by Kathleen on September 1, 2011

For more than four years now, I’ve been a professional homemaker.

This quaint word conjures up kitten heels and pearls, though my homemaking uniform tends more toward jeans and flip-flops than my grandmothers’ ever did.  Still, for most of my children’s lives and all of their memories, my primary role has been to make our home.  And making a home, as Dominique Browning writes in Around the House and in the Garden, is about much more than cooking and cleaning.


We invest our homes with such hope, such dreams, such longing for love, security, a good life – and stylishness to boot…. Sure, making a home is a materialistic endeavor.  But it is often, maybe usually, undertaken with intense spiritual energy.



I never expected to focus so intently on homemaking.  Up until the moment my daughter was born, I expected home and family to fit around work and career.  To stay at home with the children and the dirty dishes and the lawn waiting to be mowed struck me as mind-numbingly boring, frightfully isolating, and depressingly unending.

It is those things, of course, and anyone who tells you otherwise is a terrible liar.

But it is more than that, too, and I am blissfully grateful for my stint as a full-time mother and homemaker.  For all the cookies and muffins we’ve baked, all the stories we’ve read and afternoons we’ve spent cuddled together on the couch.  For all the beach days and snow days and play dates and projects.  Even for the tantrums and tears and socks in the middle of the floor.  It’s all – every moment of it – been a life-changing privilege.

And now life is changing again – when is it not?

With both children in school full-time, I am back in the workforce next week.  When I started looking for work last year, I hoped for something flexible, something with a little bit of writing, something I cared about even a little.  I hit the jackpot.

My work as Public Relations Manager at Evergreen Home Performance fits squarely within the bounds of the school day – 30 hours a week, and at the playground at 3 pm to pick up my darlings.  It has me talking to homeowners who care about energy efficiency, writing their stories, and shepherding them to more comfortable, earth- and family-friendly living.

My career, it seems, is rooted in my homemaking, and I imagine the two winding together seamlessly.  Four years keeping house has taught me that I love the work of making my home.  I am no great shakes compared to the mommy-bloggers who channel the craftiness of Martha and the patience of Job, but I’ve learned my way around the sewing machine and the garden, and I like the paths I’ve made there.

Naturally, I am terrified.

I’m also hopeful (or naïve) enough to imagine the kind of simplicity and clarity Dominique Browning describes:

Keep close to the people you love, the ones who stay engaged and open to life, who bring joy and peace to house and garden.  Take with you everything you have learned – and remain humble enough to learn more.  I feel a deep need to simplify my household, but far be it from me to suggest that to do so means simply to get rid of things.  Would that anything were so easy.  Perhaps a new simplicity will lie in clarity about what it is we want, and what we need, from the rooms of our lives.