I have had a lot of time to sit an reflect on things the past few days. I was reading a lot on social media and I was very happy to see several accounts on Twitter and Instagram with the same views as I do. Now, I do not mean views when it comes to religion or politics but about lifestyle choices. Even though I am working hard to become a successful blogger, I am a homemaker. Homemaking is my occupation, but I hope to add blogger to that as well. I wanted to start this blog to connect with others like myself and have an outlet to share my thoughts, feelings, and experiences with others so that I might be able to help someone. It was comforting to see some accounts who are also encouraging and uplifting women who choose homemaking as their occupation or profession.
I talk about my decision in my About page a bit. But, I wanted to expand on it a bit more
I always knew I wanted to be a stay at home mom once my hubby and I had children. But, I wanted to have some time to start a career before doing so. As you know, that wasn’t really what happened for me. I went to school for six years and earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree but was never able to find steady work in my field for one reason or another. For several years I have felt like a complete failure because I didn’t reach my arbitrary goals I set for myself when I was still in high school. I also felt foolish to even think about calling myself a homemaker before becoming a mom.
However, when I first got inspired to start this blog, my worldview changed a whole lot when it comes to the world of homemaking. I would like to show you this process below.
In high school I knew I was going to go to college and start a career. Honestly, I did not have plans for a husband. Not because I didn’t want one, but because I was overweight, and friend zoned so much in high school I never thought I anyone would want to marry me. Yes, I was absolutely unaware of my own self-worth at the time (a subject for another post).
I attended DOD (Department of Defense) schools for five years. These schools are made available to military and civilian personnel stationed overseas. They are basically private schools with some of the highest paid teachers in the world. The DOD has very high standards for these teachers, so they had to compensate them accordingly. The school as well as the DOD highly encouraged all their students go to college. If you do not go to college right after high school it better be because you enlisted into the military. Anything else is considered a failure. Now, they did not outright say that you have failed in life if you do not join the military or go to college, but the pressure they give to make those choices was definitely there. Trade schools were not even discussed when I would talk with my guidance counselor my junior and senior years of high school.
To be honest, I probably would not have attended college if I had known more about culinary school when I was in high school. I love to bake and might have done very well as a pastry chef. But, those options were never shown to me.
My parents also encouraged college to me all the time. I do not fault them because when I was growing up that was always pushed by schools and media as the ONLY way to be successful in life. My parents always wanted me to be happy and successful in life. I have been told my entire life by family and teachers how smart I was. Apparently, being smart means that you MUST go to college. At least that what I was told in school. I would have never passed a physical to join the military. I was overweight due to medications and had too many physical ailments that Uncle Sam would not have been willing to cover. So, my only other option (that I knew of) was to go to college.
I started college in fall of 2008. This was shortly after getting a boyfriend (who later became my husband). I know, I couldn’t believe I had a boyfriend right as I was starting college, especially with how I viewed myself. I was working very hard on my degree and maintained a 4.0 for the first three years of school. I changed majors in my second year to education because I thought it made better sense. I loved kids and was always told how great of a teacher I would be. So, it seemed like a no-brainer. I had my ten-year plan all figured out. I was going to finish school, marry my hubby, start my career, then I would have babies and become a homemaker or stay at home mom.
I graduated a semester early in the fall of 2011. Hubby and I got married in July of 2012. I accepted a job offer at a preschool two days before my wedding and started a week after we returned from our honeymoon. The plan was that I was going to work while my hubby was going through school to earn his degree with his GI Bill.
Judging the Choices of Others
Being a young homemaker was never discussed. It was almost frowned upon to even discuss becoming a young mother by choice. Girls I knew who had babies shortly after high school were believed to only do so by accident, not that they wanted that. There was almost an unspoken discrimination against young homemakers. Looking back, this is strange since the military community has a lot of spouses who are homemakers. It is hard for spouses to pursue a career outside the house when they have to relocate every couple of years. This is the first time I saw myself judging others for their choices. I would never say anything to them, but I remember always thinking, “well, at least I am going to college so I can start my career and make something of myself before becoming a mom”.
I am kicking myself for those statements now. But, I honestly felt like I was doing the right thing. I was almost indoctrinated into thinking that there is only one “right” way to be successful in life. I had additional pressure put on myself (by what I was told in school and by myself) because I only had a finite amount of time to become “successful” and have children since I will only be able to have children for so long. It was also understood in my school that children would get in the way of reaching your goals. So, I had to make sure to reach my goals before children or else I never will.
I quit that job I accepted right before my wedding after about two months. The school had just opened and had a lot of growing pains that I was not ready for as a brand-new teacher straight out of college. They also were having a hard time paying their staff. I always got my full check, but I literally could not clock in early or out late. They had no spare funds, even if they needed me. It made for a hard time. I was just getting the hang of running a classroom and had to deal with other things that I really shouldn’t have had to.
It took me three months to find another job. It was at a day care this time. I was treated horribly there. I was one of three teachers with a degree even though they advertised that all their teachers (yes all of them) had four-year degrees. They took advantage of my lack of experience and overworked me. The administration also undermined my authority with my class daily and then wonder why my kids weren’t listening to me. I kept complaining about conditions and ended up getting fired a day before my health insurance was about to kick in. Something I later learned happened a lot.
Back to School
After losing my job I decided that I needed to go back to school. That had to be why I was struggling so hard in finding my place in the world. I simply did not have enough skills. The only way (in my brain) to gain those skills was to go back to school. I also realized I HATED being a teacher. So, I went back to psychology and social sciences and earned my MA in Human Services Counseling. I love working with people and kids, but I am not equipped to deal with all the nonsense that comes with being a teacher.
While going through grad school I got a job at the local community college as a part-time writing tutor. I loved this job. I was able to work with students to help them with their writing assignments as well as admissions applications for college. A lot of veterans came through the writing lab and I was able to work with them quite a bit as well. In fact, several would request that I work with them specifically. My co-workers weren’t always pleased, but I loved that I was connecting with and helping people.
Feelings of Inadequacy
After I had finished grad school, several family emergencies happened in rapid succession and my health deteriorated a bit from all the stress. I ended up having to quit my tutoring position after two years there because I just could not get to work. I was so zapped of energy at the time that getting dressed was an achievement some days. I had struggled with chronic pain and fatigue since high school, but it was never as bad as this time in my life.
I had found a way to work from home as a writing tutor to help pay our bills and supplement the stipend my husband was getting from his GI Bill. But I couldn’t help but feel like a failure. I just completed a degree and it seemed like I would never be able to use the skills I learned in the real world. The ability to make a difference in the world seemed to be slipping through my fingers.
Struggling to Find My Place
I have yet to find a paid position in my field of study since finishing grad school. There are a lot of volunteering opportunities where I can work with the military community, but never in a counseling or advocacy role. Everything I have come across is nothing more than filling care packages or sewing blankets. Those are great opportunities to help the community, but not something that made my going back to school worth it.
When my husband and I were both struggling with unemployment I could not get a job to save my life. Employers would tell me that I was under qualified for positions in mental health clinics and overqualified for fast food or retail positions. I also lack a lot of necessary skills for those kinds of jobs. I have never worked on a cash register before. Then, the tutoring opportunities seemed to have gone away. Suddenly no one needed a writing tutor anymore. So, there I was sitting there with skills from six years of higher education and somehow unable to land a job.
To make things worse, my dad told me a story about my Discrete Math teacher I had my senior year of high school. I didn’t even realize this teacher paid any attention to me let alone take some kind of personal interest in me. Apparently my teacher approached my dad at some event and was flabbergasted at the fact that I was majoring in Psychology. My dad told me my teacher believed I had the mind of an engineer and I am wasting my intelligence on Psychology. My dad is an engineer and he told me that he just shrugged and told my teacher that psychology is what I enjoyed and that is what I wanted to do. It kind of stung to think that I may have made a bad decision in careers or that I didn’t meet the expectations my parents made for me.
I just turned 29 in June and I can’t help but think about what my parents had accomplished by the time they were my age. My mom worked at a bank and worked a social services job with the Muscular Dystrophy Association. She was also a single mother with my older brother. She was dating my dad at the time and he was a freshly commissioned officer when they first met. My dad was 29 when I was born. They were full fledged adults and productive members of society in their 20s. I can’t help but compare and realize that I haven’t accomplished nearly as much as they did by the time they were 29.
But, something was still eating at me. I still haven’t found my place of contentment for myself. I have the amazing parents and husband. But, what am I supposed to do with my life?
I do have things that I am very proud of though. I was blessed to have amazing parents and have the lifestyle I did growing up. I got to tour Europe and Asia all before the age of 18. But, that was because of my dad’s hard work. However, I was the first woman on my mom’s side to earn a bachelor’s degree and the first woman on my both sides to earn a master’s degree. That is something I will always take pride in regardless of what life throws at me.
I try my best to not be depressed or down on myself for very long. I find it foolish to be depressed or upset when I think about what other people go through. But, this has still been a struggle for me, nonetheless. After my husband started working, I had a lot of free time on my hands and I was given the opportunity do a real audit on my life. I realized that a lot of my life choices were made because I thought I was doing the right thing. Or I made those choices because someone else told me it was the right thing to do. It seemed that no matter how hard I tried, something still seemed to fall apart.
Around Christmas last year I had an epiphany. I might be having such a hard time “finding my place in the world” because I was already where I am supposed to be. It is around the holiday time that I have always had a sense of fulfillment. The holidays are where I get to cook big meals and bake up a storm to give to friends and family. We also make care packages to donate to the Fisher House or other local non-profits. I also love hosting parties and just taking care of people (My Enneagram is 2w3 if that helps anyone understand me better 😊). So, why can’t I find a way to keep that feeling throughout the year? I fought it for so long, but I really was where I needed to be as a homemaker.
After that ah-ha moment I had all kinds of feeling about my revelations. I felt a sense of relief because I do feel like I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing in my life. But, I also felt regret in my choices. I sat ant thought to myself, “why did I waste all of that time and my parents’ money on college if all I am going to do is be a homemaker”. But whenever I pictured my future, it was never in some corner office, or an office at all for that matter. I always pictured myself spending time with my husband and doing things with my future kiddos. Those were my wants even in high school when I didn’t even think I would get married. That’s when I also realized I needed to stop essentially repressing my true aspirations.
So, I had to retrain myself to stop disregarding the work that homemakers do. Being a homemaker or a stay at home mom is a lot of work and you can’t just clock out at the end of the day This is where I had an idea!
Starting the CHO
I grew up in the 90s and it was all about girl power then. I swear every teen magazine praised the women who had careers and families or “had it all” and would never really discuss women who chose to be homemakers. If they did, it was to criticize homemaking as outdated and backwards to society today. There is almost a stigma out there keeping women from being open about wanting to be homemakers. I’ve heard commentators in the media or read comments on social media that women who want that have somehow been “brainwashed by the patriarchy” or “x” other negative reason.
As you read above, the environment I grew up in echoed what was being discussed in the media. Women certainly can do anything and everything they want to do. Some women can “have it all” by working full time as well as being a wife and a mother. But, there are a lot of women out there who think they can “have it all” by being a homemaker.
Women should be encouraged to do whatever makes them happy. But, at least in my circle and what I have been exposed to my entire life, homemaking isn’t encouraged nor is it widely accepted as an actual choice. I’ve gotten comments since I started talking about being a homemaker that this choice was made solely because of circumstances.
They believe that if I were offered my dream job that I wouldn’t think this way. That is incorrect. When I met my husband before we got married, I told him that no matter what job I had, when we had kids, I would be a homemaker. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Circumstances simply made me a homemaker sooner than I thought. That was always the ultimate goal in my life. I always wanted to stay at home with my children because that is how I was raised, and I can’t imagine what life would be like if my mom worked out of the house.
The Homemaker Before Me
Remembering how I grew up helped inspire me to start this blog. My mother became a homemaker when she married my dad. She became a military spouse and it was hard to keep a career with how often my dad got reassigned. Then, when I was born, I was a sick baby and my brother was in high school and was in a lot of activities. My dad was away a lot when I was growing up, so my mom had to do everything around the house. So, she was always too busy to even think about working outside the home. My left for the Navy when I was four. Even though it was just me at home, my mom was still busy since I was starting to join activities and go to school. My mom was a room mom a lot when I was in school.
Wearer of Many Hats
My mom always joked that she wore many hats. One day she was a party planner, the next an electrician because something went out at the house. She juggled a lot of responsibilities as a homemaker. Some days were harder than others, but she always seemed to make things work.
My dad was an officer and with that comes expectations for the spouses to take part in various organizations. I was an infant when Desert Storm started. People were given deployment orders and some at our base had to leave quickly. There were couples where both individuals were active duty and received orders and had children or single parents who got orders. There was a revolving door at one point in our house where my mom would take the kids in until another family member could get to town and take care of them. Or, my mom would have to organize events for my dad’s Airmen. So, in addition to everything at home, she had full time work just to help support my dad and others in his organization. This was on top of doing whatever was necessary for me for school or after-school activities. As I got older and was able to do more for myself, my mom started doing more volunteer work for the community.
Being a Homemaker Really is a Full-Time Job
Since realizing that I was where I needed to be as a homemaker, I have felt so much more content in where I am in my life. My anxiety is gone, and my overall stress has decreased tremendously. I do not feel like I am in some kind of uphill battle to meet all these arbitrary expectations I had put on myself. Once I realized that society is going to judge me no matter what I decide to do with my life, I just chose to do what makes me happy. What makes me the happiest is taking care of my family.
Regardless of what some people may say, being a homemaker is tough. It is never-ending and can be overwhelming sometimes because of that. I run the finances for my hubby and I. That means I pay the bills, manage the budget and I am currently researching retirement plans to see what kind of savings plan works best for us. I clean the house (I need to get better about scheduling the cleaning routine), cook meals, do laundry, run errands, schedule appointments, etc. There are some days where I am following my hubby out the door as he leaves for work in the morning and he beats me home in the afternoon because my day is so packed with appointments and errands that need to be completed.
Because I have all these responsibilities, I do not see where I would ever have the time to put a job outside the house on top of that. When we have children, things are going to become even more hectic too! Women who work outside the house and have children deserve capes. I honestly do not know how they do it.
One Choice is Not Ultimately Better Than the Other
I have tried my best to be clear about this topic. But, I will repeat, being a career woman is not “better” than being a homemaker. Nor is being a homemaker “better” than being a career woman. These choices have everything to do with circumstances. Being a homemaker is better for me and my family. It might not be for you and your family. If a woman can stay at home and wants to, then, be a homemaker. However, if the finances do not allow it, that is okay too. If finances allow you to stay home, but you want to work, then work.
But what we as women need to STOP doing is judging people who make different decisions than our own. If a woman chooses to be a homemaker, that does not take away from your own accomplishments. It also does not send women as a whole back to the dark ages.
If you made it this far in the post, congratulations! I am almost done, I promise. I had a lot to unload on this topic. I’m 99% sure I will write more on this later. It is important to me that people understand how I got to the place I am today and why I wanted to start this blog. I am still very new in the world of blogging and I am sure I will come across a lot of homemakers who have found a way to blog and share their experiences as well.
I am not saying that I am doing anything new or unique. What I wanted to share was that in my little world I have grown up and lived in, homemaking was not celebrated as I think it should be. It is an amazing lifestyle and can be very fulfilling for women who choose it. Therefore, I gave homemakers a fancy title of The Chief Homemaking Officer; because homemakers are so much more than “just” housewives.
Question of the Week
Are you a CHO? Did you have a similar struggle leading up to your decision to become a homemaker?