Thursday, January 04, 2007

Accomplishing Something

A friend of mine who has recently quit her job and become a full time homemaker gave me the idea to write about the world's concept of accomplishing something.

When a woman first begins to tackle the work at home, she will discover that it is like walking on a treadmill, and that it takes a different sort of managment than a job with an employer in a company. It may look like she is failing in her work while the women who work outside of the home have it all together.

Let us take a look, though at what they are doing. During the day, the woman who works out, does only one job: the one she was hired for. Hospital workers, for example, do the job they are hired for. Around them is other staff hired to do things like cleaning services, deliveries, messaging, and cafeteria work. An woman working in the admissions office would probably not go to the cafeteria and start cooking her own food and then wash her dishes and put away the cooking pans. Neither would she sweep and mop the floor, or wash the bedding of the patients. If she did all those things, she would not get a fraction of the record-keeping done during the day that she currently does.

Now let us take a look at the homemaker. During the day she has many tasks. If she were just being a companion to her husband and nothing else, she might only accompany him during the day and sit next to him, have tea with him, and be present at all his meetings or beside him handing him tools while he constructed a building. However, she has more to do than hang around her husband all day. For the good of them both, someone must manage the home, and the best time to do it is when her husband is away.

She is so multi-faceted that it does not seem like she is accomplishing anything. But wait! There is a lot more to homemaking than meets the eye. All the little things that she does that go unnoticed, are little things that the working women pay other people to do: food preparation, care of children, (which is another book in itself), laundry, cleaning, mending, shopping, and errands such as paying bills, and correspondence. Besides all this, she is social organizer of the family for major events and celebrations.

It happens that at the end of the day it might not look like she is very accomplished, but let us have a look at basic child care. If she has several children, she is going to be fixing little toys and finding things, tying shoes, and buttoning up jackets. She is going to be keeping track of hats and mittens in winter and trying to find the beach toys in the summer.

She will see that their evening baths are given, that they are dressed in fresh night clothes and that their prayers are said. She will take a flashlight into the bedroom later on that night and check on each of the children. She may even get up several times in the middle of the night to check on them and see that no cover is wrapped around their necks or smothering them, or that they are not too hot or too cold, or wet. If they are wet, she might change them and their clothes and then put a new set of sheets and bedding on the bed. No one sees these things. No one sees her doing them. If the man who is working to support the family had to do this, he would hardly be in any shape to be alert at work the next day or to drive.

The woman at home may feel tired and people do not understand the reason. They understand only what they see. Those who have this opinion ought to take over a young woman's home for one week. They will find that there is so much to be done, and even the little unnoticed details like picking up clutter, can drain a lot of energy.

She will be keeping albums and scrapbooks of her families progress and growth. She is creating a history. It might not show up right now, but in years to come it will be "seen." Her house will accumulate clutter that will need to be constantly monitored. A woman with a husband and 4 children who provides meals at home, will wash 12 place settings a day and one set of cooking pots 3 times.

She will probably do her laundry every third day, but if she has a baby in the house she will wash every day and then on top of that, do her regular family washing. After it is washed it may need to be hung out on a line or put in a dryer. After it is dried it has to be put back in the places that it belongs--the clothes, the dishtowels, the bath towels, and so forth. Keeping a house is like painting the Golden Gate Bridge: when one end is finished, the other end is needing repair.

Some people may say "What is the use? It only gets messed up again. Why not hire someone to do it?" If you hire someone to keep house, the housekeeper will know what happened to everything, but you will not. The homemaker needs to have a feeling for her home. When she puts time into taking care of it, she will be more likely to value it.

You, the homemaker, will be the one who will go through the out grown and old clothes and send them to a second-hand shop. You are the one who will know what is in everyone's closets. You are the one who will know where the problem areas of your house are. If you clean your own bathroom, you will discover things about it that will aid you in being a better house keeper. If someone else does it, you will not have the same love and feeling for the house that you could have. It is your place and you have to put your heart into it in order to give it the atmosphere that you like.

I am sure that people did not think that George Washington "accomplished" anything during his life, but here we are so many decades later and long history books are being written about him.

The homemaker may not think that she is accomplishing anything, but, day by day, she is making some progress here and there in little things that she formerly let someone else do for her. If she is teaching her own children at home, she gets to listen to their personal observations and discoveries. She knows personally their strengths and weaknesses, which formerly would have been noticed more by teachers and staff. Now, she gets to personally mold her child's personality and really invest in his/her future with her sayings, her stories, and her instruction.

By now, many people have read the book we had on the LAF bookstore section, called "Mother," about a girl who thought her mother was not much and had not accomplished anything because she was "just a homemaker." Later on, through some trials, she discovered that her mother had given up selfish pursuits in order to mold the destinies of 5 other people in the family, and that in doing so, had actually accomplished much more than they.

Occasionally I get emails from young feministic girls who think that women at home do not "do" anything. I always tell them to try being married 35 years and raising several children before they make this rash judgment. Many young girls are critical of their mothers. I ask them, "Have you been married as long as your mother? Have you successfully raised children? Have you kept house as well as your mother?"

Having had a slight cold over the holidays, I decided to lie down and see if I could find a good television show. I have not watched tv for some time, but tried to see if I could get any reception. On a particular day, only one program bled through, but it was clear enough that I could decipher it. It was a court show. A man was suing his wife for divorce because she would not find employment outside the home.

The wife did not want a divorce and had explained that as a wife and mother, her job was to see that the meals and the laundry and the house were cared for, and was trying to make him comfortable and enable him to get to work. He said, "Yes, but that won't pay the bills." She explained that she was trying to be a help-meet or help-mate to her husband. His interpretation of that was that she should help him pay the bills by getting a job outside the home. He wanted her all dressed up looking like the professional women he admired, and he still wanted the lovely meals and the ironed shirts she provided for him.

We have entered a sad part of our history, where men have no shame in sending their wives outside the home to work. Many homes remain empty and neighborhoods are lonely, and for what? That the family might have a nice car and a vacation? Most of these families lose the very thing that they got married for: the home and the children that they love. Sometimes these men will say they want their women to be like the women on the covers of the magazines they see at the checkout in the grocery stores. Yet every single one of the women on the covers have had broken marriages, troubled children, and mental problems of some kind.

The women at home may feel they are going crazy sometimes, but they are free from the demands and stresses and worries of the workplace and the world. They need to find nobility in the smallest of things, whether it be buttoning up a little boy's shirt, or putting a centerpiece on a table. While she is buttoning that little boy's shirt she looks into his eyes to connect to her own dear son. She may brush aside his hair with her hand or feel his cheeks and forhead to see if he is well or has a temperature. If she outsources this, someone else will get all the pleasure and feel the connection.There is more importance to this than anything that could be accomplished in the outside world.When the family is discouraged or lonely, they don't need a corporate president, rocket scientist or an opera singer--they need a wife and a mother.

I often look at the paintings of the 18th and 19th century, and notice there were a lot painted of women doing very domestic things. They seemed to have time for things like a leisurely tea with their mothers and sisters at home. This is one of the things that the full time homemaker can do, that her working counter-part will have trouble fitting in to her schedule. The more you are at home and getting things under control, the more leisurely time you will have to share with others in your realm.


Milehimama @ Mama Says said...

Thank you for this encouraging post.
I worked for a paycheck for a while outside the home. At work, I arrived and sat at my desk. My pens were where I left them; no one had absconded with them to do a crossword or draw a picture or make a treasure map. I never had to wash ink off the wall, either.
I had someone to answer the phone for me; someone else to tell people we did not need magazines or meat.
My job was to pay the bills. The bills were organized and on time. They never were found under a bed because the children were playing postman.
At work, when I put something down, it was still there, even weeks later, when I looked for it.
If I wanted coffee, I had no thought of purchasing it, the filters, the accoutrements, brewing it, or washing the pot.
I also never had discussions of Moby Dick, thought about why Simon got the cool name (rock) and Thomas got the boring nickname (twin), or had my telephone blow me a kiss on chubby baby fingers.

LadySnow said...

I am so thankful that my husband doesn't think I need a job outside the home. Actually he absolutely refuses that I do and that is perfectly fine with me! It is sad today when people thing that Keepers at Home "don't do anything." :(

Anonymous said...

After this holiday season, it is especially nice to be back to reading a bit of encouraging blogs for stay at home wives. In response to something my husband said about his own job, my brother-in-law boasted to my husband stating that he is home, he doesn't have to work, he can get up any time he likes, has a big plasma television, his wife makes enough, he doesn't have to worry about making too much money. He also claimed that it is good for a woman to work. "If you let a woman stay home it isn't good, she just shrivels up." I was amazed at the boldness of his statements. He knows my husband works and that I stay home. I thought, "do I appear to have shriveled up?" And he complained that my sister doesn't cook and that she doesn't do any house cleaning!
The logic? Why doesn't he shrivel up, since he is the one at home? Or why doesn't He at least cook or clean for my sister? I didn't bother to agrue with him.
This is only one of the assaults that we encountered throughout our holiday visits. I am so thankful that my husband allows me to stay home. I do cook and clean, and teach my children, and thousands of other things. And I am there when my husband just wants me to be by his side. I think I better do a very good job at being a wife. Because my husband gets the pressure from men quite often. Men try to make him look like the fool. They boast of themselves of how they get their wives out to work!
Glad to be home again in my peaceful little place.
And thankful to have some encouraging reading!

Dawn-Hydrangea Home said...

This is such a great post Lydia. As you know I work from home running my web business I also have 4 children under the age of 10. There have been so many times I have tried to explain to my husband the feeling I have of not accomplishing anything. Reading your post makes me look at those words in a whole different way. My problem is giving myself way too many things to do (that are physically impossible) to complete in a day! Thanks for straightening this out!

Jan said...

Excellent post.

Lydia said...

All those things that take up the day, could be done by other people. However, would you want other people to bond with your children or your husband or your dwelling? Those little tasks are what help the family get glued together. I can't imagine letting a daycare dress my child, bathe him, potty train my child, or teach him table manners. These are not mechanical jobs. They are more than that. There is a relationship being formed between the care giver and the recipient, that creates a bond that will be needed when the child is an adult. If someone else does all these things--even if someone else does all the housework and laundry, the same feeling will not be there. They say laundry is just laundry but it is very personal. We notice how durable something is, and we notice what happens to it when it is washed. We, who care about our family economy, need to know what works and what does not. A husband who takes care of the bills will know if there are unnecessary expenditures and will know when he needs to find a different kind of job. Staying home means you care about your own things, even if you train your children to do a lot of the work. It is personal.

Lydia said...

Men are greatly influenced by the talk at work by both men and women. They come to admire the working woman, mainly because she looks so put together and because she has a paycheck and can buy things. They say that is moving up in the world and accomplishing something. But the true test of a person's mettle is what can they do when they don't have money to control their lives. What can they do without money. If the same women were without a paycheck and did not have a job to go to every day, how would they use their time. Would they be resourceful and creative?

Kelly said...

I just came across your blog and all I can add is, beautiful! Wonderful work you are doing for us stay at home moms and as a result, society.

Lisa said...

What great commentary on modern life. I have a tough time with people understanding why I stay at home, since my husband and I have no children. Well, someone still needs to cook, clean, run errands, do volunteer work, etc. I LOVE our home and so enjoy creating a haven for my husband to return to after very loooong days at work. Frankly, the way the work world is now, (my husband works 12-14 hour days and sometimes for six days a week for five months in a row!) life would be a misery without the wife keeping house.

Sharon said...

Thank you so much for this post. I have been feeling like I don't do enough around the house, but at the same time feeling so completely overwhelmed. Thank you for giving me a more positive outlook. I couldn't have read your post at a better time.

Amy said...

Thank you so much for the fantastic post. This was something I really needed to read...truly improves perspective on how much we actually do as SAHW/SAHM's. Thanks for helping put a little pep back into my step.

Amy B.

Anonymous said...

Dearest lady Lydia,

How true this is. I too am ever so thankful I'm no longer on the work-out-of-the-home treadmill and have absolutely no inclination to head back either! It seems the whole world has been tipped upside down with society believing it absolutely fine for the man to play house husband and stay home but any notion that its the best for we ladies has all but been squeezed to death; funny that, in the light of an article our Prime Minister, John Howard contributed to in one of our weekend papers this Sunday last, softly softly intimating that women no longer need to gauge their success by career or paid work; claiming statistics that families with 1 parent working and one working half time or even quarter time and 1 income only as it were make up an increasing number of households, stating its importance and that this kind of choice is valuable (the article was entitled 'The Death of Feminism' if memory serves correctly - have sent it along to LAF for posting). he also has given funding to a not for profit community service network run by a denomination classically pro life to offer counseling to girls and young women who've found themselves unexpectedly with child - oh, did the feathers fly or what from women's groups? Please pray these tiny glimpses of light upon the horizon are signs of a new day ddawning; a television show I've been watching for the past few weeks dealt with family in its latest installment claiming without solid families, civilization itself falls apart, putting forth the premise this post-modern era we're in must by necessity be a transitory phase only lest society and all that Christian Western culture has developped over the centuries - the literature, art, thinking, science - all matters sacred and secular be forgotten and crumble into nothing (much the same way the civilisation of Ancient Rome did. NoNonetheless, none of them are bold enough to come out and openly state the importance of the role of men and women in all this; they point to it from multiple directions but don't say it. It's very strongly inferred though; may the excellent role of SAHM and SAHW be exulted once again in our lifetimes!


Mrs. E.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I just wanted to give Sharon a little practical advice, if I may?

Sharon, your mention of "feeling so completely overwhelmed" grabbed hold of my heart. I get to feeling the same way sometimes, especially when I or others around me are sick. (I looked at your blog.)

What helps me get started (after which it's easier to keep going) is seeing the first step. I'm a compulsive listmaker, so I keep a list of "things I have to do every day" and different chores for each day of the week. I put them in those vinyl page protectors, and strike through each completed task with a dry-erase marker. (I get a weird satisfaction from strikethroughs, and at the end of the day, I can see where my time went.)

Sometimes I even "break out" the chores into even smaller pieces; "cleaning the bathrooms" becomes "squirt Soft Scrub into toilets and shower stall," "brush and flush toilet," "scrub stall with old kitchen sponge," "go over outsides of tubs and toilets with cleaning spray," etc. (I have a tendency to avoid a chore if I perceive it to be "big," but I won't shrink from fifteen "little things" to do. I play head games with myself sometimes.)

I also make room for "15-minute projects," so I don't have to dedicate a whole day to some overwhelming thing. It's that head-game thing again. Every day, I dedicate 15 minutes to some big project (like Christmas cards, organizing the office, etc.), so that I can just take it up at any time, and put it down until tomorrow when I've done 15 minutes. It keeps me from burning too much daylight on something, but also makes me get these things done!

I know this was kind of long, but I hoped that these three things might make things easier on you. You seem to do quite well already, but if feeling overwhelmed is tripping you up, maybe some of these notions will help! (They're not really original, although they're variations on the original theme.)

Mrs. Bartlett

Lydia said...

Mrs. Barlett,

I have an open shelving unit for a pantry, which was getting out of control by people putting junk in it or setting something temporarily in it. After dreading the clean up for months, I finally just did one shelf a day until it was done.

A lady told me that she visited an old woman who lived in a Victorian house, a widow, alone. She invited her to tea one day and while the kettle was heating, she unloaded such a shelf, got out a small can of paint and painted the inside of the shelf. Then she washed the brush and put away the paint. Several hours after tea, the paint was dry, so she loaded everything back into the shelf. She said that is how she got a lot of her work done and kept the house looking nice over the years.

Lydia said...

Mrs. E. There is an old saying that a person cannot see the forest for the trees. Your analysis is one example. Because the problem of the broken home and the disentegrated family can only be solved by the woman returning to the home arts and home being her domain, the "experts" can't see it. They want something more deep and complicated; philisophical and intelligent. Yet if examined closely, staying home and managing it, for a woman is the most intelligent thing she can do; she does it far better than a man.

Anonymous said...

This was perhaps one of my favorite articles I've seen on your blog. It spoke to me; I've been home for five years now and there is never a dull moment. All of those "menial" tasks and chores occupy my day, but I love it and wouldn't have it any other way.

Recently a man at our church whose wife is expecting, asked me "what do you do all day?" (His wife wants to stay home when the baby is born, he sees no merit). I invited him to switch places with me for a day or a week and he could see first hand what it is that I do all day! He is sadly like many other men (in churches all over the world) who think the wife has no place at home. How far we've slid, how things have changed, and I fear for the direction we're going in, to tell you the truth.

Lydia said...

I have to add something very important that I learned from my mother. She has 7 children and about 15 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren. While we were growing up, she didn't like a dirty house, but she let us know her real priority was listening to us kids and keeping us safe. She never let the housework take priority or worry her if she needed to do something with the children. That does not mean she was irresponsibly careless and was found on the floor cutting out paper dolls with the kids when Daddy came home. She was a mature adult and she knew how to put us kids on our place, as many parents of that era did. We were under her control and so we did not hang from the rafters and wreck the house. We had to put things away after using them. Personal posessions were confiscated if they were left out. Sometimes my brothers would destroy some precious treasure I had and when I complained she asked me where I left it. I learned to look after my own posessions. But mother also did not have a lot of clutter to drive her crazy, even with 7 children. Each of us may have had one or two toys in our childhood, not a garage full of them. We usually wore the toys out. There were no trendy type toys in those days. The bears and dolls and trucks and blocks of the time sort of blended in naturally with our home. Today I have things like that on display in my own home and enjoy seeing them there. Toys today tend to drive the mothers crazy, instead. They don't have the same effect as toys of the past. We didn't have a huge amount of clutter to deal with although we often had stacks of dishes to wash, and she made the children do it rather than do it herself. The point is that she looked first to our spiritual welfare, our attitudes and our personal development, and then to the house. She was a wife, mother and homemaker, in that order. Men need to understand this and also to insist upon it. They need to tell their wives that they expect the children to be properly looked after and trained. If that is done, things will fall into place in the house.

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Sherman, about those "experts": Maybe it's something like when a person catches a cold, they take a bunch of pills to suppress the coughing and fever and runny nose--and prolong the cold for weeks while they continue their action-packed lifestyle. They'd be rid of the cold if they would just take a day or two and rest up--but they don't want that; there's too much to "accomplish."

People are so hyper about managing the symptoms, rather than treating the disease--probably because they regard the symptoms AS the disease. It's a bit like saying that flu viruses cause a fever, when in actuality, the fever is a normal reaction TO the flu.

(And btw, I'm glad to see that the "one bit at a time" method isn't just me trying to accommodate my being defective!)

Mrs. Bartlett

Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lydia,
One of my "jobs" as a help meet is to support my husband with his employment. I have done this in many ways including making appropriate gifts for a new baby or extended illness as well as attending any functions. At this year's Christmas dinner we were all around the table having a pleasant conversation when a co-worker's wife, who had just had a wonderful second child, said that she went back to work early as she thought that the "world was passing her by." Oh my! My heart dropped. I have had to work for many years and I thought just the opposite! How much more fulfilling is my world being an at-home mother and wife! God has blessed us more abundantly being home than when I was working outside the home! How much more I have been able to accomplish being home! My husband understands this and has tried to arrange things that, if God allows, I will never have to work outside the home again!

Mrs. Eugene

Anonymous said...

I appreciate how you talk about wives staying at home, not just mothers. It never occurred to us for my wife to stay home before we had children. Looking back, I wish she had. We thought we "needed" the money, but we would have been much happier living within our means and her "practicing" her home making skills (she had to learn a lot about all that while also learning to be a mother at the same time), and pursuing other interests. She never liked her job. It was a good one, but it never felt satisfying to her.

Fortunately, now she is home with our three sons, and happier than ever. But I regret missing out on so much she could have done in the first few years as a wife, before motherhood.

Lydia said...

When I was growing up in the 50's most women did stay home after they got married.The only reason they worked in those days was to get out in the public and find a husband. That was also one reason some of them went to college. Our aunt never had children but her husband said he wanted her home in case she was needed, and did not want her tied down to a job. In her lifetime she was very busy just looking after the house and her husband.

mommamu said...

I just found your blog and I am LOVING IT!!! THank you for reaffirming many beliefs that I hold dear. My mother was a stay-at-home and it made all the difference in the world to me and my siblings!

Anonymous said...

I just found this website in the early hours of the morning when I couldn't sleep. I am a wife of 10 years to the most wonderful man who when he promised to "love, honour and cherish" me in our wedding service, meant every word. There is not a day goes by when I don't feel as though I am the queen of our little kingdom. Right now I am going through a tremendous struggle and it is leaving me physically ill. I returned to the workforce in 2005 with a then 2 year old and 4 year old. After 6 months I fell apart completely and had to reduce my working hours to two days a week for health reasons. My workplace is intolerable and I am suffering from recurrent insomnia, chest pain, panic attacks and depression. My doctor will only allow me to work two days a week but even that is proving too much. I am not the wife I want to be nor the mother that I want to be and I know there must be something better for all of us but I am so scared of letting go, giving up my job and being a homemaker. I made a mucky mess of being a homemaker in the four years that I did stay home with the children and I am petrified that if I go back to that state again I will be no better.
Your website is giving me a glimmer of hope that I just might be able to do this. I might be able to be the Godly wife and mother that I am supposed to be. It is just so hard.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the specialization of women who work outside the home versus the multitude of tasks done by the homemaker --

The attitude of men has become very similar, I've noticed. It seems the majority are only educated or trained to do one job, with one very limited skill set. They gape, open-mouthed, when they find out the variety of skills possessed by men like myself. Their assumption is that a person can only be good at one thing, and must summon another specialist if anything else needs done. Fix the car? Take it to a mechanic. Fix the drain? Call the plumber. And so on. For example, I was setting up a new computer network for a customer, when they mentioned that the server room needed a dedicated air conditioner, so they would have to contact an HVAC technician. I offered to bid it, and after seeing the stunned look on their faces, I had to explain that I'm also a quite competent carpenter and electrician. Then they started firing more questions, trying to ascertain if I indeed knew as much about computers as I should.... Some people's kids, I tell ya. Makes me wonder how some people manage to tie BOTH shoes in the morning.

Specialization is for insects.


Lydia said...

Sons need to be taught to be what I call "Renaissance Men"--they can be like Galileo and be able to understand the workings of machinery, science, art, literature and many different things. They need to know something about everything. OUr fathers did. My father went to Alaska in the 40's and hewed out a homestead. He had to know something about forestry, logging, lumber, building (with no nails), gardening and crops, animals, heating, electricity and water. Most men knew about those things in those days. Now the education system teaches them to be specialized. It must be awfully boring knowing how to do only one thing in a career. I know that there are women who would love to have hand made furniture and a house built by their husband's hands, but the men don't feel they have the knowledge to do that. However a great deal of the expertise can be attained while attempting the job itself.

Lydia said...

I just wanted to reassure everyone that there is certainly nothing wrong with having outside help or engaging your children and relatives in helping you with the home. My mother delegated a lot of things and also I hired teen girls to come in and do my dishes and clean the kitchen. I believe we all need more help to run the home. Machinery was supposed to relieve the burden but in some ways just made it worse since we use them more.

I was watching "The English House" a documentary and re-enactment of the system of the Victorians before there were buttons to push and machinery to aid the homemaker.

For every single little task there was a person to do it. One person took care of heating the home. Another person took care of the outside and the wood and so forth. Another one took care of transportation. Inside, one lady was hired to wash. Another to iron. Another to cook, another to wash dishes. If you can get this from your library, watch it and you will see what I mean.

It seems that with the lack of machinery, the Victorians were very innovative in organizing work. We seem to have been able to adopt that into the business world, as I explained in the above article--with one person doing one job. Yet we have not translated this into the home---in fact, since industrialization, the home has actually been robbed of the help it once had. Most women do every single thing themselves, from grocery shopping to dish washing. That is why it is so important to train your children to take the burden off you as you get older. By the time the children are grown, you should have worked yourself out of the job, almost, and all that would remain would the your advisory skills and the things you really like to do. It will take some diligent training on the part of the parents. If you have no children, you should work now to make your life easier in your older years. This can involve things like retirement investments and savings, so that you can afford help and conveniences later. The husband should be working toward making his wife's life at home less stressful towards their later years, not more stressful.

Um Ibrahim said...

Lovely piece, beautifully written:)

Lydia said...

Responding to Anne's comment:

Doctors put women on medication hoping it will keep them going, going going, until they end up with stroke and can't do anything at all. Chuck the meds, get rid of the outside job. Stay home and rest rest rest before you end up in a nursing home. Take away all outside stress and pressure. Do what you like and what makes you happy. You can earn money at home by not spending it. Each time you leave the house, even to work, it costs in the area of $20.00. Staying home can prevent twenty dollars a day from going into the air with gas prices, car wear and tear, etc. Better yet, just keep one car between you and save all the registration and insurance fees. I take my husband to work when I need the car but I find I rarely want to do it any more. I am content to go out when there is a day off. If debt is the reason you are working, consider a bill consolidation loan or join a debt reduction service. You can also sell you house and buy something that is more affordable and then work your way up. No one has to live the so called American Dream. Just make sure you live your own dream of being an unhurried, healthy mother and wife. Going to work can destroy that dream. This is not counselling or advice. This is just the way it is.

Lydia said...

Ladies and gents who can, please respond to Anne either on her blog or mine.

wendybirde said...

Hello Anne,

I truly can empathize with your situation and my heart goes out to you. When I hit thirty I had a very serious accident and suddenly was not only unable to work but also unable to do many day to day things I'd taken for granted before. Rest was the NUMBER ONE cure. I'm no doctor, but if your case was like mine I'd chuck the meds too, I sure did, they just numbed my senses and tore my stomach apart.

The thing is, increasing your sensitivity (both physical emotional and spiritual) is often the key when in pain I found, not numbing your senses, as horribly ironic as that sounds when your body hurts so much. But increasing your sensitivity, entering your heart and also entering your pain, it really is key so you can actually listen to your body and respond right. When pain hit instead of popping a pill I learned to actually do what my body actually needed---rest, dream, get warm, find comfort, find beauty, create.

And a funny thing, when you start responding to your body rather than shutting it up and ignoring, it often leads to not ignoring God anymore either, because He can speak to us through our pain.

Accidents and illnesses I find are usually wake up calls--with gifts if we heed that call. My gift I feel was finally resting well and finally finding a home centered life, which I am unspeakably grateful for. I pray you find your gift Anne : )

Blessed New Year : ) Wendy

wendybirde said...

Hello Lady Lydia,

It is so true that we have lost the concept of HELP in the home. Folks picture the woman as meant to be doing it alone, and from my understanding that was actually not necessarily the case. I think in many cases she did what we are supposed to be doing, keeping the home-- MANAGING the home, guiding and guarding it, delegating when needed, seeing what is needed and that things turn out well, but not actually ~doing~ every single little thing. And those women in history that did do every little thing often met with ill health or early death. Even the proverbs woman had household help, not to mention likely her children helped.

It is so healing when you address things like this, so very few people do, and women I feel need so much to know this. We either work ourselves to death (or illness) in the workplace or in the home, instead of KEEPING the home and our loved ones as we are called to, much to the harm of not only us but those we love. We are Adam's rib, not superwomen, and meant to live a life that will engender a meek and quiet spirit, not a nervous breakdown.

OK, my off my soapbox now, lol. You say it all so much better anyway. Your site is always SUCH a blessing!

Congratulations too on your precious new granddaughter : )

Blessed New Year : ) Wendy

Anonymous said...

Well, as you asked, Mrs. Sherman...

Anne, first thing I want you to know is that we are all pulling for you and praying for you. (Okay, well, -I- am, but I'm quite sure others here are doing so, and I didn't want to exclude anyone!) I wish I could reach right over there and give you a hug. You seem to need one in a pretty big way.

The second thing I want you to know is that, before I went "back" to work (i.e., started my practice after moving to my husband's house from Houston), I wasn't a very dedicated homekeeper. I found that the motivation I needed was to be deprived of that privilege. Now that I'm able to dedicate 99% of my time to it, I find I do.

Don't be afraid to "let go" of your job. Think of it: you'll be letting go of sleepless nights, pain, illness, and frustration. You'll be letting go of "necessary" doctor visits and endless rounds of medication. This job is costing you more than you earn--certainly demanding something of you that you can't buy back, no matter how much money you spend.

As far as staying motivated at home, Laine of "Laine's Letters" wrote about how she starts each day with the Bible. It helps her and it helps me. Give over your day to God and ask for His help, and you will be surprised just how much you will get done at home!

You can do this, Anne. All you have to do is take the step you already know is the right one. You will be in my prayers.

Mrs. Bartlett

Lydia said...

I will add that if you wait too long, your dream of being a happy wife and mother will elude you. There is only one time to do this. It is a job that cannot wait.Once the season is gone, it is gone forever and cannot be reclaimed.

Anonymous said...

I greatly appreciate your blog. I am very passionate about women fulfilling their God-given purpose and desire to encourage women to not only be CONTENT at home, but also to LOVE and and do it with a sense of nobility and joy. Your website is ALWAYS an excellent source of inspiration for me.

In response to this most recent post, for me, I've never desired to be anything but a stay-at-home wife and mother, BUT, I struggle with the concept of "accomplishing something", too. Only it looks different. If I don't get the house spotless, cook a fantastic meal three times a day, plus do something extra like add some sort of decorative touch, I feel as though I haven't accomplished enough. But what I find happens THEN, is I feel guilty because I haven't accomplished the most important thing of all - deepening my relationship with my children.

Just last night, I was telling a friend who is pregnant with her first baby that my number one regret about when I had my babies is rushing into getting back into routine and not savoring those first few weeks when they change and grow so much. I was so determined to "accomplish something" that I didn't spend enough time just HOLDING my babies or even watching them sleep. Both of those things are activites that always bring me a sense of peace and joy, but I didn't allow myself to do it, because I felt that I was wasting time. It shames me to admit it now, but I know for a fact that there are many other mothers out there with the same mindset.

This has gotten long, but I just want to thank you again for your encouragement in this area. You are a true blessing to so many.

Lydia said...

To the man who commented on the wife being at home even before the arrival of children:

This is an important time period for the woman, where she adjusts to the inner workings of the home. If she has worked outside until the birth of her first child, she is hit doubly with burdens she has not had time to master. Staying at home the first year and caring for just her and her husband help her to get the kind of routine and control she will need when the children come along. She does miss a lot when she is not home the first year after marriage. A woman without children at home, such as myself, still finds it necessary to be home full time to manage it. There is much more to be done and more time for it. It is a perfect time to get your life in order and catch up on things that may have been put aside while raising children.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lydia,
On that last comment here, I say...Amen. How I wish I had been home before my first son was born. And to top it all off, I thought I was a minister's wife that didn't do as much in the ministry. I tried to stay home. And I got the heat for it. But, now, looking back on it, I would have done nothing in the ministry! My job was my husband, children and homeschooling! That came first. To add to it, my emotions would be pulled here and there due to situations that would come up in the fellowship. It was so hard to focus at home, after hearing or experiencing trouble in the church fellowship.

Lydia said...

It would be interesting if the preacher's wives would say, "From now on, I am going to contribute as much to the church and its activities as the average member does." Then skip as many meetings as they do, have as few people over for hospitality as they do, write as little as they do, contribute as little money as they do, and just lay back. Then maybe they could actually put more into their home life. After all, if you are a good preacher's wife yet lose your own kids and fail in your own home, it profits you nothing.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lydia,

I must say this post has been life-changing for me. I came by the blog earlier in the week, printed off the post, and read and re-read it a few times. I have recently "returned home" to my husband and three toddlers but have found the transition one of the hardest of my life, yet already, the most fufilling. I was struggling with a feeling of "accomplishment" that some others have mentioned, and I found myself dispairing in it all. Your post reminded me to 'adjust my focus' heavenward, and that has made such a difference. In my quiet times, the Lord has been revealing to me sweet morsels of scripture to encourage me along this path, and when I get too down, I just re-read this post again. Thank you for reminding me to "focus".

Mrs. Messimer

Kelli said...

I was a full-time SAHW, but our circumstances necessitate that I work outside the home for now. However I can vouch that working for an employer is much easier than working in the home!

My day at work in outside employment is much simpler! It's structured with tangible inputs, processes, outputs and outcomes. There are and reports and documents in the office library that I've helped to create and certificates & awards on my desk for projects accomplished. These are tangible evidences of achievement. Furthermore I work in a team environment were we share the workload on busy days! If I'm ever uncertain about how to handle a situation there are a myriad of advisors to call on.

At home however it's not always best to operate by structured and inflexible schedule and bulk of your 'achievements' in the home seem to disappear as quickly as they are made! For example, there are the three home-cooked meals a day -but where's the evidence once you hang up your apron at the end of the day? And what about the dusting and vacuuming? By the end of the week where is the evidence you did it at all? And where are the team of helpers and advisors at hand each moment of the working day? Where are the certificates and awards for your attainments in the home? The rewards in the home are less tangible.


the work of a homemaker in the home is far more fulfilling than work for an employer! What could be more important than serving the family God gave you? What earthy awards or certificates compare with a happy home, a successful husband, properly raised children, and cared for aged parents?

Father's Grace Ministries said...

Dear Mrs Sherman
I really enjoyed this article & your comment about your own Mother-that is how I long to be.
I admit I didn't spend enough of my single years preparing to be a wife & Mother & now 2 children later I still struggle with practical tasks & not stressing over my to-do list & passing that stress on to my family.
I can now keep a reasonably tidy house but am still working on relaxing in my roles as wife & Mother, while still finding the time to expand my skills in the homemaking arena.
Despite this I Love being a SAHM & your articles inspire me & help me to think more orderly.
God Bless
Claire(from Australia)

Anonymous said...

Kelleigh, amen, and from my perspective, the last 12 words of your post are your "certificates", yes more than that, they are your diamonds and jewels, your crown.

Anonymous said...

Oops, make that 14 words!

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a powerful post! After all the turmoil about should I work or should I not work I have come to the conclusion that whenever you look into a window of someone's life you are only getting a glimpse of the chapters we then go on to add on the rest of the chapters to create the book we want it to be.

Most of the time things are not what they seem to be. The woman who lives in a small home with 4 children and has modest means looks like she may be unhappy, may look like she is lacking in her life, may look like she is poor and the woman who has the big 4 bedroom house and the Lexus in her driveway and the 1 or 2 children in a corporate Daycare, takes 1 or 2 vacations a year and has her children in all types of activities looks like she has everything in life.

When you stop looking through the window and go into the home and sit you may find that the so called poor woman may be rich in love and respect from her husband and children and the Woman who has it all really does not have nothing at all because she is not happy about who she is and what she does, she may not be happy because her husband only sees her as a paycheck and her children don't know her well enough to respect her. I'll take the poor woman who is rich any day!

GREAT!!!!!!!!!!! Post!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

great post! i am a sahm, and i'm teary-eyed by what you wrote. i am so touched, and so encouraged by this post.

Anonymous said...

Must reading my ladies who are at home and work-weary with no outside or even inside helpers!

Lean Not said...

Thank you for this post.

I am unmarried and am in a situation where I genuinely have no choice but to work; however, I am blessed and thankful to have a nice job at a Christian ministry. But I so long to be a homemaker! My heart is at home -- maybe someday I will be able to "accomplish" that true calling as well.

Until then, I sure am cheering you on! I respect and admire you highly!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful! No one could have said it better.

Anneatheart said...

Dear Lady Lydia,

I have been reading your words for a few years now and we have also emailed a couple of times. Your post here struck a chord in me, especially about the young girls who think we don't do anything worthwhile. When I was their age, I thought the same things. I wanted to get married someday, but why do it so young? Why not have some fun, then get to marrying and having children? Little did I know what God had stored for me...less than a year after my highschool graduation I was married! I was a housewife for awhile, but did not clean! I learned how to cook well, and eventually got a job. It was at a school so I still had time to devote to our home, what little I did.
Anyways, I now have three little girls- ages 4, 3, and 10 months. Talk about feeling like you don't accomplish anything! Those three can make a mess of the whole house in an instant! I make three meals from scratch a day, do all the clean up (they are learning) change diapers, wash the highchair, wipe the tables/boosters, wipe noses and faces, dress them, take them to potty, help them brush teeth, fix hair, tidy rooms, take things out of baby's mouth, stop fights, laundry, more dishes, cut out material and patterns, sew them up, feed the animals, go shopping with them (for food),and this doesn't even include other cleaning chores like bathrooms, dusting, floors and decluttering. At the end of the day I look around and if the house is all tidied up it seems as though nothing happened there, that nothing was accomplished. And that's when I remember that it's not about the house, what I did or didn't do, but about my family, and fulfilling my roles doing what the Lord planned out for me to do. I never in a million years dreamed this would be so hard. I'm glad He believes I'm able to do this job :)

Thanks so much for the encouraging words, beautiful pictures, and uplifting advice! Please keep it up!
God bless,

Serena said...

I was thinking on this post today (btw it is excellent!) and had some thoughts come to me. We get so concerned about accomplishing something that we don't realize the value of being accomplished.

Think about it, how often is someone described as an accomplished musician, artist or even businessperson? What does it take to be accomplished? It takes experience and lots and lots of practice. What do we get as mothers and wives? We get experience and lots and lots of practice at lots of different things. I am an accomplished cook since I've been cooking meals for a family since I was 15 (first for my parents and brother and sisters and then for my own family). A good many of those years have been with a low income. I've learned to take the ingredients available and make something that someone will tell me is delicious and want the recipe. The trouble is that so often I just made it with changes to the basic recipe in my head and don't have a recipe to give. I've also had lots of experience sewing and am an accomplished seamstress. I can take a pattern and make some changes and get what I envisioned in my head (most of the time - lol!) I have areas that I am becoming accomplished. I am a messy, but I'm becoming an accomplished organizer and cleaner of my home. I have a ways to go yet. I have lots of other areas I'm growing in, too. When I have enough experience and practice, I will be able to be described as accomplished. Now, granted, according to the world, a lot of that won't be what gives prestige, but I can have the comfort of knowing I am accomplished in that area and enjoy the praise of my husband and children (after all Proverbs 31 does describe an accomplished woman).

Maybe we need to change our thinking to realizing that what we do everyday is the experience and practice that will cause us to eventually become accomplished. I could change a diaper with my eyes closed (an old-fashioned cloth one with pins) after changing about 50,000 of them over the years. I'm really good at reading stories, too.

Ladies, I hope this is encouraging you with a bigger picture. We don't seem to be accomplishing much each day with all we do and have to re-do, but we are on our way to being accomplished wives, mothers and homemakers. The world may not recognize that as having prestige, but someday we will be told "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Love and shalom,

Anonymous said...

Loved your comments.
Having been a former Manager of companies, I left it all to marry a Canadian and be a Victorian Housewife...... the corp. work was easy compared to running a home and being a wife..... but is giving me enough material and research to write a book.

Gina said...

I wish come celebrities would read this and understand the importance of what a wife and mother should do... it's sad that a nanny is closer to the children than the mother is in a lot of wealthier homes where both parents work to no end.

About men having no shame in NOT providing enough to assure his wife can be a homemaker... I WISH MINE HAD A LITTLE SHAME! I totally agree with your advice to Ann about having one car and staying home to save money. That makes so much sense (and I would totally be willing to do that), but if my husband isn't on board, it's not happening... it's obviously not important enough to him that I stay home (as many times as he's reminded that I need to be here!)!

Somehow I am keeping my home in order while working full time while losing too many hours of sleep and STILL functioning like a sane person. I am just glad the chemicals are just right in my head because losing it isn't an option (my husband loses it enough around here and he has a fraction of my workload).

Thanks for this post and for all the added advice in your comments.

Bird said...

I'll throw in my little bit too. I was married last July, and thrilled to be able to stay at home. It was the hardest thing, to be lonely, by myself, feeling shunned from other women my age who couldn't understand what I did all day and who worked outside the home to make ends meet.
By Christmas, I was bored. Really. I had made baby quilts, and decorated our new home, and cooked good meals, was available for the few women who stay at home, and tried to be active, but mostly I was bored. My husband and I want to establish our marriage before having children.
Well, now it's January, and as a step of faith I started a vet. technology degree part-time at a local college. As a couple we feel called to the mission field and I know that God will use my new degree in His service. I am so thankful for the time I had at home full-time, and am really looking forward to the time I can do it again.
However, let's not forget that it can be boring, especially for the young, childless wife, despite best efforts to make oneself available to others.

Jen @ Conversion Diary said...

I couldn't agree more. Great points.

This post is a must-read for any housewife who's ever been asked the infuriating question, "What do you do all day?" :)

The Color Nerd said...

What a wonderful and thoughtful article. Thank you so much, Lady Lydia, for laying it out for everyone to see just how much work goes into the day-to-day routine of a homemaker. I hope you don't mind if I print this out and let my mother and sister read it. My mother has been a homemaker ever since she married my father almost thirty years ago. Their marriage is such an inspiration to me. She homeschooled myself and my two younger siblings. We never came home to an empty house with a reminder on the fridge to do our chores and homework before she got home. During my very brainwashed "feminist" days, I thought my mother took up this occupation because she didn't feel like do anything more important with her life. Now that I am a wife to a wonderful, loving husband and the mother to a four-year-old son I am glad my situation permitted me to answer to life's highest calling.

My sister regularly accuses my mother and I of "sitting around all day long" and "not having a real job". I gently remind her that when her day ends at five o'clock, mine will not end until around midnight after my husband's lunch has been packed, clothes are laid out for the next day, my son has long since been asleep and everything is neat and orderly.

I love what you wrote about your upbringing. It sounds a lot like my own. Any time I got upset and cried to my mother that one of my siblings or the dog destroyed one of my toys she would promptly ask, "well, where did you leave it? Did you leave it out on the floor where they could get to it?" Did that ever teach me to put my possessions away when I was finished with them!

Thank you for the wonderful article. Bless you.