1950s Housewife

15 Apr 2009


Mad Men starts on SBS tomorrow night.
I have already watched all the episodes on You Tube and I'm really looking forward to seeing it on the TV.
Love the fashions, love the story line, I don't mind Dan Draper either.
I wish it wasn't quite so ADULT because I would love to share the fashions with Kate.
The Betty Draper character is the same age as my Mum, I think the Betty character was born in 1932 and my Mum was born in 1931 so the clothes that Betty wears are similar to those my Mum was wearing when she was a young mother.
I always loved my
Mum's clothes , most of which she made herself as well as sewing most of my sister's and my clothes too.
I have been thinking a lot about the much mythologised 1950s housewife lately especially with my continued reading of Donna's blog .
My Mum was that 1950s housewife, married in 1953 she couldn't be anything else.
She cared for her husband , family and home and by her own account she thoroughly enjoyed it.
Mum stayed at home with her family until the early 7os when she got a part time job at the local primary school.
She used the money she earned mainly to buy clothes for herself and again by her own account she loved that too.
To work was her choice, a bit of fun and the family in no way depended on the money to maintain the budget.
My Mother always cooked dinner every night , we had a cut lunch for school every day and there were always homebaked goodies.
She kept her home clean , tidy and well loved , she cared for the garden and had time to help freinds and family.
Talking with Mum about her life as a wife and mother she is very content.
She had a full and interesting life as a mother of school age children, involved in the Mother's Club and volunteering at the library as well as having a nice circle of friends to share her experiences with.
She thinks women are expected to do too much these days; expected to work to help fill the family coffers and be responsible for much of what goes into keeping the house and family running well is too much in her opinion.
But she also thinks that people have very high expectations of what is essential for a decent life and seem to forget the basics.
She thinks that women seem to feel they deserve too many treats to compensate for all their hard work.
She feels that more time should be spent making the home a worthwhile place to be, keeping the house clean and pleasant, cared for and well tended and ready for family and friends to visit.
She wonders why there is seems to be a constant striving for and stressing over the latest big thing that will make everyone's life worth living.
She appreciates that women have greater chances to gain a full education, something that was denied her.
She despairs that so often children seem to be a forgotten extra getting in the way of the grown ups plans and pushed from home to home as marriages break up and reform.
She despairs that so many adults refuse to act as adults, not accepting their responsibilities and pushing the blame onto others.
The 1950s housewife also was a housewife of the 60s, 70s, 80s and so it goes.
She maintained her standards but incorporated what she saw as the best of the decades that followed.
She didn't stay forever wearing 1950s housedresses and using 1950s housekeeping equipment but she has never forgotten what makes a house a home and I think she still carries with her the optimism that the young couples of those days felt.
The idea that the hard years of deprivation and war were behind them, that they could make a safe and happy home for their families by giving of themselves not just by buying a lifestyle but by cherishing their families, rolling up their shirtsleeves or cardigan sleeves and being really involved in home and community life.
So when I look at Mum I see the essence of the 1950s Housewife, hardworking, caring, creative, giving and still stylish.
The fashions were wonderful but those ladies, tempered by a childhood and youth of tough times but still manging to face adulthood with optimism and hardwork were/are magnificent.
Sorry for the poor presentation of this post but this little borrowed computer won't let me fix it.

13 Responses to “1950s Housewife”

  1. Jenny,

    Thank you for this post! Your Mum is a wise woman.

  2. Hi, Jenny-
    I've been reading your blog for a while now and really enjoy it very much. How I wish that the young women today could experience the joy of caring for their husband, children, home, and community without feeling like they had to have a "real" job, too. Your mother is a very wise woman, indeed.

  3. I agree so much with what you say Jenny. I think people buy so much today and their expectations are too high, because they're not getting the pleasure they would get by being at home and not working. So they compensate with big ticket items and the cycle of working and spending escalates. As you're mum said too much is expected of woman today. My mum was married 1954, so relate to all you said. Thank you.

  4. Your Mum - and my Mum too. Thankfully I picked up enough of her to enjoy my time of keeping house (most of the time)

  5. I really enjoyed reading about your Mum's life and thoughts..My Mother was also a 50/60s housewife and much better at housekeeping than I am. I love all the ideas, it's just putting them into practice I find hard ;)

  6. I think I love your Mum!!! She is an exceptionally wise woman. You can tell her there is the odd one of two 'younger' gals who hold the same values. Being a SAHM has been the joy of my life and a dream fulfilled. I've loved having a home ready and available for friends to share a cuppa and a chat. I also love, now, being paid to work in my children's school. The perfect job for a SAHM like me!

  7. Thanks for the great post, full of wise insights. I hope that you get your computer fixed soon.

    Best wishes,

    Anna Marie

  8. I find that an encouraging line of thinking. It is so nice that your mother is the one that shows you the strength in being an at home mother. What if your own mother is the one that says as soon as the youngest are at school, you should get out there? I don't want to, my husband says I don't need to........

    The relief and joy and appreciation of so much must have been evident after war. I think families who have loved ones out there, in war zones, will never again take home life and the home for granted. I would imagine that they hunger for their families to be altogether, to be home. How sad that we complain about this gold we have if we have it?

  9. Great post Jenny. Our mum's were part of the 'make-do and mend' generation. Sadly we are part of the 'throw away society' but happily a lot of us follow our parent's lead and still make-do and mend when we can. I'm a child of the 50s and its good to know many of the old fashioned ideas are so appealing although I do think there is quite a bit of 'cherry picking' going on!!

  10. I'm so happy to have found your blog. The 1960s is probably my favourite modern era as I grew up between the 60s and 70s. The quote from Josephine Moffett Benton is wonderful! Thank you for sharing it.



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