Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Representing the good works

If you are a full-time homemaker, you might well be the only one on your street, in this day and age when most women work outside the home. In fact, for many of your acquaintances you might be the only stay-at-home wife/mother they know. If you think about it, it means that for many people whose lives touch yours, you are representing the entire concept of being a helpmeet to your husband, a mother at home, a housewife.

It means that your conduct, your spirit, your behavior, and everything you say or do, affect the way people around you - your family, friends and neighbours - think about stay-at-home wives and mothers in general. This really makes you stop and consider the impression you leave, doesn't it?

If you project discontentment, people will think, "staying at home is probably frustrating for her, she should be out working like everyone else". If they drop by for a visit and your home is messy, they will say, "she is lazy - she doesn't really work in her home, she just wastes her time"; and if you dress sloppily when you go out to the grocery store, people will decide all stay-at-home wives and mothers don't care about their appearance because dressing up for their husbands isn't worth the effort.

Such judgment may not seem fair, and it probably isn't, because each family with a mother at home is entirely different, and even those who are excellent, cheerful, prettily dressed homemakers with helpful children have their bad days. But the fact remains, you are someone who, by her entire way of life, is in opposition to the common worldview for most women today.

That's why I always try to seem content when out and about; I don't think I'm being less than honest by doing that, even if I'm not having a particularly good day, because on the larger scale I'm not only happy with my life at home, but consider it a delight, a privilege, and the highest calling.

Often neighbours who work outside the home ask me how I feel about staying home full-time. When I tell them how happy I am, and what a good arrangement it is for our family, some of them secretly whisper to me they wish they could be home with their children, too. Others tell me how they see mothers at work coming back from maternity leave and crying their eyes out because they miss their babies so badly.

Not long ago a neighbour of mine saw me washing our windows on the outside when she came back from work, and told me how sorry she is she never has time to wash her windows. When she took a day off recently, she happily spent it working in the garden and cleaning, and told me how wonderful it felt to be working in her home. Her face shone with happiness. It was obvious to me her heart is at home, but being at home full-time just isn't socially acceptable anymore.

Imagine that one of your acquaintances says about you when you aren't present, "I know a woman who stays home for her family, even though she is well-educated and could get a good job. She is happy, her home is welcoming, and her children are sweet. And she is always so soft-spoken and cheerful. I never thought anyone could be so productive by simply being a housewife." And perhaps one of the people who hears this is a woman who is struggling with the decision of whether she should become a stay-at-home wife; and perhaps hearing that there are other women out there, doing just that and living a happy life at home, might make her lean towards the decision of coming home as well. Wouldn't that be wonderful?

27 comments:

Kim M. said...

What an excellent post! Thank you for the challenge to let our happiness radiate and to be good examples to other women. :-)

Anonymous said...

This immediately made me think of my mom, at least the last few paragraphs. My mom has been working hard all her life, wages were low and so my father couldn't possibly surivive us all (not talking luxury here but bare necessities).
No matter how tired or down my mom felt/feels when she comes home, she always goes to her garden and potters around. She really feels good when she's around things that are growing and belong to her. She is also super proud of her vegetables and well kept garden.

I am not sure if she'd want to be a stay at home mom, but she's definetly happy when she can do something around the house. :)

Nadja

Front Porch Society said...

Very true. Many of us career women never see a happy, content "stay at home" woman. It is nice that you are being a good example of one to the ladies in your neighborhood.

Jenna said...

Thank you for the reminder to be a good example!

Love Abounds At Home said...

Since moving to this area almost 3 years ago, I've never seen so many unkept homemakers. Being home fulltime, I try and look my best even on a bad day I can put on a cute moo moo dress and throw a clip in my hair.
At church, I'm one of very few homemakers. The others are so negative about being home that the other women are put off by it. I'm told often that I'm the only one who enjoys being home and that's because I know how to sew and do crafts. Wow! I wish I had time to do crafts and sew. I'm busying making my house a home.....sometimes that does involve sewing and crafts ;)
Thanks for the encouragement as always.

Heather said...

We all need a reminder from time to time that we are a representative of all wives, homemakers and mothers, and as such we should dress and behave appropriately.

I am fortunate that I live in a community where many woman are homemakers, and it is questioned when you work outside of the home.

Sharon said...

This is a great post and wonderful reminder of how attentive we should be to our calling. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

So wonderful. Thank you again, for yet another inspirational post.

Prayers,
W

jAne said...

Indeed. We represent our current life and as such should display a level of contentedness and joy. :o)

jAne at tickleberryfarm.blogspot.com

Coffee Catholic said...

Anna!!! Have you heard what President Obama was saying while in Egypt and the Middle East? Have you heard what he's been saying about Israel and Palestine? God have mercy, Anna, but President Obama is turning against Israel and basically giving his go-ahead for Israel to be blown off of the map! I'm horrified!

Coffee Catholic said...

LOL oh boy... I think I fail to live up to this in so many ways. Being a homemaker on a farm adds so much more to the mix hahaha! At the best of times it can be downright insane with 400 animals up to their tricks! I had all the hopes of dressing sweet and having a well-kept house and well-kept hair etc. but I've come to learn that I don't dare dress nice while on the farm ~ I never know when I'll need to bolt outside and help my husband with some nasty dirty thing. And try as I might, my floors are trashed. I can sweep 10 times a day and it still looks like we live in a barn hahaha!

Mrs. Anna T said...

Michelle, as soon as Obama was elected, I said "we're in trouble." I just had no idea it would get so bad so soon. I could go on and on about it but I'd rather NOT take my blog in that direction because I simply won't be able to stop!!

Green Eyes said...

This is a timely topic for me, Anna... it's something I've been thinking heavily on lately. I have always been something of an outsider here (and admittedly am not the best at socializing, anyway), and have simply grown not to care -- what people think, how they look at me, what they say about me. Lately, however, I've been having the exact same thoughts about how I am representing stay-at-home-wives as a whole, since I am one of the only ones around.

This is not to say I plan to ban black from my wardrobe, cut my hair short, and stop carting books around in an effort to "fit in"! But I am becoming very conscious of how I represent my overall contentment, making sure I don't have garden mud on my nice shoes or cat hair all over my clothes when I go out, etc. You have really just affirmed my thoughts and spurred me on! Thank you!

Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...

Mrs T,
may I ask a question about the domestic practicalities of keeping Kosher ?

My understanding is that separate utensils, crockery and cutlery are used for preparing and cooking meat dishes and milk dishes, but does this extend to separate sinks/refrigerator/cooker for meat/milk as well ? To be this strict would be difficult for many modern families in terms of both space and expense, I imagine.

Someone asked me this question today at school and I didn't know.
I immediately thought of asking you :-)

Many thanks !

pedalpower said...

This is so important. It would be so nice if the choice to be a homemaker got as much respect as the choice to work. I loved staying at home, and I'm so happy that my daughter (who is in college now) says that someday she wants to be a stay-at-home mother. She says she thanks God that I was at home, and she wants that for her children too.

Neuropoet said...

Anna,
Thank you so much for this post. Where I live, I really am the only other homemaker I know, and it really helps sometimes to be reminded that I'm not the only one! :) We just celebrated our thirteenth wedding anniversary yesterday, and I was reminded all over again how grateful I am to be the help-mate of such a wonderful man. I am so blessed! If only all women were as happy as I am - in whatever they do. :)
Blessings on you dear Anna,
~Jenny
PS Please know that many here in the US are praying for the peace and safety of Israel!

Rachel said...

This is something I remind my children of..that we are an example to others, of all of the things that we hold dear...

It is a challenge (I live on 10 acres and have several animals--but nowhere near the 400 previously mentioned, lol). Five children under 9 (incl 2 yo twins), homeschooling, and raising as much of our own food, well, we're busy. But you are very right about how important it is to provide a good, happy face to the general public...it isn't always easy, but it is very important...

Bethany Hudson said...

Anna- This reminds me of Booker T. Washington, an African American from the turn of the 20th century, who often spoke about how any black man or woman who interacted with whites was representing the entire community to them and, therefore, should strive toward excellence always in order to represent the African American community well. Of course, his critics always said how unfair that was, but I think there was wisdom in his approach, and I think in many cases, it was the only thing that cut through centuries of attrocious racism.

I wonder, though, if this advice isn't applicable to ALL mothers and wives. I mean, it's not just us SAHMers who have a monopoly on marriage, motherhood, and homemaking. Wouldn't it be wonderful if ALL women of faith were cheerful about their daily tasks and services to their families, even if they also work outside of the home? A husband of a working woman needs to hear himself praised just as much as the husband who's wife stays at home. The children of a working mom need to have her cheerful attention just as much as children who are homeschooled by their mother. And, every family, no matter the make-up, is blessed by a cheerful, graceful homemaker who strives to give the best to those in her care. Wouldn't it be lovely if each of us could exhude this grace and cheerfulness in our daily duties, no matter our circumstances?

~Bethany

Audrey said...

What a great post! And a wonderful reminder. It came at the right time, as I am struggling with this area right now!

Marianna said...

What you say is so true, but I do wonder just how negative the attitude is towards SAHM's. I live in a very typical suburban American community. In my little six house block there are four moms at home full time, one house is occuppied by a divorced dad and the other by a couple whose children are grown. Of my children's friends, I can think of only two who have full-time working mothers. I would think this was an anomaly except that we've only lived in this neighborhood since last August and the neighborhood we moved from was very similiar.

Finally, I want to say that I've never once encountered negative attitudes about the fact that I've chosen to be at home with my kids. Including from my husband's female professional colleagues.

I do make sure that I keep up with current events. I read extensively so that I'm able to carry on a decent conversation. I make sure to not run around with uncombed hair in my pajamas! And I show respect to women who have chosen a different path than mine.

I truly believe it's too easy to buy into the media-hyped "mommy wars" that, in my experience at least, simply don't exist unless we make them exist.

Anonymous said...

I love being a stay at home mom and a home maker. Most women I know work either part time or full time. They seem to be doing better finacial then my family. I actually feel a bit sad when I see everyone moving up to bigger houses a better things. I know I should not let it bother me. I try to think that some day my kids will grow up, That I was there to raise them. having someone else raise my kids, I am not to fond of. As I want to be the one who raises my sweet children.
Most of these women have no time to clean their homes, or prepare good nutrional meals. I enjoy knowing that I can have a nice clean home, and nutrional meals prepared.

It is really hard finically though. With one person working. The resesion really hit us bad. My husband lost all of his over time work. So now we are trying to get by, with a less comforable way of life. We lived pretty comfortable before. Now we are suffering to pay the morgage, bills, and food for the family. I just keep praying that he either gets a new job. Or he is able to get sme of his hours back. say a prayer for us.

Anonymous said...

I have three SAHMs in my good acquaintance, one of them being the wonderful lady who watches my little girl for me. In truth the ones I admire most are the ones who do have the messy houses and (sometimes) messy kids. They really seem to truly enjoy themselves, while the one who keeps up on the appearances, I think is more worried about that than anything else.

I think the important thing is to be content where you are at and not to worry about what others think.

Nurse Bee

Karen said...

I love this. You make so many good points here for all homemakers to keep in mind. We probably would get less criticism if we did as you suggest and I am going to keep this in mind!

Thank you!

MarkyMark said...

Anna,

Your conduct will not only influence women in your neighborhood; you can bet your bippy that young men of marriageable age will notice too...

MarkyMark

Pharmgirl said...

What a great post! I'm not a mom, but I try to bear in mind that I am the only Catholic many of my friends know, and thus what I do affects their perception of Catholics in general.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it would be wonderful, Anna. I, too, believe that we are ambassadors, witnesses, to the homemaker's way of life. And to present a positive picture of our lives to women who may be considering it for herself & her family is something not to be taken lightly. People ARE watching us!

Brenda

Pom Pom said...

My mom was a stay at home mom and I was a stay at home mom and I loved it all. Now, I teach, but two of our girls stay at home with their babes. I was completely oblivious to the judgments of others when I stayed at home, and I'm thankful for that! I love my work with kids now, but I miss my home! I am off for the summer and I am a happy woman! You are good, Anna.