Emily is a wife, mother, reader, and knitter. She loves national parks, dark chocolate, and the Oxford comma. She blogs sporadically at ejfalke.wordpress.com.
Shortly after my second child was born, I confessed to my husband that ever since I had started my gig as a stay-at-home mom almost three years before, I had felt a little like a free-loader because I wasn’t contributing financially. Giving up my teaching career when my first child was born looked like a really foolish decision on paper: I had job security, a stable income, health insurance…all things my self-employed husband didn’t have. Things we were potentially giving up for our child. However, like a lot of decisions made with the Holy Ghost, we plunged into the unknown trusting that we would be caught by grace. And we definitely have been, although we acquired a few bumps and bruises on the way down. We’ve known uncertainty but not want. Our needs have always been met.
That uncertainty pushed me to feel like I needed to be working in some fashion, to be helping in some way, bringing in any kind of money to help us support ourselves. So I put my skills to use. I advertised on Craigslist and tutoring sites and tutored English in person. I tutored writing online. I did some freelance writing. I even worked in my husband’s office for a few months until that just wasn’t working for us as a couple anymore. I held onto my online tutoring job for another year, but it was just too much. I knew my brain and heart couldn’t handle working full-time outside the home, but I was frankly disappointed in myself for not being able to make a little part-time, at-home job work out. Having it there and trying to plan around my shifts was just too much for me emotionally, so I decided to quit that as well. And any “mompreneur” ideas I come up with just wouldn’t stick. So I gave up looking and was left with the guilt of not doing any kind of out-of-the-home work.
Maybe I would have felt better if I was a stellar homemaker. But, alas, I was not. I couldn’t cook well. My home was not super clean and organized. I didn’t plan special learning-play activities and crafts or spend the day playing with my daughter. I didn’t even blog regularly (which is so popular these days that it seems to be connected to homemaking). These were the things I felt like I should be doing if I wasn’t working, and I felt failure marked over so many parts of my life because I had all day with my little girl and often didn’t have a lot to show for it.
I hoped that the guilt would get better when I had two littles to take care of during the day, and that was the context of the conversation with my husband that changed the way I thought of my purpose in life. He was genuinely surprised at my feelings. He told me he was always grateful to come home to me being home with our children and he didn’t – and never had – felt like I needed to be earning money. He also told me in no uncertain terms to get rid of that guilt for good. As I sat in the rocking chair with that tiny infant boy in my arms, I felt a physical weight lift off my shoulders and drift off, out of my mind. I could breathe more easily. Suddenly the part of my brain that had held on to the idea that I wasn’t doing enough opened up and showed me all that I was doing instead.
As time went on, and freed from the burden of looking outside my home, I started to feel the Spirit prompt me in ways to make things run more smoothly inside my home. And that “stellar homemaker” I described above? Still not me, and never will be. But I’ve finally written these words by Marjorie Pay Hinckley on my heart: “We women have a lot to learn about simplifying our lives. We have to decide what is important and then move along at a pace that is comfortable for us. We have to develop the maturity to stop trying to prove something. We have to learn to be content with what we are.” And because of that, my home is genuinely a more happy, organized, and beautiful place for my kids and me to spend our days together.