Here I am in Lazio visiting Hilary White who is, as you may know, now currently having chemotherapy. At the moment she is napping, so here I am on her computer, blogging away.
So of 160 readers who voted, 29 of you would prefer to work full-time until retirement and 131 of you would prefer to be stay-at-home mums (or, if American, moms). The fact that 97 of the housewife hopefuls are Americans reflects that fact that most of my readers ARE American. (Next come the Canadians and the British.)
"Shaidle was right!" chortled Hilary, and she was referring to yet another Canadian blogger, that one being called Kathy Shaidle. (Since many many people complain when I link to Kathy, follow the link at your own risk. Kathy is a polemicist, and she writes dirty.)
Kathy Shaidle often says that most women would rather just stay at home than have to go out and work for a living. Of course, this might be true of most men, too, and quite a number of men in various countries just sit in the town square playing games all day while their wives scrape together some kind of living so their husbands and children can eat. But possibly I digress.
The truth is that many young women would love, love, LOVE to be able to stay at home like most (but certainly not all) Western women in the 1950s and create a home and keep it looking and smelling nice and improving it with handicrafts and also bottling jam. I was going to say "middle-class and wealthy women", but as a matter of fact many working-class women stayed home too. Many working-class men were proud that their wives "didn't HAVE to work", and in exchange expected dinner on the table soon (if not immediately) after they got home. If they got home. (Some working men stayed in the pub as long as legally possible instead.)
So if any of the minority of my male readers have been moaning that today's young women don't want to stay home and look after their home, husband and halfings, they need look no further than my last poll. Lots of women want to stay home.
You know what? As much as I can't stand dating websites, I would support a dating website for future housewives and the men who want to marry them. Since a woman can't exactly go around telling men she wants to be a stay-at-home mum, and since a man is afraid to say he would prefer his future wife to stay at home and raise kids, this dating service would eliminate all the embarrassment and fear of slaps.
The thing is, chickadees, that you can't stay at home as a grown-up person if you (A) aren't married or (B) have wracked up a huge student debt. And since so many women have huge student debts, I just have to ask, if you want ultimately to be a stay-at-home mum, why did you wrack up that college debt?
If you went to community college and learned to be a chef or a florist, for example, you would have a good solid trade that would keep you fed and housed "in case" as my Grandmother once said, "you don't get married." Or if you went to a state university and studied Chaucer, you might still know as much about Chaucer as you might have had known you gone to Notre Dame. (If, however, you have always wanted to be an English professor, than the Big Name school might be the way to go, since academia is one of the rackets in which Big Name School means something.) You would just have a smaller student debt.
At any rate, if you dream of being a stay-at-home mum, then stop racking up student debts. Do not apply to do an M.A. or PhD in Theology. Seriously. Get your B.A. (if you really want that B.A.) and then get a job. Spend your evenings at, or planning, social events. Go to lots and lots of Young Catholic (or Other Young People of Good Will) meetings. Go to World Youth Day. Go on the annual Chartres Trid jamboree.
Now there are indeed some women, and I honour them, and heck, so does everyone else (on paper), who are so interested in an academic topic or their business or their careers that they are willing to go without kids and marriage, if that's what it takes. Because, sadly, sometimes that's what it does take.
This is not me saying that if you go to grad school you'll never get married. It is NOT. I know lots of women with advanced degrees, most of them much younger than me, who got married. But I also know women with advanced degrees who have the most appalling student debts. You don't need to get a graduate degree to be a stay-at-home mum, and now I'm going to tell you something horrible. Hold onto your coffee, for it is ghastly.
Men don't necessarily want women to be smarter than they are. Women, famously, want to marry men who make more money than them, are at their intellectual level or even challenge them intellectually. But many, many, many men don't care about these things. They don't expect women to make more money than them; if she's attractive and fun, they'll sweep a waitress off her feet and carry her out of the bar. (Fact: I know a real live barmaid who was indeed swept off by a millionaire.) They also don't expect women to be smarter than them, and many don't like it when women are.
These men are not just 65 year old prosing away on the golf course. I delicately brought up the subject of intellectual companionship in marriage to a handsome and very well-educated NCB and he laughed. He. Actually. Laughed. That was not what he was looking for, he said. His future wife could be intellectual or not intellectual. It didn't matter to him. And, anyway, he hadn't met many women who were his intellectual e--. Okay, I will now draw a curtain over the scene.
Germaine Greer or Gloria Steinem would have hit him with his chair, but I was merely in awe that at such a young age the NCB knew what was important to him and what was not and, above all, that he was not afraid to say so.
Of course, there must be NCBs who really do hope for wives that are their intellectual equals. B.A. and I are traditional, but we're not so traditional that we don't have fights about politics and conversations about matters philosophical. I often tell people intellectual conversations are not a daily feature of marriage, but as a matter of fact, they do crop up in mine. I suppose it all comes down to core values again. That said, I have a terrible suspicion that B.A. would have married me even if I didn't know Hegel from Hume. It is much more important that I am too smart to make the mistake of making the man I love feel stupid.