Recently I read “All Joy and No Fun,” a book that, according to its subtitle, explores “the paradox of modern parenting.” Award-winning journalist Jennifer Senior’s book is full of all kinds of interesting statistics about current and past family, parenting and cultural trends. One piece of information that really grabbed my attention was the description of the evolution of the title claimed by (or assigned to?) women who, after having children, do not work outside the home: housewife in the early 20th century, homemaker middle of the century, and stay-at-home mom in the early 90’s and beyond.
As I read this section of the book, I found myself intrigued by the title homemaker and thinking, “whether I am working or not, and regardless of the fact that we’ve made our way well into the 21st century, I want to be a homemaker.”
Now, bear with me. I know it’s archaic sounding, calling to mind images of women in gingham dresses and starched aprons, feeding their perfectly-pigtailed children salisbury steak and mashed potatoes. I decidedly don’t want that life profile. But I do want my home to be a haven, a place where people feel welcomed and loved, a place where I feel calm and content, a place where happy memories are made and kept, and a place where all who enter can have their tanks filled (emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally) so that they leave energized and ready to take on the world. I understand that these things don’t necessarily happen in a home naturally; someone has to make them happen.
A homemaker makes them happen.
I don’t have any plans to quit my day job, but considering the title and description of a different life path—one that intrigues and interests me—is very orienting. It reminds me of my values and dreams, and it guides my use of free time and the emotional energy that I don’t devote to my career.
Maybe I’m only one of a handful of people who like the idea of being a homemaker. But my guess is that the road not taken has a very specific shape for many individuals. Maybe it’s a creative path, like photography, music or dance. Maybe it’s a path connected with a passion of ours: wedding planning, interior design or caring for animals. It’s worth considering what alternative job descriptions we’d like to inhabit, because once identified, we can figure out how to incorporate aspects of those dreams into our ordinary lives, adding some fun and variety to the everyday, and also helping us claim a different side of our multifaceted identities.
Teresa lives in Providence, Rhode Island, where she works as a Director of Faith Formation at a Catholic Church and dabbles in hospital chaplaincy. She has a BA in English, a Master’s in Divinity, and a passion for thinking about the intersection of spirituality, self-improvement, and well-being. Her perfect day includes slowly savoring a morning cup of coffee, reading for work and for fun, and receiving snail mail.