In the shadowy stillness, I slip out of bed and settle onto the couch, sipping coffee as the first hints of daylight slip through the window. It’s just before 6 am, and if I’m lucky, I have about an hour before my eight-month-old son wakes up and starts our action-packed day. From stroller walks and grocery runs to playtime and dinner prep, a lot can happen in one day. And as I’m sure many of my fellow moms will attest, it takes a boatload of energy.
My daily routines pre-and post-new baby look pretty different. In the past, I worked in a world of deadlines and scheduled meetings. And while I still try to organize my time (designated laundry days preserve my sanity!), life is much less predictable now, and “productivity” has a new meaning. (In fact, as I write this sentence, I am dictating into my phone while pushing a stroller!)
I have never regretted my decision to stay at home in order to dedicate myself to the care of my family and home. I love it just as much if not more than my previous routine, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Still, I’ve had several conversations with my fellow moms (working full-time, part-time, or freelancing like myself) about the reality of “mom guilt”—that tension between professional aspirations and family urges.
Most of us, regardless of our career paths, are eager to make our homes happy and comfortable places. But given the intensity of many job situations, on top of the cultural pressure on women to prioritize academic and professional achievement over homemaking, that is easier said than done. Even after embracing life as a full-time homemaker, I’ve had moments where I found it hard to be proud of, since our society so rarely honors, encourages, or supports this lifestyle.
During my moments of doubt, I wondered on the one hand, Am I ambitious enough? Should I take on more work? And, on the other hand, Am I giving enough attention to my family? Could I be taking care of home better? Like so many women I’ve met, I wanted some kind of work that would engage me intellectually without detracting from my family life.
For me, the solution lies in how I view my work as a homemaker: not as a roadblock, but as an avenue.
I realized that while I might not have a profession outside the home, my profession is the home. And more than just any profession, homemaking is an art, science, and discipline that sustains the joy of family life.
This is not to say anything against women who choose to work part or full-time while raising a family. I know several women who are pursuing that path and doing excellent work, and I admire them greatly for it. As our society has thankfully acknowledged, women pursuing careers outside the home is a very good thing. What isn’t good is when women who would love to be full-time homemakers, and who would be financially capable of doing so, feel pressured to work outside the home in order to satisfy some external pressure, such as to “put their degree to good use,” pursue “personal development,” or “contribute to society.”
Any of these goals could be legitimate reasons to work outside the home, but they also could be perfectly good reasons to be a full-time homemaker. The number of physical and intellectual skills that go into running a household are almost endless. The financial strategy behind maintaining a budget, the hospitality management to entertaining guests, the chemical knowledge behind sanitizing laundry and bathrooms—not to mention the physical dexterity and endurance required to chase small children—are just a few examples that come to mind. Homemaking need not stunt education when it contains countless fields of study! And what better way to contribute to society than to raise the next generation in a loving, happy home?
Whether or not I go back to a full-time career, I believe that I can grow as a professional right now in my position as a homemaker. That belief inspired me to start a blog where I can organize, articulate, and share the homemaking lessons I learn along the way.
My hope is to encourage other wives and moms to see the work of the home as noble and ennobling. Whatever our professional circumstances may be, those household tasks need to get done, so why not do them with a sense of professionalism and purpose? What’s more, learning how to sharpen my homemaking skills can make those essential tasks more efficient, less stressful, and even enjoyable. And if I can find fulfillment, growth, and joy right here in the work I do at home, that’s an opportunity I don’t want to miss.