This question came in awhile ago and I have been pondering it since in the back of my mind. I was not certain I had anything valuable to add; some things ”just are”
in life, but then I did think of something I wanted to say (uh, and it turned out to be way more than I expected, so you may need a cup of tea! LOL) Here is the original comment/question:
Here is a very honest admission for you: I get no satisfaction of out homekeeping and I am quite certain that I never will I *can* do all the things: cook delicious meals every day, ferment, and mill my own flour, I can sew and knit and paint, I can keep the home clean and in reasonable order. But when that is all I do, I can feel my soul slowly dying! I go through seasons of pulling myself together and even enjoying my tasks, and then falling apart, throwing in a towel, because after all, what’s the point? Yes, this is a lovely way to live, to have a cozy home and good food, but I.am.miserable. I’ve been told all manner of things: I’m lazy, I need to change my attitude, I need to get therapy to deal with some deep-seated resentment and blah-blah-blah. I feel that the truth is simpler than that. I am someone who is extremely extroverted, requires massive amounts of regular intellectual stimulation, and a great deal of variety in life There must be a way to find some kind of balance. I realize that my children are young (2, 4.5, and one on the way), I am quite realistic about the care, time and effort they require at this stage of life. But I just can’t give up my sanity and my very essence to keeping the home.
That is really hard and I think so many of us as mothers can identify with the feelings expressed in this comment. It can be so hard to do all the things we might think need to be associated with homemaking and parenting, to make things “right”. Maybe there is also a bit of perfectionism hidden within many of us – if we don’t do all these things, then our children will not do well. This can make things seem burdensome or a chore instead of light and lovely. And, it all can be such a big burden – why do I have to be The Queen of My Home? Can’t someone else do it? I just want to take the day off! There are days I feel that way as well.
I have written before about the trials and tribulations that we can go through as mothers adjusting to homemaking, especially my sweet readers coming in a bit late to motherhood after having exciting intellectual careers and being in control and charge over a lot of things in their life.
Homemaking and much of the parenting of small children is an endless cycle of cooking, cleaning, cooking, cleaning, diapering, getting children down for naps and bedtime, bathing..and doing it all over again. Sometimes mothers tell me they feel as if it is monotonous! And having small children close in age, unless you happen to have a lot of trusted family in the area, can be difficult in terms of separating in order to do something outside of the home. So as a mother you may be spending a lot of time at home with limited social opportunities as you may be the only one in your neighborhood who is home!
And as the original comment above indicates, we can be realistic about what is needed, we know what we are supposed to be doing, we are certainly willing to do it most of the time, but not always happy about it! Sometimes our inner self just rebels!
Yet, we persist in doing this because of love. Because we know that in the care we show our homes, in the way we set the tone in our families for how we nurture each other and our home, shows our children love. It sets down a foundation of a healthy adult life for our children as they need protection of the senses, real work, and space and time in order to grow and mature in health. And it not only nurtures our children but nurtures our marriages and partnerships as well, because what I have noticed time and time again in real life is that in families where no one is holding down the fort, so to speak, the family is anchorless.
However, as mothers, don’t we also have needs? And if our needs are met, does it make the demands of homemaking and parenting small children better or easier? That is an interesting question, and not as straight forward as one might think. I have had some mothers tell me that the more time they spend away from home, the more irritated and challenged they felt being home. And I have had some mothers tell me when they took time for themselves, they were better parents and people for it. I think this has to do with all the variables we don’t know – did the mother leave her home or do something for herself but stayed within the home environment and how did this feel to her? How was the mother’s physical health? Was the mother suffering from depression? What did that particular mother need to feel supported? Was she the kind of woman who could be happy talking on the phone and felt supported or the kind of woman who really needed to see a friend in person? Was the spouse or partner a source of support and help? So many things to wonder about when I speak to mothers!
The three concise things mentioned above, that this mother and some mothers need, include being extroverted and needing people (adult people! people to have interesting conversation with!), intellectual stimulation and variety. I think this is great, because in knowing ourselves we can make plans to meet our own needs!
For those of you who are extroverts, it may be that you need to gather people and plan things. Perhaps you are the one who starts a homeschool group, a parenting group or perhaps you are the one that holds a playgroup every week in your home. Maybe you are the person in the neighborhood who helps plan things for the children in your neighborhood. The possibilities are endless. Start forming your community. Community often shifts once you have children, and sometimes you have to make those possibilities of connections appear. As an extrovert myself, I have found a place of worship to be an excellent place to get involved and be with many people of all different ages.
And, as far as intellectual stimulation, I think that is able to be addressed. There are so many on-line courses now, courses on audio book to listen to and learn.(I like this company, not affiliated! http://www.thegreatcourses.com ) It may not be the same as conversing with people at work every day, but it can be a good start until your children mature a little bit. Reading helps me as well. As a therapist and a lactation consultant I have to attend continuing education. It is always such a trauma to go, to arrange what will happen with the children on those days, but it is interesting to go and really work my brain! I do think intellectual stimulation on an adult level is important, just like physical exercise is.
As far as variety ….as I have said, being with tiny children can feel like an endless cycle of the same things to do. It is a season, it won’t last forever. One way I work with variety in the context of homemaking and in my own home is to focus on the liturgical calendar, the seasonal rhythms of life. This brings in different skills to prepare for different festivals and holidays, and different feelings, and different rhythms. I wrote a post on this a long time ago, now that there are 900 plus posts it is getting hard to find things, LOL: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/11/17/changing-your-rhythm-with-the-seasons/
In short, I really do understand the concerns mentioned. So many women feel like this and feel badly saying it, but it is something many of us face when we are home. It is good to talk about these things.
No one can do a better job raising your children than you. It is a long race, it is hard to balance, but the payoffs are great. You don’t have to completely lose yourself in it, as many mothers fear, but you may have to be open to changing who you thought you were, what you thought your identity as a human being really was. But yet, the human being is always able to develop and change, so hopefully we are doing this with or without raising children.