I love being a homemaker and I feel completely fulfilled and satisfied, yet I have noticed that many women feel that if they "just stay home", that some how their job is just not as important as when they worked outside of the home and I often hear that they feel that they are just “not good at it”. On top of this, many women feel the pressure of their family (and friends) to contribute financially, especially in recent times when prices seem to only rise and incomes stay the same, jobs security is low and unemployment is rising.
I remember when I was younger thinking that to be considered strong, hard working and confident I would have to have a high paying and respected job. Well, I sure didn’t get it, much to the disappointment of some; yet in many ways I believe my job, although low paying, and in many ways, not respected, is the foundation of not just my family, but also my community.
There have been times in my life, when I have taken contract work that has caused me to put in 8 hour days outside of the home for weeks (or months at a time), and although the financial pressure did ease, other pressures increased 10 fold. Now don’t get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for mothers that work full-time outside of the home. There are definitely some women whose God-given talents lead them into a variety of important jobs and there are some single-mothers that don’t even have the option, but there are also a huge group of mothers out in the workforce, who are there only because society as a whole puts so much pressure on families financially – having new cars, taking vacations, putting your children in extra-curricular sports, having hobbies are all expensive - almost all seemingly unobtainable on a single income. Yet, in the process of trying to keep up with the norm, much is being sacrificed. The breakdown of families and youth tells a sad story and shows that children and families are taking the brunt of everyone just trying to keep up.
Look back 50 years when a typical family lived on only one income – things were very different. Most families would have only one car, meaning you would only need to pay for one registration and insurance. Now, many families not only have vehicles for both adults and one (or two or three) for the older children in the home as well – often bought and insured by the parents. Homes were smaller on average, according to the National Association of Home Builders (Housing Facts, Figures and Trends for 2006) an average home in the 1950’s was 983 sq ft, by 1970 it was up to 1,500 sq ft, in 1990 2,080 sq ft and in 2004 a whopping 2,349 sq ft! The average house size has more than doubled! The concept of children sharing a bedroom or often even sharing a bathroom is no longer the norm, in many families each person not only has their own bedroom and bathroom, but also their own television set, dvd (or blue ray) and laptop and/or computer.
All of this has started me thinking about all the stuff I have, especially about all the stuff I want and if what we spend our money on, and what we have, really lines up with what our families priorities are. Keeping up with the norm on one income is not really achievable - but should it even be a goal anyways? In most cases I would say probably not, yet it is so easy to slide into a "wanting it all" mentality without even realizing it. To start thinking about newer and nicer vehicles, a bigger home with a perfect kitchen and lots of bathrooms that is out of town, nice vacations, new clothes, more lessons for the children and on and on and on.
So am I willing to give up some of that?
I guess for me, it really comes down to the fact that time with my children can just never be replaced, once time is gone that is it. I spent the first several years of their lives chasing societies dreams, enhancing my education, striving for a prestigious position in society, and not a day goes by that I do not look back and wish that I had done lots of it differently. I can not change the past, but I do have control over the present, and I believe that one of the best gifts my husband and our children is me staying home.
Being a homemaker, to me, is about making our house into a home. Making the lives of my family comfortable, and have them feel well cared for and well loved. I may not have a lot of formal job experience, but my life experiences are rich and I thank God everyday that I have been given this opportunity.