Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Not a brilliant homemaker

I wouldn't call myself an outstanding homemaker; I do all the usual things, of course - I clean, I cook, I do the laundry, I take care of the chickens, I raise children, walk the dog, make phone calls and appointments for the family, etc. But my meals aren't as elaborate as what some of my friends cook; my home never looks immaculate or very tidy - it rather seems that as soon as I'm done putting something away, I have ten more things in its stead; I'm not very good at removing some types of stains; and though I make most of our food from scratch, I succumb to the convenience of store-bought bread in the middle of the week, and canned beans when I hadn't planned ahead to soak some dry ones. 

I crochet, but I don't really knit or sew; I don't grow a vegetable garden, though I hope to change that; my children aren't as accomplished and well-behaved as some other children I know; I can't whip up a six-layer cake in thirty minutes; I have dust bunnies under the beds; I try to save on electricity, but often forget to turn off the water heater; I don't make my own soap, laundry detergent, cleaning or skin care products. The list of my imperfections is long, and I always feel as though I don't have enough hours in the day to do all that needs to be done. 

It is possible that I am wrong, but I have this theory that, as we full-time homemakers have made a very counter-cultural choice, there is strong pressure on us to prove that we, indeed, aren't wasting our time at home. I have often heard working women tell with satisfaction, "oh, we had such a slow day today, we were able to lounge in the conference room for two hours drinking coffee" - but I have never heard a full-time homemaker say, "today I just sat in the middle of the day on the couch for two hours with my feet up and watched soap operas". Even if we do that sometimes, it's not a source of pride. Our salary doesn't continue trickling in for those slow hours. 

Note: I should clarify there is a big, big distinction between - to make a crude division - Career Women and women who just work outside the home. The former are a minority who truly have a career they love, and usually a lot of ambition. The latter simply work, often part-time, just because society expects them to. Fortunately we are not all expected to be brilliant; it's alright even to be a secretary, a kindergarten teacher (a respectable job, but hardly a high-powered career), a research assistant, or any part-time not-too-high-paid profession - it's fine to be anything, as long as you work outside the home. If you choose to be home full-time, you must be a failure. If you stay home full-time and your house isn't in top order and your children aren't always happy and your meals aren't gourmet, you are a dawdle and a slattern. 

And then, even if we do conquer mountains (of laundry) and cross rivers (of milk spilled on the floor) and fight frightening wild beasts (cockroaches and spiders), no one is there to give three cheers for us. As an acquaintance cheerfully pointed out to me, "it's much easier to take care of a home that doesn't have people in it all the time."

But then, isn't the purpose of a home to have people in it? 

I believe that our work is worthwhile, even if we are not perfect. I might not be brilliant, but I'm trying; my home might not be picture-perfect, but I'm tending it; my position may not reap immediate rewards, but it is valuable. 

I will try to remember all this next time we are all being crabby cooped inside on a rainy day, when I'm trying to mop the floor just to get tracks on it the next moment; when a freshly washed shirt is stained a moment after it is put on; when a pot overflows onto a pristine stove, or sudden rain soaks my nearly-dry laundry. I'm here, and that's what matters. 


Sarah said...

Very well put. I feel so inferior as a homemaker myself, but my comfort and confidence is in knowing that I am the maker of this home as ordained by the LORD. So, I am the perfect homemaker for them, even when my sinful and selfish nature takes over, and even though my home or meals aren't perfect.
"The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him."-Psalm 28:7

Lady Anne said...

Oh, Anna! Stop beating yourself over the head! You are building a home, not a museum. Your husband and children will look back on the good meals, great laughs, and long walks, not how clean the house was.

Miriam said...

Oh, it is called life :-)

Chanukah Sameach!

Ps. roses, roses, yes please, I love anything with a rose on it!

Luba said...

Very well, put Lady Anne. Anna, I think you are doing a tremendous job. Yes, there is always room for improvement, but we don't need to kill ourselves to improve something. :)

Anonymous said...

You are fortunate. I'm a single mum to a toddler and work three days a week in a high pressured environment with no time to stop for lunch. I'm a professional in a career which is not fulfilling but I'm stuck as I have to pay the bills. I'm doing neither my work nor parenting very well and am exhausted. The house is a tip. I'm not prioritising my career or ego and drive an ancient car and live in a terraced house. I envy you.

Humble wife said...

I remember when my children were small and thinking~will I ever hit the bottom of the laundry? Will the floors ever been clean? To every thing there is a season. I am so pleased I was not perfect in pretty much anything.

I delight in visiting your blog, reading of your day to day activities, your thoughts and what not. May you continue on with your simple, sweet journey.


maria smith said...

Oh, so many moms agree with you on this. I think so much of the joy of motherhood and homemaking is spend feeling condemnation for all the ways we don't quite measure up to "all the other moms." The reality is that every mom struggles and you are probably doing a much better job than you give yourself credit for. And, I agree with your conclusion, at least you are there! Even if you have to leave dishes in the sink, or call in a cleaning service every once in a while, or serve a meal that is not Pintrest worthy.

Joluise said...

We each do our best and that is all we can do. And whatever we do we need to put our heart into it and praise the Lord for what He has provided. I have found it does get easier as the children get older and you get older. And once the children leave home, as mine have done, I do have time to put my feet up and relax (on weekends) even thought I work full time . Life is far less stressful (unless one of the adult children have a crisis as mine is currently).

Anonymous said...

The sad part is that those working outside the home are also judged by the state of their homes, as if it is a given that they should be doing both: you are supposed to hold a job wirhout nelecting your home. It is expected to hold two full time jobs, basically.

Anonymous said...

I LOVED this post! I struggle with such insecurities too - I have lyme disease, and even with no children, am not a model homemaker (although I have goals to improve my energy so I can love my husband and any guests God would have us have in our home). When I feel down about this, I remind myself that the purpose of my homemaking is LOVE, and my husband certainly feels much more loved then when I used to work. Because I cook more than I used to, clean more than I used to, etc., then when I felt I had to bow to societies pressure to work outside the home - and my husband is much less stressed and happier even though he works more hours. God's glory and my husband's happiness are my goals, not meeting some artificial standard.(I have an "excuse" now not to work with my illness in many people's eyes, but I look at it as a blessing instead - a time to grow slowly in my homemaking skills, and a wake-up call to what really matters in life - God, family, home, and ministry.)