Wednesday, May 28, 2008

So, what do you do?

Last week in a Gymboree class (free trial, but so much fun) another parent asked me, "So, what do you do?"

Oh my.

I always struggle to find a way to answer this question. Usually, I just say, "I'm just being a mom right now" (all the while, wincing at my poor choice of the word "just" in that sentence).

However, I am, what I would call, a semi-stay-at-home mom. My entire married life, with the exception of 3 months right after the wedding, I have worked 40+ hours per week (including a "job" and school). After Chloe was born, I cut my "work" hours back to 25 hours per week, with no school.

I had always considered myself a career girl. My goal was to run my own business in the field in which I was working, and I had already worked myself into a prime position for that to happen within the next five years. But the Lord began to change my heart. I began to yearn for home and for a life of home-made dinners and hand-made dresses. I saw myself in khaki shorts and flip flops instead of business suits and heels.

Then, in August of last year, everything shifted. A way was provided for me to, in essence, receive a salary for finishing my degree. I was THRILLED! Still, the salary was not quite enough, and so I set out in search of another part-time job. It was at this point, through a series of very fortunate events, that I found myself accepting the position as Children's Pastor in a local church.

Suddenly, I was swept up in a whirlwind of class registration, campus buses, crayon purchases, play dough how-to books, and LOTS of midnight prayers. I was excited and overwhelmed all at the same time. And when the dust settled, I found myself as a semi-stay-at-home mom.

My "job" still requires about 15 hours of my week. College takes another 15. Still, I am home most days by noon, and most of my work can be done from my living room while my little one is napping.

I simply can't go another sentence further without mentioning my husband who, while finishing his degree in Math Education, has taken on more hours at work to help make ends meet so that I can be home.

He is also a fabulous gardener and compost-maker... which shall be discussed in a future post (look for "Super Hubby").

So here I am, a semi-stay-at-home mom who can whip up a scrumptious baked chicken and make some cutie-puh-tootie dresses for her daughter. (Applause here is appropriate.)

Still, after almost nine months at the semi-stay-home status, my house is not much cleaner; my meals, while increasing in quality, have remained at status quo in frequency; and my life feels just as hectic.

I have to admit to you folks that this does more than frustrate me. It makes me doubt my ability to BE a stay-at-home-er because, frankly, I performed much better as a payroll employee than I am doing as a housewife.

But I also recognize that there is no training for us housewives. No degree. No certification. Nobody who shows up at our door the first couple weeks to show us the ropes.

I can't pick up the phone and call the regional office when my oven won't turn on. I can't tell my boss that I need some on-the-job training when my whites come out all dingy. I can't look in my manual to find the formula I need when I have more dirty dishes than will fit in my dishwasher.

We're thrown into a messy house, with kids, and a husband. We're told to cook and clean. But sometimes the recipes don't look like the picture, and sometimes those darn stains just won't come out.

I don't mean to complain. I am SINCERELY THRILLED to be able to join the ranks of the keepers of the home. I feel SO BLESSED that I was able to be home for my daughter's first steps, and her first word, and her daily smiles. I also feel, more strongly than ever, that I am CALLED to be where I am... and to bloom here.

I just need some direction. Some pointers. Some guidance.

So. Here I am. Asking.

How do you do it? Do you have a schedule? Are you on your feet all day? Or do you have "down time" too? What chores do you ask your hubby to do? Or do you do it all yourself? Are meals planned out in advance? How far in advance?

Any professional homemakers out there? This is your time to shine! I really want to know... what are your secrets? Your tricks of the trade? Your manual(s)?

'Cause I'm in SERIOUS need of some on-the-job training.


christan said...

I am on day #2....

Brandy Thixton said...

Day #2 of stay-at-home mom-dom? Or are we referring to something else?

Amy said...

I don't have a schedule. I prepare real dinner about four times a week. I like a clean house, but that only happens in the moments right before I go to bed myself and it is usually destroyed before I can pour my first cup of coffee in the morning.

To me, being a professional homemaker means that first and foremost I am available to my family. I do other things. I am involved in drama ministry and I write. But I wouldn't do any of that if it meant neglecting my home.

As I am typing this out, my six year old is showing me a trick she taught the dog and I told her to wait a minute. I'm telling you that so you know that it is a long day of hits and misses.

If you are comfortable with the stride you find, choose to be okay with that even it looks nothing like someone else's stride.

And when you have a minute, make my daughter a cutie-puh-tootie dress. You have my undying applause. I can't even make a decent pillow.

Debbie C. said...

Amy's's what works for you and your family and you're not comparing or keeping up with anyone else. It's what God has called you and Brandon to; as partners, parents, friends, etc... I learned a while back that I have missed alot in life by trying to compare and do what someone else is doing. I don't do that anymore (well, not as much, old habits are hard to beat ;) But, all that said, you are doing what God wants you to do and right where He has you. Do it to the best of your ability, some days will be better and worse than the next, but that's okay!!

Christan said...


Brandy Thixton said...

Thanks so much for your encouraging comments! I especially love what you said, Amy, about just being available to my family. I have never really thought about it like that.

And I'm with you, debbie, in trying not to compare myself to others. It is a daily struggle for most women, I think.

Thanks again for all the encouragement!

Sarah said...

I can add something or maybe just explain more.

I have struggled for 6 years to be the kind of homemaker you're talking about-- homecooked meals, happy children, and clean house all the time.

I have just recently accepted the fact that while I can keep my house tolerably clean (dishes in the kitchen; laundry in the laundry room and done at least once a week; trash in the trash can once a day; and papers in the office), I am not going to put the time in to my house to have sparkling windows, dusted pictures, or clean baseboards. It's not important to me. When my house gets to a certain level of cleanliness that means I have more time to go to others' houses and visit, encourage, and minister to them.

Because I think that is where my talents lie.

The other thing I do as far as my children are concerned is when they get grouchy or whiny, or when they're over-tired, that means I need to stay home for the next few days and focus on them. More stories and hugs and talking. That sounds like it should be obvious but I firmly believe it is not obvious to some.

Sorry to write so much- I came from Amy's blog. Maybe I'll write a post too. :)

Brandy Thixton said...

I looove long comments! Thanks so much for your input! I esp. like the whole staying home a few days when kids are cranky. I do that too, and it really does make a difference!

And now... I'm off to check out your blog. =)

Sarah said...

Yes, that is my apron. And it is super cute.

Natalie Witcher said...

Unless you are someone who has always run on schedules, don't try to make it do that in your home. You do what you can do to make your house a home. I've tried to be so many other kinds of homemakers and I end up frustrated. Obviously, we can learn from each other, but you find what works for you. Always find time for yourself. Always find time to meet with Christ. Learn what your kids need but be sure to let yourself off the hook.

Don't do it all yourself. Get the hubs to help.

I like to try to plan meals so it helps with the budget.

I keep my house picked up so my sanity stays normal.

Have a glass of wine every now and then. :)

Make your home and extension of who you are.

Brandy Thixton said...

Thanks, Natalie! I think you're right about me and the schedule thing... I've tried it, and I can't seem to get it to work for me. "make your home an extension of who you are" - I love that!

The Quote That Started It All...

I myself have twelve hats, each one representing a different personality. Why be just yourself? - Margaret Atwood