How do we become the quintessential homemaker? Do we have fine homes with matching sofa and love seat against soft tan walls in our suburbia? Do we cook fine meals from the Joy of Cooking and decorate cakes that compete with the local bakery in the gentrified part of the city? Do we throw excellent parties that are the talk of the town? Do we have perfect hair and pressed jeans?
If so, I’m in a lot of trouble. My home is shabby chic with nothing…and I emphasize nothing matching. I bake cakes in a large pan and stick dinosaurs or mini cars on top and call it a day. I used to have barb q’s and pot lucks. If I’m feeling generous I cook up tons of vegan Mexican food for the party. I wear headbands to hide years of bad hair cuts and chunks of grey hair. I sport stains proudly. It is a sign of a busy cook, that is what I say. I am the queen of surface cleaning. I talk big about baking all sorts of bread but I only have two breads under my hat. White and Wheat. Boring!
But here is what makes me and you special. We are home!! We keep the home hearth burning strong so when the school age children and breadwinner open that front door we are in the kitchen stirring a stew on the stove top and the smell of fresh bread is wafting through the house mingled with simmering vegetables and chicken. When the morning sun rises we are in our kitchen in our fluffy robe brewing coffee and talking with the little ones about dinosaurs and super heroes. We are there to pat the dog on the head and let the cat out the back door. We are there to feed everyone down to the birds and backyard squirrels. We are there to take soup to the sick neighbor across the street or to feed the other neighbors dog when they are out of town. We mow our lawns when the husband is working long hours and we are always home to councel someone or just lend an ear.
I am often found with my apron on and it’s not a facade. I’m one busy little house frau. This week I washed the windows inside and out (after putting it off two years), I shampooed carpets after a long winter of cat fur ball vomit and a dog that peed on the Christmas tree twice. Damn hound. I also planted my backyard kitchen garden and my new second kitchen garden in the front yard. I fed and fertilized every fruit and nut tree and every inch of soil with my new chicken fertilizer pellets.
I’m always busy learning a new dish, working my garden, rearranging furniture for that perfect “feng shui flow”, and feeding a new stray cat. What is my purpose at home? To nurture and love on and feed everything that walks into my home and yard. Amen!
I’ve been in this position for seven years and still figuring it out. It was a house cleaner that taught me what truly deep cleaning looks like with rags and buckets and washing a floor on one’s knees…and cleaning blinds…what the hell? It was my stint as a vegan last year that brought out my most creative cooking side as I tried to veganize all our favorite dishes. I became a baker when I went into ultra frugal mode.
Am I good with the finances? I’m alright. I’m frugal with a side of Amazon. Hey, who’s perfect. I don’t hang out in malls, no, I hang out at Goodwill or big thrift stores and blow wads of money once or twice a year. I love hand-me-downs and half my house and most of our wardrobe are free gifts that others found no use for.
There is no need to compete with other homemakers. We see these superstar housewives on YouTube or Pinterest. Remember, we can all look perfect and fabulous long enough to record a vlog or take a photo. The day to day grind is a lot messier and less attractive. We should look at the photos and watch the vlogs to get ideas and inspiration…not to self-criticize that we don’t have it so together.
Homemaking is an art that takes years to master. It is a journey through mothering, nurturing, cleaning, creating nourishing foods, being imaginative with that little paycheck the spouse hands you monthly to make magic with. It is a fun, interesting game to be played with wit, cunning, and all the advice you can cul from other women and men that came before. Find people that you can relate to and are working with the same tools and budget you are working with. Don’t try and follow the wealthy housewife if you are on a beer budget. Don’t try for the Home and Garden look if you are occupying a double-wide trailer. Do find cute trailers on Pinterest. Do get yourself The Complete Tightwad Gazette or We Had Everything But Money from the library.
Learn simple dishes. I have The Joy of Cooking and I’ve never used it. I have Dining on A Dime and Dump Dinners and I use those all the time.
Many big homes are empty these days. Houses have doubled in size and, ironically, no one is home to enjoy the grandeur because they have doubled in cost and everyone in the house must work and go to school to afford this lonely structure that sits listless and bored during the day with the dog in the backyard laying about depressed and neglected. Homes have energy. It is believed in metaphysics that all objects have vibrational energy, even down to the nail. I believe it and I see these neglected houses begin to crumble and leak over the years. They are hungry for life to fill them and to have a hand repairing and washing them constantly. Our house was abandoned for years and looked it, but with lots of elbow grease, paint, homesteading, and love it came back to life. We have not had a leak or issue in two years, the house is so grateful it serves us well.
So, return home, throw in a load of laundry, start chopping a basket of veggies to make a big soup, get out the flour, dig up the back yard and plant some seeds, take the dog for a walk, and cut those coupons and know that you have taken on a wonderful, love filled job that will serve your family and yourself for decades to come.
So, I must go now. I have a pot of pinto beans to simmer and my wash is done and ready to be hung out.