Jun 6, 2011

Keeping a home

"A woman's place is in the home."

Growing up in the '60s and '70s, even in a conservative, traditional family, I was surrounded by enough feminism to reject that statement (and the verse in Titus 2 that is its basis) as sexist and demeaning. And let's face it - those words were usually uttered to "put women in their place" by men who didn't truly understand their role or the role of women.

So I grew up, got married, and a few years later we had baby #1. And then I went back to school. A few years later, we had baby #2 and I had two B.S. degrees (finance and accounting) and a handful of plum job offers to choose from. I eagerly joined the workforce and charged into 70-hour workweeks and jetting off to exotic locales like...Kansas. And Iowa. And western Texas. And eastern Kentucky. (Apologies to those living in rural areas: your states are lovely in a pastoral sort of way, but visiting pipelines and coal mines isn't exactly glamorous.) But I found my niche in the HR field, and I enjoyed the challenges of my job, at least most days.

At long last, baby #3 came along, along with yet another rung on the career ladder. The juggling act became more precarious as I tried to have it all, be it all, do it all. A nanny helped a lot: she cleaned and laundered and chauffeured my munchkins around during the day, and I took the reins at night, trying to make sure we had wholesome meals and family time squeezed in between ball games, church and school functions.

Finally, eleven years ago, I stood at a crossroads: career? Or home? I took the road that is less-traveled these days: to stay at home.

It was counter-intuitive: oldest son was entering high school, middle son was in middle school and the baby was off to kindergarten. At a time when most women would be plunging back into the workforce, I quietly exited it.

For over a decade, my days have been filled with chauffeuring kids to and from school, ball, church and friends. I have been blessed by a chance to work from home, in a field I have no formal training in but an abiding love and passion for (gardening), and have been able to weave work and family together to form my days (and nights) for many years.

Even still, for many years I didn't consider myself a "keeper of the home" and our house showed it. Yes, I cleaned and organized and (haphazardly) decorated it, but my heart wasn't in it. I didn't see this as "my place" in life.

Finally, this move has opened my eyes. We have a lovely new house to call home. And for the first time in my life, I find myself embracing the idea of being a keeper of my home. Throwing myself into managing my home and everything that goes on inside it, and enjoying the simple pleasures of folding freshly laundered clothes or mopping the floor.

Yes, it is possible to get pleasure from blessing your family with a well-tended home. I don't know why it took me this long to figure that out.

And lest my working friends think this is a condemnation of your choice to pursue a career outside your home, it definitely is not. I think it's possible to tend your home and have a career.  Been there, done that, got the frequent flyer miles to prove it. I admire and love each of you for proving it is possible every day.

My only wish and prayer for all of us is that when we find ourselves at the crossroads, and we are faced with that choice, that we can choose the one we really want to pursue at that stage of our lives. And that our choices bring peace and contentment to us, and blessings to our families.

Happy Monday,