Before I had kids, before I got married, even before I got saved, I decided that I wanted to be a housewife.
I grew up thinking that women stayed at home because they had no career ambition and no intellect, and I couldn’t believe that anyone would actually want to stay at home when there were so many other possible vocations out there.
When I was younger, I never felt restricted by my gender, it never even occurred to me any career might be difficult for me to pursue because I was a woman. This is one reason I’m so critical of contemporary feminism, because as a young woman in this country, I never experienced any of the limitations many young liberal woman claim to face. Everyone around me seemed to take for granted that I could be whatever I wanted to be, and as I grew up, a husband, home, and children were never a part of the future that was discussed for me.
However, when I moved out on my own for the first time when I was 21, things changed. I had to cook for myself, clean for myself, and essentially, run a small household. Although it was just one room in a spacious three bedroom apartment in San Francisco’s Sunset district, I had a fussy roommate who complained if anyone left dirty dishes in the sink, and, frustrated that she only seemed to be irritated by other’s mess and never the generally unkempt status of the rest of the apartment, I began cleaning regularly, going above and beyond out of spite.
At that time, I had recently dropped out of community college and was working full time at a very busy backpacker hostel downtown. It was the first time I was fully supporting myself, and I loved my job. But I also found that, on my days off and evenings that I wasn’t too worn out or out drinking somewhere, I loved housework. I began cooking for myself more, and fell in love with home cooking.
I began partying less and spending more time at home, and loved the feeling of a fully clean apartment, freshly cooked meal in the oven, and a tidy, orderly room.
I did begin to get frustrated, however, that I spent so much time working just to earn the money to pay rent for this apartment that I only got to enjoy on my limited time off. I wanted to do more at home, I wanted to cook more, and shop more carefully, go to farmer’s markets, cook all my food instead of just occasional dinners, and keep things clean every day instead of just my days off.
A lot of people remember the moment that they got saved, when Jesus entered into their hearts. That happened years later for me, and I do remember that moment. But there is a moment that preceded my Salvation, and it was when the very first seed was planted in my heart. I know now it was God speaking to me in an otherwise very dark time in my life, and from that seed began to grow in me a heart to eventually hear the Gospel.
This moment shook my world and challenged everything I had been taught about family, life, and women.
It was the moment I realized that women didn’t stay home because they were oppressed, but because keeping house is a full-time job.
It occurred to me that had I had a husband and children, they would need their food prepared, their laundry done, errands run, groceries bought and organized, and a clean house to come home to. I realized that, as a full-time working gal, I could use someone at home all the time, preparing food and a nice home to relax in when I was done with work. It was a very heavy load being my own housewife.
But I didn’t want my own housewife. I wanted to be a housewife.
It was rewarding, and pleasurable, and seemed to be my calling, to tidy and cook and create a home. It felt natural to me. And I decided right then and there, that was what I wanted to be.
I thought nothing about God at that moment, nothing about my own sin and my need for Salvation. No one shared anything with me or preached the Gospel to me until a few years later.
But it was in that moment that my mind shifted so drastically, I would later be more open to ideas I had rejected my whole life because I’d been taught they were archaic and dated.
The idea that housewifery was not systematic gender-based oppression but rather a very important and practical contribution to society in the form of creating a stable, loving, functional home for men and children to reside in shook up my mind so much that I began questioning everything I knew.
What other misperceptions had I accepted without question simply because it was the zeitgeist of my culture?
If you know me, you probably know the rest of the story. I did go on to get saved, and it was through my love of cooking that led me to gardening, which, as I’ve shared before, also set me on a path to God. But it all stemmed from this realization that running a household was a full-time job.
I appreciate the role housewives play in society ever more now, as I work full-time at home and have to balance housewife, homeschool mom, and freelance writer. Three hats are hard to wear, but I’ve also learned so much about housework and creating a home in this time.
Every now and then, when I chat with other moms, someone will tell me they’re “just” a housewife. I hate to hear this, because that’s like a man saying “I’m just a sole breadwinner”.
I might work on the side, but housewifery is my true vocation, and I praise God I am able to stay home. After all, I know now more than ever, it truly is my calling.