My artwork is a depiction of the ideal home-life I felt
conflicted to build as a result of my upbringing. I feel as though my mother was part of a generation that had a unique responsibility when it came to raising children. She was raised by a 1950’s housewife who served as a mirror of what was expected of her. My grandmother lived her life for her children and her husband. During the time in which my mother was raised birth control was developed, formula took the place of nursing, and the sexual revolution was beginning. Women were no longer expected to dedicate their lives to their children and families, but had a choice to have a life of their own. They had the choice to get an education, they could have sex freely, and did not have to be tethered to babies. The fathers could have more of a hand in propping up the success of his wife and children instead of having the responsibility of being the sole financial supporter. But when you have nothing to use as an example of how to “have it all” successfully, and not sure whether that even exists, how
do you raise your children? Do you raise them to have it all?
When I was growing up I received mixed messages. My mother stayed at home
and put her life on hold for her family. Although my mother seemed content with
it, she always encouraged me and my brother to get an education and to have a
life outside of our families, something that she did not. She encouraged me to
have something for myself. I admired her parenting greatly, so I felt confused
at times and saw my life in cycles…one day I will get a college degree. Then I
will work and get married and be the kind of wife my mother is. Then I will stop
work to have children and be the kind of mom my mother is. Then I will stay at
home and raise children. Then when my children are old enough I will return to
work. It sounded so simple, until I got divorced.
Even though I was the stay at home mom that was conflicted being there
for my husband and children and doing something for myself, I was under stress
daily to do the right thing and “have it all.” The work in this show will evolve
over the next several months. Right now it is highlighting the myth of the
“happy housewife,” and the great lengths the ads from Better Homes and Gardens
went to in order to promote what we “should” have. It is only a snippet, but
something I feel many of us, men and women, can relate to. We all have females
in our lives that struggle with many of these issues, and if we don’t, we can
look back and laugh at the idea of vacuuming in our prettiest dress.