Posted by: Brenda Kula | March 11, 2008

Occupation Homemaker

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I am a homemaker. That is my title. It is, anyway, how people categorize me when they’re asking what my "occupation" is. And I often feel a wee bit chagrined when I give that answer. Because then they tend to ask, "But do you have a job?" Or, "Have you ever worked?"

Do any of you other "homemakers" ever feel that way? Or you poor thankless "stay-at-home" Moms? I held that title once too.

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Actually, I do a little bit of everything. I wash dishes and then line them back up on the shelves as if they’re soldiers in formation. (Yes, I’ll admit I’m anal about that.) I tend to gardens, see after pets and elderly neighbors, do volunteer work, decorate my home, see that the lawn is mown on the side of my garden home that has grass. (I don’t do mowing. When I was a child I watched my grandmother get her finger clipped off in the motor of one, and won’t go near a lawnmower.)

I am a handyman. Uh, woman. Why don’t they ever say "handywoman?" There are lots of us who are handy, certainly.  I run all sorts of errands. I buy groceries and fix food. I do laundry. There is a long list of things I do each day. I even multi-task when there isn’t really very much of a need. I just don’t like to waste time. At the checkout line, I find myself glancing at my watch. Then as I get into my car I ask myself why one earth I just did that? Unless I have a doctor’s appointment or something. I suppose it’s from being a mother of two girls who were once dependent on me to get them to softball games and school and such. They’re grown now of course. But once a mother, always a mother.

I listened to my daughter last week collapse into tears on the phone because she doesn’t have any time to herself now that she’s the mother of a four year old son. I was telling her what she could do with her yard to bring a little color to it for less money. "I don’t have five minutes to take a shower!" she wept. And I felt guilty for some reason, because I do. Have five minutes, that is. Then I quickly told myself, I was once in her shoes. Desperate for an hour just to go by myself to the library. 

But I’m not retired, you must understand. Homemakers don’t retire. We still clock a lot of miles, even though our young has left the nest. We now schedule the pet’s medication instead of our childrens’. We find ourselves volunteering to help those who are older, because we feel it is our place to do so.

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Once we have the time, we take it upon ourselves to make sure our homes are cozy and warm. We knit or crochet or make quilts by hand. Plant gardens. Decoupage or paint furniture. Whatever our particular talent is. Anything to put our own little touch on things.

I feel content if there is the aroma of pot roast wafting from my kitchen when someone drops by. If everything smells freshly laundered. If there are few weeds in my gardens. Then I feel as if I’ve "contributed" and done my fair share.

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I can’t really say what got me on this particular topic today. You reach your fifties and something just shifts inside you. You are no longer able to have children. You have, in effect, handed this task down to the next generation. And relegated yourself to "grandmotherly" pursuits.

Which means, however, that you also have reached an esteemed position in life. You babysit, but then hand them back over to their parents when they misbehave. This is something you have earned. A "dividend," if you will.

So when someone at a party asks you, "What is it you do? – I want you to proudly reply, "I do everything." 

   

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Responses

  1. Brenda, I’m a “stay at home mom”, sometimes a “domestic engineer” and other times I tell people that I watch tv and eat bonbons in bed all day (really!). Now that one daughter is off to college and the other in highschool I get the feeling that most people wonder why I don’t “work”. Yet, during garden season it takes me up to 40 hours a week to keep this garden in order! Oh well, I still love my life.

  2. Will the day ever come when SAH’s don’t have to defend themselves?

    I once declared on my income tax return my occupation was Home Manager–without pay and zero taxes.

    Your reflections on time spent is familiar though I still have young ones at home. I am at the point now, where I know one is going to leave soon (he’s almost 17) and am trying to picture how the void will be.

    I loved the reply to the old compartmentalizing question: What do you do? I WILL proudly say “I do everything!” –Thanks

  3. Hi Brenda,

    I LOVED this post..everything hit home. I will remember to say I do EVERYTHING.

    Nice to meet you,
    Kathy 🙂


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