Linda Colling: ‘What a load of tripe’

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WHO are these women who hate the term “housewife”, feel insulted by it and prefer to be called stay-at-home mums?

What a load of tripe a recent on-line survey by Mothercare is. But it’s got what they wanted – people talking.

It’s not the term “ housewife” that I hate but those who tell me: “I’m only a housewife.” “Don’t say that,” I tell them.

It’s the hardest job any of us will do in our lives being a full time mother, chief cook and bottle washer, the very heart of the home.

Never mind rarified titles like “home executive” to replace housewife. That’s Tommy rot. The fact is anyone who can afford to choose to stay at home to bring up her children and be a full-time homemaker should be proud of herself.

Far from being insulted by the word housewife she should hold her head high if she’s doing her job justice.

The role of housewives has been denegrated by the concerted attack on women who were made to feel inferior if they were at home bringing up children and doing the daily round.

And that’s not by men but other women, the would-be power-crazed superwomen, driven by self-belief that whatever paid role they were doing, however menial outside of the home, was far superior to being at home unpaid.

Well, that’s a myth that millions have bought into at the cost of family life – and it’s their children who suffer.

It’s a privilege being at home and bringing up your children. I know I did it with three. But not everyone is so lucky or can afford to. Then there’s plenty who see work as an escape from all that is mundane and not rated for its true worth.

Of all the women I met in Sainsbury’s cafe at Washington, there was one who admitted: “I wish I could go back to the 1990s when I was a full-time mother at hom ewith my two but now I have a nine-year-old and have to work to help pay the mortgage and the bills.”

It was rich that half of the 2,000 stay-at-home mothers polled reckoned their partner should weigh in and help with the chores when he comes in from work. But men could definitely do more, like picking up after themselves.

Kayley Atherton, 22, of Springwell, a full time housewife and mother to Caitlyn, four, and Connor, 11 months, whose partner Craig Meldrum, 22, works full-time, thinks it only right he weighs in. “He hoovered the whole house last night,” says Kayley.

Craig’s mother, Angela Meldrum, 45, a mother of four of Wrekenton, and her mother Margaret Hogg, 72, now a widow, are both of the old school who believe there’s a certain status to the word housewife and mourn the moral decline of couples not being wed.

As Margaret said: “You were proud to be a housewife. It was the norm. You got married but it’s different now. Now they don’t even get married.”

Mother to adorable identical eight-month-old twins, Bobby and Harry, Kimberley Allen, 31, of Oxclose, is engaged to wed Mark Grainger, a stock controller.

She said: “You are not just a housewife, you do everything. I do the chores before he gets in. I get wrong from him for doing too much.”

However old-fashioned modern mothers may think the word “housewife”, what never goes out of fashion is what she does. She has to be wonder woman, budget brain, a constant rock, the lode star that shines so bright for her family with selfless giving that there really is no place like home. And without her the whole lot would come tumbling down.