Thursday, July 06, 2006

Confessions of a reluctant homemaker

Last night, as I was reading through yesterday’s comments, I was totally cracking up. It seems some people were “surprised” that I had such a loosey-goosey “plan to not plan” for my large family’s menus.

Ladies, if you only knew!

I am the most reluctant of homemakers.

I always dreamed of getting married and having a family, and I am so thankful that I did have some advantages. My mother taught me the basics of cooking and I knew how to sew. I could change a diaper. Being an MK, we did a whole lot of entertaining.

But - we lived out of the country and had…a maid!

Then somewhere along the line I got the idea that I wanted to go to school and have a career, too. My husband and I married young, then we did the school/career thing, while putting off children until the “perfect” time. We had a great marriage, but for the first eight years, my husband, work, and school were the only part of life that got much attention. I did cook some, but taking care of our small apartment or doing anything domestic was purely secondary to the “more important” task of getting through school. Housekeeping as an artform was archaic, and people who made schedules and menus obviously didn't have enough to do with their time.

Our lives were carefully planned and predictable.

When our first daughter was born, I was completely thrown for a loop. I went from spending my entire adult life preparing for a job or working full-time, to staying home “most of the time” with this—this HELPLESS BABY…and working part-time.

I had NO IDEA what I was doing. She didn’t sleep when she was supposed to sleep, eat when she was supposed to eat, and (much to my utter consternation) motherhood was nothing like any textbook I’d ever read. Worst of all, there was no maid to clean up after the mess. I wish I’d had a blog back then, because it would have been SO BAD it would have won awards for stupidity (I do have a journal, but I’m too afraid to look at it!). I was knocked flat.

I spent the first several years as a mother just trying to figure out what in the world a baby/toddler/preschooler was “supposed” to be doing all day long! To add insult to injury, we had our first two kids fifteen months apart, and I was drowning in diapers and laundry. I was very insecure. I was grumpy. And only occasionally coming up with dinner. Thankfully, my husband is a Godly man, and he loved me through it all.

Now, almost thirteen years later, I feel like I’m coming full circle. My life was so out of control in the beginning that I swung totally in the opposite direction - I organized everything (and everyone) with military-like precision (don’tcha know THAT went over well!). Needless to say, things did not go as planned. What's worse, my efforts at controlling my environment did nothing to help in the grumpy department - for my family OR for me.

God is good, however. And funny. Gotta love the fact that He chose an unlikely person like me to have such a crazily big family. I think He knew someone like me would find a way to become prideful with the great job I was doing (at least outwardly) – another goal checked off on my to-do list. That’s why having a family (it doesn’t really matter the size) that is just beyond the reaches of my human control is just the medicine He uses to keep me constantly humble…and coming back to Him. Coming back to loosen my stranglehold, one finger at a time. Coming back to be reminded of why I’m doing this parenting and homemaking thing in the first place. And finding the joy in it.

It’s not about me.

Just to let you know, I am much less “organized” in certain areas than I'd like to be. My house is not perfect, and although I'm more efficient than I used to be (out of necessity), I'm quite sure that housework will never come naturally to me. My photo albums are hopelessly behind (sadly, by YEARS). There are stacks of this and that in closets that I will probably never get to. I have moments where the clutter just makes me insane. And yes, there are times when my family eats cereal for dinner.

And yet I’m loving life so much more. I laugh a lot more.

We don’t always “do it all,” but we do get the important things done.

I think I’m finally finding the place that “works for me” – contentment.

And God is able to make all grace abound to you,
so that in all things at all times,
having all that you need,
you will abound in every good work.

2 Corinthians 9:8


Jennifer said...

Can I join you in the relunctant homemaker club? I love my husband and daughter dearly, but could definitely do without the cooking, cleaning, and folding laundry that seems to accompany them. I'm just not a homemaker, that is not my strength. But luckily I married a man who understands that and "gets" me. He's more than willing to chip in where needed. But there are times that I feel I'm missing some female-homemaking chip. Ahhh well, this is me!

Bethany said...

Oh, I understand. My family is not as large as yours yet. Or at least all the time. When we have step-children over next summer after I have this baby we'll have five in the house!

I love the way our house goes when I can skip laundry for one day and not have a coniption over it. Or we can order pizza sometimes and eat it in the living room. (Now as a general rule we DO NOT do that....I like family dinner. Even if it might be cereal!)

I think I've done everything I ever said I would NOT do. I think my kids have done at least most things I've said they WOULD NOT do. I've stopped saying what I will not do and what my kids will not do. It makes me look less stupid!

I enjoyed this post. It was very real. I appreciate people who do not try to make their families look perfect and like they have it all together. It makes them all seem so much more lovable!

Unknown said...

Are you talkin' to me?? Ha.

Yes, I too have "learned the secret of being content in any circumstance." And for me, that definitely does not mean a spotless home, and fortunately dh is okay with it, too. I do enjoy cooking, and am always thankful for it because if not it really could be a chore.

But I did learn something new about you. MK = Missionary kid, right?

Millie said...

This was a very comforting post. Thanks! So good to know I'm not the only one who doesn't have some autobot weekly schedule... it's not in me! :)

Beck said...

Oh, it was so good to read that. I struggle SO much with disorder, with my own laziness and poor organizational habits, and I always presume that everyone has it figured out. Thank you SO much for writing that. As someone else wrote, it was very comforting.

Nicole said...

I cannot imagine growing up with a maid. It sounds like you have learned to do it all though. WAY more than me. Contentment is a great place to be and I am working trying to get there myself. :)

Anonymous said...

What a marvelous post! Thank you! I personally am an extreme messie who came from two cleanie parents - go figure! It took having all these kids to get me to do any housework at all...Now I have to or I'd lose them in the clutter!! hee hee hee

Nettie said...

You can add me to the reluctant homemaker club, too. Laundry, dishes, daily cooking and cleaning hold no thrills for me either. Usually I feel like I am trying to just get them over with so I can move on to funner stuff. Like gulping down bad medicine. I know we are supposed to think of them as a way to love and serve our family. I'd rather just pass around hugs and kisses!

Susanne said...

Great post! It's nice to know a little of where you came from. I can so relate with the military precision thing. Hee. Didn't work for me either. And the releasing the stranglehold control thing one finger at a time? Guilty here on all counts. God is so good to give mercy to us just figuring it out!

Laura said...

LOVED this post and helped further encourage me that I am not the only mother that doesn't have it together 100% of the time!

Michelle- This One's for the Girls said...

Very encouraging post. I just enjoy you more everyday. Thanks for sharing all of that.

Tammy said...

It's nice to see I'm not the only one who isn't Suzy Homemaker! I can't tell you the last time I got out the scrapbooks to do business...sometime last fall, I believe. I only have my home spotless- or almost- when company's coming. And I don't plan weekly menus for dinner. Sometimes I feel like I don't completely measure up as a homemaker, so it was encouraging to read your post. Isn't it good to know God can use people like us anyway!

Anonymous said...

From another MK...I know exactly what you mean! I didn't really realize how good we had it and how my mom was able to do so many cool extra things w/ us...she had help. I'm also a reluctant homemaker. I love all the "kid stuff" but I hate all the cleaning!

Wendy said...

Katherine, I just had to tell you that I just found your blog the other day and I added you to my Bloglines. I love your honesty and the way you bring things back to pointer your reader toward Christ.

Anonymous said...

and once again, another GREAT post! I like what you said, "you laugh a lot more!" So true.

Laura said...

I'm playing catch up here from today's (8/17/07) blog. I'm just a hapless idealist in terms of homemaking: always wanted to do it, but had a very idealized view of what it was. Learning the hard way is the constant theme of my life.

I really want to study under you - you're brimming with wisdom.