I was thinking the other day about what a long way I’ve come in my marriage when it comes to homemaking. Most of the people that know me now, have no idea how utterly pitiful I was in this subject just a few short years ago. Growing up, I had a single mother who often worked outside of the home to support me and my younger brother. When she was home, I still did not receive much training in this area from her because she was the type that wanted us children out of the way while she was doing something. Our house was never filthy, but it was never white-glove spotless either. It was always obvious that we lived in our home. No rooms only for show, not touching for us. She was a decent cook, but never ventured outside of the same few plain meals. We also ate many prepackaged meals that required little more than tossing the plastic tray in the microwave or the oven. I was never invited to help prepare meals. My only job was to clean the dishes afterwards. I love my mother, and I cannot imagine how difficult it was to raise two children alone, but once I had children of my own, I began to wish that I had some kind of foundation in which to stand on in this area.
When Hubs and I were married, I was twenty-two and a junior in college fresh out of a dorm room. My culinary skills consisted of boxed macaroni and cheese, ramen noodles, Chef Boyardee, and scrambled eggs in the microwave. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I know how to make scrambled eggs in the microwave (Rachel Ray watch out!). We lived together in a two bedroom apartment and worked together in a restaurant located in our local mall. We worked nights and with no one else to support but ourselves and so ate out most days for breakfast and/or lunch and either ate dinner at the restaurant where we worked or picked up something from one of the few fast food joints still open after midnight on our way home. Occasionally, Hibs would cook for us (yes, I married a man who can cook! And well!) or we would grab a frozen pizza or Hamburger Helper. This worked for us. We were on the move more than we were at home, and it was just seemed easier.
Even after Sweetpea was born, this was pretty much our routine, except since I stayed home, Hubs would bring food home from the restaurant for me or I would break out that good ol’ faithful Chef Boyardee. Something stirred in me though when Sweetpea started to eat baby food. I began to wonder if this diet we maintained would be the best thing for her once she began eating table food and if we could afford to keep eating out so much with other things to pay for like diapers and car seats! I was aware that our dietary habits were far from well-balanced, but we were young and active and just didn’t worry about that sort of thing much. The seed was planted though, and I began to wonder how I could begin to take a step into the world of cooking for my family.
On the other side of the coin was the maintaining a clean, presentable home. I was decent at housework for the most part in our little apartment. Of course, we weren’t there often so it was not exactly hard to keep a barely lived in place clean. I’ve never been a fan of housework, and I loathe dusting, washing dishes, and anything to do with a toilet, but I still managed to keep things in pretty much acceptable order. Then when Sweetpea was two months old, we came upon some hard financial straits. We were forced to move in with my parents for six months, and then with my sister in law for another six months until we could get ourselves back on our feet. By the time we were back in our very own home, Sweetpea was over a year old and mobile. She was in to everything and constantly running about our tiny little place. Toys were everywhere. In a small home, a very miniscule amount of things out of place can make the entire house seem chaotic and unkempt. I began to realize that keeping up with all the things a household requires would be much more difficult with a toddler. I didn’t even know where to begin.
About that same time, I began to become convicted about reinvolving ourselves with church. I was saved and baptized at nine, but had sort of lost my way somewhere in my early teens. My childhood home was not a Christian home, and when we moved when I was 12, we never went back to a church. I had no guidance in that area, and so had begun to focus on other things. Hubs was not saved when we married, and church was a touchy subject for him because his father is a preacher and he had some bad experiences with family and churches in the past. I began to broach the subject here and there about trying to find a church to attend, but he just was not interested. So, I found myself searching for other Christian women through blogs and forums on the internet. After coming across several wonderful ladies, I learned of how the Bible talks of being a keeper at home and what all that entails. My heart was overwhelmed with conviction about really stepping up to the plate and taking charge of my responsibilities in my home.
I purchased some cookbooks and began to test the waters in the kitchen. It was a struggle for me at times, because honestly raw meat literally made my stomach turn. I hated to handle it, especially if it required removing bones or skin. I had to follow recipes to the letter, because prior to this, I had never really cooked a meal. I began to discover all different kinds of spices and flavors. I started to feel out what worked for us as a family and what did not. Hubs is a southern man, born and bred, and will eat anything dipped in grease. I started to open up his palette to healthier alternatives than fried chicken and fish. I have definitely had some mishaps and made some meals that were dumped into the garbage immediately after the first bite, but I’ve also made great progress. My cookbook collection has grown quite nicely, and I’m proud to say there are several recipes that I have been able to tweak on my own to better suit our tastes. I can now handle meat without a second thought (but I must admit I still buy boneless, skinless 99% of the time). My children eat healthy, well-balanced meals that are flavorful and hearty. They also participate in making our meals and desserts many days. We now only eat out once or twice every couple of months. We also eat together at the table instead of separately or in front of the television. I even make scrambled eggs in a pan now! ;)
I also with the help of some other helpful ladies and Fly lady( if you don’t know her, you should!) began to get a system worked out that helped me maintain a generally presentable home without sacrificing a ton of my time with Sweetpea and Bub. Now, that we’ve been homeschooling, I’m finding that even that system needs some more tweaking for us, but it is still incredibly helpful. My house is never absolutely spotless, but I, like my mother, believe that it is okay for a home to look lived in, just not messy. If you stop by unexpectedly, there will most likely be a couple of toys in the floor, there may be a dish in the sink, and because I still really hate to dust, there might be some dust bunnies on my ceiling fan, but things are in order and they are clean. This is enough for me.
I do joke about being fully domesticated now to some friends, especially those who aren’t married yet or who do not have children, but in reality, I’m still in training. I’ve spoken to friends that haven’t seen me since before I had children, and when they find I now make homemade bread, cheesecakes, and cook full meals, they sometimes still chuckle and remark that they thought I only knew how to operate a microwave, but I’ve only been married for (almost) five years, and there is still much ground to cover. Honestly, homemaking entails so much more than cooking and cleaning, but it is good starting ground. My hope is to come to a place where when it is time for my daughter to marry and take care of a home, she can look back and say, “My mom taught me how to do that!” A simple dream, but one very important to me, nevertheless.