Monday, May 4, 2009

The silent glory of the homemaker

One of the most challenging parts of a homemaker's job is that so much of it is composed not of projects which have a beginning and end, but of never-ending, almost unnoticeable tasks that are so necessary to the smooth running of a home, but aren't considered real accomplishments.

We might receive appreciation for a delicious dinner, a beautifully set table, a skilfully knitted sweater. But what about all the other things we do each day? Washing the dishes, doing the laundry, sweeping, mopping, picking up clutter, taking out the garbage, bathing the children and other everyday tasks just don't seem to count. And so, at the end of a day, it's easy to feel as though the bulk of our time has been taken by... nothing.

Some of us are blessed by attentive husbands, grateful children and supportive communities that don't let us feel as though what we do is unimportant. But more often than not, the homemaker's routine work goes unnoticed. Like a perfectly functioning mechanism or a healthy body, we don't notice its function until it's disrupted or broken.

In the hottest days of summer, do you think much about your air conditioner until one time it's broken? Do you pay attention to everyday blessings such as electricity, running water, clothes and food in abundance? Probably not. Most people hardly ever pause to think about the beating of their heart, even though they would die if it stopped.

Similarly, much of the homemaker's work is often unnoticed until the faithful wife and Mommy gives in to a mean case of flu and stays in bed for a couple of days. And then, when the clutter piles up and the family runs out of clean dishes and underwear, the other household members finally realize it's time to pitch in. After a couple of days, Mom is back on her feet sweeping, dusting and folding laundry, and hopefully, an important lesson has been learned about how much work it really takes to keep a home running.

This is one of the reasons why the husband and children (when they are old enough) should share at least some of household load. It doesn't have to be much. It can be something as basic as every family member picking up after himself. Getting help from other family members doesn't mean that the homemaker is bad at coping with her work. It's a gesture of respect which will do a great service to the children in years to come. The wife will usually be the primary household manager, but if no one else ever helps to sort and fold laundry, it's so easy to assume that neatly folded socks appear in drawers automatically.

My husband works hard and I don't expect him to do any housework during the week, but on Shabbat nights, he usually puts on an apron and washes the dishes. He does that very sweetly and out of love. And it serves as a reminder that there are dishes to be washed, and that I do that several times each day.

No matter what the circumstances are, it's important to get up and try to do the daily works with joy in your heart. It's not true that we have no control over our moods. If you dress in pretty clothes, put on cheerful music, light some candles and smile, your spirit will usually be uplifted. Nothing does wonders like a daily portion of time spent in prayer, preferably early in the morning. No matter what, we know He sees what is right within our hearts, and therefore, we don't need to worry that we don't receive enough appreciation for our work. As long as we offer it all to Him, we should be fine.

18 comments:

Persuaded said...

i am also a firm believer that we are not enslaved to our moods, but that we can choose to be in a "good mood." when my kids were small, i always encouraged them to be "happy friends" and i got some flack on this at times- as though i were teaching mu children to deny their deep inner emotions or something, lol. in truth i think they learned the truth that contentment, even happiness are a discipline. we truly are as happy as we make up our minds to be☺

my favorite part of your post was this:
"No matter what, we know He sees what is right within our hearts, and therefore, we don't need to worry that we don't receive enough appreciation for our work. As long as we offer it all to Him, we should be fine."
and we *will* indeed be fine!

Yunie ( Mrs Irontius Lou) said...

what you said is so true.
That is exactly what it feels to be a homemaker.
This modern society gives no credit to a "homemaker"--a nobody!
But it is very comforting to have a husband that appreciates and children who love their mom!
It is a blessing to have worldwide online homemakers who shares their life in blogs..

Sasha said...

Hehe,I have told my husband that I'm not moving to a new appartment till we buy a dishwasher. BTW do you wear gloves while washing the dishes?

Mrs. Anna T said...

I always wear gloves while washing dishes. A couple of dishes got broken because of this, but my husband thinks it's a small price to pay for protecting my skin from chemicals.

Public Artist said...

On the aspect of washing dishes, I too always wear gloves-partially because of the chemicals as I have sensitive skin. However, my primary reason is that in order to really get dishes clean and kill any germs, I try to wash them in very hot water. Using gloves means I can tolerate a higher temperature and thus feel more confident that my dishes are clean.

Terry @ Breathing Grace said...

Yes, Anna, it is true that we are not a slave to our moods. And I also agree that we need to work with our hearts turned to the Lord. It really does make all the difference.

Wonderful post!

The Dutchess said...

I love your words...wonderful blog..another woman who discovered the true "nature" of feminism...Greets from Holland..

Chief Cook and Bottle Washer said...

LOL - many children make for even more of this "invisible" work. We are blessed with 8 and some days seem entirely comprised of dishwashing, cooking, changing little one's clothes and wiping noses. But it is all so worth it as these helpless little individuals grow into fine young men and women who can run rings around you in the area of running your home.

I had the flu just yesterday and my 16 yo did the Sunday bread baking. Everyone took turns caring for the 6 month old, just letting me have her to nurse when needed. The house stayed nicely clean and all I did was sweep the living room floor.

It was a nice thing to realize as I lounged in bed feeling miserable that my children really could run everything without me.

All the cooking, dishwashing, laundry, shopping, cleaning etc. really do pay off, especially as you involve and train your little ones in these skills.

Sasha said...

Of course!If you want,it's also recommended to put oil on the skin around the nails.I use the Tapuah oil,and one bottle is enough for about 2 years.Also olive oil is perfect too. BTW when is ur hebrew Birthday?Mine was on The independence day.

Mary at Civilla's Cyber Cafe said...

I spent a week in the hospital last year, and my family really appreciated me when I got back. My husband said, "No matter how poor we are, I'll make sure you always have a washing machine!" He has always appreciated the little things I do, though, like making nice dinners and setting the table nicely, sometimes with the nice dishes and a candle.

Tereza said...

so very true!!! I'll think on that as I help my house "recooperate" from an eventful weekend!

Bethany Hudson said...

So true, Anna! And, I agree with Diane that attitude is really a choice when it comes to homemaking. For starters, I like thinking of it as "homemaking" not "housework"...much more inspirational to the artist in me :)

And, I absolutely agree that mom is the keeper of the home, not the resident domestic servant. My one-year-old daughter already knows how to pick up her toys and books and can help Mommy wipe up some of her more spectacular spills. She also helps empty the dryer and the bottom of the dishwasher.

While I don't think that husbands should be given 50% of the adult housework, I do find it really helpful if my husband has a couple of chores that are his...it makes him feel more connected to the running of our home. So, we do our budget together every month, so we're both "in" on the financial situation, at which point we decide together where our tithe will go for the month. He also cleans the litter box (I'm not supposed to do this while pregnant...which I often am!) and takes out the trash, because it's very hard for me to take a smelly trashbag down from our third-story home with a little one who isn't very good on the stairs yet :) Sometimes, he also pitches in when he's feeling generous, and it is such a blessing! Nearly always if I've cooked something that really gets stuck to our saute pan, he'll rush over to the sink and say, "I'll get it!" since he knows how much I hate scrubbing stuck-on dishes.

~Bethany

Anonymous said...

Dearest Mrs. T.,
Well written post! None (or very few anyway) of the jobs a keeper-at-home does is ever 'done'. Even if we get "ALL" the laundry done, family members have on clothes that will make a pile at the end of the day! There is always the next meal to prepare for, the next thing to wipe off, put away or what-have-yous.

As for the children being taught to help in the home by teaching them to do chores. This is ESSENTIAL! And they can start at very early ages, at 2 or so they can sort/match the socks, fold the washclothes/diapers, etc. No, they will not fold these things as well as we do oursleves, BUT they are learning! Is it easier and faster for us to just do all these things ourselves? You betcha! BUT it is a dis-service to those children!! Not to mention their future (Lord willing) spouses!

Hm, what are they learning from chores?? Just a list 'off the top' (so tis speak!)
1)They are being trained in diligence in doing a job, doing it well and with a cheerful attitude.

2) One day they will be adults who will have to preform these jobs in their own homes. Learning these things (and the diligence at an early age) will go far in helping them actually DO them on a regular basis.

3) They are being taught they are valued members of the family. Not guests, not 'burdens' to be worked (slaved) for, but members of the family who have value to contribute to the necessary work of the family!

4) They will learn that all that clean laundry/dishes does not just appear magically! Food does not prepare itself! There is LOTS of work to chop, sautee, peel, etc in order to prepare a meal for a large family. Certainly NOT something you can do 'spur of the moment' style!

5) Mom is NOT a maid! All must wear clothes, eat food, use a bathroom, sleep on beds with sheets, be able to find their toys/books/etc.

6) Once your family size increases, the planning and routines you establish will be very important. Meal planning so you can purchase all you need to prepare your various meals, start early enough in the day so your dinner is on the table on time, get all those dishes washed and put away so they are ready for the next meal, purchase enough to last until the next shopping trip, budgeting so you have the necessary funds to purchase the foodstuffs you need to feed your family. The necessary routine so you are NOT overtaxing yourself by trying to clean everything in the same day, but breaking it down into manageable pieces to be tackled by all the children & mom together. Keeping the clutter at bay so walking in the home is not a hazard! Tripping &/or falling while pregnant is NOT a good thing.

"This is one of the reasons why the husband and children (when they are old enough) should share at least some of household load. It doesn't have to be much. It can be something as basic as every family member picking up after himself. Getting help from other family members doesn't mean that the homemaker is bad at coping with her work. It's a gesture of respect which will do a great service to the children in years to come. The wife will usually be the primary household manager, but if no one else ever helps to sort and fold laundry, it's so easy to assume that neatly folded socks appear in drawers automatically."

The homemaker would be doing her very best 'job' in teaching her children how to do each and every job in the home in preparation for their own home keeping responsibilities.

So many assume today that children should not have 'too many' chores. They have the wrong assumption that a child should have an unending time of 'play only' throughout childhood. But is that what they should be trained for?? Would it be correct to teach them that as adults they should expect to 'play' unendingly? I propose that that very mentality is one of the major problems with society today! There are far too many childish, selfish, immature adults! Being a parent is an exercise in self-denial and self-sacrifice for the well being of the blessings the Lord sends our way. It is a sacrifice with far greater rewards than a mere few minutes of 'me time'!

A fun tip on child training in floor washing. You wash the floor, but leave it 'wet'. Have the children (you judge the appropriate ages) put on some of dads old socks and 'skate' around on the floor to dry it! Be prepared for the to BEG for you to wash the floor again. Chores don't always have to be a drudge!!

Blessings,
~Mrs. R

Mrs. Anna T said...

My Hebrew birthday is 28 Tammuz, this year it will be 20-th of July.

Anonymous said...

A great post, Anna, & good & thoughtful comments as well. As others have said in agreement with you, a person doesn't have to "feel like it" to get things done around the house. No, indeed! I was just talking about this with one of my daughters the other night, as we did the dishes together.

You pointed out, at the beginning of your post, the "never-ending, almost unnoticeable tasks that are so necessary to the smooth rumming of a home, but arent't considered real acomplishments." It reminds me of the story "Keeper of the Springs" that I read (via Homeliving). Anyone who may have the slightest doubt that the mundane tasks in the home are somehow less worthy, less important, should read this little piece of literature.

Have a wonderful day, Anna.

Brenda

momof3girls said...

My daughter is getting ready to go into middle school and you can see some of the "teen" attitude coming out already. She sometimes gets frustrated with us all in this family. However her girlfriend was over the other night - she is being raised by a single dad, and she was telling my daughter (as yes, I could overhear in the next room) how lucky she was to have a mom who knew things about how to do hair, and how to keep your face clean from acne, to talk about "girl" things with. I don't think my "tween" had slowed down enough to ever consider what life might be like without a mom - she was very appreciative and lovely dovey the next day. (the impact will last until the next mood swing I assume)

Buffy said...

Well balanced post :)

sharon said...

I love your post! I'm new to home-making partly because I just have kids, and the eldest one being 2yr old, partly I have a helper. But What made me realise that your post rings true is that my helper is going home and I am in urgent search of a new one. Running a home is such a task which I am not gifted to do. Yet the time will come where I will have to do without a helper. I am still learning the ropes around the home. Some homemaker makes such delicious food & cookies, cleans up the house so well. It is my vision to be like one and like you said with joy and unto him be the glory.