Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Our great potential at home

These days, I don't have much time to read blogs, but it's always such a treat when I can sneak a few minutes to visit Rhonda Jean. Rhonda, the way I got to know her through her writings, is such a wonderful example of an older, yet young in spirit, woman. She's intelligent, resourceful, full of energy, ever-growing, and an avid learner. Yesterday, I read the following encouraging lines on her blog:

"If I were a young wife now, with children to raise, I would be learning everything I could about how to do the work in my home without modern appliances... I would start mending clothes, I'd recycle and reuse everything I could. I'd start cooking from scratch with the intention of learning how to produce the most delicious and nutritious meals for the lowest cost.

If I were a young wife and mother now, I would take it upon myself to save every penny I could to pay off our debt. I would encourage my husband and children to economise, make do and learn to go without. My focus would be on the long-term health and prosperity of my family and I would hope to teach myself enough to give us the best chance in this tough economic climate.

There has never been a better time to know how to run a home efficiently. There has never been a more pressing need to know the skills of the homemaker. If you still need to learn a few things, you'd better get cracking, because what you learn soon and what you know now might mean make or break for your family."

Like Rhonda rightly noted, in the current economic crisis (which seems to be sweeping mercilessly all over the world) the value of a wise steward at home is rapidly rising. It's time for us wives and mothers to brush up all our skills, resources and education, and perfect our knowledge of homemaking.

Previously, it might have been cheaper to throw away a shirt and buy a new one because you never learned how to mend a button, or to throw away a good sturdy chair because it's scratched and you can't be bothered to repaint it; but if your husband is currently unemployed, or facing possible unemployment, or his salary was reduced, pinching pennies might be what enables your family to survive and thrive in the tough times.

A few days ago, one of you ladies asked me in the comments:

"Anna, did you get the guilt trip about wasting your education? I feel this one coming from my father, who doesn't yet know of my intentions of staying home after marriage. Might you have any advice for those of us who are single and might have to deal with that backlash in the near-ish future?"

There will always be those who criticize our life choices, and it's often difficult to deal with it when the discouragement flows from people near and dear to us, but as long as the value of our work at home is acknowledged by our husbands, and we work as a unit, anything else should matter very little.

Yes, eyebrows might be raised when a young, college-educated woman spends her days caring for children and running a household - and sees this not as some depressing transitional stage, but as her long-term vocation. But in these times, when our market is crashing and finding stable employment seems like a fickle prospect, it's more important than ever to channel our time and energy towards home, so we can become good stewards of our resources. It's especially important for young wives like me, who still have a lot to learn.

I can't afford to be disorganized. I can't afford to forget what I have in my home, what can and must be used, and which supplies must be replenished. I can't afford to be wasteful; a 4-year degree would certainly be a painful waste, but I'm far from looking at things that way just because I don't get a paycheck for my employment at home.

My knowledge of nutrition enables me to take better care of my family, and to be confident about the health choices we make. When food resources might become scarce, what I have learned will be priceless. Many degrees might be directly useful to the homemaker, and if not, the self-study and research skills you hopefully developed will be very useful too.

It's time to get going. There is still at least one room to be tidied, dinner to be started, and husband's lunch to be packed for tomorrow. There are ongoing projects of Pesach cleaning, organization, and sorting through a myriad of items. There's a sleeping baby who will soon wake up calling for Mommy's milk; to sum it up, there's a home that needs me. I wish you a wonderfully productive day!

Mrs. T


Anonymous said...

Anna, what a wonderful & inspiring post today. :o) I clicked over to Rhonda Jean's blog....will have to bookmark it & spend some time later looking through her past posts.

Today's work for me includes dusting & vacuuming, a little food prep, & hopefully some sewing later on, too. The day may change, but that's my outline from this point.

Hoping you have a good, happy, & productive day as well.


Sharon said...

What wonderful words of wisdom.

Tracy said...

Thanks for posting this sometimes you can forget why we do what we do. I was caught up in do I have to do this chore again??? I have to remeber that raising a family and homeschooling my children means more than any job.

Mrs. Amy @ Clothesline Alley said...

Beautiful sentiments and ones I heartily agree with! :o)

Shorty said...

i love this post!

My husband and are looking at a smaller house than we live in now...even though we want to have a child. We occasionally wonder if it will be enough room when our child (G-d willing) gets old...and then we think about the house he grew up in - something under 1500 square feet, one bathroom and three kids (and two parents). Mom stayed at home and managed the household. Then i think, we will be juuust fine :)

I also wish i could sew, so that i can mend and hem and do things on my own. You are an inspiration!

Kim M. said...

Great post! I love it!

Cassandra said...

Good post! Timely message. :)

Ways of Zion said...

I also enjoyed Rhonda's post. Thank you for your addition to it as well!

jAne said...

<*> that's me, giving you an ovation. Excellent post, Anna. :o)

Anonymous said...

I don't see you as wasting your education...not at all. In these difficult times, your education is helping put nutritional meals on your table.

In your part of the world there are so many dangerous incidents and young men and women may be called to serve. Your knowledge could help heal the wounded recover if the war comes to you.

Your daughter will be getting a better start in life thanks to what you have learned.

Anne Marie@Married to the Empire said...

I wanted to address the young woman who believes her father will fuss at her after marriage for not working and thus wasting her education. I went through this exact thing with my own father. I was lectured quite a bit, and he sent my mother to talk to me privately, as well. Pointing out his hypocrisy didn't work. (My mother stopped working shortly after they married and hasn't been back to work since.) What I finally had to do was respectfully say that while I appreciate his concern, this is a decision between my husband and me. They can give advice, but then they have to back off. I pointed out that it would only be his business if we were asking him for money, and we weren't. We're married now, so WE make the decisions for us. That stopped the handwringing and lectures.

For a couple of years it was still a bit like the elephant in the room, but my mom has told me in recent years how proud my dad is of me. I keep my teaching credentials current, just in case. I've been published. I wrote a series on one-income living on my blog that he was impressed by. I have more time for my church's youth group, which is a very worthy investment of my time.

It'll all work out. It may be tough having to stand up to the lectures and criticism, but the truth is, once you're married, your parents have to let go of some of the control. I think it's hard for them. ;-)

Persuaded said...

wise words indeed from rhonda jean... and not just for the younger ladies. this older gal is taking them to heed!
blessings to you and to the home you serve my dear♥

Undersharing said...

I may be a career-lovin' feminist, but I'm always grateful for learning to cook. Not only does it mean we spend very little money for lots of fresh good food, but being far away from home I can still eat the foods I love because I know how to mimic them using local ingredients. It helps to have a good sense of humor about having a lifetime supply of croutons when the loaves of bread mysteriously don't rise, though ;)

I would guess that even if a woman chooses to stay home after obtaining a degree, having some specialized knowledge can help her husband considerably. If her degree is in finance or accounting, she can do the family's and perhaps family business's books. If her degree is in the same field as her husband's, she can be an invaluable person for him to talk to and form ideas with.

Having read Rhonda Jean's latest few blog entries, I'd have to say that I agree with her. While we're in a different situation than the depression in the 1930's, skills of making something from virtually nothing and repair will always be a good coping mechanism. I love how she grows her own loofahs! I feel really embarrassed that I had no idea what they looked like on the plant. Sad, huh?

Anonymous said...

I dunno. I am not saying everyone has to go to college, or can afford college. But it is pretty tough for me to view the study of history, philosophy, religion, science, literature, economics, sociology, anthropology, etc. as useless for homemakers. Very few people actually apply these disciplines directly to their jobs, but a good education makes us more thoughtful citizens and enhances our lives, and forces us to develop analytical skills that will serve us well no matter what we are doing.

I don't see why women who stay home should view these things as any less relevant to their jobs than to a job outside the home.

Yes, I understand that self-study is possible. But I think college provides a unique opportunity for give-and-take with other minds, debate, and criticism that it is hard to get just by reading.

Again, I understand the high expense of college, but to just write it off as unnecessary for certain kinds of people seems unfortunate.

-- Pendragon

Bethany Hudson said...

Wise words. I know there are so many things I have left to learn, particularly as I did not have to grow up with frugal habits. But, I feel so at peace in the current crisis if only because I know how to cook nutritious and tasty meals from scratch (and from inexpensive ingredients) and how to mend clothing. These two skills alone can save so much money! Just this week, I saved us 2 pairs of pants, a jumper, a winter coat, a pair of shorts, and 2 infant dresses just because I know how to do the most basic things with a needle and thread. Actually, sewing is one of the skills I want to learn, so it's not like I'm anywhere near accomplished at this, but I can mend a hole, sew on a button, or remove a stain (which saves a bundle on dry cleaning).

Anonymous said...


You asked recently why so many people read your blog. I read because I love the way you write, and the subjects you choose. They're often thought provoking, and always considerately and respectfully presented.

I'm a mother of four(soon to be five)who stays home to take care of the children and the household. I have a Masters Degree in Engineering which I don't feel I've wasted a bit of. I worked as an engineer before we had children, and it was SO much less demanding than being a mother. I now use every ounce of my faculties on a daily basis. It's also quite gratifying, when gentler, more polite responses have failed to deflect a critic, to inform them that I am a well educated woman who choses to invest her time in her children rather than some impersonal corporation.

I applaud the care you take in guarding your family's privacy. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I visit often, and seldom come away without being inspired in some way.

Anonymous said...

Taking care of one's husband and family is extremely important and I have no idea how a woman who works full-time can get it all done. Working part-time... maybe/most likely?

I'm a stay at home wife who has a BA degree. What I learned in college and the experiences I had, made me who I am today and even a better wife because of it. To say that a 4-year degree would be a painful waste...I can't agree with that one. Women in countries who are not allowed to obtain a degree would be in awe to even set foot at a university.

I do agree with anon above who said: “I think college provides a unique opportunity for give-and-take with other minds, debate, and criticism that it is hard to get just by reading." I would have missed out on a ton of God's blessings if I never went to college. That's just the path God has chosen for me. And that's why I always tell people to seek God before they do anything... stay at home, go to college, get married, etc. because He does surprise you and His plans don’t always align with ours.

I love cooking, cleaning, making a home for my husband, and preparing for our future children. However, I don't know about you ladies... but these things do not take up my entire day and are not too difficult to learn. I live in a city so no gardening for me. I did learn some cooking and cleaning in college. I certainly did my own laundry.

But, what's the catch? Am I missing something? From reading some responses and your blog Anna, it seems like I need to be homemaking all day. I'm usually finished with chores in 2-3 hours. I’m sure when I have children it’ll be different. This is one of the times I'm thankful for my degree because I do apply what I learned to my extra curricular activities as well as to my marriage, life, etc.

Anna, I agree with most of what you day about homemaking. But homemakers on this blog talk about it like the sun is shining out of their bottom (sorry for the phrasing). There has to be days when it's not so thrilling. I wish some people could be a little more real about it. It can't always be all fine and dandy? Because honestly, some days can be a little lonely, difficult, a drag and draining at the same time. There are some days where I feel like I'm completely cut off from the physical (not techno) world.

Has anyone else ever felt this way or I am the only stay-at-home wife that's ever experienced this? Because it seems that few people talk about the reality and struggles that go along with staying at home. And I think it’s doing a disservice to women if we can’t be open and honest about our challenges.

Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Thuis en onderweg said...

Dear young lady mentioned in Anna's post,

it might help you to know how we (my husband and I) look at this now. Both my husband and I discover almost everyday things we learned in college and which prove not to be true! My graduation was 12 years ago, my husband's 14 years.

Looking back we realize (both my husband (!) and I) that we could have acquired the same knowledge and with some extra effort even the same experience in about a year's time instead of going through college and university for four to six years.

We could have learned the same things by self study, had we just read the books and figured it out on our own, and contacted knowledable persons.

So looking back, we feel that we have wasted three years of the four years in college, since we could have done it in one year and we feel we have wasted quite some time (years as well) living up to expectations and with 'knowledge' that didn't stand the test of time.

So, especially my perspective has changed. I have am not wasting my six years of higher education by staying home, educating my children and helping my husband, it's just the opposite: I have already wasted three years of unneccessary college education and two years of even higher education and as well at least five years in adhering to what I learned but proved to be false, and I am very glad that, by becoming a homemaker three years ago, we did put an end on wasting our time, money and brain space on things of lesser value.

Had we acquired our knowledge by self-study, we would have been far more critical and especially I would have been able to avoid the pitfalls between the lines and the traps feminism set for me and which I did not recognize in a setting where everybody believed it to be true.

I hope this helps and that you may find ways to keep honoring your father, even though you might have a difference of opinion. Most likely, he has been brought up in the same thinking system (college is a must) and it will take time for him to see and recognize that a college education is not wasted by not participating in the workforce.

Your government might think that way, but that's because they never told is thay had a hidden (economical) agenda with women's education.

Many blessings,


Sasha said...

I must agree with Pendragon. University has not only taught me science,it also gave me a lot of belief in myself, LOTS of self confidence and the ability to make new friends in minutes. I don't believe that any home studying would give me this qualities. And may I note that the author HAS high education and cannot judge how her life would turn out without it.

Claudia said...

Dear Anna, another wise post! I had read Rhonda's before, and you added beautifully to it. Nor do I think you're wasting your education, as you chose a subject that is so helpful for your work in the home.
I underwent the classic humanistic studies at university, studying literature, and I agree with Pendragon that this has been an invaluable time for me in rounding off my personality and making me "grow up". It has, however, also had the common drawbacks of delaying marriage etc. A college degree may be the right thing for some and the wong thing for others, but I believe there are many ladies who set aside time every day (or as time allows) to study a little at home, reading books on all kinds of subjects to "improve" their personality. I am glad I went to university, but I believe that to shape one's character in a rewarding way is always in the hands of the idividual, whatever his or her position may be.


Otter Mom said...

I don't think that learning is ever wasted, whether she goes to work or stays home. I think she's already made up her mind about what she wants to do.
I follow Rhonda Jean's blog, she's always got something good to say and I think I've learned a lot from her.
I tried to post a comment yesterday but I don't think it went through.

Anonymous said...

Funny, I came across this article. It's a quick read and shows how life can change in a second. I admire this woman for being so brave and trusting God...


Heatherlady said...

This was refreshing to read! Thanks for your insights. I agree that young women really don't understand how valuable the work they do at home is, or can be!
I am a member of the LDS church (Mormon) and one of the things our women's organizations focus on is homemaking, but I am so disappointed that every time there is an activity or lesson on homemaking skills the only ones who show up are the older women-- who already know how to do it. But I think that maybe with times getting harder young women will start thinking twice about what is important! Thanks again, I really enjoy your blog. You are a fascinating person!

Anonymous said...

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