My departure from the world of employment was unexpected. I loved my job as a cook and nutrition specialist at a residential facility for at risk moms and their young children. It was rewarding, there wasn’t too much desk time, and I got to cook and listen to NPR most of the day, which is my idea of a good time. At 17 weeks pregnant, still debating my options for post-baby work, I had a sudden pain in my low abdomen while draining a large pot of pasta. I went home early that night, and called my midwife who told me to take a bath, lay on my left side, and try and get some rest. I had no idea that would be my last day at my job. I had severe SPD and would soon be on crutches and seeing the physical therapist twice a week. When I saw a specialist, she told me I would need to look for a new line of work because of the heavy lifting involved in being a cook. I was devastated; it had taken me most of my adult life to find a vocation I loved. I had gone to culinary school at 27, passionate about helping people find wellness through everyday eating.
I adjusted to my new strange life in bed. I watched a lot of Netflix. I sewed a baby quilt. I learned to sew clothes. When my son was born, I was already used to a slow paced life and eating lots of frozen entrees from Trader Joe’s, which I actually think helped ease my transition to motherhood. As my infant son grew, and my mobility returned, a dissatisfaction settled over me. Between losing my income, the constant demands of nursing, and my son going through a phase of separation anxiety that left me feeling tied to him, I overwhelmingly felt I had lost my autonomy as a person. I was grateful for the opportunity to be home with my son, but the days were long and the hours were longer. I made a decision one day that I needed to start treating homemaking as a meaningful profession, and a google search for “spiritual homemaking”yielded the book Homemaking as a Social Art. The description on the website gave me hope that others had found the meaning I had been looking for.
“I longed for a book like this when I was a young mother and wife. I felt so alone in my desire to create a home in which my entire family could thrive. I also felt rather lost and uncertain in the face of the enormous responsibility that entails – I often simply did not know how to go about things, what to do.”
While there was a lot of strange spiritual language in the book that didn’t quite resonate, the concept that really turned things around for me as a homemaker was the idea of needing a rhythm to your days. Not only periods of exertion balanced with periods of rest and regrouping throughout the day, but general themes to each day of the week to give your time consistency and purpose, to keep the days from just running together into one never ending pile of laundry and dishes and nose wiping. Now I have days for laundry, and days of kitchen projects, days for friends and errands, and days for resting and reading. This is not to say I don’t do each of these things everyday, but each day has a focus, which takes the pressure off the other tasks, knowing that their time will come soon too.
The concept of daily rhythm, and of homemaking as deeply valuable, necessary work completely transformed my experience as a stay at home mom. In response to taking my vocation as a homemaker more seriously, my husband and I worked together to restructure how we manage our finances in a way that gives me more agency and independence. I continue to be reinvigorated and relieved each day by the changes I have made since reading this book. I would sincerely recommend Homemaking as a Social Art to any homemaker, parent or not, male or female, who is struggling with finding value and meaning in their work.