"There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage."
--Martin Luther

Monday, 4 June 2012

On Being a Housewife

I've recently come to grips with the fact that I may be a housewife. I don't even know when that sets in. Apparently, couples are still considered “newlyweds” up until their second wedding anniversary, but how long do I have to be out of the workforce before I'm officially a “housewife”? A few times when I've talked to someone over the phone (like at a bank or something) and they ask for my profession, I stumble and eventually elicit a response like, “Oh, so you're a homemaker.” Because my husband is a doctor, being “at home” is presented like a very normal choice for me. I'm guessing if he worked at Tim Hortons, I would be seen as “looking for work” rather than a “housewife”.

Maybe I am hung up on semantics, but the term “housewife” is a bit difficult for me. I am very supportive of women (and men as well) who stay at home to serve their families. I admire Stay at Home Moms and Work at Home Moms. I just have trouble reconciling myself, as a non-mom, with not working.* After so many years of needing to work to pay the rent and buy groceries, it feels almost wrong to be buying things without my own income, despite the fact that though my husband is fine with supporting us. Even though there are benefits to being home, I just feel a bit lazy, no matter how hard I try to use the time wisely.

One of my issues is that I feel so unprepared to be a housewife. I have this image of a housewife/SAHM, some sort of a June Cleaver type, and it's not me. I don't enjoy cleaning (though I do it anyway, don't worry). I don't particularly like cooking unless I'm doing it with Gil or with a friend. I'm fairly certain the supposed female trait of wanting to decorate has evaded me all these years, as I have zero desire to flip through a magazine like House and Home, and still don't understand what Pinterest is. I would rather study Chinese than think about home design.

In my most honest and vulnerable moments, I'll admit that this makes me feel like a defective woman, and a bad wife. What happened to my x-chromosomes? Did they get bent or something? There are moments when I feel like a double-disappointment: I've failed as a “girl power” independent women by being out of work for so long, but I'm lousy at being a conservative homemaker. I try to laugh about it, but it cuts right to the heart of who I am and what I was made for. I've mentioned before that I am in a desert place these days, trying to figure out which direction to go. I'm blessed to have a supportive husband, but some days it's hard. I didn't realize how much of my self-image was wrapped up in what I did: The woman who paid of her student loans in two years, who bought her own home at 27, who worked hard and yet was busy almost every night serving at church, attending Bible studies, and seeing friends. It's hard to find the me that's inside all that wrapping, and it's hard to redefine my own worthiness.

One thing I've learned though, is that things that are hard are worth doing, and that it's important to think and pray through these issues now, rather than finding another cloak to wrap myself in and having the same issues resurface in a few years. So please pray with me as I continue on this journey, and as always, I'd love to hear your thoughts. :-)

Addendum: I wrote part of this post a few weeks ago, and have been adding to it for the past couple of days. This morning's reading took me to Judges 4, the story of Deborah and Jael, which is one of my favourite chapters. I guess God thought I needed a reminder that women can be godly in non-traditional roles!

 *Just to specify:  I haven't for sure decided not to go back to work, but at present I need to face the reality that I'm not working and do not know when I will be.

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