Two articles about housewives recently appeared in the same issue of a church paper. One defended the housewife’s right to have an outside job, inasmuch as women ought not to be satisfied merely to “clean, scrub, knit, and bake.” The other told of an experiment in which a group of “average housewives” had considerable success as psychological counselors. The author pleaded with church members to help with the enormous load of counseling that faces pastors today. He said housewives can be particularly effective in identifying with distraught mothers, and with sick and lonely people in their neighborhoods.

The two articles bring the vocation of homemaking into focus. So much has been said about the “liberration” of women, about their right to find fulfillment outside the home, that a homemaker who is happy with her lot may feel guilty about it, or may at least wonder why she doesn’t feel guilty. If she has a college degree, she may be chided about “wasting” it. In the United States today there are approximately 11.5 million working mothers, and the number has been rising.

The choice for the “liberated” woman today ought not to be between household drudgery and an outside job. There is a third alternative: a conception of homemaking much broader than the usual one. This is part of a larger question: How can we all get our tasks in a better perspective?

Homemakers sell their profession short if they think of it only as a series of chores. Cooking and washing and cleaning do need to be done, and of course can be approached creatively: trying new recipes, dressing the family attractively, redecorating, gardening—tasks like these are challenges for women with skill and talent. But let us not spend our lives upholding a you-can-eat-from-my-floors ...

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