I had not really thought much about the difference between housewives and at-home moms until I read this Caitlin Flanagan article in The Atlantic Monthly back in 2003.

Because there are so many differences between the two, and because the housewife era was so short-lived (about 20-30 years post WWII), it’s worth revisiting that article.

(It also gives me an excuse to talk about tangerine-colored pool tables but more on that in a minute. :D)

Perhaps the biggest difference between housewives and today’s at-home moms is that housewives were focused on house and husband and didn’t trail in the wake of their children  – the children trailed in their wake.

At-home moms tend to be more earnest and defensive than the housewives were and marinate in anxiety about their kids.

The Peanuts comic strip captures the housewife era so well by not ever showing a mother in any of the strips, the way so many modern day strips do, such as Baby Blues. There were no helicopter parents in Peanuts.

Here is a fun series of strips from 1962 where the characters talk about how their mothers are addicted to using the Van Pelt’s tangerine colored pool table:

I want a tangerine colored pool table!

As a work-at-home-mom I’ll never be as competent around the house as most housewives were but I like to think that maybe I could master the backspin on a cue ball too. ;-)


Filed under: Parenting


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