There is an old song titled "If I Were a Carpenter" by Bobby Darin that was released in 1966. It is a song about a poor man who loves a rich lady, and he asks her if she will marry him and give up her fancy lifestyle to be with him. It's a beautiful, sweet, romantic song. I was thinking about it and wrote an alternate version keeping to the theme of the song, but I flipped it around. It's about a man who still is poor...but the girl asks him if he will still love her if she is a homemaker and doesn't bring in money -- knowing that he will have a lower income than those around them if he marries her. She asks him to find value in the things she does. (you can find the original song here)
If I were a homemaker, and you weren’t a rich man,
My ambition is to be a homemaker and stay at home wife someday. The purpose of writing this is to inspire anyone looking for inspiration. I do not to wish to persuade anyone of a different inclination. This is not intended to be a judgment on anyone. If it’s not your cup of tea there is no reason we still can’t be friends. However that does not negate the fact that I feel very passionate about this subject and yet this passion extends only to my own life. If I can be an inspiration to some I will be glad. But at the same time, I do not think less of any other woman who chooses a different path. We are all unique individuals and that's what makes the world an interesting place!
When I grew up I saw my mother at home. She was always there, organizing the house, cooking homemade from scratch meals most nights, and was the anchor of the homelife in many ways. She saw to the paying of the bills, took us kids to dentist and doctor appointments, and was always home. Home truly was a haven in the world around us. My mother was a nurse and did work on and off, but this was before I was born.
My grandmother also stayed at home her whole married life as well. I have heard many stories of my grandparents hospitality, always opening their home up to guests. When my mother was a girl, my grandmother would plan events and various fun things for the neighborhood kids with the other stay at home mothers on the block. She made homemade pickles too, which all the neighborhood kids adored.
My older sister who was 15 years my senior, also married and stayed at home from the start. The first year of marriage before her oldest child was born she spent homemaking and she to this day says she would not have it any other way. It was important for their marriage.
I had a lot of fun planning the meals. Having the table all nice and set for when my husband got back from work. It was like a dream. Didn’t have to race home from work to get it done. My soul responsibility was to him and at the beginning it was good to focus on each other that way at the start of marriage without other distractions.
These women had a very large impact on my life and on my views of marriage, family life, and domesticity.
For a long while, I felt ashamed in a way, of my ideals. I once dated a man who asked me “When are you going to get a real job?” I was currently working at a hospital doing clerical work. He already knew I wanted to be a homeschooling mother someday which he hesitantly agreed to, but he was not okay with me ever being a stay at home wife, a homemaker, or housewife. Another man I dated loved the idea of a stay at home wife, but he constantly doubted if it was the right financial choice -- what if emergencies came up and we needed more money? It was a beautiful idea, but not logical, not practical.
I got to thinking about everything more closely. Why did I wish to stay at home so much? Was it because I was selfish and lazy? Or was there a deeper meaning to it? Was it right to go and help support the family by working if my husband made very little money? What about living standards? Are we as Americans expecting a living standard that is too high? How much is enough?
On a side note, it really doesn’t matter if it’s traditional or not. What matters is does it line up with my values and beliefs? And I being a Christian care what God has to say on it. It doesn’t matter what our culture teaches or assumes is right. Traditionally women worked only in their homes. There wasn’t any other choice. And today most women work outside their homes. Culture has accepted both views as good at different times. Culture in an of itself isn’t a very good indicator. I do not aspire to this because it is the traditional way of life.
Does the Bible explicitly command against the role of a working woman or a full time homemaker? Does the Bible imply a general rule against it? The answer is no in both cases. The Bible leaves both options open for prayerful consideration. Saying that a stay at home wife is lazy, would be just as as wrong as saying that a working wife is a money-grubbing materialist woman. So I do believe as far as biblically speaking, the choice is up to each woman.
So Why Do I choose Homemaking?
I am a simple girl. My favorite thing is home life. Fresh made bread, sun shining through the windows, sewing cotton dresses, reading books, drinking tea. Music sings to my soul, and poetry makes me happy. I love hymns, and my dream is to homeschool my kids someday. I want a simple life full of simple pleasures. I am a dreamer, a romantic in every sense of the word. My favorite pastime is to find simple everyday things and find a way to make them beautiful.
I think things like having the table ready maybe with some fresh flowers, taking the time to make the home beautiful, being available for ministering to other people in the church that I personally couldn’t do if I was working a job are very worthy and beautiful ambitions. I rather take the time to cook from scratch and spend my effort on saving and being frugal and making my husband’s resources stretch.
Cooking, gardening, sewing (curtains clothing, bedding, etc), cleaning, home improvements, keeping track of budgeting and funds, making dr appointments. Getting oil changed in the car, grocery shopping are some of the things I would do. And it’s more than just fresh flowers on the table, it is the place where my family spends the most time, I want them to feel that they are valued enough for me make it as pleasant atmosphere as possible. We all know what it's like to go to someone's house who is very hospitable and welcomes you into their home.
The Shelbourne Way
I was watching a show on Netflix talking about the Shelbourne Hotel, a 5 star hotel in Dublin, Ireland. Throughout the show, it discussed the great care that was taken in the running of the hotel -- everything that was involved to make it a 5 star luxury. All the little details, the flowers, the decorations, the menu, all of it adding to the experience. I was wondering how come I couldn't view my home like that? If people have well paying jobs to make the atmosphere a beautiful place for unknown guests...why not incorporate that idea into the very fabric of our homes?
I want to treat my future family as if they are company in my house. That is the standard of living I wish to bring. Everyone makes their home extra inviting for guests and company and spends extra time cleaning, cooking, decorating, and preparing it. When my husband comes home from work I wish to welcome him into our home with the same standard as I would a guest. I value the art of homemaking this highly. Because how much more precious to me is my husband than a guest? Next to God, my husband is the most precious person in my life. I want to spend my days looking after the home he has provided me and welcoming him into it in as beautiful a way as possible.
Standard of Living
If I am to choose homemaking as my career, I should rather adjust my standard of living to match my husband's income. If we are to be poor, then poor we shall be. My goal in life is not to bring in as much money as I can. Rather I can be more industrious and frugal in the running of the home because I believe that to be most valuable.
I believe that America's standard of living is much higher than it need be. Do we need to have two cars? Or will one suffice? Do we need a nicer house? Can we live in an apartment? Do we need new clothes, or can I mend what we already have? Do we need expensive packaged foods, or can I make the food from scratch? Perhaps with food I have grown in my garden? On several occasions I have sewn dresses for myself made out of old cotton sheets from the thrift store. We talk a lot about women of the depression era being extremely frugal. I believe that frugality is a lost art in many homes. They made dresses out of flour sacks. This was not the fashionable option but it worked— it made the money stretch.
I’m not saying this to point out how much our culture has changed or to talk about the "good old days". Things were not necessarily better back then. There were many social issues that needed to be addressed and the way women were treated back in the 40's and 50's is rather horrible in many ways and I am in no means condoning behavior like that. So no, we all don’t have to sew dresses from old sheets or pretend to live in some by gone era. This is not the point of my article. I do believe however, that we can live much further below the modern American standard of living and still do well.
My point is not to say my ideas are better or more spiritual than any one else. Who am I to judge your life and what brings value to you? I only write from the heart and I write to put my ideas down on paper so to speak. I think there are many beautiful ideas in life about family and the home...and I wish to live a simplistic life creating beauty all around me with the attitude I posses and the things I set my mind to do.
Please let me know your thoughts on the subject! I'd love to hear what you have to say!
When we arrived at the reception the sun was still quite high in the sky at 4:30. It was located at a pavilion in a public park in Bloomington, IL. The building was built in 1909 and had all the fine details of wooden floors and pretty molding and classic design. The feature that was really pretty was the upper floor full that looked down at the main hall like a balcony with a little railing. Below the railing was a set of light bulbs that stuck out of the edge of the balcony like the lights on a vanity mirror. All the tables were set in white linens and plastic china dishes.
It was like being in a different country really. Or a different culture to be specific. At first there was the usual American 70’s dance music that is played at any typical American wedding. Songs that everyone knows and dances to. The bride was dressed in the most intricate drapey lace dress that hung elegantly from her petite frame. Her long dark brown hair was pulled up into a sweeping voluminous braid that fell over her shoulder in elegant array, bedecked with small white flowers that were just picked that morning.
The DJ then turned to the audience and called for all the Arab people to step up and dance. The music changed and instead of the retro 70 and 80’s dance music, the deep pulses of the distinct Eastern style beat started up. The whole atmosphere was transformed. I couldn’t stop myself from dancing at this point, and many of the wedding guests who were from various different cultures -- but clearly not of a Western upbringing got excited and came to the front of the room, and even if they weren’t dancing, they were curious and seemed amused. This was perhaps not expected.
It was very much fusion in style...between East and West at least as far as music was concerned. I had grown up with a deep love for all kinds of folk music from different cultures. It always resonated with me. I would image all sorts of images emerge in my mind of people long ago, or today, in various different cultures. The imagination is a powerful thing, it can transport you worlds away.
I loved the song and dance.
As someone who once had the potential, and very real, opportunity to marry a native Indian and live in India, the idea of different cultures has fascinated me in a new way. I once believed I was going to be an Indian bride, I thought that I was going to adopt that culture as very much my own. I was learning one of the many languages spoken there, I was making authentic South Indian food straight from my kitchen, I learned how to eat with my hand, and at every opportunity, I wanted to experience more deeply what it meant to get as close to that culture as possible for me. Every day I was learning more about the culture. Everything from family life, to education, to marriage, to general ideas about success and acceptance. It was mine in a way….on a very deep level as I was in a committed relationship with someone. I felt like the outsider that’s true...but that didn't’ scare me off. It intrigued me. I saw first hand prejudices against me just based on the color of my skin and the fact that I was an American.
The first time I went to the Indian grocery store in my own town -- keep in mind, it was really crowded full of families and students -- I think I was the only white person in the store at the time. Different languages were being spoken, and I felt insecure in a way I had not felt before. It even took courage to make my way through the group of young international students to get to the check out. I remember that I walked around the less crowded iles in the store a few times pretending to look for more things before I finally got up the courage to walk up there.
One time, I visited my fiancé’s cousin’s house and spent a few days there. As soon as I walked into the house, I smelled the deep earthy and exotic smell of rich spices. The ginger, cinnamon, garlic, and coriander...mixed with spicy chili pepper and the earthy and sweet smell of masala chai (known in America simply as chai tea). There was no doubt I was in a vastly different home culture from my own or any of my friends. Rolf Potts, in his book Vagabonding, puts it this way:
“In many ways, this transition into travel can be compared to childhood: Everything you see is new and emotionally affecting, basic tasks like eating and sleeping take on heightened significance, and entertainment can be found in the simplest curiosities and novelties.”
And that’s exactly what if feels like. Everything is new, every smell, sound, sight, and taste.
I spent a lot of time daydreaming about marriage and I spent countless hours researching Indian wedding traditions. I bought a saree, petticoat, and blouse. I wanted to visit the country and taste the street food, and wear the traditional clothes. I knew that not all women wore traditional Indian clothes there, many wore western clothes, especially the younger generation. But there was still a very large amount who did. I followed different girls on Instagram who posted a lot of daily life, what they ate, what they wore, etc.
The hardest parts were the ideologies, and deep rooted cultural thought differences. Marrying into that particular family would not have been easy. I tried very hard to be accepted by his sister and mother...I think in a way, I would have been, but not at first. There was an incredible amount of prejudice against me. Because I was an American white girl, I clearly slept around...a lot. Because that’s what every white American girl does, right? It didn’t matter that I was a fundamentalist Christian, who believed in sex only inside of marriage but because I was an American that in and of itself surpassed any other quality, value, or belief I held.
Aside from those differences, and there was a daunting amount of them, I chose to get out of the relationship. The deep rooted reasons why I did that, however, had nothing to do with the cultural differences. It was mostly character reasons, and being in an unhealthy relationship...spiritually it was a dark time for me. Being with him would have went against my deeply held beliefs, and that, not the culture, is why I stepped out of it.
But once I was out of it I felt that all of that culture was suddenly taken away from me. It was not mine anymore. I had no part in it. I was purely an outsider with no chance of getting back in. I would never get to wear the clothing, listen to the music, eat the food in the same way I could have before. It was like counter culture shock in a way. Everything I believed I would get to partake in, was forever gone. But I could not go back to the way I was before. Travel and experiencing different cultures on a deep relational level changes a person in profound ways. All my family and friends were still the same, my town was still the same, I even lived in the same house still, but I was changed. Whenever I taste Indian food, or hear the music, I have a deep kind of connection in my soul because I was part of it for so long. But everyone around me, they didn’t experience it, so they can’t really understand -- not really. See, India was going to possibly be my home. And now I was a stranger. I didn’t have the right to call it partly mine anymore. If we had married, our home undoubtedly would have been a fusion of east and west in a very powerful way. But that part of my appreciation for the east seemed like it had no place in my life now. In fact, I should move on, put the past in the past, and become like I was before everything happened.
But life is not so simple. In dating relationships, people sometimes say to be careful, and not give away pieces of your heart for fear you will get hurt. That’s not how you grow though. In travel it is very much the same, you will give away pieces of your heart to different people you meet, different cultures and countries you visit, and it will change you. But instead of breaking, you will grow. So give your heart away. Travel and explore. Stay curious. In the words of Cinderella, “Have courage and be kind."