The Paw Paw Post Office was the Settlement’s connection with the outside world, and it was the family home for Alexander Howard. It was not uncommon for the family dwelling to be the primary workspace. In town buildings, like the post office, men could carry out town business while their wives cared for the home and children.
The close connection between mothers and their children has been a through-thread of American history. Frequently, the focus has been on mothers as a child’s first teacher and moral guide. The ideology of Republican Motherhood encouraged generations of American women to learn patriotic ideals to teach them to their children. This ideology was a rallying cry for women in the reform movements who viewed municipal housekeeping and political advocacy for their children as extensions of their duties as mothers. Victorian ideals of the 19th century cast mothers as the moral educators of their children and moral guide of their husbands. Mothers were portrayed as the force that kept the nuclear family strong through care for homes and children in the mid-20th century.
In 2014, 29 percent of mothers were stay-at-home mothers, an increase of 6 percent since 1999. More women might choose to be stay at home mothers, but economic realities will not allow it. A 2017 study found that mothers were responsible for all or most of income for 41 percent of American families and some of it for an additional 23 percent.
The pandemic has turned us all into “stay-at-home” versions of ourselves. Recent research has found that working mothers cut their hours four to five times more than working fathers to care for children and complete housework. Women who suffer acute family crisis, like the one COVID-19 brought, often quit their jobs because they cannot work and care for their families at the same time. COVID-19 could wipe out a decade of women’s gains in the workforce in terms of participation rates, achievement, and pay equity. This would have a significant impact on American families, whether your mom works outside the home or stays home with you.