Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Where are our real rolemodels?

Lately, I have been on my soapbox a bit on this topic. I try not to repeat myself too often, but now and again I see a post out there in blogland that just makes me return to it. I usually try and post a reply on the blog itsself and am always pleased to see that I get a gracious reaction. Recently one of my blogreplies seemed to have turned in a little post by itsself, so I just copied and adapted it slightly here for your delight. *chuckles* I promise I will get off this soapbox soon.

Many of us, young homemakers (I've been married almost three years, have a wonderful young son of 18 months) have no rolemodels for what being a homemaker is. We fall on oldfashioned TV shows or blogs by default because we were not raised to be homemakers and often didn't even expect to be one, until we became convinced of the great value that lies in staying at home and raising our children.

But we really don't know what to expect or where to begin. So then we are going out to look for people to model ourselves after. And looking for encouragement we only find those oldfashioned TV shows or sites and blogs that extoll the virtues of homemaking. Now we come to my little petpeeve. A lot of blogs, especially in the conservative Christian circle that I love, seem to believe they still need to prove their point on how worthwhile and wonderful homemaking is. They also often get the advice not to complain because otherwise 'the others' might tell hem that they are unfulfilled and need to look for a job. And so, they leave out the 'hard stuff'.

So there we come... new homemakers... and we see as our only model before us these seemingly perfect women who do creative projects at home with their children, who show us pretty pictures of the flowers in their garden, the organicly grown vegetables and homemade food that they feed their children and we are still at the beginning of a learning curve with no one to look up at but the seemingly impossible to attain ideal. They seem to be scrapbooking, knitting, quilting, finishing projects and keeping up with the lately published good books as well.

With a child that didn't sleep and refused to be put down until he was nine months old, I was ready to scream in overexhausted pain and frustration at the next person who told me to 'enjoy this time because they are only little such a short time'. I used to have intelligent conversation, but I was so utterly tired that I couldn't even find words anymore to express my thoughts. The simplest words like 'fridge' 'food' 'spoon' 'diaper' escaped from my brain. And I thought it would never end.
Everyone around me (on blogs or sites that encourage homemaking) seemed to be doing homeschooling phonetics, while spinning a laundry basket on one hip, humming classical music for the todlers that adoringly watched or tried to help, rocking a baby cradle with one foot and patiently reading the gospel to a teenage daughter. So it had to be just me, right?

Where were the tales about the screaming baby that I seemed to have? The sleep deprived nights? The fact that it is okay not to enjoy certain things as long as you do them with love? I saw the posts about frugality and lovingly restored cabinets. But where were the stories about the todler who ued the five seconds you needed both of your hands to close the pot of varnish to get in trouble and ruin the finish of the cabinet as well as your skirt?
Where were the stories of the lovingly heartshaped made toast with strawberry jam you made when you finally found the energy to do something that seemed like a creative, pretty project? And the story of how that toast consequently got turned upside down on the carpet, which you halfway expected, but then somehow also was rubbed in there and on you five minutes before your husband came home. And while you just had tidied up the floor, the usually well behaved child that you love more than life itsself used the time that you were scrubbing the carpet to dump all his blocks, get sixteen books out and pull three magazines from the couch, which he consequently started to shred?

I wanted to hear those stories. I needed to hear those stories to know that I was not alone. I was at the verge of just giving up. Clearly some women were not good at mothering, some, horribly pathetic women were not equipped to be a stay at home mom, and I was one of them! Which made me feel both guilty and a failure. I stuck with it, and now I understand that those blogs present a false picture. Yes, homemaking is wonderful, but it IS also frustrating, just like a job. Except that it is more. It is a vocation. But whether you go to library story hour or have to read "Maisy takes a bath" or "Jesus loves the little children" sixteen times... neither of those will be intelectually stimulating every day. You will now and again feel bored. And that IS okay. It doesn't have to be all sunshine and roses everyday, because suffering (even small sufferings like handprints on newly washed windows or not finding five minutes to sit down for a cup of tea) is part of life. Just like the wonder of a little body snuggled up close to you is part of life. And it has it's own value in refining you and making you a better person. But talk about the struggles please as well as the refined part.
There are wonderful days in which everything falls into place. And there are picture perfect moments to write about and enjoy the memories of. But there are also the many, many moments where things seem to fall apart.

In telling people NOT to complain, there comes an image out there that no one can live up to. And those of us that are new to homemaking and do not have strong personal rolemodels of homemaking in our lives... we start to feel as if it is not for us, as if we can not do this and better just give up.
Now and again, I wish people would just complain about a bad day. People who have an office job complain too, so why would we be afraid to offer a real image of homemaking as a rewarding, sanctifying experience... that isn't always restful or easy or even pretty. I want to hear the bad stuff as well as the good stuff. I understand and admire a certain reticence in 'putting it all out there in all it's glorious misery' and I certainly don't advocate blogs to become a town crier for every little marital discontent or a constant litany of woes. But I want to know that I am not the only one who struggles. That I am not the only one who tries to colour with my little fellow to see him lose interest after two minutes and instead try to eat one of the crayons, or scribble on the tv. (As in my previous post on this subject, I refuse to believe I am the only one who has had that happen! *G*)


tiffibug said...

Eva, I just love you.

Wendy said...

Well, you know I agree with you. ;) I firmly believe there can be more value (and encouragement) in our willingness to be transparent with each other and honest about our struggles as we try to live a Godly life than in always trying to put on a brave face and pretend things are perfect. As you said, it can be a lifeline to know you're not the only one.

And about children's vocabularies -- I really believe the key is that I've never changed the way I spoke just because I was speaking to my children. So as they get older, they learn "big" words and know what they mean and how to use them, and they just tend to become part of their speech. I'll bet Joseph will be the same way!

CRICKET said...

I asked my college roommate who was married with children years before me, "why didn;t you tell me that having a baby was so hard." She replied, "because then you wouldn;t have had one..." It all seems so easy for her but I now know it wasn;t.

My 1.5 year old is not sleeping through the night either and my 3.5 year old still calls out for me in the middle of the night.

I have good days and bad days but I do feel lucky that I can stay home with the children.

Thanks for a great post!

Shannon said...

That's where I come in...I don't think anyone could ever accuse me of whitewashing things :) Or of keeping my mouth shut about how freakin' hard it all is...LOL!

Love you!! Give kisses to your men for me!

Kate said...

Tee hee! When my son finally started sleeping through the night, I kept waking up wondering if he was ok. (He was around 13 months old before he slept through the night). Then, I had a few blissful months of sleeping through the night when I became pregnant with my daughter. Once again, I was awake at nights to go to the bathroom and with pregnancy insomnia. Then, my dear little girl was born. It's now 9 months later and she's still up 2-3 times a night. Her record was 5 times before midnight and I lost track after that.

Yes, it's hard. Yes, I've nearly blown a blood vessel in stress. But, we mothers know we just love our bundles.

I encourage every woman who reads blogs to not compare yourself to the blogs. All our lives and circumstances are different. We all go through seasons of ups and downs. Some of the best things we can learn is effective housekeeping for our own homes and time management. And also to keep ourselves flexible. Sometimes the floors just don't get washed because junior has a teething fever and won't stop screaming. Some nights, I can read book after book to my littles. Other nights I have all I can do to tuck them in bed and say a quick prayer. We do what we can, when we can.

Karen said...

Oh, Eva,
I hope I have never contributed in any way on my blog to causing any woman to feel inadequate. I simply like to blog about where we are in our lives and what we are doing.

Granted, when I was first a homemaker and new mother I wondered when and if my home would ever be clean again. Even now, there are toys scattered everywhere, and my oldest is 22!

Hang in there, it's not just you. You are right where God wants you at this season in your life!