Wednesday, June 09, 2010

And yes, it IS a career!

Yesterday I happened upon a blog post (from a very popular LDS blogger) that was a bunch of tips for the half-hearted homemaker.  She encouraged everyone to post their own tips in the comments.  I read through them, and I was honestly a little shocked and appalled (do I sound like a Daily Universe letter to the editor?)  Basically, it was all about how to cut corners (think leaving your vacuum cleaner permanently in the entryway so people always think you're cleaning, but you never actually use it). 

Here's the thing.  I believe that anything worth doing is worth doing right.  This isn't to say that my home is always flawlessly clean (come on, I have little kids!) or I have a beautifully prepared dinner waiting the moment my husband walks in the door.  But I really do try hard to have a clean, well-organized, inviting home with nutritious food that I've prepared myself.  I indulge the things I'm passionate about  in this arena:  gardening, sewing, etc.  To me, those things are a gesture of love to my family.  But more than that, I feel like homemaking is my career.  And I try to treat it as such.  As a huge overachiever who really valued scholastic success, I find that I need to work hard at homemaking in order to feel that it's of value, if that makes sense.  As in if I try to do the very best job that I can, then I'm saying that what I'm doing is worthwhile, as opposed to just doing the bare minimum because I feel like it's not worth bothering over.

I know this is very much a matter of individual balance.  But I think that all too often, we look at creating a beautiful, happy, calm home as less than worthwhile.  We think about all the other things clamoring for our attention and wonder if it really is worth cleaning up the thousandth pile of books on the floor.  Or growing a garden when you can just go to the grocery store.  Or cleaning a bathroom mirror that's going to get bespattered with toothpaste when the next kid walks in.  Preparing a meal that toddlers may categorically refuse.

But I believe that it is.  I believe that there is joy and satisfaction in creating an environment for your family that is a place of beauty and serenity and a refuge from the world.  I believe that there is value in spending time and energy and effort to do this.  It takes work and intellectual effort to do this every day!! I believe that we should be proud to be homemakers--that we should view it as a career, not as something to be slightly embarrassed about, as in, "Me?  Oh...I'm just home with the kids." 

Your thoughts?


Dani said...

Great post. I couldn't agree with you more. It's all about balance and what works for you and your family, but it is important to view yourself and the contributions that you make as vitally important to your family, you, and your Heavenly Father. Posts like the one that you commented on devalue the importance of the work (yes, some of it is tedious) that at-home moms do. Let's all do our very best, but let's not cheat ourselves of the joy and satisfaction that comes from true dedication and hard work. It's so worth it!

Crapos said...

Why would you want to leave your vacuum in the foyer? That's just weird.
So, my thoughts. I am not one of those people that are like, "I'm JUST a SAHM." It doesn't bother me. I have NO interest in doing anything else. Even if I tried to do a little something extra or start some home business it would just stress me out. Quite frankly, I love being married to a man who makes enough money that I can sit around with my kids and spend his. And I find plenty of fulfillment in doing things I love, crafting, sewing, reading, canning, working on Personal Progress with my YW, teaching my children... And honestly, how many working women get to decide, hey, this week I'm going to educate myself about the 4th of July (that's what we're doing)?
I too am a perfectionist when it comes to my housekeeping. But I fall far short of perfection and don't even do a very good job of it. But the fact that my kitchen is currently covered in breakfast AND dinner dishes and there are no clean clothes in the house doesn't make me feel like what I do has any less value. So what if my kitchen is dirty? Yesterday I read with my kids and took them to the pool and out to lunch and went VTing and made a from-scratch dinner that we took to a friend and I spent quality time with my husband and read scriptures for almost an hour. Sometimes I get really down and stressed about the condition of my home but I have to remind myself that those other things were more important at the time and actually give my life more value than having clean dishes.
But I do still try to have a clean house! I don't think you can make excuses for having dirty living quarters. Sometimes stories may have to wait so you can have a clean spot on the floor to sit in. And the Spirit always resides more abundantly in a peaceful atmosphere.
But that all works for me (except when it doesn't) and everyone is going to have a slightly different balance of work and play that works in their family.

Audra said...

I like to think of myself as a SAHM who just has to work in addition. Seriously, there is no more important job. And I take just as much pride at home work as I do at work work. As my kids are getting older, they are taking notice of the effort to make our home comfortable, clean, and harmonious. I hope it will help them to value what's most important in their own homes. Good post - thanks!

Rachael said...

Great comments, ladies. And just to clarify--I wasn't trying to equate an immaculate home with "good" homemaking. (As I type this, the floors around me are littered with Barbies and stuffed animals.)

What I wanted to emphasize was, as Dani said, that the contributions we make are vitally important. I also really liked the points Ashley made about finding fulfillment in the things she loves and does on a daily basis. And I loved what Audra said about taking as much pride in home work as "work work." What I found most troubling about that post I mentioned (and its follow-up comments) was the general apathy about making an effort at home.

Kristyn said...

In that light, I have a friend who when asked if she works, replies "yes I do". when asked what she does, she says " I'm a mom"

Meghan said...

Better than a career. A mission. A calling. A trust.
And Dad used to say "She works harder than I do. She just doesn't get paid."
Except now I recognize the compensation is out of this world.

Lindsey Ellis said...

I totally agree Rachael! Although we don't have children of our own, I'm still a homemaker and feel exactly as you. Why wouldn't I want an amazing meal and clean home that I take pride in? It means that I get up at 6am and go nonstop until 9 or 10 pm, but I can say I am fulfilled.

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