Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Me: A Homemaker!

For all of my life I have had a particular opinion about being a homemaker: While I admired and respected the homemakers I knew, I always wondered a) how they could be satisfied with such a life, b)if they ever wanted 'more,' and c) why they chose to do that instead of something more 'important' with their lives.

Perhaps (probably?) this is a symptom of a particular feminist culture that I was raised in (in the larger culture).  As I've gotten older I have come to more and more appreciate the value and satisfaction that we all get from traditionally 'women's work,' and I've also come to feel that the idea that women's work is 'unimportant' (however it started) is an unfortunate idea that has sadly been promoted by some of the very people who hoped to advance the position of women in our society.

It was largely from this frame of reference that I started my journey into being a homemaker.  Since Lily was born and I began to try to figure out how to take care of her and manage a good life for our family, I have approached it from an attitude of homemaking as taking a backseat, in importance, to my 'me' time and my artistic/business pursuits.  

Because of this basic ordering of priorities I often felt frustrated by how much time I was having to spend as caretaker of my child and our house.  I would feel resentful at the idea that I had to 'do most of the work' in the house and scrimp on my duties in order to taker more time to myself and 'relax.'

I have been really thinking about my basic attitude about this and come to the conclusion that I really need to change my way of thinking about being a homemaker.  It's kind of amazing how much of a difference it makes to look at things from a different direction!

1. My primary job in our family is to take care of Lily and our home.  Eric works hard at his job in order to take care of our family financially, and also derive personal and professional satisfaction, and it is only fair (as his partner) that I take my job seriously and understand how important it is to learn my job well and realize how lucky I am to have the option to take care of my family full-time.

2.  I haven't the first clue about how to make a happy and healthy home for our family. Most people I know were at least raised in clean and functional homes and therefore have a pretty good idea of how to make a home work.  I did not have that experience as a child (in my own home at least) and must therefore learn for myself how to create and maintain a comfortable space for all of us to thrive within... also, I feel I was somewhat handicapped by not being taught to live in a healthy and clean way; I absolutely do not want Lily to grow up with those same deficiencies. 

3. creating and maintaining a home that is beautiful, comfortable, and stable IS an important job.  It is through our work as homemakers that we are able to provide a foundation for our entire family to thrive inside and outside of the home.  We give our families an oasis of safety and calm, and having this foundation provides the energy, feeling of security, and confidence for everyone to strive to reach their fullest potential.  In thinking about it, I believe that having the foundation of a stable home environment is perhaps the most important ingredient for a child to be able to explore and develop into the best person they can become.  So I no longer wonder how homemakers could be satisfied with such 'unimportant' work; I now see that our job is the glue of a family that works and is of at least equal importance to work outside.

So, in this spirit of understanding I am trying very hard to organize my home life and time.  I am reading books on how to keep house, thinking about the things I learned from my aunt (who is a great homemaker) and wishing I remembered how it all worked, thinking about the homemaking skills I've observed in the other women I know and trying to plan and schedule it into my own life.  I have given myself a year to learn how to be a reasonably good homemaker (in at least the basic ways) and have started by making a housekeeping schedule that, at the very least, will keep our house clean.  I am also trying to start cooking and planning menus.

It's funny, so many people consider the domestic arts to be 'easy' and therefore unimportant but I have to admit that this is the single most difficult undertaking I've ever encountered... it's complicated and very time and mind consuming.  There are dozens of things to remember all at once and the need to carefully fit into place all of the most important elements of the family.  All of this, too, in the few waking hours of day.

In conclusion, I am proud to say that I am (FINALLY) learning to be a homemaker.  I am joining a proud tradition of women (and a few men) who love their families and provide them a great place and way to live, thrive, find joy, recover from disappointments, and generally share a wonderful life together.  I wish I would have realized this years ago!

No comments: