Where it Started
I was a latchkey kid, much like most other 30-something-year-olds out there. This means that most of my elementary, middle and definitely high school years were spent figuring life out. For a young, hormonal and oblivious teenager, I’m not sure how much I actually figured out in those years. I wasn’t the “observant” type back then. And honestly, I’m not sure I am now, either (though I try to be).
In elementary school, I was taught to recite my home phone number, my street address, my mother’s work phone number, 911, and any other number I could retain so that there was some sort of protocol in place in case of emergencies. Elementary school was the beginning of learning how to ride the school bus without a parent waking us up to get us ready to meet the school bus at the bus stop. My mother worked 12-hour shifts, so this tool was essential. Woe were we, however, when we faced the days we had to call Mom at work and inform her that we missed the school bus…again.
Additionally, middle school was where I learned the after-school schedule: come home, eat a snack, do homework and do chores before Mom comes home. Uh-huh. Like that happened. Honestly, our afternoons were spent absolutely uselessly, teasing each other instead of homework, or fighting – didn’t matter. It was anything except what we were supposed to be doing. Only out of sheer survival did we learn the fine art of somehow completing our chores when we heard Mom’s tires hit the gravel driveway. Now, looking back, it blows my mind why we were ever offended she didn’t like our housecleaning job.
Misinformed & Confused
One thing we didn’t learn, though, was the art of homemaking. As a matter of fact, in retrospect, I’m sure I thought homemaking didn’t really exist in the modern age. It was just a marketing scheme to market Pillsbury biscuits to people I’d probably never meet, or Shake ‘N Bake to families who really loved fried chicken. I don’t think I actually believed the whole homemaking get-up was what it really is: home-management, the art of completing tasks and providing for one’s family. I especially never could’ve guessed that it was a thing of joy. Maybe I just thought we were all fending for ourselves, making PB&J sandwiches or chicken noodle soup.
When your single-parent household works as much as our mother did, time is not a commodity. There just wasn’t enough to go around, and there certainly wasn’t time to teach us the fine art of homemaking.
Then I became an adult. Then I fell in love with the father to my child. I fell in love with my home, I learned to adore providing a clean(ish) environment and well-prepared meals, and I suddenly began waking up and desiring to make things better, beautiful, happy and clean. I was evolving into a homemaker!
The only thing about evolving into a homemaker was that I didn’t actually know how to be one. As a matter of fact, I still don’t know how to be one. All I know how to do is try. That’s all I can do.
My baby-daddy came home the other day, walked into the kitchen where I was slaving away merrily, and he asked, “Why is the floor so greasy?” I froze and then honestly responded, “Because I mopped the floor?” He wanted to know how much Fabuloso I used, and I couldn’t answer because Lord only knows how much it was. I didn’t think it was a lot, but I kind of fashioned my own mop because we were out of Swiffer wet pad-things. I think I messed up.
This isn’t just a one-time thing. I fudge nearly everything I do. Sure, I may miss the mark, my boyfriend probably never craves a single meal I ever make, maybe the floors are left greasy, maybe the quilt I made is so asymmetrical in its patterns that it’s hard to look at, but I don’t miss the mark for lack of trying. I try – even if I don’t succeed.
No one can tell me that I’m alone on this uphill climb to become a great homemaker, even with no training. I don’t believe it – I can’t believe it. There is no way on this green earth that I am the only latchkey kid-turned-homemaker who desires to forge a happy home. Unless someone wants to adopt me in my 30’s and reverse the effect of all the years of homemaking-neglect I’ve had, I’m on my own, left to figure it out. So here I am, figuring it out. As much as I desire to make things easier, better and more beautiful for my family, I have to break out of the traditional idea of what a housewife should be and just be myself.