I am pretty confident these days with my life and who I am. It’s taken decades and a lot of soul searching, turning myself inside out, and hundreds of books. I’m also in my 40’s and I believe that, at this point, I’m just tired of the drama around trying to fit in or keep up. I stepped off the main path with all the others a while back and now I just wander around looking at the brightly colored flowers and enjoying the sights.
As a writer and homemaker, I’ve gone through the insecurities of not being good enough, creative enough, blah, blah, blah. Oh, and then you add motherhood. The three topics could put me in therapy for days. At what point do we know we are doing a great job just as we are and doing just what we are doing? How fabulous, fun, and sparkly do we have to get to feel like we are top dog? Do we have to be top dog?
I had been writing some homemaking and frugal housewife books when I looked about one day and realized I just would not cut it with the Martha Stewarts of this world. Not even close. I keep a fairly clean, tidy, and very cozy house, I cook good food that my family loves, I follow many old fashioned housewife traditions, my kids have a great life and our home is happy, and I’m pretty good at working with a shoestring budget. But am I making first prize worthy pies from blackberries we picked by the river? No. Do I have stains on our clothes and are my fitted sheets wadded up in the linen closet because I have long ago decided it wasn’t a priority to figure out how to fold the dang things? Yes.
As a matter of fact, I just learned a new product for getting really old sinks clean six years later and I was looking up tips on laundry washing yesterday because my laundry looks so grungy at times. I like to blame it on my used and inefficient washer.
The point is this, I fall short, way short of being this amazing homemaker with a home worthy of a magazine layout. As a writer, I have no awards nor have I made it on any lists as a top writer. I have a total of 134 followers on my blog. I do sell around 30 books a day, however, I think that the price of .99 cents per book helps. My fiction is flat in the water. I’ve been back to reading my Amish fiction and I love it but what is making these books sell? They are obviously dealing with a word quota. You can tell with all the fillers. the characters think just a little too much. The feelings are repeated and mulled over a little too often. Descriptions that could be summed up in a sentence but go on for paragraphs. The plots are so simple and yet suck me in so I can’t put the book down and get back to my dish washing (which can be more adventurous than the climax of the book itself at times). But these books have become very popular and have huge fan bases.
I’m still trying to break the secret code of writing fiction that people get addicted to. Or that will even sell at my meager .99 cents. Or that I can even give away for free…
I spent time with a neighbor yesterday and, upon her request, I wrote a letter to the county on behalf of the neighborhood and their misery with the housing units across the street that have brought our sweet little neighborhood a taste of the American slums. I cooked a delicious summer dinner complete with homemade sugar-free cheesecake. The table was set with a tablecloth and all the good food. I’ve been focused on doing the little things such as us all sitting at the table and eating all our meals as a family. As we sat at the table I asked my oldest son why he was smiling so. He replied that he was happy because of the good food and being with me. He’s five and learning the simple pleasures already. Food, family, atmosphere, and community. Maybe I’m not doing such a poor job after all.
And it really is that simple. Happy family, delicious home cooking, and a cozy and clean home. Who cares if I can’t fold laundry to save my life and that my new urban farm can be described as funky-charm? So, my silverware drawer is a mess and I have stains in my tub?
I go through a day now and then where I feel not so accomplished. But the question should be…what am I trying to accomplish and for whom?
In Christianity we are taught to glorify God with our work and taking care of what we are blessed with, sharing our God given talents. Our highest and top priority is to serve the Lord. Then Family and work and mankind. To the best of our abilities.
My only advice to other mothers and homemakers from my own basket of life knowledge is this (and it comes after years of suffering and stress in trying to be more than or other than what I truly am):
Practice mindfulness. Be present with the day, the moment, your child. Sweeping the floor can be one of the most relaxing activities. There are times I have chosen to sweep over vacuuming because the very act soothed my mind. Making a bed, washing dishes…these can create a moment of peace and reflection.
Put God first. I always thought this was some corny Christian mumbo jumbo. Christians trying to be soooo Christian. Did I mention I was raised a hardcore atheist? It’s taken a long time and a lot of research for me to come to the Lord, as they say. I now have a strong and solid faith and my roots are growing deeper all the time. Not to say I don’t still give pause with certain things in the Bible or question this world and all God’s critters, human and furry. However, the more I turn to God and put my life in His hands, the more my life improves, the more I do and say and have the right things, the more peace and joy I fill up on. Reading the Bible and going to Church gives me and my family a solid foundation upon a rock. How to live your life, be a wife and husband, how to raise a family and reach out to others is all in the New Testament and, for someone who was raised without tools in coping and living, it is a guide to a life filled with light. Not rules, just a guide to finding true freedom and love.
A happy family and mate should be the priority. Not pleasing others or over scheduling your family. A family that is happy and healthy, that learns manners and how to reach out to each other with love. That is the most important. You can’t learn that in college or have it with important jobs and titles. This is practicing heart and teaching this to your family. This should extend to neighbors and the community.
Cooking from scratch. This is what makes that house a cozy home. Families that cook and eat together have a sense of community. This is how we show our love and affection. This is also how we keep all the chemicals and junk out of our food and make sure our families get the best nutrition possible. Children build memories around baking with their mother or learning how to make curry with their father. Having all the smells of home cooking waft through the house on a cold autumn day or the smell of sugar cookies baking around the holidays…
A household budget. Get out of debt as fast as you can and learn to live under your means. Learn to live on one income even if you have two incomes and save the other paychecks like crazy. Learn the fun in being frugal and thrifty and the absolute freedom and peace of mind that comes from no debt and paying the bills with ease each month. This will create so much harmony in the marriage and the children will feel stability.
Cleanliness. The home should be clean. Organized and tidy is great. With a family, it is hard to keep the home in order all the time so you have to relax a bit. Create a cleaning schedule and have the family help. Children should learn chores and helping out at an early age. It teaches them community, how to be team players, and how to care for a family. A clean home is a way of taking pride in what you have whether you own or rent. Be grateful for a home and make it look scrubbed and bright. Decorate with what you have or set aside some funds to buy little things to spruce it up. An area rug, lamp, bookcase. Plant lots of flowers and plants. Doesn’t have to cost much and can make a huge difference.
Love your family like crazy, honor the mate and help him/her be the best person they can be. Support and nurture your family. Support and nurture yourself and take space when you need it. Don’t try and be perfect. It’s impossible and will make you a silly and boring person. Your kids won’t remember you for a sparkling floor. They will remember the times you took them to the park, the river, the forest and collected pine cones or watched movies with them and a big bowl of popcorn. They will remember the love, not how well you folded the laundry and got all those stains out.
The last bit of advice that is actually the biggest…and hardest to learn for some of us, is to find your happiness and learn to play…a LOT.