The Maker of the Home
Once again, I sat, pen poised in mid-air, muscles slightly tensed, and mind perplexed. I tried to stifle the deep sigh that I knew was right at the surface. Every time it was the same. The setting might change slightly. It could be a doctor’s office, the orthodontist, or maybe even a dance studio or music school. I faced the space on the form the same way every time- the blank titled- Occupation. For many years, I could write in STUDENT. Eventually, I earned the right to fill in with the word TEACHER. But for the last 19 years, I have been neither, or both, but none officially.
For 19 years, I have been at home working at this thing called mothering. I have kept 6 people fed, clothed, clean, and loved. I have lit candles, played music, decorated, and created. I have learned to cook and bake. Sewing, not so much! I have wiped tears, noses, and behinds. I have tied a million shoe laces. I have cleaned rooms, cars, and vomit! I have been the official finder of lost things. I have brushed and detangled miles of hair. I have read classics in picture books and chapter books. I have taken gazillions of pictures and I have been in very few. I have nursed the babies and the sick. I have attempted to create a haven for my family from the world.
I have mentored and discipled four humans. I have taught them every subject in every grade in a standard curriculum along with some not so standard options. I have encouraged, prodded, chastened, listened, hugged, and equipped. I have launched some into the world and led them to work, learning, and ministries suited to their unique selves. I have been driven to my knees many times seeking strength, resilience, and patience. So. Much. Patience.
But that won’t all fit in the space allotted for OCCUPATION. What’s a mom like me to do? What do you do? For a while, I stretched the truth a bit and wrote in SELF-EMPLOYED. Not a lie, really. But I was only writing that out of some deep- seated need to be accepted by whomever would read the form. Sounds pathetic, right? I mean does anyone in the office actually look at the Occupation line?
I guess the problem is that there isn’t really one word that describes my chosen field of work. Stay at home mom sounds so limited. It sounds as if I am locked in the house; a prisoner guarded by my own offspring! Homemaker is a fine title, of course. But in today’s world, who can relate to what that really means? I do not vacuum every day in heels and pearls. I do not stand at the door every morning handing each family member a homemade packed lunch and waving good-bye as they go off to adventures and I go back into my clean and quiet house. Wait a minute! That actually sounds pretty good! Homemaker should suffice, but something felt off. The title still wasn’t quite clear enough. I needed something that spoke to what I truly did.
So, last month when I once again faced the dreaded form, I had an epiphany of sorts. I can write whatever I want. No one is going to deny me services if I write author, cook, maid, educator, or caregiver. I was tempted to write in CIRCUS PERFORMER just to see if anyone actually reads the whole form. Maybe one day I will get up the nerve. I’ll let you know if I get a response.
Instead, I wrote MAKER OF THE HOME. Because that is what I do. I make a home for the people I love. I don’t make it perfect, by any means, but I make it. I make it for them every day. Over and over. And it’s quite a job. A lot of responsibility. I think on my feet, survive on little sleep, and multitask like a boss. I’ve had 19+ years of on the job training and experience. I am deemed an essential employee. I get a lot of overtime! The salary may not be six figures. Heck, it’s not even one figure! But, my earnings are beyond measure. I am wealthy in a way no paid job could ever produce. I make a great living. I make a living by making a home. And that is something to be proud of.