Tuesday, October 31, 2017


Janet Freshwater Pegnam

I told my husband recently that when my time comes and somebody wants to write about me, I want to be described as a Homemaker.

I have come to the conclusion that Homemaking is the most admirable profession for women to pursue.

It is not easy to be a Homemaker.

Will it be true in my obituary to state that I was a Homemaker?

Well, I have been a part-time homemaker for most of my adult life. I’ve done what needed to be done to keep our home together. But wanting to be known as a Homemaker with a capital “H” is a dream I’ve yet to realize.

I’ve been in the real estate business for 35 years, taught in the secondary school system for 13 years, taught real estate to fledgling “wannabes” at the college level, served on hospital and community boards of directors for 25 years…pant…pant…plus, owned a cabin resort and an antique store and art gallery with my husband. Oh, and there were the two restaurants that I co-owned and managed, where I bartended and cooked.

Careers…yes, a few. I never have been able to find my passion. The one career I’m passionate about is Homemaking.

I have three amazing children who grew up all by themselves without my help. “The village” reared them.

Let’s be clear.

My instructions from my parents in the ‘50s and ‘60s were to get a college education. That’s it!

My “Home Economics teacher mother” did not teach me to cook, clean, iron, or sew…or, how to make a man happy or how to take care of children.

She didn’t even like children. I was an only child.

She must have thought that if you had a college education you could hire people to do those things for you.

She had a college education and she hired people to do those things for her. I know for sure that she never cleaned a bathroom or an oven in her life.

Also, nothing was ever said about choosing the right husband.

Sex education? What do you think?
Budgeting or keeping a checkbook? No way. The money will flow. You will have all you need. I only recently learned that I have enough.

How about discussions on doing all of the special things that women do to make a house a home? No again.

We lived in a beautifully elegant “house” with white carpet and where everything had a place and was in its place…a showplace.

After surviving the life experiences it has taken to get to “me”, I have discovered what I value as important for myself and for my life going forward.

First of all, I suppose it helps to get married. The perfect homemaking situation is having a husband who provides shelter, food and clothing for his wife and children.

That is not exactly the 21st century formula for personal success for women.

All you feminists can quit reading now before you get sick! I was one…long ago. It is overrated! Have you ever seen a contented lesbian?

The “Homemaker” will not work outside the home.

The homemaking career requires cooking, cleaning, sewing, laundry skills, emergency medical expertise, a driver’s license, a high school education so you can help your children with their homework, decorating instincts, organizational skills, the ability to communicate, having bookkeeping skills to keep your checkbook balanced, and knowing the etiquette necessary to entertain your husband’s boss’s family and still be able to crawl around on the floor cleaning up messes made by the children or the family pets.

Did I mention communication skills? It is imperative that you be able to conjure up some fancy ecru, monogrammed embossed beige on beige notepaper and that you use it to write the perfect little notes to everyone who has an occasion that you must remember.

Try Crane papers.

A daily planner is part of your required equipment. You thought that those were for busy people who had lost their memories didn’t you?

It should be filled with coupons that you’ve clipped in your spare time.

The perfect homemaker has one.

Now, I know as you’re reading this you’re thinking of Desperate Housewives.

Forget those women. The series has been cancelled.

The Stepford Wives? Come on, now. That was scary.

I’m talking about REAL LIFE!

They were not Homemakers…they were Troublemakers.

The homemaker I’d hoped to be had at least twelve children. Twelve is a good number. I have a sister-in-law who has twelve. Bless her…and her husband.

With the ‘50s and ‘60s came working moms, college educated moms, priority-changing mindsets, and birth control.

That is not progress and it is unhealthy.

As I work on my family history, I am always overwhelmed with compassion and empathy for the women who died so young as a result of poor health care and too many problem pregnancies and illnesses.

They were tough pioneers but many lost their lives too young.

My own maternal grandmother, Nellie, died just after giving birth to my aunt, leaving my three-year-old mother without a mother. Her cold-mothering style reflected that experience and the pain associated with it.

Fast forward to 2013. We have incredible healthcare and lots of doctors who know what to do no matter what happens when we’re having a baby.

So we use birth control and don’t have babies anymore.

Does that make sense?

Why have women quit listening to their internal voices that tell them what is right? Why do they ignore their spiritual selves?

Let’s “work outside the home” and make a name for ourselves.

Will those co-workers remember your birthday twenty years from now?

Will they take care of you in your old age?

Let’s commute for hours in maddening traffic…compete against men…fight off men…go to happy hour on Fridays after work so our co-workers won’t think there’s something wrong with us.

And regret it on Saturday morning.

Ladies, we are here on this earth to have children…it is our purpose. Anything else we do is to make the world better for our husbands and our children.

Of course, there are those who have not been blessed with children. Have you ever wondered why that is?

Someone has to take care of the orphans and the homeless children all around us…a la Mother Teresa. There are thousands.

I only recently learned that Eugenia Washington, a woman who had no children, started the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. She wasn’t thinking of herself and her descendants and her legacy. She was concerned about our country’s history and its legacy.

Haven’t you noticed a homeless, mentally ill and possibly drug-addicted woman who is pregnant and wondered to yourself why she has been blessed with a child who may be born with addictions and lame chances at survival when there are other couples spending thousands of dollars on fertility treatments to “get pregnant”?

The answers are in your heart.

Happy Homemaking!

National Society Daughters of the American Revolution
"Women's Issues" Essay Contest
 Arizona Winning Essay