A friend commented recently how undervalued motherhood is, and that is so true.
I would add that stay-at-home motherhood is undervalued particularly so.
Think of the example of a mother of young children who does the majority of the housework, cooking and household shopping during the week, supervises her children’s homework and tutors them after school, coaches a school basketball team and teaches catechism in a state school.
It’s all important work revolving around home and school, all unpaid in monetary terms. And it is undervalued, not by the people she works with, who I’m sure appreciate her contributions, but by society at large.
Most of us are obsessed with what people do, rather than with who they are, and focus on what level of influence people have.
The broader, and more money-attracting, the more impressed we are.
We generally don’t give much kudos to the soccer mum who coached the under-eights to their first victory or the dad who helps out with the school’s remedial reading group each week.
But the deep influence that we have on individual children is immense and will be world-changing.
I have to admit to undervaluing stay-at-home motherhood myself, even while extolling the virtues of it.
In more than seven years I’ve been uncomfortable with my mostly full-time stay at home mothering role – focusing instead on the very few hours a week I do some writing or proofreading.
It’s not really me, I’ve told myself, and others. I’m only doing it until my youngest starts preschool. I’m only doing it because I can’t afford the childcare fees necessary to go to a ‘real’ job or devote concentrated time to writing.
In qualifying it, I’ve not let myself fully embrace and enjoy being at home. I’ve been marking time, waiting for it to end. Feeling jealous at times of working women – the grass is always greener on the other side isn’t it?
Part of my problem is that I have long-held prejudices around women who don’t do ‘real’ (i.e. paid) work. These are hard to get rid of even though I’m aware of them.
Every mother’s situation is different, but for me it’s time to not only talk about but actually act as though the simple but culturally, humanly and
spiritually rich work around feeding, cleaning, educating and nurturing my family is my one real job and the most important one I will ever do.
It’s as viable as any profession or career choice. And as such, some professional development might not go astray, especially if it helps to make it more financially viable.
So I enrolled in a course the other day, Home Traditions offered through Kenvale College in Sydney, and I can’t wait for it to start.
I would never have believed, as a teenager disgusted that home economics classes were compulsory for girls, that I would one day sign up to do a year-long course on managing a home.
But I am, and I’m delighted about it.
I’m going to brush up on my first aid, nutrition and cooking, financial and time management skills, learn how to do basic car maintenance and sewing, and indulge in a bit of wine tasting and home decorating, among other things.
This is the year I’ll finally embrace being a professional homemaker – and I’ll probably work harder than I have in my whole life!