By recording a bit of what I do day after day as a stay-at-home mom, I aim to celebrate the role that a vocational caregiver has in a family and home, and I aim to offer some encouragement and understanding to others who may occupy a similar space in life. Most of this I’ve had to learn from hands-on experience, and I think it would have been valuable to me to have read something like this before becoming and while being a stay-at-home mom. What results, when there is not an open conversation or even simple observation of the requirements of childcare and housekeeping, is a misunderstanding of what’s actually involved. It doesn’t sound that hard to do this or that, but what is unseen and often forgotten is that the bulk of everything home- and family-related often falls to the women, whether they work an outside job or not. I feel that I’m fortunate that I happen to like what I do as a family and home caregiver, overall. (Because if I didn’t like it, I don’t think I would have been able to do it for this long and I can’t imagine that I’d be able to do it for much longer.) I like taking care of people and things in my life, overall. (If I didn’t, this role would be much more difficult than it already is.) It’s not easy, but I like it, overall. (A question for those like me: If it were easy, though, would I like it as much as I do?) It makes me feel good to care well for my family and home, and so I have taken sincere efforts to be more and more effective at it, in ways that make sense for me and my circumstances. And while you as a reader might have different circumstances to consider, I simply wanted to share this part of my life with you in an attempt to be someone you can learn from (or make an example of—I guess that depends on your perspective and of where you stand on the issue of whether or not it’s truly a woman’s choice to vocationally care for her family and home).
Also worth noting is that childrearing and housework are jobs that don’t seem that hard or grueling when you break apart the tasks into itty bitty pieces. But it’s the culmination of small tasks here and there, that by themselves don’t take much time or effort but that combined take the whole day long to do, that make the work of a stay-at-home mom hard, long, and tiresome. It’s an unglamorous life, for sure. But it’s vital to the health of a family, like it or not. Someone has to do the work. If it doesn’t get done, then what results is overwhelming chaos, usually in the form of a back-log of work, messes everywhere, and ill-managed schedules. I have chosen to take upon myself the duties of home-management because I have come to understand the importance of a well-oiled home life. It’s a little unreasonable to expect those who work the outside jobs to then come home and to willingly and generously do more work (though that is the necessary norm when both parents work—someone has still got to do the laundry and the meals (even if take-out or eat-out) and the vacuuming and the toilet cleaning and the schedule-keeping and the child-tending). You might be able to pay someone else to do the work (though we don’t make quite that much money to be able to do that). But in any case, there is no replacement for a woman who willingly and lovingly cares for her children, husband, and home—whether she’s a stay-at-home mom or whether she does most of the housework and child-tending even when she also works an outside job (or a work-from-home job). I am only able to do so (to continue to care for my children, husband, and home willingly and lovingly) because my help comes from the Lord, I admit straight out. Any reserves I had in the beginning to do what I do with vigor and spirit are now at zero (which I think becomes the case for every woman at some point in this journey), so I rely only on the strength and grace of God to enable me to complete the race with love in my heart, my head held high, and a smile on my face.