A sentiment I see a lot often when it comes to being a Housewife comes in two forms. The first is often that Homemaking “is impossible to do”, and usually comes from those who think that being a Traditional Housewife is unrealistic and unobtainable- a sentiment I honestly spit at the feet of. The second, though, is the sentiment that “I am a Failure” or “I am a bad Housewife”- or closely the closely related sentiment that “I would be a failure if I tried“. These sentiments, however, often come from those with their toes (or their whole bodies) in the water, who feel as if they just can’t keep up.
I recently came across the later of these sentiments in WordPress’s own Homemaker tags- specifically from Mrs. Gedhard, who writes:
Some days I feel like I am a complete failure as a housewife (I’m sure my husband would sometimes second those feelings). When we first got married and I started picturing our house, in my mind it was always clean and cozy. I should have known better. My house is pretty much always messy, I know I’m the worst housewife in history.
It’s distressing to me to see how often homemakers feel this much wight on their shoulders- and to see them so discouraged from it. I understand it, though.
I talk fairly regularly about the fact that Homemaking really is a lot easier than it seems to be to those who would make it out to be a consumptive, servile task that allows you absolutely no time to yourself. And I stick by that as what amounts to a career Homemaker; Homemaking doesn’t have to be a chore that has us rising 3 hours before everyone else and going to bed 3 hours afterwards, consumed with nothing more than everyone else’s needs. And with the right routine and time management skills? For most Women it really won’t be.
But regardless of how simple it truly can be… When you get right down to it, being a Homemaker is still grueling work. And it’s work very arguably sits on par with any other labor intensive job in the “real” market; people often don’t realize the kind of work that goes into managing even a small home, either; there is the budgeting and finances, the cleaning, the meal planning, meal prep, and cooking, the pets and the children if you have them, the regular home maintenance, and so on and so forth.
Being a Homemaker is comprised of millions of small tasks that on their own don’t seem all that difficult. But when you put them together and realize that you must do them roughly every day? You quickly realize how time consuming and monumental the act of Homemaking itself often is.
It’s tough, it’s time consuming, and most times it’s completely thankless. And let’s not forget about the intense pressure (for Women especially) to do it all to absolute perfection. Throw in the additional reality of Mental and Physical health issues that 1 out of every 5 Americans alone suffer from, and it adds a whole new layer of complexity to the equation.
So while I do revel in it, personally, and feel as if it can indeed be done with a little determination (and a lot of time management and planning)? even I have my own moments like this. In fact, everyone will at least once- even the most meticulously planned Homemaker. Because the fact of the matter is… Sometimes it’s just exhausting.
It’s exhausting to constantly have your work taken for granted. It’s exhausting to have your work devalued in our “modern and empowered” industrialized society. It’s exhausting to deal with the expectations of perfection day in and day out. And it’s exhausting because there’s just so much work- and that work is virtually never complete.
Sometimes…..A lot of the time, this is a thankless job. It’s all those little things you do on a daily basis to keep them clean, safe, and happy that they don’t really take notice to, because they don’t really need to. That is our job. – A Housewife’s Work
So here is what I want to say to you ladies (and men) who feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of tasks that we must accomplish within any given day: You are not the worst Homemaker in existence- and you certainly aren’t a failure.
So what if the dishes haven’t been done in a week and you’ve eaten takeout for the last 3 days straight? So the laundry didn’t get folded- and at this point you’re better off taking that mountain to the Laundromat just to get it done in a single go (a tip I highly recommend, by the way). It doesn’t matter if you’d rather sit and watch Netflix all day despite the fact that you know there are things that need to be done around the house… You are still not a failure.
What you are is a strong, capable person who provides what is arguably the most important cornerstone of life: A Home. And your work, whether others notice it or not, is valuable. More than that, it is valid… But right now, you’re also a person who is exhausted. And we’ve all been there; we’re not all Energizer Bunnies capable of running around beating our drums without a stop day in and day out. We are people.
Sometimes people just need motivation. Sometimes people need a better routine, or better time management. More important than motivation or routine, though, is the fact that sometimes people just need that 5 letter word; that thing that we like to treat as the most unholy blasphemy one can commit against work in our culture: A big, fat break.
Don’t measure yourself by the standards of others. If you consider a successful day having remembered to feed the cat, celebrate your success. If you forgot to water the plants or didn’t have time to scrub the tub, give yourself some slack. As someone who holds myself to a ridiculously high standard, there are usually boxes left unchecked at the end of the day. Even so, what I do accomplish is done for God. My husband and kids know I love them, and those unchecked boxes will be there the next day. – Andrea of Titus 2 Living
Taking a break doesn’t make you a failure. It reminds you that you are Human and (if you’re willing to listen) teaches you to temporarily prioritize yourself– and prioritizing yourself is an important thing to do; the fact of the matter is that you cannot help others unless you have helped yourself, first. You must make sure that your own needs and health are attended to before you start concentrating on making sure that others’ are. You’ll only damage yourself more in the process if you don’t.
So no, my dear, wonderful, and amazing Homemaker… You are not a failure. You are simply human– and you are a Human who may or may not feel as if the weight of the world is on your shoulders when it shouldn’t be; a Human who needs a break. Who needs a little encouragement or motivation. Who needs a new game plan. Who needs Gods’ know what… But you are certainly not a failure.
So breathe… Let the House go a bit longer without you. Relax a little. Regroup. Revitalize yourself… And then give it hell… Because you may often be underestimated (and often under respected)- both by yourself, and those around you. And sometimes it may never feel like you’ll crawl out from beneath this mountain of work… But you are still a force to be reckoned with.
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