I hate to admit this, but lately I’ve been really struggling with this whole stay-at-home-mom thing. There’s very little glory in being a mother, and a whole lot of gore. And I don’t feel like I’m spending my days wisely, because what have I got to show for it? A (mostly) clutter-free house, a basket of folded laundry yet to be put away, and a toddler who is still living and breathing? Great, I can keep a house relatively clean and tiny human being from the knife drawer.
Our kitchen soap dispenser broke on Sunday. So today, we headed over to Target to buy a new one. Such is my daily life, curling my hair to go to Target.
I’ve thought about going back to work, but I really struggle with that as well. When my kids look back twenty years from now, I don’t want them to think fondly of their babysitter. I don’t want them to think about how absent I was from their childhood and how I put a career first. (Granted, if we financially really needed me to go back to work, that’s a different story.) But I also don’t want my kids looking back twenty years from now and saying, “Look at all that Dad accomplished in his career! Mom, what did you do?” Is there a happy-medium to be found?
The (inaccurate) quote by C. S. Lewis has been floating around the internet these days: “The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only – and that is to support the ultimate career.” That’s great, but career? I wouldn’t exactly call making oatmeal, changing diapers and reading picture books a career.
And then I found the expanded, correct quote. It so turns out that in the book Letters of C.S. Lewis, Lewis wrote in a letter to a “Mrs. Ashton”:
“I think I can understand that feeling about a housewife’s work being like that of Sisyphus (who was the stone rolling gentleman). But it is surely in reality the most important work in the world. What do ships, railways, miners, cars, government etc exist for except that people may be fed, warmed, and safe in their own homes? As Dr. Johnson said, “To be happy at home is the end of all human endeavour”. (1st to be happy to prepare for being happy in our own real home hereafter: 2nd in the meantime to be happy in our houses.) We wage war in order to have peace, we work in order to have leisure, we produce food in order to eat it. So your job is the one for which all others exist…” (pg 447-Letter of CS Lewis 1988 ed.)
His perspective is refreshing, right? But my heart is still torn. The plan was to raise two babies, close together in age. And when they grew up a little, we’d raise two more babies. Our house would be overflowing with little children that needed time and attention. Giving that time and attention would be my job. But I don’t have a baby. Jack (compared to the time spent caring for an infant) is really self-sufficient now. I make him a peanut butter sandwich and he eats it.
I know this time will pass. I will be wishing for these good old days, longing for the peaceful, quiet solitude of the afternoon nap. But I’m living in the now, and I’m really struggling with it. What is my purpose? What is my tangible goal?