Image by Tramidepain, used with Creative Commons License, edited by Mydnyht Rantings
I didn’t always want to be a homemaker or a stay-at-home mom. In fact, the first career I ever recall aspiring to was that of a Catholic priest when I was at the tender age of four (my father told me I would be the first female Catholic priest; my mother told me women can’t be priests. She was raised Catholic and he converted. Can you tell?). After that, I wanted to be an artist. Then a paleontologist. Then I went back to wanting to be an artist, although since I was no longer five and had started to think about college, I more specifically wanted to be an animator. The closer I got to college age, though, the more I wanted to be a mother. If I had unlimited funds to provide for a child, I probably would have tried to have or adopt children right after high school (as ill advised as such a far-fetched dream may have been, the only obstacle in my mind between myself and being a mother was lack of money). I remember getting to a point where I realized that a “career” was only a means to an end for me – I would work until I was either married or had enough of a savings cushion that I could be a single stay-at-home mom. What motivated me was my love for children and my craving for motherhood – being a homemaker was on the back burner at the time. My mother had encouraged my brother and I to help keep a clean house and I was a relatively neat person unless my depression was getting the better of me, so I didn’t think much about keeping house. It was just something you did in addition to other things, and never my sole focus.
Once I was unable to work, therapy and socializing (which was important to help me get out of my negative and anxiety-ridden headspace) were my main focuses. I was consumed with my repressed memory and living in fear of a flashback, desperately wanting to get out of the house where I suspected I had been violated as a child because it was so triggering. I helped out around the house because it was what I had always done, and because it gave me some sense of contributing even if it wasn’t financially. It wasn’t until I started dating my now fiancée that I gave any consideration to being a homemaker as a primary occupation. Early on in our pre-relationship discussions, she stated that she was fine with me not being able to work because it meant when we had children that someone would be home with them, and she hated the idea of putting her children in daycare. When we first moved in together and people asked what I did for work, she would quickly chime in that I took care of our needy dogs and kept the house running ship-shape, something she couldn’t imagine doing on top of holding down two jobs between the both of us. This avoided the embarrassing admittance that I, in fact, could not work. My motivations for being a homemaker – or, in fact, my desire to label myself as a homemaker in the first place – were changing. Keeping house was no longer something I did on the side: it was a full time occupation and it was how I shouldered part of the responsibilities of adult life. My fiancée worked and was the primary financial provider for our family, and I made sure that the housework was kept up with, fresh bread was made twice a week, and a from-scratch dinner was on the table every night. I was keeping house to provide for my family, not just as an afterthought.
If I had a Titus 2 mentor, someone who would school me in the ways of Biblical womanhood, she would tell me that my primary motivation for being a homemaker would be G-d, and my secondary motivation would be to create a welcoming haven for my husband and family. If I produced more goods than my household consumed, my primary motivation would likely be sustainability, a la the radical homesteading movement popularized in the recent economic downturn. While I can’t say I believe that a woman’s G-d given calling is to care for the home under the jurisdiction of her father and then her husband (in fact, the concept can be a bit creepy under a certain light), it is nice to know that in some circles the work I do is highly valued and seen as important, and even spiritual. Eventually I would like to expand our small porch garden so that we have more output, and get into canning and otherwise preserving the summer harvest so that we can incorporate more and more from-scratch items into our kitchen. We try to be eco-friendly and make things other than food from scratch as well, such as household cleaners and laundry detergent. But religious conviction and sustainability aside, I would say that my primary motivation at the moment to be a homemaker is to provide for the well-being of my family. I’m not engaged to a man and thus I’m not under anyone’s headship – it’s our choice that one of us works and the other stays home, and those roles are not dictated by Biblical authority. In fact, once the kids we plan on having are school age, I’d like to do some work outside the home. Nonetheless, keeping things running smoothly on the home front is something I’m proud to be doing, especially since it benefits my fiancée and our pet babies. My motivation for keeping house is to benefit my family, and although it might not fit in with the goals of other Christian homemakers, it’s good enough motivation for me.