Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Some Thoughts on Housewifery

I've always been a bit uncomfortable about the term "housewife." I'm not sure I even really know what it means - doesn't it seem like such an old-fashioned word? Does it bring to mind some kind of 50's image of a smiling woman with a skinny waist in an apron and heels, spatula in hand? My first impulse is to become defensive when I feel I'm being categorized that way because I have such negative associations with that word. "Homemaker" or "Stay-at-home Mom" are less grating, but I kind of cringe at those labels, too.

The truth is, I left a really rewarding and exciting career when I gave birth to my daughter. I was fulfilling my life-long dream of being a professional actor and I had also discovered that I also had a talent and passion for teaching. It was really hard to leave that behind, but I have never regretted it because I REALLY wanted to be the best mom I could be and for me, that meant devoting myself full-time to raising my daughter.

My decision to stay home with Mayumi coincides with my desire to return to a more simple, creatively-fulfilling life. In addition to learning things of scholastic import I want to teach her the basic principles of self-sufficiency and an appreciation for things that are beautiful and uplifting. That means that when I'm doing loads of laundry she is there beside me turning the knobs on the washing machine and measuring out detergent. She sits up on the counter while I cook and prepare our meals; she'll crack eggs or stir batters or we'll just talk about food and nutrition. She mops after I vacuum, and we dust together. We work in the garden together. We try to do everything together, and sometimes that makes it more difficult and twice as long to complete. But there is value in that, isn't there? Does everything have to be so rushed?

At times I have felt guilty that there are many parents out there who don't have the "luxury" of staying at home with their children. I know I am truly lucky in that way, but to be honest, it's not as if my husband is making buckets of money and i'm indulging in consumer whims and/or sewing decorative yo-yos all day (though I'm not critisizing anyone who does that). But to be fair and completely honest, I do choose to allot some of my time to nurturing the creative soul within me. I thrive on creating, I need to create. I lost some of that power and opportunity when I left my day job and now I find myself seeking it through traditional crafting arts like knitting and sewing, or through gardening, or just by decorating my home and keeping it clean and organized. My favorite are the days we don't leave the house and instead, we lug out the sewing machine and spend the day making doll clothes or sewing a dress for a beloved cousin. Or we create a card-making factory with paper and glue and stickers all over the place. We could certainly just buy things and it would take less time and probably less money. But then Mayumi would never learn to sew a button or the value of good craftmanship and she may take for granted the time and effort and funds it requires to make a unique, beautiful something for someone she loves.

I recently read this post from Shivaya Naturals where Heather voices some gripes she has about people who marvel at all the free time she has to do crafty, creative things. Her concerns resonated with me and I just wanted to publicly lift my torch beside her and say "amen, sistah." This housewife is also just trying to make this world a happier, more beautiful place - starting right here at home.


allison said...

What a fantastic post. I'm not a mother, but I've always wanted to be able to stay home with my children if I have them. My parents were able to work on a schedule where one of them was always home with us (while still having careers) and I would definitely have to do that as a mother.

The terms "housewife," etc bother me too, just because they sound so trivial. I love that you're taking time to be with your daughter and spend your days doing meaningful, creative things with her, because those are truly memories for you and her to cherish - I know my mom and I do, and we're still best friends!

This Girl loves to Talk said...

ha! I just blogged about this same thing yesterday!

I've found that with four kids I have started to take over doing everything (because its easier and quicker!) I too used to sit my first child (and second) on the bench and get them to cook and clean with me, but it got harder somewhere.

I also discovered this list from a book called breathrough parenting about what kids should be able to do at certain ages. It shocked me as my almost 10 year old certainly cant do some of the things on the list!!

I've recently just discovered your blog through your motherhood entry on rockstar diaries and I love it!!

MamaQ said...

thanks allison and "girl loves to talk" - i was worried about coming off a bit self-righteous, but i just wanted to share some honest thoughts about how i spend my time at home with my daughter. parenting is so tough and there is so much to learn and adjust to every single day. i just hope maya feels the same way about me as allison does with her mom! that is so lovely to hear!

Laura Elizabeth Fredlund said...

Thank you so much for this post! I too, am fortunate to be with my little ones full time. I'm beginning to not "rush" things, so my son can help me. I find it very rewarding, for the both of us.

Glocal Girl said...

Although I can't relate (I'm not yet a mother... someday!) I understand the need to express yourself creatively. So often we care for others, our families, our partners, our parents.. that we just need that emotional outlet to 'create' something! I admire your dedication and sacrificing your career for your daughter. She has a great role model to look up to!