Something to Think About4:56 AM
Generally speaking, there are only three options available to stay-at-home daughters:
1. Work for Dad.
2. Start a home business.
3. Train for one's future home full-time.
All three are respectable choices. Working for the family business -- nice. Starting a home business -- hats off to you. Gathering homemaking skills -- good job. My dad didn't have a business, and I didn't sew or paint or sell books, so I set my sights on the third one: full-time homemaker-in-training.
It sounded legitimate and doable...until I started thinking about it. How did that look, practically? Who could I copy? Where were the guidelines? What counted as "homemaking skills"?
Perhaps I am the only one who thinks like this, but I sometimes purposefully block out the truth. I'll peek around the corner of my question and catch a glimpse of the answer -- the truth -- and then I slam my eyes shut and pretend with all my might that I just imagined it. Sometimes I'll creep back to that question corner and use peripheral vision to peep at the truth. I imagine myself doing that. Literally.
When I peeped around those question corners, those questions about plucking visionary daughterhood from the clouds to the earth, I ran smack into this:
It doesn't take much to master basic homemaking skills.
I am not trying to be disrespectful. I am not crazy, either. It's true: it does not take much to master basic homemaking skills.
How long does it take to learn how to put dishes in a dishwasher? Fold a towel? Follow a recipe? Push a shopping cart? Create a budget? Change a diaper? Read a pattern? Clean a toilet? Answer: not very long. All human beings who plan on eating, wearing clothes, and making messes ought to know basics -- sewing on buttons, fixing breakfast, dusting the living room. And I think everyone who lives in a family and who especially wants to start their own ought to learn how godly families operate. Time management, childcare, homeschooling skills even -- these are all excellent, excellent things to know.
But they don't take forever to master.
The typical stay-at-home daughter plans on mastering homemaking skills until a good, godly (and handsome) young man carries her over her own threshold. For the sake of argument, what happens if he does not come until she's thirty years old? Does it really take from the time she graduates high school to her wedding day -- some twelve or thirteen years -- to learn the basics of homemaking?
No, it does not.
How do I know? Because I, Queen of Haphazard Homemaking, have run a home before -- all by myself. I didn't set aside any specialized course of training for it (though I remember when my mother taught me how to stitch a straight line and sift flour): I just lived life from day one to the day I graduated. I've been doing laundry, washing dishes, making lunches, cleaning rooms, and shopping Walmart since forever. I know basic first aid and health. I learned how to budget, do taxes and clip coupons. I read up on childcare and even parenting -- just for fun. I've talked to my mother and older women about respecting husbands, raising kids and every homemaking subject under the sun.
I am not perfect, I am not particularly talented, but I am capable.
Many women encouraged us homemakers-in-training by recounting how college and career halted their advancement in the home arts -- they couldn't even boil water. (As a side note, if you cannot get a pot, put in water, set it on the stove, turn it on high and wait for bubbles, you cannot succeed in anything else in life.)
I do not deny that it may take a little bit of concentrated training to learn basic skills if you did not grow up folding your own laundry and whipping up spaghetti for hungry siblings. Any skill takes some focus, a little practice (and a pinch of luck in my case). But I do not understand how we can say that a girl who grew up knowing how to do everything needs more practice and training until her husband arrives.
Some will say, "But I've been a homemaker for twenty-plus years and I'm still learning!" or "Homemaking isn't just pushing a vacuum -- it's raising kids and loving a husband." But that is just the point: an unmarried girl can learn every skill her mother has and still not be ready for marriage, motherhood and full-time homemaking. There's a learning curve in being the mistress of one's own house, of loving one's own husband, of raising one's own children. That's the difference between training and doing. All the experience in the world cannot erase that initial bump in the road.
That reasoning did not convince me, needless to say. During the summer, I would (pretend to) buckle down and be a real-life, honest-to-goodness homemaker-in-training. I would do my chores, straighten my room and ask my mother what she needed me to do. Generally I handled meal rushes or helped with shopping -- a total of maybe two or three hours a day. She didn't have anything else for me to do. Whenever she told me to run off and do whatever, I felt this horrible squeeze in my soul: that was it? There was nothing left for me to do? Nothing?
There wasn't. My mother is a very capable homemaker. My sisters are more helpful than I am. When we all pitch in, the homemaker-in-training work is done -- in a snap. What's left is mother/head-homemaker/wife stuff. I can sew and I can bake cookies and I can read a book on child training -- but there was no way I could live my days until indefinite and unsure marriage defined by something that lasted no more than a few hours.
Permit me to go so far as to say that I don't think the full-time homemaker-in-training exists. The prominent ones who advocate this lifestyle have their own businesses or work for their fathers. Most of the women raising homemakers have young daughters. This is such untested ground. Full-time mothers and homemakers are some of the busiest people on earth: I get that, I've seen it, and I don't wish to diminish the importance or difficult of homemaking, boots on the ground.
I only wish to be Captain Obvious in a sea of idealism. Homemaking skills and women who love home life are a must -- but it does not take years to dust a shelf properly. Just something to think about.