitors, but I think the downfall of our society began when women went into the workforce instead of managing the home. Now, before you get too bristled up, understand why I say this. I think women make excellent if not superior employees, and are smart, efficient, and capable workers. I just think that the most important job in society is rearing up the next generation. Since this is the most important job, we should put our best people on it. When families began to have both parents work, and outsourced the raising of kids to daycare or sitters, an important element of family life was lost, and, well, a lot of the kids started turning out really rotten. The thing that I see happening is that parents try to compensate for the lack of time they have to spend with the kids by spoiling them by buying them anything they want, and having low expectations for them. 

I feel that I am very lucky in that when we had our daughter, Mrs. PJM decided to leave the workforce, and manage the home. She was a wonderful mother, we had a happy home, and Mrs. PJM had time to do all types of volunteer work in the community. I, on the other hand, put way to much time in at work. I really wanted to be famous, and had dome some work that started getting a lot of attention. I can remember once even they did a five minute story on the ABC Evening News with Peter Jennings on some work that I had done. They interviewed me, and showed the new technology that I had developed. I was pretty full of myself, and was enjoying all the attention from being on National TV. Well, the next Sunday as we were going to church, Mrs. PJM was dropping our daughter off at the nursery, and I had walked on to get us a seat. As I was walking down the hall, this woman ran up to me and said, "Didn't I see you . . .". Well, I thought she was going to say, "Didn't I see you on the ABC Evening News with Peter Jennings last week?" But, that is not what she said, she said, "Didn't I see you with Mrs. PJM? She is my son's Awana leader, and he loves her so much. When he gets home she is all he talks about. He will remember her for the rest of his life." Well, it was at this point I realized how much more important what my wife was doing than what I was doing. No one ever remembers who did this great thing or that great thing, a few years down the road. But, we all remember someone who helped us, taught us, or were kind to us as children. I think if we all invested more in our own children, and other children around us, we would be happier, our children would grow up better, and Society would return to what it once was.


  1. Very well said. I agree with you 100%. My better half did the same thing with our 4 children. Money, gifts, and glory aren't everything by a long shot. But, I'm sure there will be plenty of disagreement. Thanks for a great blog site. rwm

  2. No ire here.... in fact I was in tears by the end of your post.

    Thanks for appreciating "women's work."

  3. I also agree 100%. I had to go to work when my children were young - my late husband got laid off, and then I went back for a while when he died - but the kids said the happiest days of their lives were when they came home and I was there to greet them.

    I work with a homeless shelter, and many of the younger women who come there have NO idea how to keep house or cook, because Mom wasn't home to teach them. Most don't even know how to empty a vacuum cleaner bag! A homecooked meal is a box of mac and cheese or a frozen pizza, rather than carryout. It's sad, it really is.

  4. I agree 50%. I think the job in the home is far more important than the job "out there", but, there's nothing standing in the way of the male of the species being the home builder and the female the "bread winner".

    From last week's discussion, I think a child should be taught household chores but also engineering, male or female. As s/he grows up, they will decide for themselves which avenue suits them best.

    On the other hand, I had an early run-in with excessive radiation and have no kids, so this is all theory.

  5. I agree 100%. I stayed home until my youngest, of 3, was in High School. They have never been in trouble and were married before having babies, themselves. My husband didn't earn much, but we had a nice house and never went hungry. My daughter reminded me the other day of a time she wanted to go on a trip with her church group to McAllen,Tx and I did the neighbors ironing to earn the money so she could go.

  6. Mathan,
    I am going to have to disagree. I believe men and women are equal partners, and equally important, but men and women are not the same. I believe women are endowed with a gift of nurturing, and men the gift of protecting and providing.

    I find it interesting watching all the peafowl and pea-chickies. The little chickies sleep under Lovie's wing. When I throw food out, Lovie runs over, and breaks the food into little pieces, and lets the chickies eat their fill before she will take a bite. She will make sure the other peacocks do not eat the food until the babies have had their fill. She watches over them day and night, and keeps them warm, groomed, and fed.

    If I through the food out, and she is not watching, Handsome and the boys will come over and eat it all, without thinking of the babies. If it was up to the boys to raise the chickies they would starve or freeze.

    At the same time, there is sometimes a cat from the neighbor's house that will wander into Chickie Town. When this happens, immediately, Handsome and the boys bristle up, and give the cat the business until it leaves. A big dog got in one day as Mrs. PJM was leaving, before the gate closed. The dog was approaching Chickie Town, and Handsome and the boys really got after him, and chased him off. When the bull snake got in Miss Kittie's nest, Handsome and the boys were out there trying to get the snake out of the nest. When I went out and killed the snake, I threw it over about 20 feet. The boys found it, and sort of stayed around it, making sure it would not come back and bother Miss Kittie again.

    So, at the risk of getting the ire of people . . . I believe women are gifted with the wonderful nature of nurturing, and men the gift of protecting and providing. That is not to say that a man can not nurture, it is just not so much in his DNA.

  7. Mathan's mateJuly 11, 2010 at 8:51 AM

    In a perfect world, I agree with you 100%. However, the sad fact is that many women HAVE to go to work, either because she is the only breadwinner, or because the husband's earnings simply aren't enough to make ends meet. I know many instances when both spouses have to have more than one job just to get by.On the other hand, I decry those women with children who can afford to stay home, but feel they must have a career so they can have an "identity". Their identity is "Mom" and that should be enough.

  8. Mathan's right, I know two men who did just that. One did a great job, the other not so much. Not because he was a man, he just didn't have the temperment for it. Of course some women don't either, it's not automatic... another reason career/children should be a thoughtful decision.

  9. Manthan,

    "However, the sad fact is that many women HAVE to go to work, either because she is the only breadwinner, or because the husband's earnings simply aren't enough to make ends meet. "

    I don't want to generalize but in many cases or mabybe most cases, the "can not make ends meet on husband's salary" is a result of lifestyle choices. Does "making ends meet" include Cable TV? Flatscreen TV? Cell Phones? Cigarettes? Beer?

    I believe that in situations where the budget is tight, women can often have a more positive impact on the budget by effectively managing the home, than by providing an additional paycheck, and leaving the home unmanaged/undermanaged.

  10. PJM, I have agreed with all your points today. With mom at work, pretty much nobody is raising the children.

  11. What I appreciate is that we are able to have the discussion in a polite and respectful way. There can be differing views, but it is good to be able to discuss the views and opinions without a bunch of name calling and vitriol.

  12. I am an ex-career mother and I agree with PJM entirely. I had a well compensated executive position and thought my career was equally important to my husband's. When our son was 8 I decided to give up a lot of material things and become a stay at home mom and we later had another child. Its funny how many of the things I used to think were so important to have or buy became much less attractive. Although both my husband and I make our children's well being our utmost priority, I find that I, as a mother, have much better instincts and intuitions about things than my husband does. The kids would be equally loved if my husband were home with them, they would not be equally protected. Mom's are just different that way.

    Also, if women hadn't entered the workforce in mass, women would not now need to work to keep afloat. Household budget requirements increased considerably with two income families becoming the norm. If most women had stayed home, the many women that now want to stay home would not have to work.

  13. PJM, you have strong ideas concerning working moms, was it because you had a working mom. My mom started working away from home when I was 8 years old. I felt abandoned.

  14. Mary,
    Thank you for your comments.

    I think that when women began to provide a second income, it also changed the perception of an acceptable lifestyle.

    Granite countertops, new cars, $100/month cell phone/texting packages, flat screen TV's with premium channels, health club memberships, cruises, etc. have become the normal.

    Unfortunately, with these "things" we gained, what we gave up was much greater.


  15. Anon,
    My mom was a stay at home mom. In addition, my dad worked from home, so I had the privilege of growing up with both parents in the home.

  16. I agree 100% as well. There's no substitute for diligent parents. Nowadays women are marginalized if they are only "home makers". Equally important is the presence of the father. Ambition is great but the kids need dad to be around. Let's not forget a major reason for two working parents is the huge tax burden placed on families.

  17. Ah yes, the huge tax burden. Unfortunately, when women work, they are taxed at the rate ON TOP of the husbands salary. If a man makes a lot, the wife's first dollar is taxed at the top rate of the husband. This really stings.

  18. Don't hold back, PJM! ;) I love your blog, and I love how you provoke thought and discussion which is a key trait of being a teacher (and an artist). I don't always agree nor do I expect people to always agree with me, but there's always respect.

    Something on which we all agree: greater amounts of care and love are essential towards raising children.

    There's a number of fallacies with your arguments. One of them is the correspondence to different gender roles in animal society, of which you use the peafowl as an example. You might as well use honeybees or lions. With honeybees the males only purpose is to beget and if the food supply is scarce they are tossed out of the hive to die. New male lions in a pride kill all the cubs sired from the previous males, something that isn't the behaviour of human step-fathers. Other animal societies are different from ours and other human societies are different from ours and we can't use them convincingly as a means to dictate or regulate our society.

    There's more, not least of which is the assignment of behaviour to gender which arises as a result of attributing abilities or "gifts" to gender. I've seen this many times in childcare. No one questions a woman who is interested in childcare but any man is regarded with suspicion - he must be a child-molester or a homosexual (and by even further correlation he is deemed effeminate, which isn't a requirement for homosexual males) and couldn't possibly be interested in nurturing or caring because these are NOT the qualities of a man. We cannot want men to learn how to care for children properly and then view them as not being "men" for doing it.

    My view is that we're not equal. Men and women are different, and individual men and individual women are different from each other. One of the great attributes about living in a first world country is that we say it would be fair to be given a chance and a choice where we can have them.

    However, when our society says a man is successful we do not understand that to mean he is a good family man or even "good" - it means he makes a lot of money at his job; that's what our society values: material success. Our society also does not value child-rearing since it has little to no money value attached to it; how much do we pay for childcare and how much do people think we should pay for it? I assure you, people do not want to pay for what they perceive as "baby sitting" since it couldn't possibly be difficult or even require any intelligence or great amount of knowledge since it is a "gift" or instinctual.

    I hope that we each can consider what others have to say and learn from them, even if we ultimately don't agree. And it was fun! It would have been better to have had these discussions and remembrances at a table with some cool drinks, listening to the peacocks shouting. :)

  19. Anyone who has ever held a job in public education or one dealing with the next generation today will not disagree with you PJM. I am not a rich person, the most important legacy I will leave behind is my children. I happy to say I am proud of the job my husband and I did raising our children. My favorite saying is "100 Years from now no one will care what kind of car you drove or how much wealth you had, but they will remember the difference you made in the life of a child." So many people today think the school should teach morals and integrity because they do not TAKE the time to rear their children. Even working full-time you have TIME.

  20. My Dad was a single parent in the early 1950's, an unusual situation at that time. Dad and I had many discussions throughout the years about me growing up without a stay at home mother like all of my friends had. When I was in grade school, my teachers would ask questions about my home situation because it was so uncommon. Looking back, I think that most people felt that it couldn't be done. I had a very happy childhood in spite of the skeptics.
    Dad taught me to do laundry, change the beds, cook, sew and how to rebuild a motorcycle engine. Partly to keep the household running and partly because he believed people should be self sufficient at an early age.
    Having said that, I believe that having a stay at home Mom is better situation. I believe there is that nurturing thing that men generally don't have as much of as women. In a perfect world.

  21. Astrocrab,
    Thank you for your post.

    You said . . .
    "There's a number of fallacies with your arguments".

    You followed this with a lot of words and theories. I would invite you to do this experiment. Find a five year old child. Ask the child, had you rather Mom go to work today, and leave you at daycare, or had you rather Mom stay home today.

    We have made ourselves hardened to the truth . . . ask any child.

  22. Geezer,
    Thank you for sharing your story. What a wonderful father you must have had. It sounds like he really stepped up and provided a wonderful home under adverse conditions.

    When I was growing I had some distant cousins in the area. The dad was sort of a gruff old rancher. There were three little boys in the family. Then when the boys were very young, the mother was killed in a terrible car wreck. It was amazing to see the rancher step up and be both mother and father to those boys. All three boys grew up to be outstanding young men, with successful businesses and happy families. I always held a special respect for that man, in that those who knew him before his wife died would have never believed he had it in him to do what he did.

  23. Oh how much I agree with you PJM! In fact, practically the same words have come directly from my mouth. I believe that during WWII so many moms went off to work, then society never got back to their grassroots, and it really shows (most of the time). I don't like making blanket statements such as that, but moms going off to the workforce has hurt our society and our country than most people will ever know.

    Geezer, what a wonderful comment you made in tribute to your father. He sounds like a perfect 'gem'. I mean that very respectively!

  24. Your position is right on spot, PJM. WE also took the route of having my wife stay home with the kids even though she was had a really strong job . She and the Air Force put me through college including a Masters by working as a lab tech. Our family started immediately as I graduated so finding a job was critical. I found on with great potential but relatively low pay to start.

    For years we scraped to get buy with two kids, a morgage, car payments. etc. Eventually my income came up as I moved up through the organization. Later I moved into the executive levels and things were much better, but thru all of this financial stress, we were able to shape our children because Mom was always available and active in the kids life and school. They both turned out beautifully (father's pride) and are now successful business women married with children.

    Now, here is the rub, they use daycare in spite of my subtle encouragement to tough it out and have Mom stay home. As always, there are extenuating circumstances and the fathere have jobs that provide them additional time with their kids. The grandkids are doing fine but I wonder what they would have been like with Mom at home.

    I bet the little stinkers will turn out just fine. Grandparents sometimes analyze things too much. In any event, they are our future.

  25. Oh I agree. Sadly many men now expect the woman to work outside the home as well as be in charge of domestic duties. This leaves a woman to wonder what good is that kind of set up? Now women are no longer trapped/dependent on a man. However, that dependence on one another makes life so much easier when you're working as a team.

    I worked in the mornings while my children went to Grandpa's for pancakes and fun. When I returned in the afternoon, they helped with chores as best they could with responsibilities increasing with age.

    No, I agree with you. Great post. Now please reveal the Peter Jennings story.

  26. Maybelline,

    "Now please reveal the Peter Jennings story"

    I am afraid that was long ago, and will remain forgotten. It is not relevant to my present pursuit of becoming a gentleman farer.


  27. Speaking from 38 years of experience of being home, I totally agree with PMJ. Thanks for the discussion! I come from a long line of women who stayed home with their children, I guess I was just like your little penhen watching its Momma to learn how to be a Momma herself.
    My Grandpa, who would have been over 100 years old this year, who grew up with 3 sisters, always enjoyed being with his Dad doing the outside chores, which back then, we giving them food, heat, etc. One year he tells the story of having to be removed from the outside to be at his Mothers knee doing all the inside chores. He was about 13 at the time. He said it was the best year of his life. He learned so much, and became more grateful to the women in his life for all they did. But he did say, It was the hardest year of his life. He was grateful to go back out into the barn, garden, up early to milk etc. We are different, Men and Women for sure. Thanks for a great discussion.

  28. Mr PJM-
    Usually I agree with your ideas on what is happening in our society. I too feel that there were many ideas and ways of doing things that were better in the "old days". However, today you hit a very sore point for me. While I do agree that children are better off with two parents who love them, and a stay at home attentive mother, not everyone has one.

    I had a stay at home mom who was depressed and addicted to Valium since just after the birth of my youngest sister when I was 5. I started taking care of my two younger sisters by the time I was 10 because my mother couldn't. My dad worked 3 jobs at times because they felt the mother should be home, no matter how depressed she was.

    Now, switch to my adult life where I am, and have been, a single working mom to 4 children for the last 12 years. My ex husband was abusive, lazy, and self-absorbed. ( He displayed these traits after 3 years of marriage with 3 children. He wanted to populate the world with his own mini-me"s). The man could not then, or even now, keep a job longer than one year. I wanted to stay home with my children but was forced to work while married, and after I was divorced, to support my children.

    I have spent my adult life trying to educate people that sometimes the working mom is doing that because she has no choice, not because she wants all the 'extras'. On the other hand, I know many stay at home moms are miserable! I'm really not sure what the answer is, but please remember those of use who are doing the best that we can!

  29. Momma Nic,
    Thank you for sharing your story.

    Somewhere along the line someone told women the Big Lie . . . that staying home and being Domestic Engineers was a job of low importance.

    You should be proud of your choice, most esteemed Momma Nic.

  30. I agree with anonymous above; there are two sides to every story. One of my best friends husbands was an alcoholic and very verbally abusive and controlling. He kept her feeling worthless, depressed, and popping out out kids. Finally with my encouragement began to feel better and got a job to work on getting her and the kids away from him. Later with her talents and my help I got her a better job where I worked and she finally got her wish and went out on her own

  31. When I was younger and lived outside of the U.S. I did all our laundry by hand, on glass or metal washboards. Nothing at all romantic about them, unless raw knuckles are romantic. I do miss hanging laundry up on the line, but now it catches soot and dirt and doesn't stay clean.

    Although I frequently disagree with you as I am a feminist, I love your writing and your photos. Never boring!

  32. Chris, being a feminist doesn't require a mother to work. Feminism, to me, means I have choices that I can make on how to spend my life. I have come to believe, however, that once a choice is made to become a mother some options go away. You can't "have your cake and eat it too" you know.

  33. Mary- I am afraid being a "feminist" means you must make certain specific choices, and staying home is not one of them. A lot like "pro choice" turns out to mean pro - a specific - choice. Also . . . if you are "black" you are expected to hold certain specific views, or you are an Uncle Tom.

  34. Hey PJM,

    What a great post; look at the wonderful discussions!

    I left off a lot of the fallacies of thought as there was plenty enough for what I'd said and certainly you can't listen and learn when you're talking too much. But here I go (blah-de-blah)...

    Ask a 5 year old child if he would prefer candy or healthy food and I think you'll know what the answer will be - is that what should be given to the child? A child's preferences alone should not be the determinant of child care. Note: I said preferences, not rights or even more importantly, needs (e.g. safe food, potable water, adequate shelter, etc.) which should determine what is best for children by those who love and care for them.

    Anecdotes: At 7, I felt bereft with my mom going to work. Looking back I know I didn't even consider at all how my actions hurt her decision to stop doing piece-work at home in order to take our family out of poverty and give herself some old-age security by taking a job in the workplace, or even more invisibly the feelings of my father whom in contrast it would seem I couldn't care if he was there by my side or not and yet he was working hard, caring for his family as well. I saw this same reaction with my brother, who loves his toddler sons dearly, who always comes in second place to mommy in their books and yet it is he who sacrifices his time with them in order to provide for his family. When he comes home he makes time for them and his wife (who is currently an at home mommy) and yet there is no recognition by the children (who are too young to understand) for him and his efforts as a truly loving father and husband.

    I agree: it is better for the children to have skilled, loving home care. I've worked in childcare, and I've seen plenty of good AND bad parents and I can assure you that gender is not a determinant of skill. I maintain that the qualities of loving, nuturing, and caring are not weighted in favour of those who possess a uterus, that parenting is a learned skill (be it from elders or from books but most certainly practice) and not an instinctual one and that women do not have an edge over men except that our society assumes that they do and so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    I hold that if loving care for a child comes from a father, a mother, or even from extended family if that is available (another fallacy is that of the nuclear family where there are no other possible caregivers in the family aside from mommy and daddy) then I don't take the view that "mommy is the best for the job" simply because she is a female. The attitude that "mother is best" also results in so many fathers having little to no access to their children when they are separated or divorced from their wives and this is clearly unfair to both the father and to the children, and especially punishing to children when it is the father who is the better parent.

    Given a choice and the chance I'd be a stay-at-home parent. But that's another point: choice. I'm free to follow my ambition and show initiative, and that can include parenting. None of us have the excuse of gender to stop us from being the best people we can be to each other, to our families, to our society and world.

    Now if you'll excuse me, I have to make dinner! Keep up the great work, PJM, in provoking thought, discussion, and learning!

  35. Very well said Mr PJM, and I agree totally.

    Whatever happened to the good old fashioned way of doing things.
    I have always had an outdoor clothesline,never have had a dryer or a dishwasher and don't own a microwave oven.Cook from scratch and teach the children godly principles.Raise chickens and vegies in the backyard and love knitting and sewing clothes.

    I guess the Proverbs 31 wife was made redundant with the onset of 'progress' more's the pity.

    You sound like a gentleman farmer with his head on right.Great blog.

  36. Love this post and agree totally! Looking back at the ripe old age of 52, I don't know know how our generation bought the "both genders are the same" BS. Men and women are not the same and never will be. Equal, yes. Interchangeable, no.

    When I quit my job to stay home with my first child, we almost halved our income. We had $100 left over to spend for two weeks after we paid the house payment! Somehow we did it. Hubby got raises that made things easier and easier. My husband is the kind of man who works very hard always, and fully supported me staying home, even though it meant no boy toys, vacations, and extras. I could not have stayed home without his support.

    Being home can be monotonous and tedious. But it is so important! I believe my continual presence told my children how important and special they were/are.

    Now we are going through the teenage years and college years. They are not easy either. And with our human free will, I cannot guarantee my children will make great decisions. But I will be able to face my God at the end of my life and say, I did the best I could.

    "What we do with our time is a statement of who we are and what we stand for."

    Thanks for letting me rant.

  37. I stayed at home with our girls..until they graduated from High School. Much with what is wrong with society could be healed if we stopped taking our most precious commodity to daycare. It seems couples are fitting in children amongst their busy lives instead of concentrating on raising them up proper. I think it is sad. Great post..and Mrs PJM should be commended..I did PTA:)

  38. From a stay at home mom point of view. I did not choose it because we could "afford" we are below poverty level on one income. It makes all the differnece in the world. It is not always glamerous or even rewarding (persea) but if we put thought an effort into the minds of the next generation, our soceity would change for the better. I have women curse/name call etc etc. for that opinion.

  39. Anon,
    ". I have women curse/name call etc etc. for that opinion" . . . then you are hanging around with the wrong people. You should be greatly praised for your dedication. You are doing the MOST important job in the world.

  40. Like minded we are! I appreciate you putting the truth into words, as you did.

    My wife and I are raising four boys. Three are Eagle Scouts, the other on his way. The oldest two are now in college. Not one was ever in daycare. This was a goal of ours after our first was born. We figured our children would only be home for a short time in our lives...we could make our fortunes when they are grown.
    My wife was home with them during the day while I worked. We switched in the evenings...she worked part-time while I was home with them. When I was laid off in 2001, she went to work full-time while I worked on our home business and took care of the kids' needs. When I went back to work, she had the home business and took care of the kids again. God was good to us and still continues to be!


  41. PJM:

    You're correct. I stayed home, too and I loved it.

    Especially taking care of my beloved mother.

  42. You are absolutely right! As soon as women went to work outside the home, prices started to rise. Suddenly the price of a home doubled, car prices jumped and I wondered if they went up because we had more money to spend. I stayed home with my children and when they went to school I went to work at the school so we could be home together etc.

  43. I totally agree. I went back to work in the 70's and, even though it really changed our lives for the better financially and our two children turned out fine (and had a wonderful "third grandmother" as their daily babysitter), I've since come to feel that all of us mothers who CHOSE to go back to work in my generation expanded the economy to the point that it made it much more NECESSARY for the mothers in the next generation to do the same.

    We also set an example of a working mother -- both our daughter and daughter-in-law have careers.

    We live with the consequences of our choices, whether we like the results or not.


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