I might as well come straight out with the worst of it: I just spent nearly an hour scrubbing the kitchen floor on my hands and knees. Not pregnant and not barefoot (it's colder inside the house than outside), but it's still a capital offense, I know. And guess what else? Yesterday I spent two hours raking the yard, gathering leaves and sticks into four huge green waste bags in time for city collection. Sunday night, I finished a knitted top for Ellie. This morning (before the kitchen scrubbing), I signed up for a sewing class. Will the insanity never end?
Okay, calm down, ladies. There's a simple explanation for all of this: I DO IT BECAUSE I LIKE IT. The raking was tremendously satisfying in the beautiful autumn weather. I wish I'd taken before and after photos to prove the accomplishment. You have already heard much about my newfound joy of knitting. The sewing has been a long time interest, one that now feels more important since clothes are ridiculously expensive here and frankly (no offense to any Aussie readers) I don't like the styles or the materials. Ellie is horribly low on cool weather clothes, and I can't bring myself to buy her pants that cost $60 (or more!) or those that are cheaper but won't last for Stephanie too. And scrubbing the kitchen floor...well, I just wanted to feel like it was really clean, and now I do. At least it will be until Stephanie wakes up from her nap and smears her snack around, but that's a story for another post entitled "Cleaning with children in the house is like shoveling snow during a blizzard."
Several months ago, I received a letter from a friend who expressed her extreme distaste for how domestic I've become. I have a Masters degree, I've traveled extensively...and yet I spent my days in a way she cannot comprehend. Essentially, she accused me of chucking my brain along with my placenta. I'm still struggling with an appropriate response. I myself cringe when I read conservative mommy blogs by women who include phrases like "serve my husband and family" (shudder shudder cringe), though when I reflect on my days, that is really what I do. The difference is in the intent. I don't stay home because it is expected of me or because there is nothing else I could do; the truth is quite the opposite. Markus and I have made deliberate choices to put our young family first. He works hard so I can stay home with them and do work that makes our downtime much more like downtime. I have a wonderful partner who respects, appreciates and supports me fully. He does not come home expecting a spotless house and a smiling, freshly made-up wife. Sometimes he comes home to a total mad house and a wife who cannot wait for him to pack the children off to the playground or anywhere for just 2 minutes of peace I tell you I need to have some peace before I go crazy...you get the idea. But I do try. Being a homemaker (not the most PC term but to the point) is my chosen profession at the moment, and (as with anything I give this much time) I want to be great at it. It involves many thankless tasks (such as scrubbing the floor) and tons of opportunity for personal growth. I don't regret a minute of it, even when I'm losing my nut. Will I do this forever? No, which is even more reason to work at it extra hard while I can. Making a home and raising a family is not about giving up (or worse, devaluing) oneself. It's about using all your talents to make it fulfilling and meaningful. I can cook delicious meals from scratch because I enjoy it and I really enjoy eating good food. I like creating with my hands, and I enjoy seeing the fruits of my labors. I'm pretty crap at spotless housekeeping, but our home is by no means unclean. My days are full of many tasks, many trials, and lots of hugs and love. It's a great life, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.
All that being said, I must stress that I don't believe this is a choice that is appropriate for everyone. I'm not here to judge or say staying home is the best way to parent and I certainly don't believe it's a requirement for every woman. It's really not the best choice for everyone, but it is the right choice for our family. It's a gift, and I appreciate it as such.
Side note: By the way, for another take on the homemaking topic, this post makes a good read.