Redefining Homemaker

Bb Clarinet
Clarimanet…clarimanet….Image by Terriko via Flickr

Some of you may be aware that I’m a fan of traditionalism in marriage, and that I can be a little old-fashioned at times.  After reading my friend Chavi’s guest post, I realized that even though I do think that the traditional model has a lot of merit, I don’t fit quite so neatly into the mold.

Why not, you may ask?  Well, I keep a busy schedule of performances, as well as various other activities.  For instance, just between last night and today I have four engagements outside of the house.  Count ’em – four.  While that’s more than usual, I am typically pretty booked.  My husband and I were laughing about the ridiculous schedule I keep.  He said to me,

“When people ask me what you do, I tell them you’re a homemaker, but that’s not entirely true.”

Right.  I’m not actually making home all that much these days (and boy, does it show!).  It’s not that I don’t like being at home.  I do.  I like puttering around the house.  I also like it when the house is clean and I can find things like my cars keys (it’s a good thing I have a spare set), and I can see things like my floors (I know they’re somewhere down there).

I’m trying to find the sweet spot between my home and outside life. Since, thank G-d, I’ve been getting more opportunities to play (paying!) gigs, I’ve had to think about what that means for my family.  What are the sacrifices that I have to make when I take the gig?  It’s not just the actual performance time (for which I may or may not need a babysitter, depending on my husband’s schedule), but also the practice time.

Practicing’s tricky, since Little Man keeps me on a tight leash musically.  He doesn’t let me play any songs that don’t meet his approval.  Rachmaninoff?  Out of the question.  Row, row your boat?  That’s more up his alley.

So, since I can’t really practice much during the day, that means it has to be squeezed in during the evening, after Little Man is asleep, and when the baby doesn’t need me.  Happens to be that that is also usually when I pick up the house, do dishes, oh, and relax.  I’m currently trying to find a way to utilitze my time as efficiently as possible, since I don’t think it’s good to let entropy take over every time I have a performance (did I mention I can’t see my floors?).

You see, as much as I need the outside stimulation, and to use my musical abilities, I also need to make my house a welcoming, organized and sane place.  I want my children to see that it’s possible to contribute to the community and still maintain a functional household.  That family and home life come first, but that it’s also important to use the unique skill set that is specific to each person.

And that reminds me of a post on Chavi’s blog, about how there is no right way to be a wife and a mother, because we all have our own distinct personalities.

For some, that could mean having a job outside the house, or for others, it could be staying home.  It could be regularly hosting guests for Shabbos, or arranging postpartum meals.  It could be running a summer camp, or giving swimming lessons.   When our children see us contributing in whatever way is the most suited for us, they see what it’s like to use the abilities G-d gave us to the fullest.

Using my ability to perform makes me happy, and that makes my husband happy, which helps our marriage, which helps our parenting.  I am immensely grateful of his exceptional support of my non-traditional homemaking style.  Now I really need to go actually make some home…!


I want my children to see that it’s possible to contribute to the community and still maintain a functional household.  That my family and home life obviously come first, but that it’s also important to have a vibrant communal life as well.

9 thoughts on “Redefining Homemaker

  1. So true. There’s a huge range of what a “homemaker” means (which also makes answering those surveys about one’s profession especially tricky). I’ve always wanted to stay home once we had children, but I find I need to work part time, for both the financial contribution (my husband’s job market is almost impossible to break into) and for my own sanity. I stayed home for 8 months when my daughter was born, and I needed something else to DO. I started watching other people’s babies and, while it helped monetarily, it was still in the same room, all day long, with children with whom – as adorable and wonderful as they might be – it was hard to have a meaningful conversation. And now that I am working part time out of the home (I get to bring my baby with me!) I’m finding that I really want to do more with the time I still have available. I love my daughter, and I want her to know that I’m always available for her, to show me tiny things she finds on the ground, to wipe her nose or just for a random hug, but I’d also love to be involved in other projects. Kudos on finding the balance, and for you AND your husband being so relaxed about the things that don’t make it on the “Must Do” list that week!

    1. You mean you can’t have meaningful conversation with toddlers (sarcasm)? That’s fantastic that you get to bring your baby with you *and* maintain your sanity! I am very, very, VERY grateful that my husband is so understanding about the house (truth is, even when I’m not so busy, housework is one of the last things to get done! I’m working on it).

    1. It is important to keep that in perspective. I just heard on the radio today about the chairwoman of the EU (not sure if that’s the exact position) mentioned that in honor of International Women’s Day, she is urging European businesses to be more inclusive toward women, and will check back in 2012 to see what progress has been made.

  2. I admire and envy (in a good way) your musical talent and passion. I was not so blessed.

    I may have said in the past that I think that it is in the unique nature of women to be torn between familial duties and the outside world. Not to sell men short but I doubt that many of them are as tortured over this as women are.

    I think that it is so cool that you can actually use the word ‘gig’ in a sentence when referring to something that you do. Keep on playing for those of us who have no talent and can only be ardent admirers. Tidy floors are over rated and if your walls get sticky enough maybe they will hold your boys captive and you will always know where they are. :)

  3. This is such a true point. Each person has to do what works for them. Don’t try to be someone you aren’t – take things at your own pace but never forget that your children are worth more than anyone else!

    Sacrifices are important but remember on whose expense…and then you’ll know if it’s the right thing to do.

    Sounds like you are doing a great job!

  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this. I think this is SUCH an important message for women to hear. I also try to balance my love of home with my career. My husband and I have a very egalitarian relationship and we are both lovers of the home and parttime-homemakers, I suppose :) My issue with gender stereotyping (which often, but not always, occurs within a traditional context) is that it is ultimately reductionist. We cannot reduce every individual to fit a certain ‘model’ of how we think people are or people should function. Finding a balancing act with the support of one’s spouse is so crucial!

    Also: I am an amateur musician/singer-songwriter so would love to hear more about (and of) your music!

    This Good Life

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