proud to be a homemaker

When I was in junior high, I joined the Future Homemakers of America.  Several years later, the organization changed its name to Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), which I suppose is more fitting, since the hours I spent doing parliamentary procedure and putting together illustrated talks on anorexia didn’t exactly prepare me for a lot of my work in the home.  At the time of the name change, I was a junior or senior in high school, and I must say it didn’t make much of an impression on me.

But now that I’ve been at this gig for a few years, I’ve had time to think it over.  And I’ve decided that “homemaker” is the best possible term for what I (strive to) do.  For one thing, “family, career, and community leader” doesn’t fit very well in that little space after “Occupation” on the forms you fill out at the doctor’s office.

 There are also the terms “home economist” or “family and consumer scientist” … but those kind of make my skin crawl.  The origins of the word “housewife” are respectable enough, but now it’s kind of wrapped up in that 1950’s-Donna Reed high heels and sparkly appliances thing.  And anyway, I don’t technically live in a house.  And “wife” is only one of my roles.  Same with my role as “mom,” which is one of the reasons I don’t call myself a “stay-at-home-mom.”  I also dislike that term because there’s no doing implied in it; I don’t just stay home, I work pretty darn hard at home (well, sometimes I do).

I don’t mean to be too nit-picky.  When people ask me “Do you work, or do you stay at home?”, I know they mean do I leave my house to go to a job or not.  I know that they do not mean to imply that if you “stay home” you do not work.  It is a hard question to phrase, and I’ve not found a better way to do it myself.  But still, there is a tiny twinge of annoyance when that question comes.  Of course I work!  I have a full-time job with no paid vacation, no benefits, and sometimes I don’t even get a lunch break.  But I digress…

My point (if I haven’t already completely lost you) is simply this: I like to call myself a “homemaker” because I feel it is the most accurate description of what I do.  Sure I cook, I clean, I take care of kids.  But my work goes deeper than that.  “Homemaking” is about so much more than just “housekeeping.”  A few years ago I read a book called Montessori from the Start, and while I wasn’t too keen on the book in general, these sentences really struck me:

“The mission of developing the home environment has belonged primarily to women in past civilizations.  Whoever may now assume this responsibility, the role of homemaker remains essential to human destiny.  Today, although some of us enjoy the greatest affluence the world has ever known, we find that developing a home environment that serves the human spirit, a home of beauty, order, and simplicity, remains a very challenging task.”  

I love that — developing a home environment that serves the spirit, creating a simple, orderly, beautiful home.  So this is how I view my job: I am to make this space between these walls into a refuge for my family, to create a place where we feel comfortable, secure, and happy.   I am to provide us, to the best of my ability, with nourishment, warmth, and love.   Do I always succeed at these things?  Of course not.  But it helps me, when I’m on my knees scrubbing the floor or toilet, to remember that my goal is not just to have a clean bathroom (though, oh, how wonderful that is!), but to create a place that we as a family are happy to call home.


18 thoughts on “proud to be a homemaker

  1. Oh I just love that quote! We truly do so much more than just keep the house tidy and make sure the children are fed and taken care of *grin*. What a lovely post and this well definitely be on my mind the next time I’m on my knees scrubbing the toilet. Which will probably be tomorrow LOL.

    PS. You got me thinking about what a fritter really is! It’s usually some sort of cakey based food with fruit or veggies that is fried in oil but that sort of seemed to broad so I googled it for a better definition and found that it actually can mean a small piece, fragment, or shred which is the perfect way to describe any sort of veggie fritter because they truly are just patties of shredded veggies with a bit of flour and egg to hold them together 🙂 You’ll have to let me know how you like them if you try them out.
    Have a lovely weekend!

  2. i loved this! i couldn’t agree more with how difficult it is to say you’re a sahm. i never know what to put in those blanks at the dr.’s office when they want to know my employer, though if there were room i’d like to write the names of the 4 kids 😉

    this is a lovely piece of writing!

  3. These are some of the exact thoughts that I’ve been mulling lately as well. I really liked reading about your process of embracing the term “homemaker”. I think I’ll try it on.

    Oh! And I agree with you about “Montessori from the Start.” 🙂

  4. call it what you like, if you “just” stay home with your kids someone is going to look down their nose at you and secretly think, “oh, that’s *all* she does.” but who cares? i don’t care if people call me a housewife or stay at home mom or lazy or unambitious… a career means absolutely nothing to me; rearing my children means everything. taking care of my family is the most important “job” i could ever have. it’s a shame not everyone sees it that way.

    i think in many ways being a full-time homemaker is much more challenging than being employed outside of the home. if you’re at home all day every day, you are solely responsible for caring for your children whilst simultaneously trying to keep a house in order and pull together a meal at the end of the day. you are absolutely right–that is HARD work! for those of us who work outside of the home (albeit grudgingly), we have a break from seeing our home in disarray, a whole hour of peace to eat lunch/run errands/take a walk/read a book, and a handful of other adults to talk to throughout the day. don’t get me wrong, i would much rather stay home than go to work. but i know that if i ever have the chance to stay home with my children it will be the hardest work of my life.

    PS–love the apron. 😉

  5. What a great post – and I love that quote. I often don’t know how to answer those questions – where to begin? The title of homemaker says so much more than simply being a sahm.
    Beautiful pictures, too!

  6. Sara, I’ve had a similar post mulling around in my head, and I’m so glad you were able to articulate it and write it down so beautifully. I was reading an article in Bon Appetit magazine the other day that mentioned a mom that was a work at home mom, and she didn’t feel like cooking a meal at the end of the day. Something to that effect, anyway, I was so annoyed that she was considered a “work” at home mom because she worked on her career from home, and I’m considered a “stay” at home mom. What do people think we do when we “stay” at home–sit around drinking lemonade and painting our fingernails!? Geesh. I don’t have to convince anyone who does “stay” at home that what we do is work, but I don’t think the majority of people can appreciate it. I’m not talking just cleaning, running errands, doing laundry, cooking, etc. I’m talking about caring for your children 24 hours a day 7 days a week–that’s work. I agree that “homemaker” is the best way to describe what I’m after by “staying” home. I feel convicted that this culture needs to appreciate the importance of what we “stay-at-home moms” do. Honestly, this is why I blog to show the beauty in what it means to be a homemaker and to be with your children.

  7. Thank you for sharing that quote, and helping put a finger on why stay-at-home-mom (or part-time-bring-your-baby-to-work-mom in my case) doesn’t fit. Homemaker works, I will wear my title proudly! PS – I love the photo of the quiche, awesome!

  8. I once read an article that if one was paid for being a stay at home parent, they would be making close to 100k a year. Lots of overtime. ; )
    Great post!

  9. Awesome post. Beautiful photos. And precisely what I needed to read today; thank you. Now I’m going to try the title “homemaker” on for me, I also have annoyances with other terms – this one, for me I think, is going to stick.

  10. i really enjoyed this post. i too struggle with labels. i sometimes say, full time mom or homeschooling mom. there is no title that can convey all that we do and how important it is.

  11. i just found this post through amanda (the habit of being). it’a a wonderful piece of writing and i will keep it bookmarked. that book quote is lovely too! now i just need to find a way to translate “homemaker” into german, (i live in germany). that will be hard.

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  14. Pingback: Just things » My life, my love, my photography

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