Sometime this summer, I was having one of those days where the laundry would just not do itself. As I bent over, sorting through the pile in front of the washing machine and getting it all loaded, I chuckled to myself.
“Well isn’t this a funny place to be.”
I know it sounds silly, but sometimes it still catches me off-guard that this is my primary gig.
The laundry and the cleaning, the cooking and caring. Housewifery skills is not what I studied in graduate school – and yet here I am, Vice President of Home Sweet Home Incorporated.
When I set off for my undergrad and then to get my Masters degree a few years later, I had big plans for some kind of important job that required wearing a beautiful pink suit.
I wasn’t sure exactly what the job would entail, but I knew I wanted to set the world on fire. I had a lot of great talents and I was ready to share them with others.
Imagine my surprise when, after our first son was born, I was dead-set on staying home.
I didn’t even recognize myself.
In the months while I was pregnant, I worked on finding childcare for our unborn baby. I could not imagine not going back to the job I loved. Even more, I couldn’t imagine being at home all the time. What would I possibly do?
And then our baby came.
Suddenly there was no where else in this great big universe I wanted to be than stuck at home with my sweet dumpling boy.
Here I am, five babies later, and I’m still amazed at just how fulfilling this job can be.
Of course there are days when it’s not fulfilling at all. There are times when I think life might be passing me by, that the outside world is whizzing past and I’m not so sure what I’ve contributed to the scene.
But those are generally fleeting thoughts, brought on by a whole host of human weakness. I’m not saying weakness is wanting to get a job, but all of us, no matter what our primary vocation in life, can start doubting the importance of our work.
Some days the laundry and cleaning doesn’t seem like much. Sometimes I wonder how in the world planning a menu and driving a carpool can change the world.
And then I look at my children – the souls entrusted to me and my husband to help raise and nurture – and I can’t think of one single thing that is more worthy of my time and energy and years of higher education.
In the time since quitting my job to stay home with our first baby, I’ve had a lot of wonderful outside-the-home opportunities. I’m a book author and a newspaper columnist. I do a lot of public speaking and I’m even on a talk show that films in Boston.
But I’m always amazed that when someone asks me what I “do” for a living, the first thing I say is “I’m a mom.”
Because that’s the most important gig I’ve got going. I might not always see the importance, somedays might feel a lot longer than others, but running our little home is the best contribution I can give to society.
This isn’t an argument for whether or not women should work outside the home. Lots of women do – some by choice and some because circumstances dictate that they must.
But each of us, no matter what our primary job might be, needs to recognize the importance of family life, of making the home a place where its residents are nurtured and loved, where the dignity and beauty of life is recognized and celebrated.
I’m changing the world one dirty sock at a time. We all are.