This article is part of the 5 Myths series.
Commonly Held Beliefs
I’ve been a homemaker for seventeen years. Over the course of that time, I’ve not only heard others express myths about homemaking, I’ve held to some myself. Here are five to avoid.
Myth #1: Homemakers are optional.
People live in homes. Children are raised in homes. These homes take many forms across the globe. Some may look more like tents, some like ice houses, some like castles, and some like cabins. But people are meant to live in homes and therefore homemaking is not an optional activity. It can be done with little care and attention or much care and attention. Home can be made into a place of warmth and life and joy and beauty and nourishing food of the physical and spiritual kind, or, it can be a cold, bitter, antagonistic, unhappy, and lonely place. And it can be everything in between.
But our homes never mean nothing. They are never irrelevant. They are never, ever optional. And because of that, neither are homemakers.
Myth #2: Being a homemaker means that you are opposed to work that earns an income.
In the inspiring vision put forward by King Lemuel’s mother of a godly woman, we observe a type of homemaking that is multidimensional. The Proverbs 31 woman works hard and is industrious and productive both inside and outside her home, yet all her productivity serves the home. Some folks act as though in order to be a homemaker, you may not earn a paycheck or engage in the sort of work that contributes financially to your household. But that is a small and legalistic version of homemaking that is foreign to the Scriptures. It needlessly handcuffs the creativity and productivity of women.
Women ought to be busy at home. The married women should love their husbands and children. This doesn’t mean a woman can’t also be busy at church, or teaching at a school, or working in a bakery, or harvesting a crop, or studying in a particular field. What it does mean is that those things are not allowed to compete or usurp the home and the people who need cared for inside of it. The home is our priority because the home is God’s priority for us. The home is the footings of humanity, the launching pad and landing place, the stationary respite of nourishment, the essential environment for discipleship, love, and community. Everything else that we do should either flow out of the home or back into the home.
Myth # 3: Being a homemaker means you aren’t able or qualified to do anything else.
Sometimes when a woman devotes her life to homemaking without earning a paycheck, there is an assumption that she is unqualified to be gainfully employed. There may even be an assumption that she is lazy or entitled. It’s not that those things couldn’t be true (of course they could be) but they aren’t necessarily true or generally true.
I know homemakers who are medical doctors, have their PhDs, are skilled musicians or excellent teachers, have had careers in event planning and sales, used to own businesses, and much more. These women have made a conscious choice to leave those careers and opportunities behind (either permanently or for a season) while they devote concerted time and energy to the home and the people inside of it. Some view this as “a waste of an education,” or “a waste of her gifts,” but the woman who has made this choice knows otherwise, as all Christians should. She knows that nothing is wasted when it’s surrendered to God by faith. She knows that the home is a big enough place for her education and her talents to be multiplied in service to God and others, rather than diminished.
Our homes never mean nothing. They are never irrelevant. They are never, ever optional. And because of that, neither are homemakers.
Myth #4: Homemaking is only for moms with small children.
While having small children puts a magnifying glass on the importance of the home and helps us see why it’s valuable and essential, being a mother to small children is just one sphere in the life of homemakers. Homemaking is for singles, young marrieds, empty nesters, and more. The home is where we care for the aging, babysit other people’s children, fix food for a crowd or a family down the street, host small groups and large groups and every kind of group. It’s where we pass on our hard-won skills of cooking and baking and proper laundering and bed making and cleaning and organizing and hosting.
We can and should pass these skills on to anyone who’s interested in them, not only our children. The home is a place of availability. It should be available to meet the needs of the Christian community. But it can’t do that without a homemaker managing its resources and available to welcome people inside.
Myth #5: Being a homemaker is small women’s work and has little connection to important, eternal realities.
It’s certainly true that women have a particular connection to homemaking that men don’t. And what a glorious thing that is! What a privilege! Women’s bodies are actually made to be a home for others. Their bodies are equipped to feed and nourish others. Therefore, why would be surprised that the person who is made to be home would also be at the heart of physical homemaking?
Yet, homemaking is not only women’s work. Christians are conceived by God’s Holy Spirit and born of God. Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us—a home. He serves us his body as our food and his blood as our drink. God makes a home for us with himself, “Jesus answered him, ‘If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him’” (John 14:23).
When we make a home for others, we are often doing small and unseen work, humanly speaking, but the meaning behind the work is never small. We are imitating God in eternally significant ways. When we prioritize the home, we disciple others by helping them taste the importance and final reality of our heavenly home through the means of a tangible, concrete earthly one.
Abigail Dodds is the author of (A)Typical Woman.