I’ve been a marketing director, a college professor, a physician recruiter and a Sunday morning disc jockey. I’ve made presentations on Wall Street, conducted interviews on Capitol Hill and started my own business. I am a magazine editor, a family humor columnist and the author of two books.
But here’s the thing: None of these accomplishments or titles matter, and I know it.
What has mattered, really mattered, in my life are my titles of wife, mom and homemaker. After “Catholic Christian,” these titles are the most meaningful to me. They are my vocation.
It took me a while to figure that out. When I was in college in the early 1980s I was influenced by the radical feminists of the era who chanted in the background of my life to break the glass ceiling and strive for success as an independent career woman. Family and marital life was not considered a priority, or worse, it was discouraged. I drank some of that Kool-Aid, even though I didn’t really like the taste. Something seemed off with this philosophy, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. So I put myself through college and scrabbled for a job opportunity when I graduated, eager to launch a high-flying career in the communications field.
But there was a catch. A 6-foot-3-inch catch, to be exact. My tall, dark and handsome boyfriend swept me off my feet and I found myself walking down the aisle of a beautiful Catholic church before I could say Helen Gurley Brown. I loved this man. And that love compelled me to have a family with him. And then love for that family compelled me to be a homemaker.
The term “domestic church” was unfamiliar to me back then, but somehow I felt its pull and tug anyway. (thanks, Holy Spirit!). I wanted our home to be a respite for my husband and my kids—a place of peace, love and stability, where God could dwell and make himself evident. Was this always the case over the 30 years I’ve been a wife and mom? Um, no. Often it was the complete opposite. The struggle is real! But that did not stop my intention to make it so. To home-make was one of the strongest inner desires I had ever felt. And I believe it to be a holy desire, inspired by the God who created us to live out this very role. Homemaking, I discovered, is an important part of my vocational commitment. Slowly but surely, I gave up the lure of the feminist propaganda given to me by the culture, for the surety of the pure feminine genius given to me by God. I became a homemaker. And I liked it.
My homemaking was not focused on cleaning and organizing. Instead, it included intentional decisions to create a serene and welcoming environment. We wanted lots of natural light pouring in from big windows. Our décor was informal and kick-your-shoes-off inviting—no white carpet and no fussy, off-limit areas. We had Mozart on the stereo, fluffy pillows and cozy blankets on the couches, fresh vegetables and bright flowers from the garden. We read books together and ate supper at the table almost every night, even if the fare was from a box or a can. We had multiple pets, we played outside often and we created a space in the basement for teenagers to hang out on the weekends. We laughed a lot, had joke-telling and story-telling challenges, and celebrated special events with gusto. And there was a continual flow of guests into our home (over the years, I honed my introverted/underdeveloped hospitality skills and got over the concern of a supposed not-clean-enough-for-guests home). We also prayed together.
We didn’t get it right all the time. We still argued, got stressed and took out our frustrations on each other. There were slammed doors and tears and words of regret. But there was also forgiveness and mercy and compassion. And life lessons that could be taught nowhere else but in this domestic church.
I realized we did at least a little something right when my 27-year-old son recently mentioned to me how he always loved our home: being home and returning home. He wasn’t talking about the bricks and mortar of our house. He was talking about growing up in a home surrounded by a sense of being guided and nurtured and cared for. A home his parents designed and maintained with family life in mind. He physically, emotionally and spiritually benefited from intentional homemaking. We all do.
Far from my attitude 35 years ago, I now assert that we wives and mothers have a right and a responsibility to our families to home-make in ways that have eternal value and influence. It’s a gift particularly endowed on us women and we should not deny or suppress it. We are made for this!
So when the time comes to write my obituary, I will set aside all my worldly accomplishments. I will say instead that I was most thankful for the gift of being a Child of God. And most honored and fulfilled by my vocation as a wife, mother… and happy homemaker.
What about you—are you a happy homemaker? What do you do to create your own domestic church?