The next generation of Donna Reed

Housewife. Sounds very, 1950…Doesn’t it?

But somewhere between Donna Reed, Mrs. Cunningham, Working Girl and Wisteria Lane, housewifery (yes, I made that up) is fashionable again.

Yes. I grocery shop. But my husband does the big shopping, with both kids, on the weekend.

Yes, I do the laundry. But my husband also throws a load or two in over the course of the week.

Yes, I do dishes. But I do them in kick ass gloves. AND it’s my husband who normally empties the dishwasher.

I don’t spend my day making sure my man has a hot meal as soon as he walks in and the dog brings him his pipe and slippers.

I don’t own an apron. I don’t iron.

Yes, I cook. But not all the time and for my enjoyment.

My children are seen and heard. They are in our marriage bed. And their diapers get changed just as much by Daddy as they do by Mommy.

This is not typical, traditional housewifery.

So is this what Feminism wrought? A new generation of Donna Reed?

Educated, motivated, and not totally focused on being a “good housewife,” but more focused on being a “good woman.” Second to no one. Not even the bread winner.

And a bread winner happy to be an equal-who recognizes the housewife as essential to his children’s well being and the running of every day life.

The Stay-at-Home Mom is no longer a bon-bon eating, soap opera watching joke.

Sure, there are still those holdouts that think we’re lazy, freeloaders. Or we’re wasting our talents and education on Palmolive and Tide. But they are the ones behind the times. And behind the rest of the crowd.

Sure, we go on and on about our post partum and our fear of the wrong preschool and our need to get out every once in awhile kidless. But these are not shortcomings. These are not the big “holes” in our stay-at-home feminist world.

Instead, it’s the new generation of Donna Reed. The one that can feed her body and spirit with yoga and pick up her 3-year-old in time for swim lessons. It’s the Mother who reads up on co-sleeping and Ferber and safety gadgets and then agonizes over her decisions.

It’s the new generation of Donna Reed that can express these feelings and challenges openly. Honestly. And debate breast vs. bottle via playgroups, blogging communities, and novels.

Yes, I still am annoyed and angered by the emails I get and the ideas put out there by some authors. The idea that if we go to work, we have abandoned our families, the idea that if we stay home, we’ve abandoned the woman’s movement. The idea that whatever you do, it’s just not good enough.

And as I opened the gift of hot pink gloves my brother gave me yesterday…I realized with total clarity that we are not Donna Reed. We don’t want to be Donna Reed. We’ve changed. We’ve evolved.

We’re women who wear leopard print to wash dishes, with the “Diva” tag still attached.

It’s time to let go of that old housewife idea. She does not exist anymore. The housewives I know are professionally blogging, organizing nurse-ins, homeschooling, unschooling, watching their husbands cook, clean, etc. They don’t live to serve. Or, what was it…”how serfdom saved the women’s movement…”

No. No. No. It’s just a new generation.


  1. Tell it, sistah. Love the gloves. I had some yellow ones with yellow & white gingham ruffles, but the gloves wore out very quickly. Now I just use whatever I can find that fits – sure saves the fingertips (we don’t have a dishwasher)!

    Yes, and it’s not just the women who have changed, as you pointed out. Slipshod does all of our grocery shopping these days, and fully recognizes that what I do is valuable not only monetarily (i.e., if we put Sweet Pea with a babysitter or whatever we’d have to pay through the nose), but also emotionally – we have always both believed that our children should be raised by their parents.

  2. Uhhh.
    Those gloves are fabulous.
    Also, your house sounds like it runs a lot like mine. I thought that was normal! 😉

  3. My Dear Hubby does the dishes and washes all the clothes, and he’s the one who likes to cook! We’ve split up the household duties, but it’s nowhere near by any kind of gender specific lines. Works for us. And we’re from a much older generation than you are!! It’s all in how young at heart you are, right???

  4. AMEN! My house also runs alot like yours. There is no housewife in team. Or something like that!

  5. Gosh, I’m glad I wasn’t a 50s era housewife. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have survived it.

    BTW, where DID you get those rockin’ gloves?

  6. Those gloves kick some serious butt!!!

    I would have never made it through the 50’s! When was being a housewife ever about eating bon-bons or watching soap operas? I must have missed that part…I haven’t seen any program or movie uninterrupted since I had kids and anytime I have bon-bons or anything yummy…my kids steal it from me. Oh, well. 🙁

  7. Oh I couldn’t agree with you more! I’m glad that my husband is more than willing to pitch in around the house and doesn’t complain about it. He realizes that our perpetually grumpy child is a full-time job in itself and that some days I don’t have time for anything else.

    I definately need some gloves like that, but then I would have to find a cool pair for The Hubby, too, because you can bet your ass he does his fair share of dishes too!

  8. Who knew they made leopard print hot pink kitchen gloves?

    I totally get what you’re saying, although I do admit that with all that we modern women can do, it can be pretty damn exhausting sometimes as well.

    The chores are split pretty evenly here as well. Aaron does the dishes, I do the laundry, he takes out the trash, I clean the cat litter, and so on. We both change diapers and care for Cordy. Even though I only work part-time, I’m not expected to do more around the house. We are a team and help each other whenever we can.

  9. I’m standing behind you cheering and yelling and whooping (and eyeing those gloves for when you set them down and I could have them).

    I’m also hoping that the Kaiser does delicates. Does he? What about hang-dry? Does he know all about that? Is he all up on the hang-dry-delicates?

    Because I need to know. WE need to know. We, the Internet. Tell us.

  10. Omigod, Mocha, you crack me up. IS there a man in existence who knows about delicates OR hang dry? Seriously. Mine doesn’t even know how to sort laundry, much less get it to the washing machine and turn the thing on. He used to until we got a new setup. You’d think he’d have been into the new technology enough to read the booklet – ha ha – but no.

    If the Kaiser is up on this stuff, I’ll be amazed. So do let us know, Queen!

    I did a search and found a black/leopard print pair of gloves like the Queen’s pictured above. Do let us know where your sweet bro got the pink ones – they’re awesome! Here’s a link to the black ones:

  11. Choosing is what Post-Feminism is all about.

  12. And as a post-script – I work 50+ hours a week as the Director of Operations……my husband is a SAHD raising 3 boys.
    He knows delicates from denims, cooks like a fiend and is raising three wonderful little men.
    Feminism shouldn’t = man bashing. I feel bad for him because he also made a choice, and no one respects it.
    People constantly say to him “But don’t you want a job?” like raising decent human being isn’t important.

  13. Erin! Awesome post today! And I’m very envious of your long beautiful hair. The gloves however are a bit too flashy for me. =)

    But I’m dying at Mocha’s comment.
    My husband won’t let me touch the laundry, because once, I accidentally put a tiny red baby sock in the whites.

    All hell broke loose. Saves me the time of doing laundry! Yay!!

  14. Ok, my brother got the gloves at some little boutique place here. The tag said “Domestic Diva” or something like that, which I would go into more detail over…but I threw away the tag.

    The Kaiser DOES do delicates. And he remembers much better than I to yank my bras -thus saving them from the evil that is the dryer.

    He is a wonderman.

  15. OK, let’s not lose sight of the true definition of feminism is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” Feminism shouldn’t be about women vs. women and the personal choices we make. Feminism has a negative connotation for some people, which has inspired fear and loathing and made women turn on each other. Hooray for all of us who are fighting that battle!

  16. Here’s the problem with the old feminism. Well, one of them, anyway. Work done by women in the home, unpaid work, was de-valued to the point of seeming a crying shame for an educated woman to “waste” herself on it. And any man who does it must be a total loser, or henpecked. Macho drivvel, I say.

    My hubby does all of the laundry, all of the dishes, readies the kids for bed, washes the cars, picks up milk on the way home, and runs to the store at midnight for the toothfairy. This as well as running our business and doing production.

    He also looks me in the eye and says things that are tender and knowing. And tells me excrutiatingly supportive things about my blog.

    It’s not so simple anymore. Women, men, couples are more dynamic.

    As my mother put it, do you want credit cards, or your point well taken? For her generation it was a choice. I have both. And I think I can laugh all the way to the post-feminism bank!

    Feminism posts are catching, I feel a blog entry coming on…Thanks, Queen!

  17. I just had this conversation today. I made the choice to stay home with my kids. I am a feminist. But the fact that I have that choice is special to me. My mother and her mother did not have that choice. Feminism gives me the freedom to be all I chose to be without the confines of a male dominated life!

    Good post!!

  18. I just found your blog today. As a college feminist, I say GO GIRL and save me a pair of those FABULOUS gloves in case I ever decide to non-settle into a relationship of my own.

  19. I loved this post! And I love that laundry room. So much light! I’d do laundry all day if I had those windows and the view.

    Wear the pink gloves to bed instead 😉

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