My grandmother’s house is always clean. Even to this day, when she can’t get around much, it’s clean. She still makes dinner most evenings. She takes granddad’s plate to him, pours him an ice cold glass of milk, and then makes her plate. When she was in her prime, you wouldn’t see her sit down once during the holidays. She was in the kitchen all day, cleaning up while everyone sat down to eat, and then after almost all of us had left, she’d finally eat her food. She would tell us that she wanted to enjoy our company, so she wanted to clean up quickly and then she would sit down and enjoy her family.
Her household was her sanctuary. It was her priority. It was the one job that she was taught to do well, above all else. And you know what? She loved doing it.
I have to admit, being a housewife is not my greatest accomplishment. It is a daily learning experience for me. I am constantly learning new things about being a good wife, a good mother, and a good housekeeper. I am constantly becoming. And while we seem to have more distractions in today’s world, it’s no excuse.
Serving your family is just as much a needed skill in today’s society as is chopping wood, building fences, and being self-sufficient. And it’s almost looked down upon in our society of “everyone can do everything”. But I think there’s something to say about the touch of a woman. The gentleness, even the toughest of women can exuberate. The quiet spirit when making coffee before the sun rises, or kneading bread in the dead of winter.
Have we lost the joy of serving and tending to our families?
Maybe it looks like making your husband his dinner plate in the evenings, or teaching your children how to put their clothes away. Maybe it looks like sewing your husband’s ripped jeans, or even the simple act of freshening up before he gets home after a long day at work. Sometimes it looks like preserving summer’s garden bounty while your babies play in mud puddles—it looks like sweaty kisses and hard work with your hands in the dirt. Other times it looks like laying in bed with your son, talking about all the frogs and lizards he caught today, before his precious eyes fall asleep. Or maybe it’s the simple gesture of rubbing your husband’s back after a long day outside.
But more importantly, it means that you put your family first—before your career, before your wants, and before your homestead or feminist world views.
As I grow as a homesteader, I grow as a homemaker. And there is something that shifts with each passing day. While I often brag about how I tend to smaller livestock on my own and garden on my own, or how I’m a strong and independent woman, the reality is that I am just as any other woman. I am just as any other wife who loves to lean on her husband at times, and who has a husband who willingly allows me to. Because he is just as any other man who values the simplicity of a woman. I am a woman who wants to be loved and who wants to love, but who is not afraid to work alongside of her husband, nor one who needs validation from him. For me, in all of these years of marriage and few years of motherhood, I have grown to realize that I fall more and more in love with homemaking everyday—with serving my family every day. As each year passes, I get a little better with housework…with home cooked meals…with having a clean kitchen and getting the laundry done.
Many people criticize a modern homemaker. The belief that we don’t have a job or that we sit home and twiddle our thumbs all day is often heard. And while I do have a work from home position, I find my mind wandering more and more to the daily life of serving my household with joy. I find myself wishing I had more time to tend to the ways of my household. I find myself making more time to tend to the ways of my household.
And do you know what is most beautiful? The art of this lost skill, and the joy that abounds within it.
There is so much joy in stepping back and looking at a clean kitchen before bedtime, knowing you won’t be stressed come morning when it’s time to make lunches for those leaving early, and breakfast for those staying home.
There is so much joy in providing your family with home cooked meals that provides necessary nutrients for their body.
There is so much joy in knowing that you’ve put away canned goods for the winter time, or that the wood stove is going for when the boys come inside from working hard, or that they will never be in want of clothing, because you can mend them. “When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.” Proverbs, 21:21
There is so much joy in knowing that your husband and children have clean clothes in their closets and drawers. Though, this is one of my hardest chores to complete. I’m a work in progress, what can I say.
There is equally as much joy in teaching your little girls to be helpful, but hard workers as well, and to teach your little boys to be hard workers with loving spirits….and that it’s always ok to love on those you love.
And there is no greater joy than having your husband wrap his arms around you and say, “thank you for joyfully serving our family”. Or having your children hug you and say, “mom, that was the best meal I’ve ever had.”
Through out scripture there were many strong women, many homemakers, many warriors. We all had a place, it was always a different place. But if one thing connected all of us, it is that we made sure we tended to our families and served them if we had a husband and children. I consider homemaking one of the greatest treasures you can provide your children. A testimony of unconditional love and self-giving. A trait that not only builds your character, but theirs. A skill that provides your children with organization, and the knowledge to know how to survive. Because after all, a good homemaker isn’t just doing it all, she’s an example to all.
Listen, we all fail. I fail every single day at being a homemaker. We always fail in some way or another. Some days I am short tempered, I just hide it well. Some days I am ready to throw in the towel and say forget about it. Some days I don’t want to do it—some days I wake up at 4:30 a.m. to send my husband off to work, and I moan and groan about being up at the butt crack of dawn. Yes, I just said butt crack of dawn. I’m normal…sue me…
But the older I get, the more joy I find it this homemaking skill. Is it a gender role? Certainly. I firmly (spiritually and scientifically) believe that women are more unconditionally loving than men. We are more emotional and tender-hearted. We are driven by different desires. I believe that women offer a character trait and gender trait that a men cannot provide. Just as I feel that men offer character traits and gender traits that women cannot provide. We were created differently in God’s eyes so that we could fit together and fill the empty spots that the other lacks, or be full-filled by the overflowing cups that the other sustains—our cup runneth over. But I also believe that we all must work together in the grand scheme of things.
So today, as I challenge myself to continue to grow in the lost skill of serving my family, I encourage you to join me if being a successful homemaker is something you desire. It has taken me many years to finally “desire” to be a homemaker—to love the job of wife, mom, homemaker, homesteader, personal chef, chicken wrangler, harvester, and preserver. It’s not just about putting away laundry and wiping runny noses. It’s not just about making home cooked meals and mopping the floor. It’s about serving.
It’s about knowing the ins and outs of home medical needs. It’s about knowing the best ways to preserve and sustain. It’s about understanding the need to have organization, and a servants heart. And for the past several years (since having a child), it is something I have grown in, and will always grow in, because joy overflows in the midst of it all, and I am forever a student.
That very same joy runs deeply through the veins of our entire household, pumping life into each limb. When our household is in order, all of us are in order. Our minds are less cluttered, there is less tension, there is more time to spend quality time together.
Serving your family isn’t something to be ridiculed, but something to be honored, embraced, and perfected as a skill, especially if you’re on a journey of homesteading.
And if nothing more, who doesn’t enjoy having a clean house, a home cooked meal, and a happy husband and children.