Tuesday, October 7, 2008

homemaking 101... ponderings, ramblings... the usual.

so i've been analyzing lately (because that's what i do) why i get so frustrated with myself, my shortcomings in the areas of housekeeping and organization, creativity, cooking, etc. it would seem that i'm trying to live up to the expectations of june cleaver, or my grandmother, or something equally unrealistic. no, i don't expect to push the vacuum and baste a turkey in heels and pearls, (besides, i have the roomba, remember?), but i do expect more of myself than i have been giving currently. why?

i've been doing what i usually do when i have an issue i want to know more about; i check out every book the library has on the subject (organization problems anyone?). there are a LOT of books out there written by homemakers, for homemakers with a lot of different slants on the whole subject. interestingly enough, the view that disturbs me the most is not the one that suggests that God has decreed it so that women have no other calling than to be wives and mothers (although i do find that bothersome as well). it is the one that seeks to comfort women who are staying home with their kids because they feel 'stir-crazy' or like they are somehow wasting their lives (or brains) by staying home to raise their kids. i have NEVER understood this position. it's like people don't consider spending time with children to be a worthwhile thing to do. now granted, i'm coming at this whole issue as someone who earned a college degree which qualifies me to spend time with children professionally.

so why is it that i have found myself in the position of homemaker? well, for us, it makes sense. i'm not going to sit here and say that every mom should be a SAHM. for many that isn't an option financially, or for other personal reasons, they don't want to. seriously, if you don't really WANT to do this, by all means DON'T! your kids are certainly not better off in the care of a mother who would rather be elsewhere (and i don't mean hawaii). but here's the thing i've realized lately. i don't view this as 'staying home from work'. rather, i see it as 'staying home to work'. i currently have 3 young children (one not so young as i might wish he still were) and i can see no better use for my time and talents than to be with them. yes, sometimes i get a hankering to go out into the big working world and put on something other than jeans, and i certainly get a hankering to have a little more spending money. but just because i don't get paid for my work, doesn't mean it's not a job.

and that brings us back to my main point. i get frustrated with myself because i do see this as a job. a job that i am frequently failing at. if i look at what the job description of a homemaker would be, there are many places where i am not doing my job. items which, in any other profession, would be grounds for firing. but who's going to fire me? who is my boss? there are many who would say that my husband is my boss - a concept that i find laughable, mainly because of who my husband is (nothing against you, honey). the idea of dave getting all patriarchal and authoritarian with me is enough to make me fall off my chair. and i think i'm a little too much of a feminist to have wound up married to someone like that. so who then? my kids? God? i think perhaps the problem lies in the fact that i'm most likely my own boss. that situation just begs for trouble when combined with my personality. i seem to lack the motivation and organization required to be self-employed, and i can't very well threaten to fire myself.

there's part of me that likes to tell myself to 'not sweat the small stuff'. to enjoy my kids and not stress about how messy things are or if every meal is home-cooked. that those things don't really matter as long as my kids know they are loved and have a 'safe' place to come home to. but i know there's more to my job description than that, and if i don't fulfill my duties (yes, i consider them to be duties, and i consider them to be mine) then i'm not contributing my part to our family.

so how exactly does one with a tendency for distraction, a dislike of cleaning, and NO CLUE about cooking, decorating, money management, etc. successfully run a home? i guess i might not be qualified for this job. who knew?


  1. So you've said everything I feel about the situation myself. It is a job to stay at home and raise your kids, that's why whenever I've had a "9-5", I considered myself as having 2 jobs. But just because you choose to focus on the job that means the most to doesn't mean you're going to be great at it. It means you'll try harder, and in that case be harder on yourself when you fall below your own expectations. Are you growing questionably colored smelly furry things in your house? Do you have an inordinate amount of pests around? Is your family hungry? If the answer is no to these questions, then you're doing alright. Now get to dusting!!!

  2. by pests i assume you're not referring the 4 i'm supposed to be feeding, right?

  3. Just went through this same exercise with Luke on Sunday afternoon. Perhaps it's the change of the seasons that makes us reflect like this?

    Anyway, being the engineer he is, we made a list of duties, then ranked them 1-5 on how well they're being done and then ranked them again 1-5 on how important/vital they are to be done. Turns out we're doing better than we thought, but there's still plenty of room for improvement.

    You're not alone in this, Rachel. I know several people feeling similarly right now.

  4. The idea of Dave bossing you around makes me giggle.

    I've been at your house, it is definately a job, and one that I think (from someone who doesn't have kids but thinks she knows them pretty well) that you are doing a great job at. Your kids are smart, hilarious, well behaved, polite, etc, etc. i couls rave on and on because i love your kids.

    So glad to find out you blog! hope all is well!


  5. Uh, yeah. You said it, sister. It is a job. I think the results are intangibles though. As much as we SAHMs might count each dirty dish, each day since cleaning x,y and z, etc., those are side work (as we used to say in the service trade).

    I saw a sig quote recently, attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, that said this: Happiness isn't the goal, it's a byproduct.

    Regarding the nature of caring of kids, work, and what we gain-- what we teach-- well, maybe one can't have it all. Perhaps the trying is what matters the most... you transmit your values by your actions.



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