Do you ever have a moment where something finally clicks and you get it? Lightbulb! A-ha! Eureka!
I had one of those about three weeks ago: Homemaking is my career.
Now, let me put some flesh on that thought.
I have this weird fatalistic streak that runs deep in my soul. A c’est la vie, or what will be will be, attitude. After years and years of wrestling with it, I’ve realized I twist the sovereignty of God into laziness. Deep down, I believe there are things I can’t do anything about, so I shouldn’t be required to deal with them.
I can be aggressive and self-educating if I am interested in something, but if it overwhelms me, I just shut down. I move whatever it is over into the God’s sovereignty slot. God’s in charge. He’ll have to deal with that. Now it’s not my problem.
Homemaking was one of those things.
For some reason, I believed that as a woman I was a natural homemaker. End of story. It was just something inherent in me like the way my body was shaped. Which meant, I was only as good or bad a homemaker as God had made me. Thus, it wasn’t my responsibility to improve beyond a point. I can work out. I can watch my diet to keep my body healthy. But, I can’t wish myself into being tall and willowy, or that my hair would turn red. The same with being a homemaker. I can cook and clean, but once you move beyond my natural skill, that was it. My husband just needed to learn to be content with what he got and quit pushing me.
God only hands out so many skills, just like there are only so many red heads.
So, instead of looking at Homemaking and Housekeeping as my career in this life, given to me by God, and something I need to be fully engaged and invested in, I looked at homemaking as something that naturally flowed from my fingertips as a human being with a uterus. I didn’t need to read, study, learn, grow, or develop. I just needed to keep plowing forward. As I practiced, I’d get better.
This mindset ended up developing into attitude issues.
My path as a homemaker wasn’t what I thought it would be. From childhood, my heart’s desire was to be a wife and a mother…and a cowboy. But, instead of getting married and having babies right away, we bought a business. Instead of being at home cooking, growing plants, and surrounding myself with little people, I dived head first into fashion, marketing, customer service, company culture, employees, and all that owning a small business entails. (Don’t think I did this all on my own, please. My husband was the forerunner, leader, and head researcher.) We always talked about how our boutiques were an extension of our home. That’s how I viewed them. But, I didn’t look at homemaking as my career. I still looked at it as something inherent with being female. I didn’t view myself as having a career. I was serving and helping my husband. At no point did I connect in my head the fact that I do have a career, and it’s homemaking.
Then, for lots of reasons, we sold our business, and I came home. I quickly became as busy, or busier than I had been before. I dived headfirst into life. Everything got a yes answer. Conferences, showers, writing lessons, every imaginable event with nieces and nephews, writing groups, and so much more. I had several social events a week, plus all the duties of keeping a home and feeding a family. But things weren’t going well. Instead of studying, learning, and growing as a homemaker, I continued to assume it would just happen, as I gained more experience and practice. I was a women, right?
Even at home now, I didn’t see this as my career. I didn’t want a career, unless it was as a writer. I wanted to be a stay at home wife. I never linked them. *Insert face palm here*
Every time my husband tried to push me to show more aggression, or tried to explain that something was my responsibility, I hunched down in my shell. I tried to make him happy, but I always felt like he was asking me the equivalent of suddenly becoming a redhead. I would watch other women who always seem in control of their home, and I never saw them study. They just naturally exuded comfort, beauty, a cheerful welcome, joy. Why didn’t I? Well, God just must not have given me that skill.
Two years into being a Homemaker, I got sick. My body just gave out. Years and years of running on adrenaline, and other factors just took their toll. I was out of the game. The couch became my place. I rarely looked beyond my own body. I rested and rested and rested. Life was on hold.
Two years of no energy have passed. I am able to function, not at full speed, but I don’t really want to try and do what I was doing for twelve years. I want to find a new speed. After all that, I feel like I’m a twenty-two year old just starting out. I’m a newbie. I don’t know how to keep my home, to be a homemaker.
About three weeks ago, after one of those weeks where everything you do is wrong, every sin is out there for all to see, and God is exposing all the wickedness in your heart, I decided to read some blogs about being a homemaker. I knew something wasn’t right. The smallest things overwhelmed me. I was never happy with how my home was, and I knew my husband wasn’t happy. This had nothing to do with cleanliness. I was never in control of our home. I flitted from one thing to the next. I always felt overwhelmed, anxious, and stressed. After being out of pocket for two years, there was a lot that needed to be done. Plus, we have Seminary looming on the horizon, and a possibility of getting pregnant. (If you want more info on that, you can email, text, or message me.) Things needed to get in control. I needed to be in control. I needed to be able to manage my home and help my husband, with a right attitude, not a put upon attitude.
I needed to quit acting like the hired help. I’m not a maid and cook. I’m the lady of the house. I needed to act like . . . I needed to believe that was who I was. I needed to see that as my career.
One of the blogs I read mentioned studying to develop a new skill in Homemaking.
Click. Lightbulb. A-ha. Eureka.
A thousand different things slid into place and I realized I’d never ever looked at homemaking as my career. I assumed it just happened. I’d never treated it with the same focus I had owning our business, or my writing. My thinking and understanding of homemaking has been all wrong. I’ve read books about being a good wife and mother, but I’ve read few about wise housekeeping or wise homemaking, starting with perspective and working out into labor. I didn’t pick other women’s brains about how they create a culture in their home. I did when we owned our own business, but not my home. I just assumed my home was my home. I never went at it with purpose.
Oh the burdens lifted from my soul when the light of truth shone in.
Stumbling and bumbling, I have started looking at my home as my career, my life’s work, given to me by God. What have I find? A supreme challenge with wonderful benefits. I have found something that will stretch and grow me beyond any work I could set my hand too. A homemaker must be good at so many things and willing to switch between them at the drop of a hat. Here was a life-long challenge! But, here was also comfort, beauty, hospitality, serving my church. All the things I’ve ever wanted in their proper place.
Each time I’ve wanted to run and hid, duck down, wrap myself back up in my little shell of God’s-gonna-have-to-deal-with-that-if-He-wants-something-done-about-it, I have reminded myself that this is my great work. My work given to me. From that I have found courage to face things I’ve avoided for many years.
By grace, I’m taking control of my home. For the first time in my life, I don’t feel trapped in a maelstrom of ‘everything needs to be done’ and look, Abby has to do them. I know what needs to be done. I know what needs to be done first, and I can make a plan to do it.
It’s also soothed my frustrations as a wife who writes. I have struggled for years with envy towards all the women I know whose husbands embrace their writing career, invest money in getting them published, and bless them with large chunks of time to write. My husband never did this for me. We always found my writing to be a source of discord. I’m ashamed when I look at this now. Of course my writing caused discord. I wanted to focus on it while I refused to focus on my home. I spent every spare moment I could snatch from a day writing, or studying about writing. I wanted more time for it, when I wouldn’t spend one more minute on my home. My poor husband. Of course he found it frustrating. (Through all this, I’ve been amazed at how gentle and patient he has been with me for years.)
Now, I see it where my writing belongs. It is a part of me. It is something I want to develop. But, my career in this life is homemaking. Not being an author. Being an author can snuggle in there amongst all the other things, but it can’t be my career. Why? God didn’t call me to be a writer. He called me to be a homemaker. Yes, He gave me those gifts. Yes, I have a responsibility to use them and grow them. But under the heading of my career, homemaking. A person with the career of being a lawyer doesn’t just fudge his way through that, while focusing all of his being on growing rosebushes. He doesn’t let innocent men go to jail because he was thinking about the next plant he was going to buy. He keeps his love of roses in its proper place. It’s not a bad love. It’s just kept where it belongs.
Understanding, and believing, and trusting in the priorities that God has given me has helped me calmly face the situations of my own life. If all those women’s husbands are one way, and mine is another, that’s okay. I wasn’t sovereignly married to them. I was married to mine. And right now, I need to put my focus on learning my career, not trying to have a different one. Also, all those women I envy may have learned a long time ago that their first career in life is homemaking, putting all of their life in the correct order, while I had mine all out of order.
There are still many things I must learn. There are still lots and lots of old habits that need to be broken. I still battle anxiety every day. But, now I have motivation and direction. I’m already seeing the benefits of my lightbulb moment. I’ve conquered more things in the last few weeks than I have in months. I’ve been able to communicate clearly with my husband about where things are at. I’ve had a sense of peace and control. I’m not trapped in the dungeon of, “I did the best I could, and since God saw fit to only give me these skills, everyone just needs to accept that, and appreciate it.” Instead, I freely dance in the rain and sing, “Since God has blessed me with a mind and resources, since God has told me this is my job, I’m going to go research this, so I can do my best for His sake.”
I would imagine that most of you reading this have already come to this conclusion. I would imagine some of you think of me as an excellent homemaker because my home is generally clean. I’ve learned those aren’t the same thing. Having a clean home may be because someone is an excellent homemaker. But, it may be that they go through the steps never really understanding why they’re doing this beyond just that it needs to get done, and when it gets done, they can go back to their real life. This is my real life. And it’s a good one.
I think we do a disservice to women as a culture because we don’t see homemaking as a career any more. All the things out there are a career. You have to go clock in, or go to school, or drive to an office, or at the very least have your own business to have a career. Being a homemaker is just something lazy women do. I think this has led some women who are homemakers to be lazy because they don’t see what they do as a career just like being a lawyer, banker, and business owner. If you don’t see it as a career, you’re never going to give it its due. I think some men disrespect it for the same reason. They don’t see what their wife in the home as her God-given career either. The world lies to us. It tells us that we deserve more. It tells us that being a keeper of our homes is a waste of our skill. It tells us homemaking is an un-career. Sometimes, without even realizing it, we take in those lies. We lie to ourselves, and sometimes we don’t realize we’ve believed the lie. Sometimes we react against it by thinking we shouldn’t have a career at all as women. (That’s what I did.) But we do. God gave women a career: homemaking.
God is good. He is light, hope, and joy. In His providence, He gave me a lightbulb moment.
I have a career, a good one, and a challenging one. I’m a homemaker.
What lightbulb moments have turned your life around? How do you view your homemaking? Do you see it as your main career given to you by God? What resources have helped you the most in this work?