I really like filling out forms. I know that’s weird. Most people hate paperwork. But to me there’s something so satisfying about clearly printing important information in the little provided boxes. It’s like taking a quiz I know the answers to! Name, age, address, phone number—that is, until I reach the boxes for occupation, employer, and place of work…
As a stay at home mom, what do I write?
Sometimes it feels like actually writing out the words “Stay at Home Mom” under occupation reads: “I don’t work.” Printing “three cute, tyrannical kids” in the employer box feels too cheeky. Place of work? Um, see home address noted above?
How can moms outside the workforce communicate exactly what we do in one word? After all, all moms are engaged in the great journey and honor of raising their children. So do working moms have two jobs (motherhood and their occupation), while stay-at-home moms just have one?
Is there something unique and meaningful that qualifies as a stay-at-home-mom (or as it’s affectionately abbreviated on the internet, SAHM)’s full-time job?
In that little occupation box, I’ve started to print “Homemaker.” Yes, I know this term carries a negative connotation in our “woke” culture. But despite the fact that the word homemaker might be unpopular today, it most fully encompasses my day to day job: I make a home for my family.
The timely book Theology of Home points out that “despite the innate human desire that there is for home, the notion that someone would actually want to make a home, providing a place of safety, love, order, education, and hospitality, has fallen out of favor.”
And it’s true. If an educated woman aims to marry her love, raise their children, and then run the home, the cultural response is one of confusion or dismissal. This sentiment leads many stay-at-home moms to feel like what they do is not significant or meaningful.
I can see why, can’t you? The calling to make a home is speckled with unglamorous tasks that aren’t exactly intellectually stimulating or revenue producing. I do things during the day that neither I, nor the world, actively celebrate (hello laundry and dishes and vacuuming the floors).
But here is an important truth: uncelebrated tasks underpin every line of work.
No occupation is rid of it’s unique set of necessary “chores.” Even the artist whose overarching job is to create masterpieces has to mix the paint, prepare the canvas, and clean his brushes (over and over again). The world does not categorize, view, or value the occupation of an artist by the presence of his necessary, mundane tasks. It clearly sees that those tasks are the substructure of his true occupation: painting a masterpiece.
We should see homemaking in the same light.
Dear stay-at-home mamas: you are like the artist, and the home is your canvas. Everything you do at home, from the tidying and cooking, to the nurturing and the educating, to the decorating and hosting, is all in the service of your full-time job: creating a masterpiece titled, Home.
So, what is the scope of this masterpiece? What does it involve?
Making a Home both relies on and transcends the routine, relatively universal tasks we call housekeeping. Homemaking is exceedingly more dynamic and amazingly individual.
It both encompasses and extends outside of the huge responsibility and honor of raising children (which all mothers, working outside the home or inside the home share) and the daily grind of household chores (which the whole family can help divide and conquer).
Essentially, homemaking is a job that cannot be outsourced. It is a job that only you can do. And although this job of homemaking neither excludes nor remains unaccomplished by moms in the workforce, it is that which stay at home moms can devote themselves to full-time.
Making a Home involves using your unique talents, interests, education, and values to “provide a place of safety, love, order, education, and hospitality” for your family and friends. It is, in essence, to build the physical and emotional place for love.
In the moments when staying home seems thankless or unimportant, and maybe when a part of you pines for writing a different title in the occupation box, remember this: you’re engaged in creating a masterpiece of the highest order.
Does that masterpiece always look like the pages of a design magazine? Probably not. And all the better for it. This art form isn’t about perfection or uniformity. It is about creating a place for your family culture to flourish.
From the furniture you arrange, to the food you cook, to the books you read, to the traditions you have; it all facilitates the creation of your masterpiece: your family’s Home.
We can make Home whatever we want it to be.
I hope our Home is a place where a crowded table is set with a hearty meal, and a cozy couch is overflowing with babies and blankets. I hope our four walls echo often with the rapturous laughter of family and friends, and listen quietly to cathartic conversations about the most important things. I hope for a mess of toys on the floor and children’s imaginations at work. I hope to build a place where my husband and children can love, argue, learn, grow, and rest in the peace of belonging to a family united by a bond of the fiercest kind.
So, call me a Homemaker. I am proud to be one.
This job might not be met with much esteem by the outside world, nor it’s process always appear to be a masterpiece in the making. But if love begins at home, then the absence of moms who devote themselves to creating Home would shake our culture to the core.
This job is essential because love is essential. It does not come with awards or promotions, ceremonies or accolades, but it need not. It is of the highest value because this job is in the service of love. And mama, it is uniquely yours.