It’s not a mystery that there is a growing feeling of burnout among modern families. Our culture thrives on independence and an all-around “can do” attitude. We can do everything, right? We’re told we can be and can accomplish everything and anything we want if only we put our minds to it. But something happens when we start families. Something creeps in and it doesn’t feel so right anymore to set out to do it all. Something suddenly feels like it’s missing.
For a housewife, that feeling can be especially exacerbated when she’s away from her friends and family. Part of this idea that anything we could possibly desire is right at our fingertips lies in the subtle understanding that we’re probably going to have to move to get it – far, far away. When you’re in love and it’s just you and your boyfriend, fiance, spouse, you feel like you can move anywhere as long as you have each other. We put this idea in quotes and slap it on our walls to be our new mantra – “Home is wherever I’m with you.” It’s a subtle and unspoken love story of lovers after the American dream.
We can head west like we’re in the gold rush and homestead where we land. Or, we can replace our silver spoons with rag-made, boho skirts, pick up the ukulele and sing ourselves a good song about followin’ our men out to the South where we’ll start our lives over. This sounds really cute until that void begins to creep in.
So what’s missing?
A community is exactly what’s missing. Home is where your community and your family are. As humans, we have the innate desire to share with others. Introversion and extroversion aside, our desires dwell in a place that yearns to share common interests and lifestyles with fellow members of our society who simply “get us.” We need a community, ladies. Regardless of how much we love our men, and the Lord knows that’s a lot, we need to share amongst each other. Can we do it all? Can we achieve it all? Can we have it all? Yes, we can. But not until we figure out the community part. We can run away with our husbands chasing dreams all day, but we still need each other as our lives depend on it.
In an interesting article from 1996 (yes, 1996), it was found that women are more prone to depression when they have limited roles, or when they suffer from “role captivity,” meaning, we can’t escape the role we have to play. That means, if this is true, we’re not as happy as we can be when we’re just housewives and mothers as opposed to housewives, mothers, friends, and otherwise contributing members of the community, whether it’s a leader of some sorts, a teacher, etc. We need the diversity of offering more than limited amounts of ourselves. We seek affirmation in the things we do, and sometimes, little children and tired husbands don’t offer the affirmation we so desperately need.
Furthermore, moving further away to achieve our dreams means that we have to pick up more roles alone. Where we would depend on a community, a neighbor, a friend, etc., we now have to play it ourselves.
So what’s the solution?
We need each other. However that looks to you, we need it. Is it a mommy group? A book club? A supper club? A cocktail hour with the neighbor? However you achieve it, just achieve it. Make friends and grow your community. Allow someone else to be who you need (always within safe and healthy bounds, of course). Housewife burnout, as I’ll call it, is from a lack of relief from the limiting roles we play every single day. God created you to be so many things, not just a wife, not just a mother. God created you to need and to offer a community. So just remember, if you follow your man into a faraway land to achieve the Great American Dream, girl, go get you a community.