Misconceptions about the role a homemaker plays in the family are probably due to the fact that so many people hardly experience any domestic life nowadays. Since a lot of children grow up in two income households they never get a clear concept of what a homemaker normally does. When they become older and start a family of their own, they may wish to return to the traditional labour division but their difficulty is that while they have a general idea of what the duties of a breadwinner are, they are not so sure about housewives.
Internet can help in such a situation, but here comes another problem. Some domestic and even Christian blogs present a rather distorted view of life at home. I'm not sure what's the reason of it, it may be an American vs European thing, or may be it's due to something else, but frankly, some of the domestic bloggers I encountered sound hyperactive. Take the obsession with home businesses, for instance. Personally I have nothing against home businesses. A woman can sell something as a hobby, or may be she gives music lessons at home to help make both ends meet, it's all fine as long as having a home business is not presented as part of the religious doctrine WHICH IS A MUST FOR EVERYBODY (Prov. 31 feminism, anyone?)
Another thing is having children. Marriage is for procreation, it's true, and most people will go on to have kids, at least one. I also know about the demographic concerns the West encounters and I think generally it's a good thing to encourage western European folks to have more children, but surely it doesn't mean that every family is called to have ten? If you take the Bible versions about growing and multiplying seriously and you go on and have three children, guess what? You did grow and multiply.
Again, I have respect for large families (as long as they don't live from welfare, that is) but it's quite a different thing to turn around and say that every single family should never ever use any form of birth control, even NFP or full abstinence, whatever the circumstances. There are actually busybodies on the internet (many of them male) who go around complaining that some women have only two children who go to school and they dare stay at home and call themselves housewives. One man stated that a woman must have a minimal amount of three children whom she homeschools AND a home business to be allowed to stay home. (Allowed by whom? A committee?)
Which takes me to another point. homeschooling. I think homeschooling is fine and I'm actually quite envious that my American readers are free to make this choice, while it's not the case in some European countries, including my own. I don't believe in nanny-statism and I fully support the right of the parents to educate (or not) their children the way they see fit. The key word here is choice. It's up to each family to decide how to raise their children. There is no law which says that only those women who homeschool are real housewives, at least, not yet.
The real reason that so many people are all upset about what housewives are doing at home is not that they care about children or the survival of the Western civilisation. A woman can homeschool and still will be attacked by others for not doing enough if she so much as allows herself to sit in a garden with a book for half an hour. The subtle and not-so-subtle attacks on homemakers come because of the idea that home should resemble a factory in the way it is run. That's why a housewife will never persuade anyone she works really hard until she has ten children AND homeschools AND runs a business AND cooks three meals every day AND grows her own food etc etc. You see my point, don't you?
The role the traditional woman plays is not so much quantitative but qualitative. Her success is not measured in how many activities she manages to cram into her day, but in the quality of life in the home that she creates. The traditional housewife is first of all, a caregiver of her family. She creates a certain atmosphere at home and sees to it that the needs of other family members are met. She is also the family manager which means that even if she delegates certain tasks to her children or domestic help, she bears the final responsibility for the smooth functioning of the household.
Being a homemaker isn't only about material things, it's about catering to the spiritual needs of others, such as finding time to listen to your children and their concerns, offering a sympathetic ear to your husband, visiting your elderly parents and so on and so forth. And finding time to relax and enjoy because nothing destroys the happiness at home as much as a stressed out, neurotic mistress of the house.