The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m a homemaker in my 40s. Mothers around me who also have children about to enter junior high school have all started new jobs. I was satisfied with being a full-time homemaker, but I’ve lost confidence in my current lifestyle.
I’m good at keeping a comfortable home, probably because I’m cut out to be a full-time homemaker. I enjoy dining with my family at home, and in my spare time, I read books and appreciate artistic works and events, two of my favorite hobbies. As part of my parental duties, I also serve on the board of the parent-teacher association at my child’s school. I feel fulfilled every day. My husband, who is a public employee, does not earn a lot of money. Nevertheless, we can live on his earnings and even save some money each month.
I didn’t change my lifestyle even after other mothers started to work. As a result, they often say things to me like: “Why don’t you work? Everyone else is working hard.”
My husband tells me he doesn’t want me to work at the cost of a clean house and our happy time together. I also cherish spending time with my family and on my hobbies. How can I be confident and proud about being a full-time homemaker?
K, Hyogo Prefecture
Dear Ms. K:
A generation ago, this column received many letters from mothers frustrated by criticism of their career aspirations or how having a job could negatively impact their children. Your letter is the other way around. I think the times have changed a lot.
There’s one thing that has remained unchanged in Japan no matter how much time has passed: the pressure to conform. It’s sad that those who stand out are still spoken ill of today, even though respect for different cultures and lifestyles is heavily emphasized.
Each individual should decide whether to prioritize money or time, and what constitutes a meaningful life. I think continuing your current lifestyle or finding a job are both fine options.
You should not worry about what others are doing and instead enjoy your fulfilling life as a homemaker. Mothers around you may be a little envious because you can afford to live without working. Additionally, you have contributed to society through, for example, your work with the parent-teacher association. You should live with confidence.
However, be sure to maintain your ties with society. Full-time homemakers tend to overprotect or overparent their children. To ensure this doesn’t happen, I suggest you participate in social activities in addition to the parent-teacher association and have your child help with housework.
Masahiro Yamada, professor