Why don’t you make yourself a proper pot of tea and join us? Allow me to introduce you to Mrs. Alena Kate Pettitt, author of Ladies like Us, English Etiquette, and founder of The Darling Academy – but most importantly, she is a proud traditional homemaker, wife, and mother.
I have always had a lifelong fascination with etiquette – (for instance, my Barbies would host elaborate dinner parties!). I think it all really stems from a desire to be a good hostess, do the right thing, and make people feel comfortable in your presence.
I was a social outsider as a child, a bit of an ‘old soul.’ I loved old-fashioned movies and music and dreamed of creating a warm and enchanting home for myself and my future husband.
I wanted nothing more than to focus on raising a happy and wholesome family.
For a while, I was swept up ‘in the pattern’ of the world, but as readers of Ladies Like Us will know, I had an epiphany moment where I decided to finally live my dreams, even though they were not necessarily seen as “cool.”
Being a housewife, homemaker, or the “hostess with the mostest,” really was not trendy or something to aspire to in the ‘90s-2010’s. We had Britney Spears when I wanted Doris Day and Sex & The City instead of Audrey (Hepburn), Lauren (Bacall), and Grace (Kelly).
I am determined to make this lifestyle a beautiful and very visible option for ladies who wish to embrace it. The value of a ladylike countenance, a kind manner, a grace-filled heart, and desire to be a good housewife shouldn’t be shamed.
I wrote Ladies Like Us, and English Etiquette, in response to the fact that I just could not find relevant books on the subject. They had the facts, but not the heart, or the reason why. Etiquette books can seem so ‘out of touch’ and only relevant to royals or those leading glamorous lifestyles. I truly believe the core-values and a good foundation of etiquette starts right at home, however humble it may be!
We need to stop letting modern culture dictate what is acceptable, moral, and what constitutes a healthy lifestyle – there is too much ‘noise’ and not enough focus on the bigger picture. For some young people, their peers, celebrities, and social media ‘influencers’ are the only example. We, as mothers and wives, are the influencers and we should be doing the best job possible.
We are the ones shaping the next generation from the very moment of birth. We should do so with our eyes wide open and with a vision in mind.
Society gets on so much better, when society “gets on better.”
Well said! Do you think The Darling Academy will have a campus? Do you ever foresee it becoming a physical school or perhaps offering online courses?
I would love to one day have a campus style “Finishing School,” but that is only if my idea to campaign for reinstating mandatory Domestic Science lessons on the school curriculum fails (yes, for girls and boys). I believe it is important that we each learn the skills necessary to live a balanced, healthy home life. Attaining the knowledge required for good domesticity, money management, cooking healthy meals, and taking care of children should be required of everyone!
After all, we all have to eat, and many of us will have children. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had an idea of what it will be like ahead of time? Trigonometry can only take you so far, but knowing how to prepare a budget-friendly healthy meal, mend things with your own hands, and tend to the family you love will take you further.
In the meantime, watch this space!
How has your childhood and growing up with a working mother affected your decision to become a traditional homemaker?
I’m not sure it really ‘affected’ me in the sense that it forced my decision in any which way. It only confirmed it. There are lots of women out there who have a passion for their careers, and they feel they were born to do it. That’s how I feel with regards to being a homemaker – I was born to do it, but sadly grew up in a generation that made me feel it was the “cop out” choice.
My peers and the wider world told me I had choices, when in reality I didn’t feel like following my specific dream was socially acceptable. Sadly, I did see first-hand the additional pressures that working outside the home and then having to “catch up with housework” on the weekends put on my mother. I also felt sadness because of the lack of my mother’s presence in the home. Those memories only fortified my decision to stay at home.
In your most recent blogpost, you discuss being proud to be “just” a housewife. You state “We now have the luxury of equality within marriage, and to cherry-pick the best parts of a traditional lifestyle as it suits.” Can you tell us what the best parts of a traditional lifestyle are?
It’s funny isn’t it, that term “just.” I hear stay-at-home wives and mothers using it widely when they are asked what they do for a living. “Just” is a very apologetic term, and I used it in a tongue-in-cheek way to highlight how wrong a phrase it really is! You’d never hear someone say “I’m just a doctor,” or “just a teacher,” whereas in actual fact the “just a housewife” works 24-hour shifts with hardly any breaks, sometimes with insufferable subordinates (hello toddlers), having to manage crazy schedules, and tight budgets, with little to no ‘pay.’ It’s so sad how the value of the housewife is through the floor at the moment.
I guess the best thing about our traditional lifestyle, the marital dynamic of Mr. Darling and I, is that we have a beautiful and very transparent knowing of the value I personally bring to the table as a homemaker/helpmeet/housewife and mother. I don’t just sit at home eating cream cakes and watching Real Housewives as the media would have you believe. I do real, very tiring, sometimes repetitive work, but it benefits us directly.
My husband also knows where he stands and what is expected of him, and the same goes for me. Our roles are clearly defined, and that brings with it a sense of pride and duty in our own work, as well as commitment to, and reverence for the efforts of the other spouse. We both want to do our jobs well. We are one flesh, so our efforts benefit each other equally – and I get to do what I LOVE, rather than what felt so alien to me – working outside the home.
This lifestyle is also incredibly romantic. If you always wanted a fairytale relationship, then perhaps it’s an idea to look at the dynamic of that relationship for your clues! It won’t just magic-up out of thin air, you have to decide to pursue it.
Do you believe there is an ever-growing number of women who long for a more feminine role as a homemaker or traditional housewife, but perhaps do not want to face societal shaming?
Yes, absolutely! I’m here to shout from the rooftops that it is perfectly wonderful to want a traditional, feminine role in the home and within your marriage! To raise children in a traditional, wholesome, stable, stress-free environment where everyone’s needs are met and the family are truly nurtured, is nothing to be ashamed about.
We’ve put a lot of effort into making society more acceptable for those who do not identify with traditional gender roles, and for ladies who wanted to go out to work – but we threw the baby out with the bathwater in the process. We essentially got rid of something that was good in the first place in order to create room for the “new norm.” That, I believe is what’s truly shameful. Telling ladies they have more choices, but removing some in the process.
No one should tell you how to live your life, or make you feel bad about it, especially if it’s something that makes you feel happy and strengthens the home and your family. The important thing is to communicate with your spouse about it, because it won’t work or be possible otherwise.
As for other people, their opinions and mean words say more about them than it does about you.
“I guess The Darling Academy feels quite rebellious in a way – empowering overtly feminine, traditional housewives to unashamedly “just” be themselves in a world that is trying to suppress them.”
Alena Kate Pettitt
Is there a new book on the horizon for The Darling Academy?
2020 is set to be an exciting year!
Last but not least, what do you think of the popular Netflix series The Crown? Will you be watching Season 3?
How much do I love The Crown? Let me count the ways…. I’m only two episodes in, and it takes some getting used to with a new cast, but I adore Helena Bonham-Carter as Princess Margaret so far. I’ve always loved a rebel. I guess The Darling Academy feels quite rebellious in a way – empowering overtly feminine, traditional housewives to unashamedly “just” be themselves in a world that is trying to suppress them.
Long may we reign in our own castles!
If you enjoyed reading “Tea with Mrs. Alena Kate Pettitt” and would like to hear from Mr. Pettitt, check out our fabulous interview with “The Not-So Desperate Husbands”
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