Monday, May 5, 2008

The spirit of home – a blessing rediscovered

There is something especially warm and uplifting in the smells, sounds and the general spirit of a home which is lived in during the day. When you come in after a long day outside, the homey scents and the tidiness unmistakably tell you that floors have been mopped, clothes ironed, and a dinner cooked. Maybe there are even some cookies in the oven when you come in, giving off their delicious aroma.

When you come into a home like that, especially if you are tired, you want to stay there. You want to sink into a comfortable armchair and relax, perhaps with a hot cup of tea and some of those cookies you smelled earlier. You will savor the peace and quiet and your spirit will be refreshed.

Sadly, today, more often than not homes are messy and neglected. Is there anything more depressing than returning after a long, hard day at work to piles of dust, stale air, an empty refrigerator and a heap of dirty laundry? This is what most families face every night, being forced to run around and do errands instead of spending time together.

This spirit of neglect does, in turn, its part of pulling people out of their homes. When the atmosphere is so cold and unappealing, you are more likely to leave your home and seek food and entertainment outside – eat out, for example. And while you are out, you are prone to do some window shopping and buy some trinket you don't really need. Spending more money leads to pressure to work more hours, more time spent away from home, and more neglect of home life – a vicious circle that isn't easy to break.

In the past, no one asked a woman – especially a married woman – what she "does". It was assumed and easily accepted that a woman spends a large portion of her time looking after the household - a task that was appreciated and respected. Homemaking skills were taken seriously, as playing an important part in a family's well-being, and were taught from a young age. Family life was home-centered – women worked at home, children were mostly educated at home, husbands loved coming home after work, and the whole family enjoyed gathering for dinner every night and eating a nutritious, home-cooked meal. People entertained themselves at home and enjoyed having friends over for a cup of tea rather than going out.

It is often claimed that modern appliances, such as vacuum cleaners and washing machines, reduced the homemaker's workload to a minimum, so that a woman now can easily balance home life and career. However, the facts of existence in too many modern homes – entire areas that haven't been cleaned in ages, unhealthy and expensive convenience meals of little nutritious value, hastily swallowed by each family member at random times – don't make for a pretty picture. People often forget that in the past, possessions were fewer and life simpler. Modern times added to the responsibilities of a modern homemaker.

Even the most outgoing, company-loving person needs a safe haven to relax in after the daily tasks are completed. The spirit of quiet contentment at home is something many seek unknowingly, trying to complete this void by hopping from one entertainment spot to the next – in vain. Home is irreplaceable. Home is sweet, soothing and comforting. Home, to put it simply, isn't something I would be ready to give up.

30 comments:

Ways of Zion said...

Brilliant post!
Thanks!

Terry said...

Yes, Anna! I couldn't agree more.

A Pretty Home said...

Lovely and so true!
:)

Holly said...

I agree with you completely. I love having a quiet, clean, peaceful sanctuary to call home. Luckily, I am able to spend a short time every day cleaning and tidying my house (with the assistance of my husband) and work full time. The rewards are worth the efforts.

Amanda said...

Amen. I have two children under two and I'm currently working full-time. I'm at my wits end. By time I get home from work, make supper, clean up supper, bathe everyone, and put them to bed, it's 9:00 pm. And I don't know about you, but my desire to clean the toilet at that hour is pretty much nil ;) Vaccuums and washing machines do you no good if you have no time to use them.

I'm to the point of deciding whether to become a SAHM or continue this madness. I know that plenty of women do this all the time, but I don't know how. There simply is not time to work full-time, cook, clean, and spend time with my children and husband.

Thanks for your post; it's so refreshing to "know" someone who feels the same way I do (even if the "someone" is half a world away!).

Mia said...

Beautifully put!
I agree, Home should be a haven, not just a place to rest! Thank you for your post--it lifted my spirit!

--Mia

Thursday's Child said...

Amen! You're so right. There's such a difference between a home that's been well cared for and one that hasn't. A little clutter is a good thing. You know that a family lives there. But there's a difference between a little clutter and going to seed.

Hildegard said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on home life. I am new to your blog, and am enjoying it very much.

I am a single young lady, balancing the responsibilities of earning a living and making a home. It is sometimes a struggle, but something a friend of mine once told me helps me balance things a bit: Behave as a family of one.

Even though I am an individual, thinking of myself as a family to care for puts time management in a new perspective. It's ok, for example, to put myself to bed early if I am tired, just as a mother would put her children to bed. Or it's perfectly appropriate to turn down extra activities and responsibilites if they interfere with my ability to maintain a peaceful home environment.

Kelly said...

How true! Well said Anna.

andrea said...

That is so right! I hope to avoid all of the chaos that surrounds modern life. And I do not like taking medication either--sometimes the medicine is worse for you than what you take it for! Just a question...what sorts of meals do you prepare for your husband and yourself (I'm assuming he is not vegetarian)? I'm concerned because my fiance likes meat (especially beef, which I think is the worst thing for you), and he eats a lot of it. I'm afraid he'll be unhealthy...but I don't want to come across as disrespectful or snobbish about what he eats and the medicines he takes! What are some tips you could give for healthy meals that husbands will like?

Karen said...

Oh, I absolutely loved this post. I'm going to put a copy in my homemaking binder if you don't mind. It's so easy to lose sight of what a home is supposed to be. I just finished reading a chapter in "Youniquely Woman" that described our home as a blank canvas that we as artists are encouraged to "create".

Have a blessed evening, Anna.
Karen

Catherine R. said...

I smiled when you said women used to not be asked what they "do". Whenever I have to explain to people that I became a homemaker I feel guilty. Since I have been pregnant (first child) people are always saying "Oh, and after the baby gets a little older you can start going back to work!" It is pretty strange that we even have to say "Stay-at-home-mom" "Stay-at-home-wife" now. Women did not used to have to explain themselves so profusely.

Kristi said...

That is a beautiful picture, Anna. Is it from your home? A sunshiny spot with a lovely view is a great place to put the kitchen table!

Shannon said...

Hi Anna,
I enjoyed your post and agree that homemaking is truly a lost art in our culture. I agree that nothing can take the place of a peaceful home! Thanks for posting!

Mim & Michael's World! said...

Thanks Anna that post really brought the peace I have been seeking in regards to staying at home with my one year old, even though money is tight and it would make things easier financially to go to work!

I would so much prefer to 'struggle' and not be able to buy things new etc than to have to leave my baby with someone else, come home tired and then have to cook/clean/bath and feed bub/eat etc. I love being able to potter around the house all day long playing with my baby and tidying up and cooking for my husbnad.

Sure sometimes it seems a little repetitive, but it is definately worth it! And certainly makes my relationship with my husband stronger as we are not both tired & cranky in the evening.

Thanks again for your wise words.
Love Miriam

Mrs. Anna T said...

Kristi: the picture is from allposters. I have a collection of beautiful pictures from there, which I look to as a source of inspiration.

Laura said...

I am hoping to achieve this kind of a home. I am not a mom, and I am not working right now, but I am so far, a very unsuccessful housekeeper. It is so depressing to me to organize something just to know that it will undoubtedly become messy again. And I have no sense of priorities either. But, I have just moved into a real house from a series of apartments, and I am dreading the pit of despair that it could become if I can't work something out. It really could be so lovely though. This post is inspirational for me too. If I focus on the positives, maybe it won't be so hard.

Karen said...

I always enjoy reading posts like this because it reminds me that there is a reward to the work that must be done.

Now I'm just anxious to be able to get around a little more without so much worry.

beth said...

I have an avid visitor to your blog for the past several months--I must say, this post is one of my very favorites! Very inspiring! Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, dear Anna!

Kittee said...

Amen.

-Kittee

Anonymous said...

I love this post. I must clip this to save it for future encouragement. I also love the idea above, that another commenter said, about starting a homemaking folder. Imagine that there was a day when women weren't asked what they did all day.

Dawn said...

Great post Anna ~

With the rising cost of everything going up, many ladies are leaving their homes and families in search for work.
The thing is, many of these ladies have not even tried to live below their means, to live humbly, to sacrifice in order to stay home.
Unfortunatly they aren't willing to give up their Starbucks, their shoe shopping weekly trips, their trips to the nail and spa place.

All those things are luxaries, ya know...? We aren't entitled to have any of that.

God gives us our basic needs of food, shelter, clothing. Everything else is a luxary that, honestly, we really don't even need.

The Lord bless and keep all you ladies who are trying to make your home a well loved haven of refuge!

Dawn

Buffy said...

The best summary of why we need to revisit the "traditional" role of married women I have read. I am definitely linking to this post under my thought provoking posts list.

Anonymous said...

This has to be one of your best posts and it has truly blessed me.
Thank you so much.

Coffee Catholic said...

The heaviest burden I carry is my disabled leg and how it gets in the way of cleaning my house. It's a wreck and I hate it! Some days I can clean and when I do, I love it!! I'm so happy as I bustle around the house and tidy and mop and vaccum but because the house is such a mess I never really get it all clean and it gets so messy right away as soon as my leg begins to bother me.

Now I'm struggling with a very difficult pregnancy. I don't have any actual complications ~ just a very painful situation where my womb is filled with hard balls called "fibroids" that ache and scream and don't allow me to bend or squat. I'm green with illness 24 hours a day and can't eat. This leaves me with the energy of a slug and so I drag around trying to do housework with a disabled leg, a screaming abdomen and a low fuel tank!! My hope is to figure out how to cook vegetarian because I seem to be able to tolerate veg and fruit... maybe food will help give me the energy I need to try and clean somewhat.

The question that nags me day and night is: "God, am I failing in my duty as a wife? Am I sinning??" The looks I see in peoples' eyes when they come into my house just kills me. All my life I dreamed of being either a cloistered nun or a wife ~ both vocations involved bustling around cleaning and cooking and praying! Instead I find myself disabled and living in an untidy house. It's not dirty in an unsanitary sense ~ it's just cluttered with piles that I can't put away very easily so the piles sit there waiting for me to become more mobile.

I hope and pray that I am not a failure as a wife in God's eyes!!

Kat said...

For those struggling (particularly Laura & Coffee Catholic) with household management, flylady.com has helped me a lot. Some people modified even the 15 minutes at a time to a mere 5 minutes at a time because of disability. 5 minutes here and there can make a difference. Even so, if you are ill, they should be offering to help with joy and kindness in their hearts rather than standing back and judging. I'm sorry this pregnancy is so hard for you. I hope some people are willing to step up to the plate and help you out.

Margy said...

Your words painted a beautiful picture for me. I remember in the 1960"s going home with a friend whose mother was a sahm, the kitchen had the aroma of fresh baked bread, the home was clean, warm, and inviting. Forty years later I can still relive that in my minds eye. Thanks.

Kelleigh said...

An encouraging article, thanks for sharing it. Your points are so true.

Dedra said...

Anna,
Your words ring true. I am an older woman who worked in a stressful career field. My husband had wanted me to take the position thinking that if something happened to him I would have my financial needs met. However, the stress was so great I came down with a debilitating condition and was encouraged to seek disability.
I had been in prayer for some time that I would be able to return home as I was very unhappy in the corporate setting. The Lord answered my prayers but not in the way I expected!
I have been home for 15 months now and LOVE it. My condition has improved to the point that my specialist says it is nothing short of miraculous! My husband now enjoys having me at home due to the fact I am not stressed out and a bitter angry woman. He comes home to a much happier person, clean home, and delicious meals. I even wait on him hand-and-foot.
Keep up the great work, sister!

Lauren said...

This was a breath of fresh air.

And I so wish that the inevitable modern question wouldn't come up so often:

"Your husband's a ____? Oh, that's wonderful! So what do you do?"

"I'm a homemaker. I stay home and take care of things there."

"So...what do you do??"

Sigh...I love the answer an older, wiser woman told me to tell them once: "I'm making a home for my husband. It's a delightful thing God has given me to do. And when my husband gets home from work, we actually get to spend time together, keeping our marriage strong!"

:-)