"Housewife" is a word I used to hate or, at the very least, misunderstand. For 27 years I had a career outside the home, and my identity wasn't "Dean's wife" or even "Jon and Jordan's mom." I was a publications specialist working in my chosen field, communications. I planned to work as a writer, editor, or web-updater until retirement because that's what Jenny did.
I couldn't understand what those women who stayed home all day did, exactly, while their kids were in school. I had only taken 6-8 weeks off when my own boys were born. Other than a three-month gap between jobs, I had never not worked since I was 22 and newly graduated from college.
My first husband, Dean, who passed away when he was 56 and I was 43, expected me to work. Yet I never felt my job was a burden; it was who I was, and we saved a lot of money with my added income.
Then came Scott. We were married not quite three years after Dean's death. Scott encouraged me to do what I wanted to do: work; quit; stay home; create a freelance career of editing or writing; finish all the novels rattling around in my head. Or simply be a wife and homemaker.
During our first year together, I felt strongly that my time of ministry as writer and graphic designer at a Spokane homeless shelter should end. The Lord apparently was encouraging me to open the door for people who needed to be on staff there, so, after five years of full-time employment at the shelter, I went part-time. Then I gave notice. In November 2007, one year after marrying Scott, I became a full-time homemaker.
I have not for a minute been bored and rarely have I felt lonely. With the accumulation of 25 years of stuff packed into this house, garage, and barn, I could spend eight hours a day simply sorting and still be hard at work this time next year. I've discovered a knack for organizing and categorizing; more surprising, I have shed my pack rat cloak and taken on the mantle of major donor to our local thrift stores.
The Jenny who claims to be a lousy cook (never had time to learn) has evolved into an experimenter extraordinaire. I made the best pumpkin-chocolate-chip bread last night after merging two recipes. Scott and I like coconut shrimp at Outback, so I'm going to experiment with a few recipes and come up with my own. I can now make babyback ribs you can hardly tell from Outback's. Oh wait, that's another story, an embarrassing one. More on that tomorrow.
I still hate to clean. Vacuuming? Dusting? Let the dust bunnies rule. I can always blame the clumps of lint and doggy fur on my inability to see clearly due to early development of cataracts. In fact, I might just ask my eye doctor to write up such a disclaimer; I will then post it prominently in my home. No one needs to know that my eyesight is actually pretty darn good. Or maybe I just think it is, and post-surgery the world will look as different as when Dorothy opens the door of her house to bright, colorful Munchkinland.
"Homemaker" describes exactly who I am now and what I do. There's nothing better for me, during this year of turning fifty, than to be Scott's wife, making a home that is comfortable and welcoming for the two of us and our grown children, grandchildren, and friends.
As for work, I claim to be retired, but I still work freelance from home - anybody got a book or two I can edit?