Saturday, July 30, 2005

Home Alone

I was just looking at the photographs of my family and thinking about the women and their work. My mother and grandmother and great-grandmother all presided over their homes. They guarded them and guided them in many ways. The house and garden was their domain. They were never asked what they "did" -- such a question would have only come from an ignorant, uneducated person, or someone who was being sarcastic.

The grandchildren of my husband's family always looked forward to visiting the grandparents at the old home place in the summer times. Many families did this on their holidays. If the grandmothers had not been home, but had been out working in an office, a factory, or a shop, their homes would not have been cared for or available for the family visits. My mother still looks after my father, in their small place, and wouldn't have left it in pursuit of a career.

The pressures on women whose children are grown, to leave their home unguarded, and seek other work for a paycheck, are tremendous. Even in churches where you expect people to know the scriptures concerning women's roles by heart, people constantly ask these empty-nesters what they are going to "do" now.

The idea that the nest is empty, just because the children are raised, is a total myth, because they come back, and they bring more with them. After you have your big cry when they leave, you better get busy getting a guest room ready for when they come back. Fill the freezer and pantry with food for unexpected company, because, believe me, you will be surprised at how often they come home. Then, get one of your rooms fixed up like a children's room, with all the equipment, including a baby bed, toddlers bed, toy box, diapers, and a few clothes. Put new toothbrushes in the bathroom for them. Make it easy for them to come back. My children keep a set of clothes and grooming items here, just in case they decide to make a sudden trip home. Grown kids may be excited about being out on their own, but their homes will never have the atmosphere of your home, and they'll want to come back often just to feel it.

You may think you'll be sitting home alone with nothing to do, but my experience has been that the work load, once the children are gone, is even greater. Jobs that the children used to help take care of, like yard work, cleaning the car, painting the house, cleaning closets and cupboards, baking and cooking for company, creating gifts and cards, etc. are now only done by the lady left home alone. They take just as much time and sweat as they did when the children were home. The lawn isn't smaller, the floor space to vacuume isn't less, and the bathroom is till the same size as it was before. The only difference is, now, you have no one to delegate the jobs to. You would think there would be less to do, with the family grown and gone. There is less of somethings, but more of other responsibilities.

Are you torn in your heart about what you should do now that your house is "empty?" I say the word "empty" loosely, because I think you will find that you don't have has much time alone as you thought you would when your children go to homes of their own. There are now more demands on your time than ever before. Whereas, when the children were at home, people knew to leave you alone, for the most part, now that they think you are "free" you will find they expect you to do things for others, or be available for them. There are many phone calls that were emergencies of the spiritual type, that I would have missed, had I not been home.

There will be people that need to be entertained, and places to go, that previously, due to the current work at hand with family, you avoided. There are things to do that have been put off for years. Now is the time to do them, for it is truly the middle of your life. You are inbetween raising children and old age. It is a period of time that you can use in a mighty way. Some people in this time of life find renewed energy and enthusiasm for old interests, or new ideas. Most inventions, books and businesses become successful after the age of 50.

There may be rooms you have always wanted to re-decorate, or add on. Or, perhaps you'ave been planning to landscape your area into an old fashioned garden where you can sit or take a walk. Maybe you've always wanted to paint a picture, write a story, teach young women how to keep house or sew, or catch up on some reading and letter-writing. Many women want to leave the home because they think they have nothing to do of value, there. Even if this were so, there is great value in being there to guard your house from theft, from stray animals, from disrepair, untidiness, and many other things. We should fix our houses up and then tend to them and maintain the work we have done. Plants and lawns, and the inside of the house, are full time jobs.

If you have money problems, then may I suggest that you cut back on spending, (find ways to get cheaper rates on things, get rid of subscriptions and other "bills" you can live without), and bring in income through garage sales or a home business. I know two young women who love to clean houses. They pass out their calling card and wait for the calls. They are busy whenever they want to be, and they can turn down any jobs they like. Interior decorating, meal providing, sewing, and many other things are really in demand. People will pay a lot to have some of these things done for them. In doing something that enhances the home life of others, you can earn money and yet stay in the interests of your own role.

Many years ago someone gave me a list similar to this. On it was written, "If you can answer these questions 'yes' , then you have spare time to go to work outside your home."
This list somewhat describes the Proverbs 31 woman. One does not have to do everything on this list. Like Proverbs 31, it is designed to show your true worth as a woman in the home; to show you how much you are needed, and the tasks that are available to you, should you choose to do them.
1. Have you shampooed your carpet in the last 3 months?
2. Have you rearranged your furniture in the last 6 months?
3. How long has it been since the inside of your house has had fresh paint?
4. Are your husbands shirts ironed?
5. Do you make your own clothes?
6. Do you cook from raw ingredients, or "scratch" and avoid processed, prepared foods?
7. Have you invited anyone over for an afternoon tea?
8. Is there a family at church you need to have over for an evening of fellowship?
9. Are you teaching younger women any of the homemaking skills, or teaching your own children at home ("homeschooling")?
10. Are your photos sorted by date and put into albums, or have you created a memory scrapbook for each member of the family?
11. Are all your closets and cupboards, pantry, etc. clean and orderly?
12. Have you had a garage sale this year?
13. Do you make things to sell?
14. Are you able to take your time to fix a meal?
15. Is your pantry and fridge stocked well enough to last a few weeks?
16. Are you prepared for the next family event held at your house?
17. Do you make your own gifts and cards?
18. Do you read a chapter in the Bible each day?
19. Have you caught up with your correspondence?
20. Do you grow a vegetable garden?

You could probably add about 20 more tasks available to the homemaker, if you thought about what you do during a day. Do you have time to go to work? Let me assure you that, just when you think you've been abandoned, and have nothing to do, someone will come to see you. I've never seen an older woman with grown children, have a totally empty house for very long. After they leave, you'll have to clean all that up and then get back to your sewing or painting projects, or catch up on the other special work you have. You'll begin to think there isn't enough time to do anything.

Staying home also provides protection from various troubles in the work place. If there are problems in the home, at least they are yours and you have a reason for caring about them.

Staying at home provides a good example to the younger women. Think in your mind of the women mentioned in the Bible from the beginning of time, through the New Testament. Their main concern was their husbands, families, and homes. Technically, you could probably prove that some of them worked outside the home, but does it mean that you should? Is there a command to do so? The woman was always supposed to guide the home. Just because she doesn't have children, doesn't free her of that duty.

If a woman can do all those things described in this list, or in Proverbs 31, Titus 2, and II Timothy 5:14, and if her working doesn't bring reproach, and if she can still be a helpmeet to her husband, and if she is not too tired, and her work at home is caught up, then can she find time to work outside the home.

Another problem of working elsewhere is the amount of dedication it will take to fulfill the job for the employer. There will be days when you do not feel well. You can not lie down on the job, like you can at home when you need to.

There might be those who demand to know why you are not working, and you can always ask them, if you dare, why they aren't at home. Some women get work in offices or stores because they "just can't stay home." They are restless and do not understand the job at hand. They cannot work unless they are regulated by a job. They may be escaping their work at home. I've noticed, as you may have, that the times I feel most like leaving home, is when it is not orderly, and I'm behind on everything. It would just be easier to go somewhere else.

Many women at home are helping their husbands make wise investments and save money. What they save by this standard of living, equals what they would have earned. Most women who work, do not really get much for it. By the time everything is paid, there is little satisfaction and enjoyment left from that paycheck.

One advantage to being home alone is the peaceful times spent in quiet thought. Working women are frazzled with travel time and schedules. Women at home have time to rejuvenate, and then do a really good job with their energy. Women weren't created to work like machinery and keep the rigorous schedules of work outside the home. They need special emotional and physical care , which can only be found in keeping themselves busy at home. So if you are home alone, pray out loud and sing at the top of your lungs. Its a wonderful opportunity to grow and develop your full potential.


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Anonymous said...

I found this article just all your thoughts you really speak to a woman's heart. I have given your site to many young women and mothers. So inspiring! When I need some gentle reminders of just how thankful I should be to be a woman and be able to stay at home with my children{now grown} and still remain at home I turn to you. Even though I am an older woman I still have much to learn. When I grew up being a homemaker was an honored position and all too soon in the 60s things did a 100% flip and people seemed to think what we all believed about marriage etc, now was all wrong. Well ThEY were wrong. Thankyou again for the blessing you are to our lives.

Anonymous said...

Thank you again Lydia for your wisdom and encouragement. Our two children are still at home, but with one foot out the door (more the older of the two). I'm in a strange transitional place and I'm feeling sort of adrift. I don't have friends or family or a church family (we're forced to attend a liberal church due to our location). But you just reminded me that I should iron my H's shirts!