As a couple, the husband and I have assumed the traditional roles of husband as breadwinner and wife as homemaker. I have no feminist issues with being a homemaker, rather I have embraced this role wholeheartedly. What I have found however, is that I sometimes desire to be recognized in this role, and it is a role that largely goes unrecognized.
First and foremost, the title of homemaker must be defined. In my world, a homemaker is one who sets the tone in the home, the one who makes the home a pleasing place to be. Not one who makes bread beautifully, cleans immaculately, crafts superbly, or pleases constantly.
I adhere to the standards set forth in The Family: A Proclamation to the World wherein is stated,
To me, this outlines the job the husband and I are to do together. This is the easy job- tag-teaming and having someone to bounce ideas off of.
Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. "Children are an heritage of the Lord" (Psalms 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.
I have had a more difficult time coming to understand what exactly my role as mother and wife is. I feel like I have almost, finally, come to know just what I should worry about as a mother and wife and what I should let fall by the way- and not feel guilty for allowing them to fall by the way. Again, in The Family: A Proclamation to the World, it states:
After pondering on this statement, and after a little personal inspiration- maybe even revelation, I take a new meaning and gain a new understanding than ever before. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. It doesn't say Mothers are primarily responsible for the upkeep of the home, the cleaning of the toilets, the washing of the laundry, the emptying of the dishwasher, the mopping of the floors. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of the children! How liberating is that? I love the new (always there) meaning I have found in the Proclamation. That is wonderful! As long as I am nurturing my children, I am doing my job.
By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation.
Now, knowing that my primary role is in nurturing these sweet children and his is in the providing for the necessities and presiding in the home- this leaves the upkeep of the home to both of us. And in our case, this is something we both agree on. What a wonderful husband! I am not excusing myself from the main upkeep of the home, but I am allowing myself to invite the husband in and to realize that this is his responsibility, too. Together, the housework is our responsibility. Even still, I have felt guilty that he has had to help. Why? It is because of those traditional roles that we placed upon ourselves.
I am grateful for a husband who works hard to provide for our needs- and who does an awesome job at that. And who supports me in my role. He is truly the biggest champion of mothers and hugest ally in parenting.
So, what am I going to do with this new found knowledge? I am going to nurture my children more. I am going to read to them more. I am going to play games with them more. I am going to talk to them more. I am going to allow them to help with the housework more. I am going to play barbies and babies with them more. I am going to build forts with them more. I am going to show them the nurturing love and power of a woman and by that rite, a mother. I am not going to feel guilty if the dishes are left in the sink, or the laundry is on the couch waiting to be folded. I am not going to feel the guilt because of a floor screaming to be vacuumed.
I love this talk by Elder Ballard in the April General Conference where he talks to women about being daughters of God. He quotes Anna Quindlen who said:
I love that! I am going to be that woman who treasures the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less. My children are my second greatest treasure, my husband the first. I love these people. I don't want to rush past these times. I want to savor them. I want to remember the details, the scents, the sights.
The biggest mistake I made [as a parent] is the one that most of us make. … I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of [my three children] sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages six, four, and one. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.