An “Inside Job”

By:  Jana Greene

“The career of motherhood and homemaking is beyond value and needs no justification. Its importance is incalculable.”
― Katherine Short

My kitchen sink is clean, and I’m proud of that.  I have dinner in the crock-pot, and I’m proud of that, too.  And my kids, who are now sixteen and nineteen, sit down with me and  talk to me about drama that is their lives.  And I’m grateful .  I am not an active member of the Outside World Workforce (can I call it the “OWW”?) right now.  I am a homemaker and a writer, just for this season in my life.

I worked from home when my daughters were small so that I could watch them grow up, and then…just when they hit the adolescent years, I entered the OWW.  Well, I was still Mom, of course.    I fed them, and clothed them, and loved them tremendously.  But I had other things to do, like work to put food on the table.

In 2004, going through a divorce sort of forced me into the OWW.  At first, I worked four part-time jobs with flexible hours to support my girls.  Eventually, it became simpler to work one full-time position to keep a roof over our heads.  My babies weren’t really babies anymore, although they needed me just as much at nine and twelve as they ever did in infancy.  With their parents divorcing and three moves in as many years, they probably needed me more. 

It is at this point that they became “latch-key kids”.   Once again, I became one of the mothers whose heads I had previously heaped the hot coals of judgment upon.  When life was easier, I had the luxury to judge.  Now, I was one of those mothers myself.

I am learning – slowly – that coals are for fueling compassion, not for heaping in judgment.  But I can be a slow learner.

Those mothers, they do what they have to do – and yes, sometimes what they want to do. 

I am glad that women have a choice visa vie working in the home and/or out of the home.  But I don’t believe she must work outside of the home to be successful.  There is success in a clean home, and dinner on the table, and in being present for your family in the moment.  I’m not sure when the value of those things diminished in society, but it’s sad that they have. Many women don’t get the opportunity to choose at all.  I have been both, at times.

My recent stint as a homemaker?  Caused by a series of unfortunate events, or so I’d believed when the first “domino” fell. 

 I am actually most fortunate.  For however long it lasts, I will enjoy caring for my family in ways that – to be honest – I resented having to care when I came home at the end of a long work-day.   Tired, fried, irritable and stressed-out.

A workday that was supposed to make me feel successful.

The truth?

Looking forward to my husband returning from a day at work – and doing the little things to remind him that he is appreciated… a luxury that I am enjoying to the fullest.  Making sure he has clean clothes and a hot meal at the end of the day?  I find that fulfilling.

Yeah.  I said it.

When my girls approach me after school or work to talk to me about what is going on/ not going on/ bothering them/ elating them/ the latest crush/the latest heartache….we talk about it.  We laugh a lot more these days, because I am not too exhausted to engage.  Again, to God be the glory that I can be present for them now, in this moment.  Time is fleeting, and they are so close to departure from the nest.  

Sooner or later (most likely sooner) I will again seek employment out “in the real world, and I will work hard at whatever job is next, and do my best to be successful.  This season, too, shall pass.

But I don’t feel “un-successful” now.   Not everyone smart and passionate finds fulfillment in the OWW.

Some women are  better at “bringing home the bacon and frying it up in a pan”.  I’m just not that good at “having it all”, I guess.  But I sure do love all that I have.

It is fulfilling.  And that’s the truth.