It's not that I don't want to be. I marvel at how Becky embraces the role - not just the mom part, but how she is truly a "keeper at home" in every sense. I'm in awe of women like my friend Laurie, who grow their own gardens, probably never eat anything prepared from a box, and are as self-sufficient as possible. And I cringe when I walk into beautifully decorated homes such as that of my church friend Neoma, knowing that the decorating style inside my own really-cute-on-the-outside Cape Cod could only be classified as a mix of "Early American Preschool" and "Craftsman-Style School-Age Chaos."
And it's not that I don't make an effort to keep a decent home. I'm actually very particular about the main floor being picked up every night, I direct the girls to thoroughly clean their bedroom and play area at least once a week, and I force them to endure semi-annual "Super-Momma-Mega-Cleans." I also (usually) keep the sink from overflowing (too far) with dirty dishes and purpose to provide well-balanced, healthy meals. And I even make sure everyone has clean underwear, even when that means doing the wash at ten at night (which reminds me: I should go put in a load right now!).
Much of my desire to be "decent" is in reaction to having grown up with a mom who, though at home full-time, was actually pretty slovenly and rarely cooked anything "healthier" than Hamburger Helper (which we served ourselves buffet-style and ate from TV trays in the living room while glued to our favorite prime time television shows). I don't blame her (though, admittedly, I used to). No, now I understand what I couldn't see in my naive youth: her life was excruciatingly difficult in many ways so that, though she wasn't a real "homemaker," she did the best she could with what she had. But I think it's true that homemaking would have come more naturally to me if I'd seen it lived out in my childhood.
That said, I actually laughed out loud when I decided on the topic for today's post because, as I was pondering it this morning, I was concurrently:
- unloading and reloading the dishwasher;
- baking for tomorrow's breakfast (yes, it was a boxed quick bread, but it was baking of a sort!);
- putting together this evening's dinner, a homemade egg casserole that had to "marinade" all day and bake for an hour before serving;
- thinking about starting the laundry (though I never did get to it);
- organizing the day's home learning materials (and even starting us right on time!).
And I'd straightened the bathroom - even swished some cleaner in the toilet - before I started all of that.
So, to an outside observer, I may have looked like "Tina Cocina" early this morning. And I liked the feeling of accomplishment that washed over me in my productivity. In fact, I do keep plugging away at keeping a nice home because I'm convinced that's part of my role (which I don't see as a burden at all), and I want to do my best. But the reality is that I don't have the gift of homemaking - the natural inclination toward it - the way some of my friends do.
And the beautiful thing is that I don't feel bad about that. Just as evangelism is every Christian's responsibility but some believers' gift, so, too, I've accepted the fact that homemaking is my responsibility (one I want to embrace to the best of my personal ability) even if it's not my gift. And God has been so faithful to bless me (against all odds) with what ultimately matters most to any committed mom - an ability to love my kids with my whole being - that I'm okay with the fact that I really have no desire to sew my own clothes or can 100 quarts of tomatoes.
Oh, I'll still consider starting some window box "gardens" next year (even though the only plant I seem able to sustain is mold on leftovers in my fridge!) because the girls would really like to grow parsley and chives, of all things. And I felt like Ma Ingalls when I baked challah bread from scratch in July. But "Tina Cocina" really does appear only in spurts. The rest of the time, I'm okay with the fact that I'm doing better as an at-home mom than I really should be...and I'll keep working my responsibilities the best I can each day.
By the way, my mother-in-law's recipe is a great one - my husband practically drooled when he saw it come out of the oven. So, if you'd like to try an easy-to-prepare, made-from-scratch-but-not-organic, hearty meal one day soon, give this a whirl:
2 c. croutons
1 c. shredded cheese
2 c. milk
1/2 t. salt or Lawry's seasoned salt
1/8 t. onion powder
4 eggs, beaten
4 slices bacon
Mix together croutons and cheese and place in a greased 6 x 10 pan. Combine remaining ingredients except bacon. Pour over croutons and cheese mixture. Brown bacon and crumble over everything. Note: This must be refrigerated overnight (or during the day if you plan to make it for dinner). Bake at 350 for one hour. Serves 6. May easily be doubled (as I do) or even quadrupled.