Wednesday, September 01, 2010

More than a Housewife

Today marks 2 1/2 weeks since school started back. Slowly but surely we are getting into the groove. I probably should rephrase that...my children are in the groove. Their transition has been remarkably smooth.

I am having a bit more of a bumpy ride. It is not really a sappy feeling, as much as it is a season of redefining myself. Their school hours are only slightly longer than last year, but my calendar is a lot lighter. My term on the executive board of the group home expired, so that has freed up a great deal of time.

I am leading two small groups (one for adults and one for teen aged girls), serving on Young Life committee and working on a big fundraiser for the adolescent group home--but with 35 hours of school a week, I still have big gaps of time. My laundry is staying caught up for the first time in 6 years. My house is orderly. I am actually cooking dinner at home a lot more. I am reading. I have time to think. This is what I have been waiting for...and yet, I feel antsy.

It makes me bristle a bit when people ask: So, what are you going to do with all your free time?

Is this it? Am I just a housewife now?

I am praying through what God has for me next--I don't want to rush to fill my calendar. I want to wait for clarity. I am trying to really enjoy this season of rest and organization. I am trying to rejoice in the fact that I now have time for long conversations with other women about things that matter. I am available now when needs arise for my husband, children or friends. When 3 o'clock rolls around I can be prepared to receive my tired, hungry people and devote myself fully to getting them through their afternoon. I am so thankful that being home is an option for me.

It is my ego, really. My pride says: I want to be more than a housewife.

But do I? My husband works crazy, long hours. I need to be here to manage the finances, our home and the children. I love being able to create an orderly, peaceful environment for them to all come home to. There is, truly, nothing else I would rather do. My pride just wishes it didn't seem so common. I don't want to be viewed as a spoiled lady of leisure.

I have heard people throw around the term 'domestic engineer,' but I have decided to use a different title. I am in full time ministry.

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Romans 12:1 (The Message)

I get to spend my days ministering...from Babs, Stanley and Joe at Kroger to whomever I may encounter in the aisles. I have time to return phone calls and e-mails...to reach out to people God places on my heart. I can have lunch in the school cafeteria with my children and get to know their new friends. I can serve their teachers. I can be available when my husband has a cancellation and gets to break away for lunch. I can go rock babies with friends who have newborns, take dinner to someone who needs it. What a privilege and a blessing. How dare I be ungrateful!

I choose to rejoice! "Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places." Psalm 16:5-6

22 comments:

Laura said...

Thanks for this! Even as a mom of a preschooler and a young toddler, I often feel that it isn't enough to just be a mom. I volunteer at my church as a Sunday school teacher, song leader for Sunday school opening, singing and guitar occasionally during the worship services, and am the coordinator for our MOPS group (and for the children's part MOPPETS b/c we don't have a coordinator for that). That should be enough to make me feel satisfied, but so many moms that I know work part time, too. I often feel like I should. To be reminded that my job is my kids and my volunteer work is worthy is very helpful. Thanks!

Tammie F. said...

You are not a housewife. You are a homemaker. As the near 50 year old child of a homemaker, I can tell you how long reaching your "job" (calling) is. My Mama died a few weeks ago. The home she made over the past 50 years still lives in my home and comforts me now even though my heart is broken. God bless you.

JMom said...

Ooh, Tammie. I like that. I have never thought a lot about the difference in terms.
I am so very sorry for the loss of your Mama.

Traci said...

Well I can tell you this- I've been teaching kids in an independent school for 15 years. An orderly, peaceful environment is not common. You're like me, the contentment is sometimes unnerving- but I have to tell you that what you're doing is HUGE.

nen said...

Maybe God is using this opportunity to till the soil, lay more fertilizer. The pause He gives us are so purposeful, and later we look back and go....Ohhhhh, that's why.

Charon Benton said...

I think it's a tremendous blessing to be able to stay home for and with your children (and hubby)!! I am so happy for you that you want to do more than just "sit" at home and you WANT to minister to those in need!
I am in the position that I have to work (and i do mean WORK)...about 45-50 hours a week. MY husband is a farmer and finances are extremely tight. I would LOVE to be able to stay at home!!!!

JMom said...

Charon- As I was writing my post I was extremely mindful that others have very different stations and calls. Just processing (for better or for worse) how I am feeling in this transition. I sincerely hope my post was not offensive.

Kari said...

You do not sound ungrateful - you just sound like a woman who wants to make sure she is making the most of her time! However, by the sounds of what you have going on, you have your hands full - there will be little time for your hands to be idle.

Enjoy this season of your life - we never know when the tide will change!

That being said, I understand your thoughts, I am in the same position as you. I am trying hard to surrender my future to God and let Him show me where He wants me to go next, but it is hard.

Keep writing! It is a great use of your time as you always write such interesting stuff!

Kari

Techonia said...

Wow! I have plenty to say on this topic. I understand how you are at a place where you want to make sure you are making good use of your time and living purposefully. On the other hand, I am a HUGE proponent of women staying at home (if at all possible). I feel that we as wives and mothers are so valuable to our husbands and children. Our home is our first ministry. Nothing else we do matters if we fail at home. I am not saying we will be perfect, but constantly trying to do our best although we fall short. I am praying as I type to continue to be able to stay at home and minister to the needs of my family. Please pray with me for the Lord to make this possible. I salute you and all that you do for your family. I have been reading your blog for a few years and can sense from your blogs that you honestly try to do your best for those in your care. Keep up the good work! (Sorry this was so long, but I couldn't keep silent on this issue.)

Charon Benton said...

Not offensive at all! I think it's a tremendous blessing for you!!! I'm VERY happy for you and can't wait to see what God has in store for you!!!!!

Arlene @At Home with the Grimms said...

Making your home a haven and refuge for your family is certainly a ministry. I have been a homemaker for a long time and now have an empty nest but I still think it is my ministry to make life easier for my DH who works so hard for our family. I enjoy being able to be with the grands, visit with friends and encourage those who come my way. Faithfulness to the task God has given us is all that He requires!

Lisa said...

You and I have never met and yet I feel like you were inside my head and my heart with this post. I am in exactly the same situation and have felt exactly the same things you're feeling. I went back to work when my youngest went to first grade, but it didn't work well for our family. We were all stressed all of the time and I found that I really missed being able to simply concentrate on my family. So this year I decided to stay home again. My kids are in school all day and I've struggled with guilt over "just being home." And yet, I know that it's exactly where I'm supposed to be...caring for my family and being available for relationships. So, you're not alone and I thank you for putting into words exactly what's been on my heart for quite some time. God bless!

Colleen said...

I have never really commented on your blog (though I love reading it), but felt compelled to here. As an adult in my late twenties, my mother was and is a homemaker. To this day, I continuously tell people how much of a blessing it was to know no matter what my schedule, she was there. I loved coming home from school knowing my mom was at home. She chaperoned trips, volunteered at at school, drove my friends and I around town. Even as teenagers, when we claimed we would have preferred a "working" mom, we were grateful for the home-cooked meals, after school snacks, rides, etc. My memories are of living fully and wonderfully thanks to her willingness to make us her career. We were able to do so many things we wouldn't have been able to do had she not been at home. Looking back, as a teenager, her "free time" ensured we didn't make monumental mistakes in our choices, but still allowed us to learn from our experiences. She somehow knew just when to intervene and when to let us ride it out ourselves. Even now I know I can return to her home if I'm sick, hungry, tired, or in need of anything. She created an unending comforting environment that I hope to be able to give to my future husband and children. So, I apologize for the length, but please know that when your children are grown they will look back on their childhood and be so grateful for what you gave them by having so much "free time."

MEGAN said...

SO many people view success as a fancy title, or the size of a paycheck...but Godly success comes from faith and obedience to Christ. I think you are a highly successful woman, and so many people are blessed by your insights daily. I just read your blog, though I'm certain you are a blessing to EVERYONE that comes into contact with you!

La Familia Garcia said...

What a great post! I love the part when you say "I can be prepared to receieve my tired, hungry people and devote myself fully"
That is so much of what it is about. I'm glad you blogged about this and thought it out, and hopefully will truly be able to rest in this season God has called you. It showed me that there is also the struggle when you are "at home" just like when you're working.

Kathy said...

GREAT post. I can relate on several levels. My Anna is at home with me for one more year, but I am discovering as she gets older, I have more time for my own pursuits. I volunteer with the Junior Service League, MOPS, neighborhood association, and mothers' morning out, but still sometimes find myself missing the validation a career can bring. I strongly believe that we are doing the right thing being available for our families. Just never thought it would be so hard emotionally. I like using the "ministry" term. Good call.

BuckeyeNP said...

I'm with Charon, working lots of hours by necessity...would LOVE to have time to volunteer with causes near and dear to my heart, but simply don't in this season of life. I'm sure I could easily fill my days, given the opportunity (my maternity leave was my one chance at stay at home motherhood and I was in awe of how relaxed i felt, to be completely honest). I hope you will be able to find a nice balance that works for you all. Your children are very fortunate to have you so available!!

Ashley said...

As a single girl I have the deep yearning to stay home, feel it in the depths of my bones and desires. Praying for you in this season and praying the Lord gives you comfort, again you are doing his work for eternity. My mom was home until I was in 3rd grade then the school secretary, life was more abundant and full with mom b/c she was ALWAYS there and I loved that. Even to this day I cannot remember a time my mom was not available and I praise God for those memories. I pray for my stage in life, I am not the best worker I enjoy volunteering and long talks with my girlfriends or the elderly. My prayer is to be a homemaker for my children and husband someday. Thank you for your honesty. Truly love reading what is on your heart!

Blessings from Texas

Chris said...

My friend called herself a freelance volunteer on her tax return. She liked serving when and where she felt led. I too like your "ministry" working.

Jill said...

This post hits so close to home as I entered this exact phase of life two and half weeks ago when my youngest went off to kindergarten. I wrote a post on it yesterday too, before I had read yours and now I'm wishing I could just cut and paste your thoughts on my blog!
What I find the most uncomfortable about all this "free time" is the quilt that I should be accomplishing more, that I should be superwomen and supermom.
But I think for right now it's regroup time.
thanks for the fresh perspective. If we lived closer I'd meet you for coffee!

Phyllis said...

Oh my goodness JMom!!! I understand exactly what you are talking about but treasure these times because I promise it will not last forever!!! My daughter, Ashley commented above and I love hearing those comments to this day!!! Both of my children, now 27 & 28 tell me how much they loved me being home and then at the same school they were attending after I went back to work outside the home. You have the most important job, a Mother and Wife and you do a great job of both!!! I commend you and I know God has great things in store for you!!! Your family is so blessed to have you!!! God Bless You and thanks for always sharing, you are truly a blessing!!! See your blog is a job and you minister to so many people through it. I know we have never met and we might never this side of heaven but I have enjoyed your blog so much!! Your children are just precious and I cannot believe how much they have grown!!! You have been a blessing in our family's life for the past 3 years and I appreciate you. Sorry for the long post but just want you to know you are appreciated and you have a very important job!!!
Love from Texas!!!
Phyllis

southernjoy said...

I am thankful that a friend shared this with me. I'm in the same position of sending my youngest off to pre-K, and finding myself dealing with these same thoughts and emotions. Thank you for putting words to them!