I pause for just a moment, every time I receive an obituary that notes that the deceased was a homemaker. I have always thought that this was a beautiful career to claim, and was glad that the departed individual’s family was proud to put that designation in the obituary. I was certain that most people agreed with me.
Until I heard someone comment that a person was “just” a homemaker.
As if that means that individual has no value, talent or ambition. As if that person does not accomplish anything with his or her life. As if that person is a waste.
It is not Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, but I have always thought that parents should be celebrated more than one day per year, anyway.
And I know that not all homemakers are women, but the person who was at home with me while I was growing up was my mother, and so this is for her, and for all of the other people working hard at home.
Being a homemaker is a huge calling and a giant responsibility. One of my friends, a stay-at-home mother of two, laughed out loud when someone asked her, “But what do you do all day?”
I am not yet raising my little boy, who is not due until July. But, as the oldest of four, I saw my mother work hard with all of us, and I have seen my friends with children run around their house all day and drop into bed, exhausted, at the end of it, so I want to give a shout out to all of the people who are “just” homemakers.
Because of my mother, I know what it is like to have someone wake me up with a smile in the morning, make me breakfast, have devotions with me, read me book after book, wash my clothes, correct my homework, take me to the park, drive me all over creation, sing silly songs with me and listen to my imagination. Someone was there to praise my terrible artwork and listen to my awkward poetry.
I never had to come home to an empty house, or spend day after day with a babysitter. I am thankful for the stability and the consistency I had in life.
Looking back, I am sure that my mother was exhausted every minute of every day spent running around after four children; I am sure she barely got a moment to herself and hardly had time to grab a bite, in between the feedings, dirty diapers, piles of laundry and bruised elbows and knees. But I never heard her complain.
Most of us have had our lives affected in a positive way by a homemaker.
Both of my grandmothers were homemakers, and I delighted in visiting their spick-and-span homes, eating their homemade goodies and dressing up in their antiquated finery.
I never once thought there was something wrong or inferior about the fact that these tremendous people in my life did not get up and head to a 9-to-5 job.
Because the very nature of being a homemaker means that the job never ends. Stay-at-home moms and dads can’t punch out at 5 o’clock. They can’t close the door with a smile and drive away at 8 a.m., leaving the screaming babies and the dirty dishes behind. Their weekends pan out just like their weekdays.
But, after talking with many of the wonderful people who have chosen to stay at home with their housework and children, I have come to the realization that they truly love it. They would not trade the hands-on raising of their kids for the world, and they see it as a service and a privilege, not a duty.
I used to judge my friends who listed “stay-at-home dad” or “housewife” as their Facebook careers. Because, as perhaps the “What do you do all day?” person was thinking, at the back of my mind was the idea that perhaps the friend just could not get a “real” job. That his or her college degree had been the reflection of dreams that had simply not come to fruition. Or that he or she had no goals in life, and was taking the leftovers.
But I couldn’t have been farther from the truth. Kids are exhausting. Housework never ends. Making food is hard work. Keeping a household running can be tedious. And I tip my hat to all of the homemakers and stay-at-home parents out there, for doing all of these things, every day, often without thanks or tangible pay.
Thank you, Mom, Grandma and Nana. You have shown me what it means to love and serve, and have taught me a valuable lesson.
Just because it is not Mother’s Day, Grandparents’ Day or Father’s Day does not mean that the people serving behind the scenes do not deserve a thank you, a pat on the back or a special smile, today.