By Kali Ramey Martin
I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last few years.
I learned how to hold my own in the harsh, fast-paced, cutthroat environment of a fine-dining restaurant kitchen. Dealing with sexist, arrogant cooks and often a staff made up entirely of male co-workers.
I learned how to break out on my own and start my own business, deal with clients and constantly combat the notion that I’m too young and too new to know what I’m doing.
I learned how to move from a familiar environment, surrounded by friends and things to do, to a pretty solitary existence in the country. I learned how to be a farmer’s wife and survive the craziness that is harvest and post-harvest let down. Take it all on during the season and hold down the fort.
I learned that my body could carry and grow another human being. That I could withstand months of transformation and discomfort, unwanted opinions and comments, aches, pains and 12 days of waiting past my due date, all ending in a miraculous and slightly traumatic conclusion. I learned that I could breathe my way through two days of labor, two long hours of pushing and bring into this world the sweetest little man I’ve ever met.
I learned that despite feeling most of my life that I needed to find the perfect career, achieve some predetermined level of success and really “prove myself,” I really had nothing to prove to anyone but myself.
And I learned at the end of the day, in this season of life, I’m really much happier at home.
For a long time I carried around a clear picture in my head associated with the word “homemaker.” A ragged, depressed woman with stained clothes and greasy hair, Cheerios stuck to her neck and wild kids running around, driving her crazy. I vowed I would never be that woman, that I would get out in the world and make something of myself and not settle and become that sad, run-down stay-at-home mother.
I had no idea that the picture could look so different.
I stopped working about three months before our son was due and instantly found myself in that role I’d always dreaded.
Home most days with nothing to look after but the cares and comforts of my home and the creatures who lived there. I spent the days leading up to his birth cooking, cleaning, doing laundry and arranging (and re-arranging) my home. Diving headfirst into the domestic life I’d always looked down upon, I pretty quickly realized that not only was I not that sad picture I’d always had in my head, but in fact I was thriving.
Domestic life is somewhat of a lost art these days. I think it’s a rare woman who doesn’t feel the burden of doing it all or being it all. But realizing that I loved being at home really freed me to take delight in simple, everyday tasks.
All of a sudden I felt enthusiastic about doing the laundry. Hanging our clothes and linens to dry in the sun. I researched homemade cleaners and bought nice, pretty wooden brushes and brooms. I made natural concoctions for bath time and diaper rash, and looked forward every day to tidying up my son’s room from a day spent playing together.
I began to make my bed and tidy up the rest of the house every morning. Suddenly meal planning and shopping for food became less of a burden and more of an adventure for the two of us, and cooking for my family the part of the day I looked forward to the most.
Sometimes I still feel a little embarrassed that these simple tasks bring me such pride and joy, that getting to change diapers or use my steam mop are the highlights of my day.
But most of the time I feel lucky. Incredibly lucky to have the freedom to be at home in this season of life, finding joy in the simple and caring for the people I love.