Sunday, December 12, 2021

How I Became a Housewife, Part One

Growing up, my mother was a housewife, but I was not encouraged to follow in her footsteps. It was the 1970s and early 80s and society was in the throes of feminism; the liberated, independent woman was celebrated and being “just a housewife” had acquired some stigma. It was also a time of rising consumerism, and with more fabulous stuff to buy and enjoy, places to go and see, women were leaving their houses in droves to earn a paycheck to buy it all. So maybe there was good reason to not steer young women into that vocation.

So how did I become a housewife? I came to this vocation in stages, with occasional forays back into the public workforce. But hopefully my journey will be instructive as it charts my changing attitude toward home, marriage and housework.


It all started in my imagination.

I had a happy girlhood in a small, rural town in Tennessee, playing indoors with dolls but also spending much time outdoors riding bicycles, climbing trees and playing with childhood friends.

I became a great reader and I was especially drawn to stories about housewife/homesteaders of the past like Abigail Adams and Rachel Jackson and in the quiet of the library my thoughts travelled back in time and dreamt of pioneer days.

At home,  I played “homestead” in the backyard and acted out being Laura Ingalls Wilder….wearing braids, long dresses and bonnets, managing a farm household, making pies and raising children.  

It was about this time that my grandmother happily taught me to crochet, knit and sew. And my mother introduced me to cooking and baking.

Going into my teenage years, my activities began to change. My friends and I became involved in sports, I had more homework to do, worked a summer job and, consequently, had less time for the feminine arts.

But still, after school or practices, I would browse through my mom’s Southern Living magazines, devouring the pictures of beautiful homes and gardens and trying some of the recipes. At night, I read historical romances and biography and began writing my own short stories about pioneer women of the past.


I was raised by Christian parents and fell in love with a Christian man.

Religion was not a part of my early years but after a family tragedy , my parents began to seek for faith. They began reading books by Christian authors like C.S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer and this made a great impression on me. My father had been raised in the church of Christ, and we began attending the services, bible studies there faithfully and became heavily involved in church activities. We hosted home Bible Studies and fellowships. Our home was a hospitable one. I was heavily influenced by all this and, at age 10, I was baptized and became a Christian. 

It was at church on a Wednesday night that I met my future husband, Michael, a handsome, young lawyer who had just moved to town to start his practice.  He sat behind me, and after the Bible study we chatted and talked quite a bit. Mike had attended an undergraduate Bible college and I deeply respected him for that. I think I fell in love instantly…and went home and told my mother I believed I would marry him someday. She told me to be a good girl, and maybe someday I would (gentle smiles). Mike and I became friends…playing tennis, hiking and just generally having adventures together. 

College and Courtship

But the more immediate matter at hand was my education. I chose a small liberal arts college near Atlanta, Georgia and it was there I learned to seriously study. 

I also spent time walking in the neighborhoods around the campus looking at the cozy, bungalow-style homes built in the 1920s-1950s. I was enchanted with the glow of table lamps in the windows, ivy-covered chimneys and ferns and impatiens around the doorsteps and it all reminded me of the pictures I had seen in Southern Living! I found myself dreaming of this sort of romantic domesticity and having my own home and family someday. 

That summer, back at home, Mike and I continued spending time together…

As the summer came to an end, I realized I was sad. I didn’t want to go back to Georgia;  I wanted stay right there with Mike and never leave him. 

But I also loved learning and in the fall I went back for my second year of college. I made excellent grades and even began imagining a career in academia.  Might I someday be a college professor myself? The joy and headiness of learning added another layer to my feminine wants.

Within days, Mike was calling me and within a few weeks, he was flying down to see me.

Things became passionate between us quickly. The letters became more romantic, the visits more frequent; we expressed our love for each other and began discussing marriage. 

The next semester I transferred to a state college close to home and within a few months, Mike proposed to me.  That summer, we married. But I had no intention of being a housewife.

Wife and Motherhood

Now married and settled, my husband’s law practice began to take off and I continued with my education. I did exceptionally well and applied to graduate study and was accepted at Vanderbilt University (about an hour away).

I accepted the offer and was awarded a position as a teaching assistant. And then something unexpected happened…I discovered that I was pregnant!

Without skipping a beat, I turned down the Vanderbilt offer. But I’ll never forget the disappointment in my college advisor’s face when I told him. They had invested time and energy and hopes in my career and I’m sure they were bewildered. 

Nonetheless, I was excited about this baby. So I pivoted and applied for a position teaching Spanish at a nearby high school. When I was offered the job, I promptly took it. I was determined to have it all! 

We had our beautiful baby boy in December of that first teaching year.  My mother was happy to care for her first grandson while I was at school and so I went back to the classroom for the second semester.  

I enjoyed teaching, but I realized full time teaching was still more time than I wanted to be away from my baby. I resigned at the end of the school term.

Trying to Have It All, 1.0

Within a few weeks took a part-time job teaching in a small, private, Christian school, thinking it would fit better into my life as a mom; I ended up staying there three years. It was during this time that the anxiety began. I was overwhelmed with life.

I was a competent teacher and a loving wife and mother, but I was clueless about how to run a household.  My household was daily becoming more disorganized and messy: Papers, books, dishes, toys, bottles, diapers were taking over our house. My husband was patient with me, but I could tell he was also stressed from not being able to find things in the house. 

Then I had my first panic attack. I awoke one night with my heart pounding and shortness of breath. Was I dying? I got up and started doing things around the house to convince myself that I was okay. It helped some but the heavy anxiety did not go away. I started praying and calling out to Jesus for help and found much peace in that. The Lord had my attention. [see “Enter the Grace of God”]

I began reading the Bible on my own for the first time in my life. I read the Gospel of John and was fascinated by the wisdom and compassion of Christ. As I studied, many things began to change in my heart and I had the desire to follow the teachings of Christ.  

Our second beautiful baby boy was born in February, 1990.  At this point my husband asked me to resign from teaching, reasoning that both of us working outside of the home while raising two small children was too much stress on the family.  So I thought about it, realized he was right, and I resigned from my part-time teaching job. 

The Way Home

It was hard for me to calm down and to take up the quiet life of home at first. I still had that feeling that I wasn’t doing enough with my life. 

A turning point came while we were in Savannah, Georgia on a little vacation. The baby became sick, running a high fever. I felt alone and scared in a hotel room far from our pediatrician. As the fever went ever higher, feeling helpless and in a strange place, I opened the Bible that was in the nightstand next to the bed. I began reading in the book of Proverbs and one verse caught my attention.

Every wise woman builds her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands. - Proverbs 14:1

And right there it all became clear to me! None of this careerism even compared to the preciousness of my little son! And that he needed all of me and not just a part. I realized that my lack of focus had also been a destructive force in my marriage and that the home was my responsibility. It was there and then that I gave myself over to the Lord’s will, to mothering and homemaking with all my heart. My little son recovered, thankfully, from his fever, and I had recovered my desire to be at home.

I began seeking out and reading books on homemaking. I was able to finally relax and enjoy my home. I slowed down, I learned to find satisfaction in doing menial tasks around the house. I noticed how much those tasks blessed and supported my husband as he faithfully went out every day to earn our living and how they gave my children an orderly, healthy and stable home to grow up in. This new attitude made a big difference!

I began teaching my oldest son to read, write, and do some basic math. We decided to homeschool our children after meeting some families who were successfully doing that. As we got into it, I found it enormously fulfilling to be a part of their early education and every moment of their growth and development. I had invested a great deal of effort into my education and training but now I could pour all that into the people I loved the most…my own children. 

Everything was fitting, family, my love of learning and teaching. We had time to do things as a family on the weekends which was good for our marriage. I was fully focused on being a loving wife, raising my children and homeschooling. Those were happy years!

I still would not have called myself a housewife, though. I saw myself as someone who was staying at home for the sake of my children… a Stay-at-Home Mom. But this was a good start.

The housewife would come later.

Blessed is he that has found his work! Let him ask no other blessedness.—Carlyle


Amy Laurie <3


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