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Once in a while a reader is astonished to learn that I am, quite literally, nothing more than what I’ve always claimed to be: an opinionated north Idaho housewife. I am not a journalist, or a reporter, or anything loftier than a keeper of the home. I use the denigrated term “housewife” deliberately because I am proud to be a member of this elite group.

If you associate housewives with dull women too dumb to do anything but wipe noses and clean toilets, I’m here to tell you otherwise. I will even make the extraordinary declaration that it is housewives who will save the world. Or at least, our nation.

The standard assumption about housewives (besides the obligatory doubts about our intelligence and educational level) is that our husbands make so much money that we can “afford” to stay home with the kids. This assumption always sends us into peals of laughter because it is so seldom true. Let’s face it, the term “thrifty housewife” was coined for a reason.

Housewives spend years learning to be thrifty. We shop at Goodwill, not Nordstrom. We mend holes and patch jeans. We purchase basic food items and cook from scratch. Most of us don’t do this because we are green and environmentally conscious. We do it because it’s cheap and it keeps us home with the kids.

Many housewives supplement their husband’s income with cottage industries. I do freelance writing. I know a woman who makes brassiere holsters for handguns (yes really … this is Idaho, remember). Yet another woman makes reusable feminine hygiene products. Yet another woman sells items on eBay.

Perhaps the most encouraging film on marriage of our time — own it for yourself: “Fireproof”

None of us is sitting around watching soap operas and eating bonbons. We’re too busy making our home welcoming, too involved in looking for additional ways to earn money, too occupied in finding yet more techniques to trim the household budget so the bacon stretches further.

We praise our husbands for bringing home this bacon, however modest in size it may be. It’s our job to stretch that bacon so it lasts the whole month.

A housewife takes her marital vows seriously and does whatever it takes to make her husband feel like a man by giving him respect, dedication, love, faithfulness, a warm home and happy children. Housewives don’t (or shouldn’t) speak disparagingly of their husbands. We praise them. Praised men are happy men.

And that’s why I believe the housewives of America will save this nation.

When the chips are down, the housewives rise up. We work harder, stretch the dollars further and discover creative ways to do even more things from scratch. We become cleverer and more resourceful at “making do.”

These may seem like such small, trivial things. How will baking our own bread or making our own laundry detergent save the nation? It may not … but it could save the family. And if a family is saved, then bit by bit, family by family, the nation is saved. See the logic?

What I mean is this. On a massive scale, our nation’s problems are far beyond our individual ability to do anything about them. Housewives cannot stop the insane spending spree our government has embarked on during the last 50 years. We cannot keep the economy from its free fall.

But we can help ourselves. Inch by inch, foot by foot, we can keep our family afloat. If our husband loses his job, we tell him he’s still manly and sexy. We give him the confidence to look for work. We tighten an already tight belt even more. We pick up part-time employment. We write more columns, make more holsters, sew more feminine hygiene products and clinch another eBay sale. We stroke our husband’s fevered brow and whisper that it will be OK, we’ll weather this together, we’ll stumble along doing whatever it takes to keep our family whole. We don’t let the cruel winds of financial hardship rip our family apart. We are the glue that binds it.

You see, the role of a housewife is so much more than wiping noses and cleaning toilets. Feminists have looked with contempt at housewives for decades and have tried to convince our daughters that only lofty careers and hefty paychecks can fulfill a woman. But housewives know better.

Men work hard at jobs they often dislike to provide for their families. For a man, it is not his job that grants him identity, fulfillment and meaning; it is his wife’s praise and admiration. The wise housewife honors her man for his dedication and sacrifice. The smart housewife becomes the kind of woman her man wants to come home to. This is the glue.

A glued-together family stays together no matter where they are. If they are evicted from their home because they can’t afford the mortgage, then they rent a cheap single-wide. The housewife will then turn it into a beautiful haven because she knows it is not furnishings but love that makes a home.

When the hurricane roars during an economic storm, it will be the thrifty housewife who will bear her family aloft through hard times. Her frugality, common sense and familial glue will keep the boat afloat until it lands on a more fruitful shore. As the waves settle, she will continue to bind, weave and mesh her family into a seamless harmonious whole. In return, she is blessed a thousandfold for her actions.

On the surface, it may not seem like wiping noses and cleaning toilets can have any significant impact on saving our nation. After all, these acts are not spectacular achievements like winning a court case, negotiating a contract or curing someone of cancer. But the foundation of a nation is a solid family unit. It is the humble, collective efforts of housewives that build those solid, happy families. Nation upon nation is built on this foundation. Without housewives, such a foundation would not – could not – exist.

Don’t thank us. We’re just doing our job. But please, remember to put the toilet seat down.

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