I know how much I struggled to make my way as I became a stay-at-home-mom after working full-time outside the home for the first ten years of my marriage. Finding my way, finding value in what I was doing in a world that only seemed to value my wage-earning abilities was really difficult. I didn't know how to do much in the home-making arena. I, however, had children and society, while not exactly enthusiastic, recognized my desire to be home for my children as an understandable decision. Oh, I still got the "So, what do you do all day?" questions and the "But don't you want to do something that matters?" questions, but I'd "been there, done that". I am blessed with a supportive husband who was completely behind my desire to be home and willing to ride out the ups and downs as we all adjusted to a new way of life. I met up with some wonderful women who were stay-at-home-moms who validated my efforts and made me feel like I wasn't the only one trying to live this old-fashioned lifestyle. In the almost 11 years that I've been home full-time, I've learned so much and I wouldn't trade these years for anything. What once seemed so alien and challenging now seems like the way it should be for me.
My point? My sister has been home for a year and is struggling. No, she's not struggling with the work she does in the home. Instead, she's struggling to make her way in a world that absolutely doesn't value her contribution in the home because she has no children. The more we've discussed the situation, the more I've come to understand that this is the dark, underside of the work/stay-at-home debate. 50 years ago, no one would have questioned her desire to be a stay-at-home wife, even with her college degree. Obviously, lots of things have changed in 50 years, but doesn't feminism really mean she can actually choose and that choosing to stay-at-home and make a wonderful home for her husband and herself is a valid and respectable choice?
I found this post about Learning the Art of Homemaking at Domestic Felicity and thought I'd share part of it with you (but do go over and read the entire post, it is fabulous):
"The way I see it, successfully running a household is in many ways similar to managing a small hotel: meals have to be served on time, everything must be neat and clean and presentable, with a well-organized routine of work that helps things run smoothly. All this, while staying within the strict limits of a budget. And in countless ways, running a home is so much more than running an hotel, because the homemaker is responsible for the long-term well-being of her family, and therefore must make sure her husband has his needs attended, meals are nutritious and made of high quality products and the menu doesn't become too predictable…
… I know it's impossible to list the many arts a good homemaker must know, and there's always something new to learn. But beyond cooking, cleaning, laundry, budgeting, scheduling, organizing and decorating, there is an important trait a homemaker must have, a trait that cannot be learned and tossed aside, but is only acquired through years of practice. It is patience.
Maybe your floors are so clean you could eat off them and you cook like a chef, but as a homemaker you need much more than that. You must learn to do the same tasks, day after day, week after week, with joy and contentment in your heart. Sure, technically, it's not very hard to change a diaper. How about ten thousand diapers? Doing a load of laundry is easy. Then why is laundry piling up in people's homes? Obviously, because after the thousandth load, we have a tendency to get bored and just let things go."
So, here are my questions to you all:
Is there value in being a stay-at-home wife if you have no children? (Obviously, I see value, but what do you think?)
Are there blogs out there supporting the idea that home-making is not limited to the parents amongst us?
How can someone who has made the decision to be a stay-at-home wife feel good about her decision when just about everybody she knows/meets wonders when she's going to start doing something important.
Tell me, what do you think?