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Be a Better, Not a Bitter, Homemaker

shelfcovering

I love Facebook because I get to see my friends’ adventures and stay connected with them, see my friends’ beautiful families, receive news alerts, recipes, devotionals, and inspirational articles. I also enjoy sharing silly things my kids do, post pictures, asking for advice, and occasionally sparking a debate or two. As a stay-at-home mom, it gives me an outlet to “visit” with other adults at different points in the day.

Unfortunately, some articles on my Facebook feed show a disturbing trend of bitter attitudes towards mothers, and sarcastic attitudes about motherhood and homemaking. One author reduced motherhood to being a housekeeper. Another article suggested locking your kids out of the house and letting them roam free, because someone will eventually feed or look after them. There was another post touting how proud they are to be a “lazy mom.” The shocking thing to me, is how many shares and “amen” sort of comments following the articles. One mom told another to “shut up and go back on Pinterest” after someone was aghast at how this blogger was talking about her children, lacing her article with four letter words to describe her role as a mother at home.

The reason these articles are so popular is because they relieve people of their feelings of inadequacy. These articles don’t inspire anything but giving up on growing as a mother and homemaker, while putting others down in the process. Crab bucket syndrome, all the way.

“Pinterest Mom” is a big word on the net. Really it’s a swipe at crafty, talented moms who are passionate about creative homemaking and making things special for their families. If you read comments from some of the articles I referenced, you will see comments criticizing Pinterest moms, and people saying they hate “helicopter moms.” Yes, the word “hate” is actually used. There’s a lot of free emotional energy out there if people actually hate others for doing crafts and keeping a close eye on their kids.

I think the problem is, many moms feel like they can never do enough. It’s very difficult to keep the house clean when you have children, and especially if you have small children and/or homeschool. So people get on Pinterest, and look at all the things other moms are doing – – sewing clothes, canning food, making gorgeous meals, and elaborate scrapbooks. All the while, you are sleep deprived from the baby, have jelly in your hair, and your house looks like a tornado hit. Although they have never declared themselves “perfect,” these moms who post – – these unsuspecting crafters  – –  have darts of resentment aimed that them, all because of their flair for making tissue paper look like a chrysanthemum, or because they are true artists when it comes to sculpting fondant.

Moms are tired and feel overwhelmed. I get it. I homeschool, which not only takes up an enormous amount of time, but we are home a lot, so naturally the kids are around to destroy the house. But when I sit in my messy dining room that still isn’t totally unpacked 1 1/2 years later, and look on Pinterest, I don’t resent the perky mom pictured with her label maker and showroom quality closets. Instead, I’m inspired.

Seeing things other moms can do excites me. It motivates me to try something new, or find a way to improve my time management so I can try it too. Or maybe it’s something I’ll never want to do, but wish I did. Scrapbooking, for instance. The papers are pretty, the stickers are adorable, and how absolutely lovely to chronicle your family’s life with a fun, elegant scrapbooks which can be enjoyed for generations. What a gift to your family. As for me, I hate scrapbooking. I loathe it. I don’t even feel inspired to get pictures printed for Christmas cards. It’s not my thing, and that’s ok. I can admire someone’s dedication to scrapbooking without putting them down or being resentful. I would like to start putting together albums, however. It’s a goal of mine, but I’m not going to jealously criticize others who have already accomplished a goal of which I only aspire. I have a long, long way to go, in a lot of areas.

While I don’t enjoy scrapbooking, I love to preserve foods, bake, cook, and sew. I post these pictures on Facebook, and other  people often ask me how I have the time. Well, I may decide to let my bathrooms slide another couple days to make my daughter a skirt. My floors might not be vacuumed like they should that day, because I got a great produce deal, and I want to can. Or maybe I was actually efficient that morning and got up early, got the house all clean-like, and then indulged in something fun. It makes me incredibly sad that sharing my domestic achievements would ever make another mom feel like she isn’t doing enough. I suppose I could snap a messy room picture on a day I post homemade hamburger rolls. Nah . . . . too embarrassing. And why should I have to do that anyway?  When my friends post crocheted super hero caps, or embroidered outfits for the first day of school, should they qualify it so other moms don’t feel talentless and lazy? The truth is, if you see posts of perfect homes and home baked muffins and you feel lazy because you are lazy, consider yourself convicted.  But I will venture to say that most moms are not lazy, they just have their own challenges and time constraints which prevent them from a cleaner house or becoming a Master Gardner. Also, people are very busy running their kids to activities. And maybe, they just aren’t into the domestic arts. If you aren’t wired that way, why worry about it? I’m sure there are plenty of other gifts you have, that others don’t.

The anti-crafting attitude is snowballing with the anti “good mom” movement. Articles with headlines like “7 Things Good Mothers Do That I’m Not Going to Do Anymore.” I read the article, and this mom is not going to be a bad mom for not doing any of those things. It’s a clickable headline, because moms are tired and are drawn to articles which appeal to their emancipation from achieving perfection, a goal which is self-created, not expected. We are looking for a way out, instead of striving to do better. Some of the most viral articles don’t motivate people to be a better homemaker, but a bitter homemaker. They encourage you to give up.

I do understand some bloggers are trying to relieve the stress of homemaking by relating to the challenges we all face. But can’t we keep some of the humor, and encourage each other instead of putting each other down? I think we all know being a “Pinterest” or “Helicopter” mom doesn’t make one a better parent, but a different parent.

I think about the career I had before kids. If you worked, or are working, do you think more successful careers are built with goals to become more effective, or does becoming complacent the key? Do we make fun of others who deliver a great presentation, or do we mock them for trying to be “perfect.” Why do we give more value to career women climbing the ladder than we do the homemaker wanting to improve her “work” ethic and goals as well? Is it because homemakers don’t get paid or seen as important? I’ve had important, high profile jobs, but not one of the famous bosses I’ve had deserve more effort from me than my family.

The problem is, people don’t see homemaking and motherhood as a profession. I’m currently reading, “Professionalizing Motherhood” by Jill Savage, and I can hardly put it down. Savage asks in her book, “Are you considering the career of motherhood? Have you considered motherhood a valid profession? We must not devalue the responsibilities of caring for a family. We must take this job seriously. The profession of motherhood is about devoting your good mind and exceptional skills to the nurturing of your family.”

I know, Jill doesn’t sound very cool in this quote. Sort of like in school, where the kids who get good grades are nerds. But I’m not looking to please anyone except God and my family. I took a cake decorating class, and while my kids think I should present my confections on Ace of Cakes, they aren’t that great, and frankly, pathetic to what my friend can do. I made a pillow for our couch, and while appears surprisingly good for my skill set, don’t look too closely because you’ll see it’s puckered on the back ruffle.

But the things I do aren’t for other people, they are for my family and friends. They get my best, not perfection. And I know other moms aren’t perfect either,  and I don’t know one of them who tries to give that impression. Other moms inspire me, and their posts of stellar organization and domestic achievements benefit my spirit.

1 Thessalonians says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” Yes, carry on Pinterest moms, and proud homemakers, just as you are doing.

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Linda Woolfrey August 13, 2015, 1:31 AM

    Wonderfully done Laura and needed to be said.

  • Nancy August 13, 2015, 2:10 AM

    Fantastic article, well written.

  • Suzanne August 13, 2015, 1:44 PM

    Awesome article Laura. Very proud of you for taking a stand!

  • Melissa @ A Virtuous Woman August 13, 2015, 3:26 PM

    Fantastic article. I loved every bit. I’ll be sharing!

    • Laura Macklem August 13, 2015, 4:24 PM

      Melissa, thank you! I am flattered you are sharing the article. I appreciate it!

  • Jilly September 15, 2016, 8:31 AM

    Thank you, I have often been told that I am a goody two shoes (which I take as a compliment) because I love doing things for my Family and Home.What you have written here has blessed me a lot; I just wish someone had written it 35 years ago! It has taken me a life time to feel that I have chosen well, even though I would not of chosen anything else.
    I love, love, love the career I have chosen. Thank you for the encouragement!
    Love and Blessing, Jilly oxo

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