My Shame in Being a Homemaker

by Daisy

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As far back as I remember, all I’ve ever wanted to be was a homemaker.

And for all that time, I’ve been ashamed of it.

Perhaps I was born at the wrong time.

During the era when I was growing up, in the 1970s, being a homemaker was being devalued. It’s never been a high status profession, but it had once been a respectable one, and indeed formerly there were few alternatives for women.

And before we knew it, women had to go to work to hold body and mind together; the two-income family became seemingly the only formula that would allow for survival.

But beginning in early childhood, the tasks of homemaking were what I always loved: baking pans of bran muffins and learning to bake loaf bread, and helping my mother make preserves, wonderfully syrupy preserves because she couldn’t bring herself to use all the sugar the recipe called for (I can’t either).

Adults would brag on my cooking, and it made me feel self-conscious for being so backwards. “She made the pie crust from scratch!” they would say, as if I’d grown the grain, winnowed it myself, ground it between two rocks, and milked the cow that gave the butter.

“She planted her own garden,” they’d announce, eyes wide. Bless her heart, would be the implication.  Maybe she can get a job at one of those reenactment museums.

I was an anachronism in a world where smart young girls were going to train for careers and become professionals in jobs in which having the time to grow a garden and roll out pastry would not be possible, or desirable.

Then in the eighties, I went out into the world and went to college, trying to decide on a career path, as they call it. I inwardly only wanted a home, and a garden, and a family. Trying to find a career that would leave room for these desires wasn’t easy. In fact, I never really found it.

All my life I’ve felt guilty for following this need, this irrepressible want to grow, to create, and to write about it. I should be at the top of a lucrative profession by now. I should be using my education. I should definitely be driving a newer car.

I feel very stubborn for ignoring the shoulds and following the wants. For filing shovel blades and gathering mushrooms when I should be filing reports and gathering data, for raising sourdough when I should be getting raises at work. I should be stepping into a Lexus in a suit instead of hopping into a station wagon in muddy jeans.

I would be a real, responsible adult then.

I would be successful.

I wouldn’t be wasting my time and energy making pie from scratch when I could be buying it from Mrs. Callender’s.

I wouldn’t be me.

As we left the land and handed it over to agribusiness, as we left the kitchen and turned it over to industrial food processing corporations, we did so with such disdain for gardening and cooking. Our parents worked hard to see we could get a higher education and didn’t have to spend our lives breaking our backs with menial labor. And I’m grateful they did, because it’s wonderful to have a choice. It’s wonderful to have the capability to become physicists or teachers or businesspeople, and we need those professionals.

I’m afraid, though, we threw the baby out with the bathwater. We also still need homemakers and farmers, and there should be no shame in that. No disappointment.

In the words of Wendell Berry, “. . . we must learn again to think of human energy, our energy, not as something to be saved, but as something to be used and to be enjoyed in use. We must understand that our strength is, first of all, strength of body, and that this strength cannot thrive except in useful, decent, satisfying, comely work. There is no such thing as a reservoir of bodily energy. By saving it—as our ideals of labor-saving and luxury bid us to do—we simply waste it, and waste much else along with it.” (The Unsettling of America, Counterpoint Edition, 2015, p. 224).

Maybe one day I’ll be able to say, I’m a homemaker and a home gardener, without a lingering feeling of having let myself down.

The pendulum swings back and forth.

Meanwhile, there’s homemade pie, and that will easily tide me over until then.

Here’s the recipe: Rustic Berry Tart

 

 

 

 

 



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{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

Elizabeth Vega August 18, 2016 at 2:35 pm

Just describe everything as “artisanal,” “small-batch,” and “locally hand-crafted,” and the drivers of the Lexi will find you fascinating.

The rest of us already do!

The baby has indeed been thrown out with the bath water, and I’m grateful for the trending return to self-sufficiency, and to people like you for showing the rest of us the way!

Daisy August 18, 2016 at 2:53 pm

Elizabeth Vega–Haha, don’t forget fair trade and free-range!

Karen hornsten August 18, 2016 at 3:20 pm

And just look where it’s gotten us…..this need for material things, busy lives, and two incomes…..overweight people eating fast food and prepackaged and quick meals. This topic is a stinger for me because being a mom and homemaker was and is the most important job in the world. My first child was born in the mid sixties, second early seventies, and last mid seventies. I worked part time at a school when my last child was in fourth grade. Great hours and vacations. I always gardened organically, taught my children the same. Today they are all college educated, but still two of them are stay at home moms. The third, a doctor, keeps her children as priorities. All my children and 13 Grandkids value organic food,read labels, and believe that the number one priority is their children. I am Sooo proud of them. They are living examples of what motherhood is meant to be. And I too am proud I raised them that way. Karen Hornsten …….. by the way, I got my AA degree when I was 50. Let’s put it all in perspective. Be proud of that very difficult job of being a mom and homemaker!!!!!

Daisy August 18, 2016 at 3:36 pm

Karen Hornsten–You should be proud. I hope to teach mine the same. Thank you.

Valerie Fanning August 18, 2016 at 5:31 pm

If you could only feel my yearning for the life you have. I would give everything to be a stay at home mom and have the time and energy to do the things you do. To have a garden and bake from scratch. I think you did the brave thing, the thing that I think you would be surprised at how many women want but because of circumstances is out of reach. You are lucky to have found a man that is willing to support you in your choice. You shouldn’t feel like you let yourself down, you should feel proud that you had the strength of character to follow your heart.

Daisy August 18, 2016 at 6:23 pm

Valerie Fanning–I’m trying, thank you for your insight, and I hope one day you will have what you yearn for.

Leslie August 19, 2016 at 5:26 am

I was in the working world until I had my son. I got a lot of grief for leaving my nice cushy county job to be a stay at home mom – from other women. Frankly, I have never worked harder in my life. There are no vacations, no sick pay and its 24/7, BUT I get paid in kisses and hugs. Being a stay at home mom and a homemaker is the most soul satisfying thing I have ever done.

Kimer August 19, 2016 at 5:26 am

I walk right there with you! Now we/re living in a duplex with no yard and I’m about to die!

Sallie August 19, 2016 at 7:07 am

And now we have no idea how to sew on a button. I think the pendulum is moving the other way. We all want to eat cleaner and fresher and local. My guys are starting to ask me about how I made their dinner. I send them to the farmers market for veggies. I am not good at growing veggies…we would starve if it was my job to feed us from a food garden. I can grow other things, but a tomato, not so much. I can make a pound cake and breads, but not meringue or biscuits. We all have our talents.

gottecat August 19, 2016 at 7:52 am

hugs. I am the same way. so thankful for my husband who goes to work so I can be home. that he doesn’t complain and wish we had a second income. that he is as adamant as me that home is the best place for me?

Michelle Elbert August 19, 2016 at 8:13 am

Thank you! I thought I was the only woman who felt this way. From wanting my own home and garden while I was in college getting a degree that I only used for two years to the angst over whether or not I am a real adult – you nailed my thoughts and feelings. Thanks for letting me know I am not the only person out there who finds greater satisfaction in taking a warm pie out of the oven than sitting behind a desk all day.

Shawna Pine August 19, 2016 at 8:59 am

What Valerie said! I feel we were duped by the feminist movement in the 60s and 70s. All we have to show for it are increased expectations by others and of ourselves. There is no shame in making the choice to be a homemaker. I sincerely wish I had that option. Instead, I rush around each day trying to be the mother I want to be to my children, the dedicated, trustworthy employee, the gardener, baker, sewer and cooker. I love digging in the dirt and making things with my hands and I don’t think I should have to give them up because I have a full time job. Unfortunately, my husband feels neglected all the time because I pass out with the kids each night! There simply isn’t enough Shawna to go around. I try, but feel like I’m always letting someone down. And it hurts my heart that it’s often the person I chose to spend my life with. I don’t know if guilt is part of the female make-up, but it seems every woman feels it about one thing or another. Daisy, you are amazing and an inspiration to many. You better the lives of those around you (and others you don’t even know!) Is there really anything more important?

Ev August 19, 2016 at 9:04 am

Daisy, I love today’s post! I do identify with your feelings and way of life!!!
Can you believe that in 1965 the vocational counseling I received indicated that the top 3 career choices that matched my interests were in this order: Wife, Occupational Therapist (I didn’t know what this was), and Home Economics Teacher! I chose to get a Home Economics degree (plus education and administration certifications) and always felt a little embarrassed that it wasn’t as “good” a degree as those of the business folks, lawyers, doctors, engineers, math and english majors.
However I enjoyed teaching home economics, and this training served me so well a bit later as a wife and mother, and then–surprise–even as a school principal!!!
And I love gardening organically year ’round, making my own bread after milling my grain, etc, cooking healthy, really fun meals, and growing and making our herbal medicines that also keep us healthy!!
My interests are so different from those of most people I know, but I love this kind of life. Always a joy to be with others, and read about folks, with these shared interests!

Cinnamon Vogue August 19, 2016 at 10:37 am

Nothing wrong with being a Homemaker Daisy. In fact both men and women should be home makers. It is shocking how people have become industrial robots eating industrial food and then as they get old find out all the health problems without having really enjoyed life.

Elizabeth Vega in her comment summed it up best ” Just describe everything as “artisanal,” “small-batch,” and “locally hand-crafted,” and the drivers of the Lexi will find you fascinating. ” LOL.

Mary Lomax August 19, 2016 at 10:43 am

I chose to be a stay at home Mom in the 70s and 80s, and I know how much flack society gives women for doing that. I agree with the person who said that women were duped by the feminist movement. A truly strong woman does what her heart tells her to do, not what society or other women tell her to do. The real pioneers of the feminist movement are the ones who didn’t follow the dictates of that movement.

Suzelle August 19, 2016 at 6:25 pm

I live thousands of miles from you but for quite a few years now I’ve been reading your posts and recipes and I just love them and I wanted to take time to thank you and thank God that there are still homemakers like you in this world. It’s so comforting! Thank you ????

Lena August 19, 2016 at 6:56 pm

How wonderful it would be if women’s (and men’s) choices about whether to work outside or inside the home were truly valued and respected. We’ve been brainwashed that making a lot of money to buy things can replace parental attention to their children (which is what they crave the most), good meals, and knowing how to make do without having to pay someone else to sew the buttons, wash the clothes, grow the food, or cook it. The women’s movement allowed me to be a professional without kids, which is what I always wanted. As a step-grandmother of three, however, I’m very aware that the hardest work is being a full-time homemaker as Daisy described. Hats off to those men and women who do that!

Trisch August 19, 2016 at 9:13 pm

I thought I was the only one who bore this shame…

Chris Diehl August 20, 2016 at 7:02 am

I was shamed because I wanted to work and be in the Air Force. I still garden and cook from scratch and my two children are successful adults. They also cook from scratch. They don’t have any interest for gardening right now but they can do it if they want. Free will and the right to be who you are.

Diane Kloiber August 20, 2016 at 11:49 am

Thank you for writing this. As a proud “stay-at-home mom” & “homemaker” I appreciate hearing how much these very real professions should be valued!

Travis August 20, 2016 at 12:08 pm

You should try making the same life choices as a male, and then write blogs about the shame of growing, canning, pickling, brewing, and cooking everything from scratch. It’s pretty brutal having nothing in common with anyone your own age, on top of opposing a gender stereotype. I grew up spending a lot of time with my grandmother, as my mother wasn’t able to afford to stay at home. I learned many valuable life skills that way, and I am much better for it. Keep doing what you love and fight the good fight! As a female in that situation, I’m sure you get little more than sneers and perplexed looks. For a male that works AND is a home maker, you really do get ostracized by your peers. I can’t fathom how much worse it would be as a stay at home father.

Michelle August 20, 2016 at 1:52 pm

I love what you said in this post as it is how I have felt my entire life! I have always been a stay at home mom (of 13) and always wanted to live on a farm ( which I did for a while and loved! ) but still grow our own vegetables and have many herbs to use medicinally. When my children were younger and there wasn’t extra money in the budget to buy a new quilt..i figured out how to make my own..and many other crafts from things I had around the home or could find cheaply. I have loved my life so much but as my youngest child gets ready to go to school all day this year, I find myself wondering what this next phase of my life will be like and how I can use my talents I have cultivated my whole life as a stay at home mom. I do know for sure that I love being a mom and making things so that will be in the formula for sure. It was so good to hear that there are others who love being at home raising kids ( all the good , bad , and crazy but also funny and extreme love) and keeping a house and home!

Janie August 20, 2016 at 2:53 pm

I agree wholeheartedly with your post, and would like to say…Where are all the women like us? I crave friendship with other women like us and they are few and far between, for sure.
Be proud of yourself, the person you are and the life you lead…few are happy these days, and I truly believe you have to be closer to God where you are!
Hugs

Terry K. August 20, 2016 at 3:01 pm

I was in that boat. Went to college, got a job, raised my kids on the run. Eventually became a foster parent and ended up with a second family. On adoption day I decided that on the day I retired, I would start to live the life I always wanted in the first place. Became eligible to retire the end of August. Problem is my husband died the first of February. Now I’m retired and have the time and income to do what I always wanted to, but it isn’t the same alone. Moral of my story: Find a way to do what you want. Don’t wait until it is too late.

Sharon August 20, 2016 at 4:01 pm

Daisy, there is NO shame in being a Homemaker! I envy you, to tell the truth. I think that a lot of people have gotten locking into the ideal of everyone needs to be slave to the money god. Yes, we need enough to live comfortably on, but what good is the stress of ‘more, more, more’? I do work outside the home, but try to do as much ‘real stuff’ around here as I can. Sometimes I do a better job of it then others. But isn’t there a profound comfort in the fact that you know how to do so many things that the suit and fancy car, 9-5 crowd can’t even begin to figure out for themselves? There is for me. And if anyone wants to look down their nose at me because I bake my own bread, pies, cookies, cook real food that doesn’t come out of a box or can, can knit and sew, plant and grow, then so be it. Their problem not mine. I don’t look down on any of them because they chose a different path then I did. If we were all the same the world would be a boring place, not to mention that there would be a lot of stuff that couldn’t/didn’t get done. I worked with a man that said it the best…….the boss was pushing that EVERYONE needs a collage education (he, by the way, doesn’t have one) and after several of the conversations, when he had walked away, this other co-worker looked at me and said “The world still needs ditch diggers!” I guess my take on it has always been not everyone needs an ‘outside’ career, and not everyone was cut out to be a homemaker.

Daisy August 20, 2016 at 4:03 pm

I still get comments (accusations) of being ‘lazy’ by my in-laws as I’ve been a housewife, homemaker, stay-at-home-mother our 18+ years of marriage.

It’s a challenge to feel proud of all the great things you accomplish when you have nay-sayers, demeaning remarks and negative feedback. I would like to see them accomplish all that I do!

I cook/bake from scratch daily with fresh ingredients: I garden organically that provides a large amount of produce for our meals; I preserve fruit, veg and herbs by jam/chutney making, dehydrating, freezing, fruit liquors; make eco-friendly products for home and personal use; hand make personal/household items and gifts of quilting, crochet, knitting, etc.; I don’t farm out any domestic chores like ironing, house-cleaning, lawn maintenance, decorating, etc. like they do; along with all the other tasks of my daily/weekly/monthly/seasonal life. I try to live my life in the most eco-friendly way while providing a healthy, comfortable, thrifty home as possible.

I am so wonderfully, fabulously, contentedly, productively busy being ‘a lazy housewife’ that I don’t have time to watch TV , have my nails/hair done every month, go to the gym, go out regularly for shopping trips/nights out, or have to pay strangers to do my home tasks for me. I love my life!

Their lives and their choices are their own. I personally would be very unhappy living their lives, but feel they have to right to live their lives the way they choose. Why do they feel the need to condemn my/our life choices?

I say, Be yourself! Follow your dreams and heart! Make the world a better place! Make sure your loved ones feel loved and appreciated! Look at the world with tolerance and grace! Be proud of who you are and what you’ve accomplished!

Daisy August 20, 2016 at 9:44 pm

Sharon–Yes, I do find comfort and simple pleasure in those things, and I appreciate your pointing it out. I guess I take it for granted. And I’m afraid when people act astonished at some of what I consider very basic skills, I sort of assume it’s meant in a sort of patronizing sense. But I’m going to try and take it at face value. Maybe they really do think it’s great that I can sew, or whatever. I applaud you for being able to do both.

Daisy August 20, 2016 at 9:50 pm

Terry K.–Thank you for sharing your story. I’m so sorry. I will take your words to heart, and many blessings to you.

Daisy August 20, 2016 at 9:52 pm

Janie–I think we’re all busy in the garden or the kitchen! But seriously, here in the suburbs, isolation is built into the design of the neighborhoods and it’s hard to form connections where we live. Thank you for your kind words.

Daisy August 20, 2016 at 10:08 pm

Michelle–There are a lot of us, it seems, but we may not be very vocal. I know it isn’t my tendency to get on much of a soapbox in person. I’m probably afraid of offending someone without meaning to. It’s very satisfying to do what you feel you’re meant to do, whatever that is.

Daisy August 20, 2016 at 10:13 pm

Travis–I can only imagine. It’s tough going against the grain. I applaud you for doing it anyway. We shouldn’t have to be what we are not.

Daisy August 20, 2016 at 10:14 pm

Diane Kloiber–It is a profession! Thank you.

Daisy August 20, 2016 at 10:16 pm

Chris Diehl–I’m so sorry you were shamed for that. It works both ways, doesn’t it? Thank you for your side of the story.

Daisy August 20, 2016 at 10:21 pm

Lena–Thanks so much. I’m definitely glad the women’s movement opened up our choices. Hopefully it will all balance out someday so those who want to enter non-traditional professions and those who want to stay at home will be equally respected.

Daisy August 20, 2016 at 10:23 pm

Suzelle–Thank you, and thank you for being a reader from afar! Hi! I’m waving!

Daisy August 20, 2016 at 10:26 pm

Mary Lomax–I’m not sure I can claim strength, just wired this way and stubborn. 🙂

Daisy August 20, 2016 at 10:29 pm

CV–So true, sadly. Duped. And yes, it’s all in the marketing . . .

Daisy August 20, 2016 at 10:31 pm

Ev–Well, I guess that voc. counseling had your number! Have you ever considered OT? Ha. So true, when we do find others who share our interests, it’s a lot of fun.

Daisy August 20, 2016 at 10:35 pm

Shawna Pine–Thank you, dear! And whoa, you’re bringing home the bacon and frying it up in a pan, aren’t you? (If you remember that commercial, you’ll date yourself like I am!) And ah, guilt, my old friend.

Daisy August 20, 2016 at 10:37 pm

Michelle Elbert–Sometimes I wonder if we should take a poll, and ask who feels like a grown up. Ack, now I want pie.

Daisy August 20, 2016 at 10:39 pm

gottecat–Aw, you got a good ‘un. Hug back.

Daisy August 20, 2016 at 10:40 pm

Sallie–Good for your guys. Maybe get them to grow the veg???

Daisy August 20, 2016 at 10:42 pm

Kimer–Aw, Kimmer! I’m so sorry. Container gardening is not the same, is it? You can make it.

Julie Hahn August 22, 2016 at 4:43 am

Blessed are the nurturers – whether they nurture people or plants or animals or the land, for they ensure that there will be a world to inherit. Thank you for being home-makers, farmers and others who care.

Charlotte Spears August 26, 2016 at 8:06 am

I loved this post!!! I have both worked outside the home and have had years to be blessed to stay at home working as a homemaker. My mother was always a full-time homemaker and always said that was the BEST work she could have ever done on this earth! She had worked as a secretary in the six years of her marriage before I was born, but was so very glad to hang up her typewriter and teletype machine when I came along. She never went back to the office again. This poem was her very favorite and summed up exactly how she felt about her carreer at home:

Just a Housewife

They call me “just a housewife”
And I’m surely glad indeed
That God thought I’d be successful
In this work of love and need.

As I polish floors and windows
Stylish ladies pity me
But I wouldn’t trade them places
If there mansions were all free!

Some folks are quite successful
Kings of finance, so they say
And they seem to find their glory
Gathering gold along the way.

Let them have their golden moments
I’m not jealous of their life
For I feel just like a princess
When my husband calls me WIFE!

Yes, they call me “just a housewife”
But I’m more–much more, you see
I am keeper of a household
Which is “Home Sweet Home” to me.

I am rich in LOVE and loved ones
And I’m free from strain and strife
I’m so glad God thought me useful
Being just a plain HOUSEWIFE.
~Author Unknown

Daisy September 3, 2016 at 4:29 am

Charlotte Spears–I’ve never read that before, thank you for posting it! It has a lovely exuberance.

Michelle September 6, 2016 at 8:00 am

OH my GOODNESS my heart resonates so much with this. I was set up to be moderately successful, given what I went to college for: I finally, after four years of internships, landed a Respectable Job that I could have settled in for the next three decades.

I quit after a year to have my baby and take a 20-year maternity leave. My husband and I just bought a farm, and so now, instead of using my university training and writing books and doing something that I used to think of as “noteworthy,” I wake up at 4am to nurse the baby and spend my days feeding sourdough, learning how to sew and can, and selling goods at a farmer’s market. Some of my career-life friends don’t know how to relate to me anymore, and I COMPLETELY know that “oh how quaint” look you’re writing about.

But I wouldn’t give it up for the world. I don’t want to work all day and throw someone else’s food on the table to feed the family I barely know, using the money I made to allow other people to raise my kids…I don’t think anyone will come to the end of their life and say, “Oh, how I wish I had worked a few more hours of overtime.” Our housewife roles may be maligned by the modern media, but I feel like I can finally do what I’ve been made to do, and I am so thankful. We all get to choose how to live. Keep at it, and thank you for your post.

Daisy September 7, 2016 at 8:11 am

Michelle–You put it beautifully. Even on those days when I feel “someone else” could very possibly be doing a BETTER job taking care of/feeding my kids, I believe I’m doing what I was meant be doing! Thank you for sharing YOUR story.

Gracey September 7, 2016 at 11:06 am

No shame indeed! Although I spend my young married life working, I also was taught how to bake from scratch; grow and preserve my own vegetables and turn berries and pin cherries into jam; crab apples into jelly; and tomatoes into sauce.

There were many times I’d rather have been home in the garden, or with my kids instead in the office.

Retired now, but the only garden I have is flowers. Enough of our neighbours ply us with their garden harvests so I grow only things like swiss chard, spinach, tiny tom tomatoes and sometimes pole beans … those are things I do in pots on my deck.

Reading through some of your blog posts (ended up subscribing via feed) you just remind me of the life I grew up with. Very refreshing!

Esther White September 13, 2016 at 4:46 pm

I just love the insights shared here by both blogger and subscribers. I have to agree that the lady of the house has a crucial role to play in providing a safe harbour for the hearts that reside in her home. This is done in a variety of ways and is not always to do with bringing in a second income. Kudos Daisy and respect to the man that nurtures your dreams.

Daisy September 16, 2016 at 12:19 pm

Esther White–‘A safe harbour for hearts’, that is beautiful. Thank you.

Kim October 23, 2016 at 11:44 am

I was so moved by this post, I feel obligated to comment. I have always wanted to be a mother (I am one now, as well as a homemaker). As a young adult, people would ask me what I wanted to be, and I would answer ‘a mom’ and they would wait for the rest of the career path answer. I think there is still stigma about homemaking. But I don’t want to be anywhere else.

Regina May 1, 2017 at 12:36 am

Even in the fourth grade I knew I wanted this type of lifestyle but always felt uncomfortable expressing it. I was told it was impractical or that I was romanticizing the past. Whats wrong with slowing down a bit and being self sufficient? Its strange how feminism has given women in the west so many rights but also restricted individuality.

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