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I’m a Wife, Mom, and Homemaker, But There’s No “Just” About It
My 30th high school class reunion came and went recently. I didn’t go for lots reasons I won’t bore you with here (chief among them: that whole “leave the house and talk to people” thing), but if I had gone, I know I would have needed to have been ready for The Question.
“So, what do you do?”
The Question is tricky, because into it I read a deeper one: “who are you?”
Who I am, in large part, is a wife, mom, and homemaker. I am other things, too—band mom, Bible study facilitator, church worship team member—but these are the big three.
What I do, in large part, is take care of my husband, our children, and our home. I do other things, too, but again, these are the big three.
Wife, mom, and homemaker – important enough?
I don’t have another answer to The Question. I can’t say that I’m a teacher or engineer or nurse or administrative assistant or electrician (though I wish I could on that last one, because this old farmhouse sure could use some new wiring).
Not having an answer other than “I’m a wife, mom, and homemaker” doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is that I feel like I need one.
Why do I feel like I need to put “just” in front of “wife, mom, and homemaker”?
When did these jobs, these callings, these honorable ways to spend a life become something that I’ve heard women in my own circles—other moms around the Tuesday-morning Bible study table, for instance—say are “all” they ever wanted to be?
When did the decision to make caring for a home and family their life’s work become something wives and moms felt they had to admit to, as if they’d failed somehow?
When did not having a job “outside the home” become equivalent with not setting a good example as role models for our children, especially our daughters?
Was it when we had the choice to do something else and so felt guilty if we didn’t take it? Or were made to feel guilty if we didn’t take it?
Hold up a sec
I am in no way—not one little bit—condemning or criticizing women who choose to have jobs and employment and careers and professions in addition to being wives and moms and homemakers. I know most women put this whole package together beautifully. I admire them for it. It’s just not the right package for me and my particular personality. I’m grateful to my core to have the choice to do “only” what I do.
And maybe who I am and what I do allows the people I am and do it for to be who they are and do what they do a little better.
Why I’m “just” a wife, mom, and homemaker
I am a wife, which helps my husband be a better businessman and business owner. I have time to make him breakfast every morning, for example, and I do it not because he can’t do it himself but because my doing it for him allows him time to spend reading his Bible and working out before he goes to the office . . . both things that make him better at his job and the rest of life.
I also take care of lots of things where our house and kids are involved so that he can concentrate on his demanding work. I can’t do his job, but I can do mine.
I am a mom, which helps my children be better students and friends and musicians and dancers. It’s not that they can’t do the things I do for them (laundry is not rocket science, for crying out loud), it’s just that when I do my job, it frees them up and energizes and allows and helps them do the jobs only they can do.
(And the whole “when your kids are older, they don’t need you as much as they did when they’re younger” claim? Totally true, in my experience. They need you MORE. I don’t change diapers or fix broken toys anymore, but I often change minds and fix broken hearts.)
I am a homemaker, which I truly believe helps my husband and children be better and happier people. When they get done with all the things only they can do every day, I want them to be able to come back to a home that’s a place for them to recharge so they can do those things again. And so I “make” and “keep” that home.
What I do matters
The fact of the matter is that I’m the only member of my little family who can do my jobs. If I were getting paid for all the individual jobs represented by the overarching titles of “wife,” “mom,” and “homemaker,” I’d haul in somewhere around 600K a year. (Sign me up.)
And if, by the same token, I were to tell someone, “I’m a mental health counselor” (because tell me that’s not part of the mom-of-teenage daughters job description), I certainly wouldn’t feel the need to put “just” in front of it. The fact that I’m not getting paid for these jobs or doing them “outside the home” doesn’t make them any less legitimate.
So I’m going to practice up for the next time The Question comes my way. “What do you do?” someone will ask, and I’ll answer, gratefully, “I’m a wife, mom, and homemaker.” No “just” about it.
A regular contributor for RuthieGray.Mom, Elizabeth Spencer is mom to two teenage daughters who regularly dispense love, affection, and brutally honest fashion advice. She writes about faith, food, and family (with some occasional funny thrown in) at Guilty Chocoholic Mama and avoids working on her 100-year-old farmhouse by spending time on Facebook and Twitter.