Bring us back home

Our sunroom, York County, June 2005

Our sunroom, York County, June 2005

“If we had a feminism that caused us to get out of the house, is there not also room for feminism that would bring us back home, so that our homes would reflect ourselves and would once more have soul?”Ginette Paris

“It’s acceptable to call yourself a “stay at home mom or dad,” but I think few people are willing to say they’re a homemaker these days. From my perspective the role of homemaker is essential, powerful, and worthy of redefinition and reverence.”
Laura Forbes

I’m not sure why the term “homemaker” does not command more respect, but I can’t remember the last time I heard any child, male or female, say they wanted to be a homemaker someday, even as an added sideline to another ambition.

Perhaps it’s because the role was traditionally an unpaid task assigned to females, as one of very few choices available to women of past generations, thus seeming more like an obligation than a chosen path.  Or maybe it’s because being a homemaker is so universal; after all, each of us, no matter our career or other obligations, is a homemaker.  We must, of necessity, create some sort of home for ourselves.

And all of us, as children, were greatly influenced by the efforts of our parents or caregivers to create homes for us.  Though my mother was a traditional “housewife” for most of my youth, she and my father worked together to create our home.  Making a home is, after all, far more than doing chores such as laundry and cooking.  While those are a time-consuming subset of the countless aspects of maintaining a home, they are not the heart of it.  One need only spend a few days in a hotel to realize the crucial difference between housekeeping and homemaking.

Today I encourage you to reflect on your vital, powerful though possibly overlooked role of creating and maintaining a home in its fullest sense.  What I have in mind has nothing to do with square footage, chores, or even decorating skills.  It has more to do with the feeling we get when we walk into the door, that this is our home, and we are blessed to be part of it.

Our homes can be adorned with personal touches such as lovely handmade items, treasured photographs, favorite books and family heirlooms.  We also decorate our homes in less visible ways: in the tone of voice we use when we speak to each other, the care we take to respect our shared spaces and belongings, the people to whom our doors are open, and the loving thoughts that lie behind simple gestures such as a single flower in a small vase, or a favorite surprise baked or bought for someone special to us.

What can you do today to celebrate your timeless and essential role as a homemaker?

One year ago today:

Enliven and transform





  1. bobmielke

    Being 65 now I grew up in a home with my mom being a homemaker. She never got paid a penny but to think that she didn’t work, that she didn’t take her “job” seriously, would be foolish. I grew up appreciated my mom’s effort to always keep clean clothes on us, make sure we had nutritious food on the table and that we were loved like no other. She was a saint in my book, especially considering the marital conditions in our home.

    I actually make a great homemaker myself. I can do laundry and fold clothes with the best of them. I’m a great cook and enjoy the “chores” of cleaning and keeping a neat and tidy home. I can shop for anything, especially food and bring home the best food for the best price every week. Yes, I even cut coupons. LOL

    • Bob, one of the best things about the women’s movement is that so many men have discovered just how good they can be at some of these tasks. Plus I think men have a better idea of what is involved in some of these things once they do them for themselves. I have tremendous respect for our grandmothers and mothers who did so much with so little help, from machines or spouses or even children most of the time. I can see how much things have changed from my generation to my children’s, in terms of the sharing of responsibilities between both spouses. I think children are far better off to have both parents involved in making the home, even though one parent usually (for practical reasons) is home more often than the other. I am a coupon clipper myself; I think grocery shopping can be fun if I’m not rushed and if I manage to get some good bargains. But it’s horrible to have to do it when I’m rushed and the stores are crowded and picked over and out of everything.

  2. Jack

    The duties of my job as a business professional pale in comparison to the responsibility and difficulty of making a home that most often fell to my faithful, beautiful and capable wife. While I was off doing the easy (don’t tell), she was grinding away at home, showing, not talking about what real love is: my life for yours. My cup overflows with gratitude!

    • Jack, I am so happy you are saying that – and be sure that she hears it often, too! 😀 I did find that the work I did outside the home, even when I had a full time job, was way, way easier than what I did at home. When one works at home, there is never any real time off because one eats and sleeps at the workplace!

  3. Sun room? Lovely! Sometimes, when I am in a normal mood, I feel it is great to be a homemaker. But I know I will soon feel bored and lonely. At school I get a lot of opportunities to ‘distract’ myself. And that really helps me go on. However, I know and appreciate all the women who gracefully carry out their roles as homemakers.

    • I love being home, but I get frustrated when I don’t have time to do everything I want to do — which is most of the time. The interruptions are part of the problem, but I also get distracted by everything around me. It seems there are always undone chores that make me feel guilty for taking time for something fun. That’s when I need to remember that making a home isn’t just about housework.

  4. Sheila

    Good Saturday morning, Julia. Years ago a friend made a cross stitched saying for us that I love and keep near our front door. “WELCOME MY FRIEND. YOU WILL FIND JOY AND LOVE WITHIN.” I hope that’s true, as I do strieve for that. It’s such a small homemaking gesture, but I try to always have Orange Crush drinks in our refrigerator. Glass bottles, of course! 🙂 It’s a rainy Saturday here at Willow Tree so I’m planning to fix a pot of Baked Potato Soup later. I associate homemaking with cooking. Happy weekend!

    • I think of cooking as a big part of homemaking too, though I don’t do it nearly as often as I did when the kids were home. While I was in school I made my menus up months in advance so I could cook all the meals and still get my schoolwork done. It’s nice not to have that pressure now. Cooking is much more fun when it’s not rushed. Baked Potato Soup sounds yummy! I love all kinds of soup, but Jeff doesn’t like to have it as a meal so I rarely make it. Potato is probably my favorite kind, though. I think the sign must fit you perfectly; I can imagine that your home is always a welcoming place. We had a rainy day here today, too. I had planned to work outside all day, but no such luck.

      • Sheila

        I hope you are able to see that little welcome sign one day. I really say that from my heart, dear southern sister! 🙂

        • I really do believe that I will, Sheila! ❤

  5. raynard

    Juila I can sum it up in one word, Pride. The younger generation cares not about it at work, home, in their neighborhoods.The peer pressure to” follow the latest trends online and movies and music, I see it all the time.It’s sad when one minute they whine about how they get no respect and come to work in a uniform that looks like ” they slept in it and say” I don’t care.. Today in my house is” overdue cleanup day. Something about being neat and organized and clearing excessive clutter makes you not feel” clustaphobic and trapped” I digress. My mom stay home with us growing up and there was always” meals prepared and not” take out or” fast food'( I didnt know what Mc Donalds was till High School:..I noticed the younger generation likes to “Entertain” alot having having all kinds of events especially ones serving lots of alcohol and” men having” Man Caves” no longer being “away in the garage”.. What I learned and try to past on is How can God trust you with more if you are not managing to the best of your ability what’s in front of you.( whew that was a mouthful lol). Time, talents, Gifts, things & stuff. What really matters and what doesn’t. What you ” can take with you and what you can’t.. People matter and how you spend your time. Julia, I’m learning from you by word, deed and example that what I just said,, is how you lived your life and it’s a blessing and encouragement to me and I spread to others along the way. Be blessed

    • Raynard, they can’t fool me with all that talk of “man caves,” we know it’s just basically being out in the garage now called by a different name! Since I was the only female in our family (even the dog was male) the entire house felt like a man cave to me. I do agree with you that “he who is faithful over a few things can be trusted with much.” I try never to fall into the trap of saying “If only I had ________ I could _______.” As in, if only I had millions of dollars I could give some away, etc. It’s so easy to think that we just need a tiny bit more than we already have. But in reality we can almost always do more than we think we can. Not that it’s easy. Today was one of those days when I got hardly anything done, but I keep reminding myself that’s OK. Hope you have a lovely Sunday tomorrow!

  6. Carolyn

    Love that sunroom! How far are you all from Williamsburg? We plan to be there the first week in Sept. , no doctors appointment during then. I will be checking in with you after my August 14th dr. visit. Hope you all will have a great week end. Love to all.

    • Carolyn, our York home is very close to Colonial Williamsburg, about 20-30 minutes away, depending on traffic. We should be there at least part of that first week (probably the weekend) so we definitely must get together while you are here! Let me know the details and we’ll make some plans.

      • Carolyn

        Will do as soon as I have all the details, it would be great to see you all.

        • We can have a two-year mini-party as a warmup for the big 5-year celebration!

  7. MaryAnn

    Put on the tea kettle, I’ll be right there to sit & enjoy your gorgeous sunroom & the love of my Denton family! Lovely, thoughtful words in this blog to take to heart & ponder; then act upon accordingly.

    • Mary Ann, the kettle is always on for you! 😀

  8. I couldn’t agree more. I barely remember my kids childhoods in the 80’s and I know my happiest time ever was when they were little before I felt the pressure to go out to work (we were a blended family and I felt I should support my own) I loved being a homemaker. Only now in my 50’s am I enjoying my days back at home and have found my ME again. I am so sad to see the pressure is still on women (much of it financial) to do it all, raising our children is the most important position we can have, having a happy home is a happy start to life. I feel guilt even now at what I missed, I felt terrible guilt then.

    • I am so happy that you are able to be back at home and enjoying it now. When our kids were young I found that I couldn’t win when it came to the question of whether to work outside the home. I felt guilty if I did, and guilty if I didn’t. I tried to solve it by working part time but then I felt as if I was leaving work undone in two places, and most of the part time jobs I held were not really meant to be part time jobs. The one exception was when I worked as a reservations agent for an airline. I haven’t had as good a job before or since, but it had started to be not so great by the time I left. I do think that women are pulled in many directions and I hope we can learn to take it easy on ourselves and each other. Being a parent is hard enough without feeling guilty. Like you, I love living frugally and I think that’s one big secret to being able to be very happy at home. I hope that the silver lining to some of the worldwide economic woes will be the inspiration for all of us to learn to live a bit differently, free from the problems that come with conspicuous consumption. I think it’s starting to happen already and that gives me hope. My parents showed me by example how much of a blessing it is to live beneath our means, and how that benefits everyone, most of all ourselves.

      • Yes, I never found part-time to be as satisfactory as I hoped either. so much more was expected to be done in those work hours than was possible alot of the time and family expected so much more because you only worked part time!
        Absolutely, a more frugal life and little interest in consumerism and having things makes a difference in how we live now and I very much enjoy seeing all the young people now with such lovely blogs on simplicity and homemaking 🙂

        • It really is encouraging, isn’t it? I enjoyed reading parts of the Moneyless Manifesto that I found linked at your blog. I also like reading about the Tiny House movement. I am a long way from both of these lifestyles but I find it inspiring that people are raising these questions. I think Mark Boyle is totally right that we would take more care with things if we paid more attention to where they came from, or maybe even grew/created/produced them ourselves.

          • Yes, it is encouraging 🙂 I am glad you enjoyed reading Mark Boyle’s stuff, I find him very inspiring. I also like Tiny Houses, I find them intriguing and like seeing how people deal with their wee spaces, and they are often rather beautiful.

            • Some of these tiny cottages are just adorable, and the inside designs make ingenious use of the space.

  9. Baking cookies. I am doing that very thing with my boys today because it’s summertime and for some reason (like fall and Christmas) cookies taste better. We lick the beaters and my boys spoon out the dough onto the sheet. My husband is a teacher and we spend our summers each each meal together and have summer traditions, that I believe make our house a home. We watch the Star Wars saga every summer together, have a summer theme like puzzles, board games, or art. This month we’re celebrating our 4 year anniversary of Friday night fun or pizza, popcorn, and movie night as my kids call it. Every Friday we eat pizza (I have a really awesome bread maker), popcorn, and watch a family movie together. Last night we watched Night at the Museum 2. I agree that making a house a home is more about the life inside it and I hope that my kids remember the memories we’ve made together. Love that sun room!

    • Jenelle, all that sounds wonderful and I can just smell those cookies baking. Whenever I bake cookies I somehow end up eating way more of the dough than I should! I agree that tradition is such a huge part of making happy memories at home. I love the idea of having a summer theme. Your children are lucky and will have memories to treasure as well as a great example for the homes they will someday be making.

  10. In my home I find the happiest moments. I set out to create an environment, which uplifts me spiritually, emotionally and physically. Thank you for sharing.

    • You’re welcome, Yvonne! I share your goal of making home a place that meets our needs in all areas. Often we focus on the physical (comfortable furniture, good food, clean surroundings) but the emotional and spiritual are just as important; perhaps more. But all three overlap and complement each other.

  11. We are blessed to be homemakers and to enjoy our families. Great post Julia! ♥

    • Thank you Misifusa – I just love being at home, a place where Presence makes all the difference!

  12. My mom and dad both worked to make finacial ends meet. My dad, as prime bread winner, and family protector, was lovingly respected and adored. My mom, worked only when each of us became school age. However, was always home to meet us at the end of our school day. Mom was compassionate, understanding, yet firm, as a mom of three boys had to be, and for it was loved, confided in, and honored.

    Both were homemakers, because they made a home. Whether we had a good or bad day, we boys, hurried home, where we found, besides a favorite meal, security, warmth, and equal justice and mercy. A place where you longed to be, to reminisce memories of great days, or look confidently to a better ones tomorrow.

    • Alan, it’s beautiful to read this. It makes me happy for your wonderful experiences growing up, and thankful for mine as well, but also sad for the many children who don’t have that security. Years ago a friend of mine was trying to explain to me how her childhood had affected her life. “In my house you never knew when the police would have to be called in.” She meant that it happened frequently. Wow. It’s easy for children in safe and loving homes to take parents for granted, but hopefully we eventually realize what a blessing they are.

      I agree that both parents are homemakers, whether one or both works outside the home. Part of making a home is providing the means for the roof overhead and food on the table.

      • I, like you, am sorry for those children who don’t come from a happy home. My hope and prayer for them is that of an orchestra that has hit a sour note. Rather than trying to retrieve and correct that sour note, that is already out there; the orchestra begins again, using the sour note as the first note of a new musical piece.
        So too, those children have an opportunity to start anew, with there own families; using the knowlege of that sad experience to create the family climate they should have had.

        • Alan, that’s a lovely analogy and I think quite a few people have achieved it. Even in unhappy homes, there must surely be a few glimmers of beauty and truth, as well as something to build on. Look what Charles Dickens did with his unhappy childhood – made the world better for all of us.

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