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.