I feel cheated.
Most of my life, my culture has screamed at me that to be “barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen” was the lowest, most scornful aim for a modern woman–and if a man were to want me there, well, he must be an abusive, pitiably stupid, Neanderthal.
To be fair, I know resistance to this idea stems from beliefs that women are less valuable than men, or that they are only capable of domesticity–absurdly false ideas–but that doesn’t mean “barefoot and in the kitchen” is a bad place to be. It doesn’t mean it’s offensive for a husband to want his wife to embrace the kitchen as the soul of the home, the epicenter of relationship and nourishment, to use her gifts to turn the family table into a joy and refuge from a harsh and demanding day.
I get to try.
I stopped just now to think about how AWESOME it is that I get to wake, drink my coffee, read to my daughter in her pajamas, read and study in the areas of my choosing (which are varied and ever challenging), then put out cut melon and home made bread for my daughters. They are eating and chattering right now, 6 feet from me. I get to work in my house barefoot if I like and try to make sure we have a family meal tonight. I get to work hard to provide a truly personal and rigorous education for my girls, for which my intellect is certainly demanded, and my creativity challenged. I get to to grow our own food. I get to try to provide a haven here that makes home our favorite place to be so our family can thrive. I’m still fumbling through how to do this and I blow it so often (for reals), but by God’s grace, I am growing. I’m finally figuring a few things out about how to do this better.
Is my husband sexist?
My hard-working-not-a-caveman-husband wants me here in my garden, in my books, in lessons with my girls, available to rest with him in the evenings with the day’s work concluded, and yes, (whispers) in the kitchen! He’s a good man, not a sexist pig. He’s allowed to like pie and to feel really loved when I care for our family and home.
I don’t really care what’s politically correct to say on the matter in this cultural climate; I have never met a man who wouldn’t love to frequently come home from working hard to a happy wife and a home cooked meal. I haven’t met any children who wouldn’t be blessed by the thought that a parent loves them enough to nourish them with love and time and presence.
Embarrassed to actually like it?
Also, I think many more women would feel free to embrace the joy of home life if we weren’t constantly seeing so many false narratives about the value of the home, of family, and children. The post-modern mind has little vision for the amazingly high value of women using their gifts and talents for their own lives and families. I know many of you can attest to the social risk and almost embarrassment of actually saying, “I love to be a stay-at-home mom and serve my family. It brings me such joy even though I’m not very good at it yet.” Why should we have to feel bad about that?
Using all my same education, skill, time, and talent for a corporation so I can get a paycheck wouldn’t be more fulfilling, or carry more significance than using those things to raise up the next generation, and empower my husband to provide for us, here in my own little house. More money, yes, but more money isn’t the same as more happiness. My house is little, as is my budget, in order to ensure that I can be home for our family–and after my years transitioning out of a career, struggling, and looking everywhere but home to fill my need to feel like my life matters, I can emphatically say: it’s so worth it.
What about you?
Some of you are young women, new mothers, or newlyweds–let me encourage you that the home, hearth, and kitchen are great places to be! Home is a great place to thrive, to grow, to be creative, to learn, to impact your community. Don’t let the culture lie to you. Desiring and preparing to be a wife and mother at home is to desire a high and happy calling. It will limit your freedom to rule your time and resources, we can be honest about that, but it will also multiply your happiness. Resist the temptation to be scared of it, on one hand, or scornful of it on the other. Know that it’s ok to long for, pray for, and prepare for domestic life as you serve the Lord with all your heart soul and strength right where you are. Home is significant and wonderful and I want you to hear that. It’s more accepted to complain about home-life than to express happiness in it. Home is a beautiful, fully valid lifestyle choice you can make without feeling like you’re throwing your life and education away.
Moms who stay home; we have to be careful how our words paint this lifestyle. My conviction about that is why I’m writing today. I joke about the hard stuff, and I’m honest about my struggles, but I too often am silent about the beautiful parts.
Homemaking is hard, no doubt about it,
but it’s also beautiful,
and we need to talk about that more, a lot more.
Some of you are moms who would have to sacrifice significantly to be home, or maybe you don’t know how you could be happy in it. Just hear me say that there may be a bigger vision for this homemaker life than you’ve been given before. Pray about it, that’s all I’m asking. That was me, and really it’s only the last few years that homemaking wasn’t just “the crap we have to do so that we can get back to our real life”. It’s not that anymore, praise God. I’m not a bored, backwoods, miserable domestic servant, I promise. I’ve learned more in the last seven years than I ever did in all my years of formal education and I’m happier now than ever.
We’ve thrown out the baby with the bathwater when it comes to traditional womanhood. Being a woman is wonderful, and it’s not the same as being a man, and that’s wonderful too. There’s such a variety of how we can embrace that in our lives, our careers, and our homes.
For those of you who want to come home but can’t, or whose husbands want you out earning, know that you have my respect because it’s hard to work out there, and still do all the things you do for your family. You have my love, and you have God’s grace to strengthen you in time of need. Hebrews 4:16.
Why the insult?
Finally, I know there are those who think “housewife” is an insult, have no desire to do it and can’t believe smart, capable women could choose this “oppression” voluntarily. I would ask that you reconsider the cultural narrative of the last 60 years and include us. Include us women who are educated and capable, and still choose to embrace home as our sphere of influence, and are experiencing growing fulfillment. I’m not saying you need to make this choice–it would be stupid to dictate this to all women–but I am saying that our experience proves that home isn’t antithetical to female thriving, nor are traditional gender roles in marriage, or children, even lots of them.
I am literally “barefoot in the kitchen” right now, AND IT’S AWESOME.
Women; you inspire me, encourage me, delight me, and teach me all the time. I am blessed to witness you moving towards God’s design for each of you, to see him working in your lives, and I hope I’ve lifted up your countenance today. You are blessed. Take your shoes off, cook something beautiful, and gratefully thrive!
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May your aprons and Bibles both be well-worn,
The Remedial Homemaker