Friday, January 11, 2008

Making a House a Home

I have never thought of myself as a housewife. When filling out forms, I always find it irritating when my "occupation" title is housewife. I am not married to our house. Instead I have always thought of myself as a homemaker. I have noticed over the years that those bubble forms that must be filled out have changed the language to homemaker instead of housewife. Perhaps I am not the only one irritated with their choice of words.

I am not for sure where my thoughts about being a homemaker came from, but I don't think it was from my own mother. My own mother kept an immaculate house. I don't ever remember one time waking up to a messy house. I don't ever remember dishes being in the sink except right after a meal. However, her attitude was one of distaste for homemaking. She was very good at the surface of keeping a home, but her heart wasn't into the home. I always thought that she was a homemaker ONLY because she had no other skills. She just settled for the job because she couldn't do anything better with her life. (I found out after I was married with my own children that my picture of her was wrong. She CHOSE to stay at home and she actually gave up a career to do so).

I know that many of my heart attitudes came from the lady across the street. Her and her husband were more like grandparents to me than neighbors. I loved them dearly and spent many hours in their home. Just watching her interact with her husband showed me something that amazed me as a child. She was well into her 70's and her eyes still danced when she spoke of her Joe. She loved that man dearly and he in turned loved her in a way I had never seen before. When I was a teenager, she would tell me that when I get married to make sure that I never complained about my husband wanting to hunt or fish. Her Joe spent many hours in the woods and she was always thankful that he was there instead out somewhere drinking or womanizing! She told me stories of what life was like during her childhood and raising a family during the depression. She told me life events concerning farming and many other of her childhood memories. While she told me stories, she was teaching me a different way of thinking. Every day when I was walking home from school, her husband would ask me what I had learned that day. I usually replied with "nothing", and he then would tell me what I should be learning. It was this man who quizzed me with my multiplication facts when I was in fourth grade. My own mother taught me to be a good cook, but this lady taught me how to wrap the meals that I prepared with love. She taught me a graciousness about being a homemaker that I had never seen at home.

Last night our family sat down to a late dinner. Everybody was very hungry and ready to dig in to homemade chicken pot pie, cranberry salad, and hot from the oven yeast rolls. It was so late that I didn't want my younger children to have tea so I put a pretty pitcher full of ice water on the table. My two older boys both noticed at different times the pretty pitcher of ice water on the table. They both took the time to comment on how nice it was to have a glass pitcher instead of my usual plastic pitcher. These boys are 16 and 14 years of age, but they notice when I take the time to do the extra little things. My boys love it when I take the time to light candles throughout our home. They notice the beauty of the candle light and it is special to them. I do this often and every person in our home enjoys this simple act. It is a statement to them that I care enough for them to go that extra step.

There are days that I don't feel like putting our home back in order. Today I am frustrated with our children and the way they have been keeping the downstairs. Our oldest son knew it was going to be a problem because he warned me this morning before I went downstairs. He knew I wasn't going to be pleased. When an area of our home looks like our basement does this morning, I have two choices. I can choose to pitch one of my notorious Momma fits complete with steam coming from my ears and loud sighing sounds coming from my mouth. I can choose another path which causes my children to grow in the area of being responsible. I also have to look at myself and see where I have dropped the ball with training the children. I haven't made it a priority the last 2 weeks to keep an eye on the basement. They will keep it up much better if they know that I will be down to inspect their areas. (Remember these are 16, 14, and 11 year old boys occupying this space with a 3 year old added into the mix)! I will be having a loving mother to son talk with each of my boys today. I will hold each and every one of them accountable for the state of the basement. (o.k...I can't really hold the 3 year old accountable, but I can at least make him pick up his dirty clothes)!!

All of these facets are part of homemaking. I don't want to be the maid in my children's world because chances are when they grow up they won't have a maid. I also bet their wives won't want that job title either. However, I do want our home to be a place of order and peace. I want our home to be a place of refreshing from the craziness of our everyday world. I want our home to be permeated with the love of Christ even when everybody isn't acting exactly the way they should. I love dinner time because our family gathers around the farm table and the labor of my hands is enjoyed, but it is so much more than that. Our dinner time is full of conversation and laughter...usually there is much laughter around our table...sometimes more laughter than my ears would like to her. I know that good memories are being made for all in the house. With each day that passes by, I know our house remains a home full of love for each and every one of us.

Being a homemaker isn't being the maid, although it does involve cleaning. It is about a heart attitude... a thankfulness to the Lord for even having a home and family. It involves training the children in proper attitudes as well as pratical applications for every day. It isn't about being June Cleaver of Leave it to Beaver in t.v. land. In her fictional world, everybody was gone while she stayed home cleaning and cooking and making herself pretty. I would rather my family be around me while we work together to make our house a home. (Well, there are some days I would love a grandparent to take ALL the children AND the dog to do something productive AWAY from the house)!! Being a homemaker is about our heart in all that we do for our family. It is a choice that we make everyday.

grace and peace,


Nancy - The Unlikely Homesteader said...

You are so right Julie. Somebody had a blog entry a long time ago that talked about using that time folding clothes or washing dishes to just really count your blessings and to pray for your family.

It's not always easy, but I LOVE being a stay-at-home mom and homemaker. It really is all what you make of it.

TnFullQuiver said...

I too had read an entry about praying as you fold clothes and wash dishes. I have done this for years and it does have a double blessing. First, you are talking to God and taking time with Him. Secondly, before you know it the chore you are working on is completed!

I agree with you that it isn't always easy. There are good days and hard days, but it is well worth it in my opinion.

This past summer I helped my husband with his business. I spent long hours in front of the computer writing training documents. I learned a lot of skills and I enjoyed working with my husband. However, I missed being the mom that I have always been in the past. I missed our house being clean and our meals being more than just throw together dinners. That little stint of working gave me a whole new perspective on my calling as a homemaker. It made me remember just how much I cherish it!
grace and peace,