Lorelei Savaryn imagines a broader definition of the term 'homemaking.'
As someone who has spent most of my life in the Evangelical world, and who has spent the last few years in the Catholic world, 'homemaking' is something I've heard often in both places. There are books written about homemaking and podcasts about it. People talk about it—and we seem to all know what the idea of homemaking means.
When I think of the word homemaking, it conjures up images of throw pillows, and softly slung blankets across the arms of chairs. Fresh baked muffins and clean floors. Cute little artsy things on the walls and mantel that were probably purchased from Target or Hobby Lobby. A friend and I were talking recently about how even those more 'surface' level connotations are kind of difficult to swallow sometimes, especially if there are stains all over your pillows and couches from grubby little fingers, or if you don't enjoy hanging cutesy things on the walls.
But there are some deeper connotations, too, and I wonder if other women feel the same way.
It's not that I don't want to make my house a home, it's that I don't want to feel like 'home' has to look a certain way for me to fit my identity as a Catholic Christian woman.
We stopped homeschooling in January, and that has been the best thing for our family. I haven't always been a stay-at-home mom. I'm currently the owner of a mobile children's bookshop and an author of middle-grade novels, but I've also been a teacher. Our home has looked different in all of those seasons, but I don't think that at any point it has been any more or less a home.
Sometimes my husband does the laundry. Never do either of us iron any of our clothes unless we're going to a wedding. I can't sew anything more than a button. I am horrible with yeast. Do not ask me to make anything that requires 'rising' because it will not work. But these are all things that I've felt, at one time or another, has been presented as the proper way to make a home by women in faith communities, both Evangelical and Catholic.
I think it may be helpful for us to reframe our idea of what homemaking means. To broaden it, and give it room to breathe. To create space for the diversity of women of faith, our unique gifts and strengths, and the different phases of our lives.
What about leaving the floor for later and going outside to play with your kids? That's homemaking too. Really, really good homemaking. What about letting the grubby little fingerprints on the fridge go so you can sit down with a coffee and read a book? That's homemaking, because our peace of mind impacts everyone else. What about letting go of the expectation that we need to entertain our kids all the time to the point that we burn out, and accept that creating a stable home with a predictable routine is also making a home?
While I personally love a good throw pillow, having seasonal throw pillows does not make a home. I am a big fan of creative ways to display pumpkins in the fall, but having decorative pumpkins is not in any way the essence of homemaking either. I've seen too many situations that look amazing on the surface, but when you peel back a few layers, you see a lot of brokenness and hurt. A pretty house can be an indicator of a true home, but it also can cover up struggle. And when we equate these superficial, first world Christian Woman expectations with being a Good Catholic Mother, then I think that leaves room for us to hide the struggles, or puts pressure on us to do things that may not be our strengths.
In the end, true homemaking is about a safe, and joy-filled, and peaceful home where hearts are safe to grow into what God made them to be.
That's it, that is homemaking. That is making a home.
I'd love to hear what you think about homemaking—if it's a concept you've embraced (which is great, if that's you!), if it's a word that you also struggle with, or if you just have never carried the emotional burdens like I have (haha). I'd love to know your thoughts.
Copyright 2022 Lorelei Savaryn
About the Author
Lorelei Savaryn joyfully joined the Catholic Church in 2016 after many years as a Protestant. She lives outside Chicago with her husband, four children, and dog named Saint. She writes about her faith and family life on ThisCatholicFamily.com. She is also a children's author. Her debut novel, The Circus of Stolen Dreams, released in Sept 2020 from Penguin Random House/Philomel.