A few years ago I was at a dinner party. I was right at the end of the season of life where absolutely everything was hard. I hadn’t been sleeping consistently with a very colicky baby. My husband’s job had been super demanding. Our finances were tight. And even though most of those things were improving and recovering at the time of this dinner party, *I* still wasn’t recovered.
So I mostly spent the evening enjoying flying under the radar. The baby was home with my husband and my 2 year old made friends wherever she went.
As the evening drew to a close, I wanted to make sure I thanked the hosts before heading out. And since the host and I hadn’t really chatted beyond pleasantries he asked me some questions about our family.
When I had answered everything – why we were moving states away, my husband’s business, the adorable children, and the easy-to-answer questions, he looked at me and said, “So you’re just – I mean you’re a stay-at-home-mom then?”
But the just was there, hanging in the air. I tried to put up a fight, defending my role. Others encouraged me in what I was doing by sharing that night.
But honestly? I didn’t have much fight left in me. I was worn out and worn down and I knew how people saw me – just a stay-at-home-mom.
The thing I’ve struggled with for so long is how other people see this role – on both sides of the spectrum.
On the one side, I have my college professors ignoring me in alumni updates from my very small department at my very small university because I’m “wasting my degree”. (Yes, they’ve said this about me.)
On the other side, I have images and tons and tons of content backing up the images that to be a biblical and godly homemaker, my house is pristinely clean, my decorations are affordable and necessary, and my organizations and time management skills are my supreme value.
What Homemaking Is NOT
First I want to set the record straight on a few things – homemaking is not a one-size-fits-all approach to what a woman should do.
Often verses like Proverbs 31 are used to say you “should” be this kind of woman. But the Proverbs 31 Woman (P31W) is diverse. She is a wife. A mother. A business owner. An investor. And she manages employees. She is wise, she plans ahead, she provides for those in her care. And her children – they call her blessed.
This certainly doesn’t mean that we need to adhere to a strict cleaning schedule, have our house decorated according to Joanna Gaines latest whims, or look like we came out of a cookie press a la Stepford Wives.
The fact that homemaking, being a stay-at-home-mom, stay-at-home-wife, has gotten hijacked in a way that makes people feel like or be seen as less-than or that it has to look a certain way honestly gets a bee in my bonnet.
So what IS homemaking?
The Proverbs 31 Woman (P31W) gives us insight on that too. She plans ahead, provides for those in her care, is a trusted-resource to her husband, and her children call her blessed.
The how of doing these things is not as important as the what. The what – that she plans, provides, cares – is the important part.
Titus 2 talks about this from another angle – what the older women should be teaching the younger women. And what are they to teach them? The things that are good – to love their husbands and children. To be self-controlled and pure. To be kind. And to be busy at home.
These are good things. And we need to be taught how to do them. So we can learn and grow in all of these ways throughout our marriage and motherhood journeys.
Ya know, I don’t see a cookie-cutter Stepford Wife there, either. I see freedom to be the wife and mom my family needs.
Loving my husband well has a lot of foundational similarities to you loving your husband well – being kind and patient and encouraging (all things we talk about in our books Intentional Love : 31 Ways to Love Your Husband with Purpose) but in the actions and the showing up, my husband likes his eggs cooked one way and your husband prefers oatmeal. And my husband really likes to serve our family by making the coffee and your husband grabs his on the way to work and encourages you to do the same.
Same with loving my kids.
And same with being busy at home.
Homemaking is just that – making a home. With my people is where I am home. And I can build that in lots of different ways.
And this is not limited to stay-at-home, work-at-home, moms. Wives and moms – you are making a home! You have a unique hard-wiring, that mother’s intuition, that 6th sense gives you a pulse on your family that no one else has. And you use that to direct and make a home in so many ways, whether that’s knowing that extra bedtime snuggles are needed tonight or knowing that it’s time to push back on an issue with your kiddo.
Working, full-time, part-time, at-home, carpool, PTA, homeschool, of many, of one – moms of all kinds – we are making homes. This is something that moms just do – make a home in the middle of the magic and the mess.
Using Our Gifts at Home
The way I am hard-wired and gifted, I bring a lot to the table. I don’t mind messes within reason so art and art supplies are fun. I love people through conversation and food so a laundry pile on my couch feels pretty inconsequential if I can bake a batch of cookies and have a chat with someone. And I’m pretty flexible with how our day goes so school, audio books, playing – bring it on.
Of course all of these have downsides, too. Sometimes the laundry pile gets so high it’s absolutely overwhelming and even though things are clean no one can find anything which seem improbable but always true. I don’t mind art supplies but I mind finding broken crayons and homeless markers. And flexibility is good until it means you’re missing the important things over and over in favor of the urgent things.
And you bring your gifts to the table with you. Maybe you are the mom who throws the Pinterest birthday parties. I’m thankful for you using your gift and for inviting my kids to experience this. Maybe you’re the woman who is an amazing decorator. I’m thankful for you and I will need you to hold my hand when we buy a house. Maybe you’re the wife who can put a positive perspective on everything that happens in a day. I’m thankful for you. I want to soak in your pleasant personality.
There are no superior gifts in homemaking. We all have gifts we bring to the table. We all have homes to make with people we love. We all have areas we need to grow in.
I know I’m not perfect. I know I need to grow. But I also see the ways I have grown by God’s grace – and I do not grow inside of a cookie cutter that told me that to be a good homemaker my house and job needed to look the same as everyone else’s. And I do not grow under the eye of someone who tells me that this works doesn’t really matter as much as something else.
I grow by seeing ways to serve my family and choosing to lean into those and acknowledge ways I can learn and grow.
I grow by learning and being willing to say “Hey, I’m not the best at laundry! Will someone help me?”
Redeeming the Word “Homemaker”
In conversations, when someone asks what I do, it can be really easy to choose to answer with what I know has value in other people’s eyes. My work. How we run our own business. Even that we homeschool.
But I don’t want “homemaker” to leave a bad taste in my mouth anymore.
And I don’t want it to leave a bad taste in your mouth anymore, either.
Regardless of our work in or out of the home, education of us or how we’re educating our children, or any other status marking, we are making homes. As wives. As moms. As women. With the people we love. In a way that uses our gifts.
This is the kind of homemaker I want to be. This is the kind of homemaker I want to teach my daughters to be and my son to see as a gift in his future wife. Making homes. Growing love. Owning how we’re hard-wired. And being willing to grow in the ways that we’re not.
I also want to be the kind of homemaker who can acknowledge the ways I need to grow and then learn from people who are wiser in those ways. That’s why I love the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle. It helps me grow in ALL of the ways I’m growing a home – spending time with God, growing in my marriage, spending time with my kiddos, my work-at-home-mom life and in my time management- and more!!
You can grab The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle 2018 with over 120 resources – ebooks, printables, and courses – on making homes with the people we love – for just $29.97 (check price). This bundle is only available for a limited time. So be sure to grab yours now!