Let’s Chat about Fulfillment in Life, Even as a Homemaker

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

I wanted to take a post to have a chat about fulfillment in life. Mainly, to dispel the notion that a person can't find fulfillment being a homemaker. Through various other posts about my schedule, I think I've answered the 'what do you do all day' question in terms of household tasks. But I think there's an underlying thought that comes with that question. People don't just mean 'what fills your hours' but 'how do you possibly find those things fulfilling? Without a career, isn't there an empty portion of your life? Are you meeting your potential?'


So, can a homemaker meet her potential at home? Obviously, I think the answer is 'absolutely', but not everyone feels the same. Because there's often a level of sadness surrounding a woman at home, as if she would be doing something great like being a doctor or lawyer if only she could break free. As someone who was a lawyer before being a homemaker, this opinion annoys me. Yes, there are still places where this sort of lifestyle is forced upon a woman, but in the United States it is, by and large, a choice. Assuming otherwise, assuming that homemakers would choose to be anything else if only they could, enforces the idea that women can't think for themselves and make their own choices. But we can, and we can choose what role makes us happy.

People believe that there is no way that woman could be happy in a homemaker role because there is no public recognition. This perspective assumes a lot. It assumes that personal contentment cannot happen if a person doesn't have a career, achieve public recognition, or make independent and large amounts of money. All things a housewife does not appear to have.

I've also heard that homemakers cannot be happy because it's a largely made up role that consists of doing menial tasks, and that could in no way use someone's talents. But modern careers often have the same set up that being a homemaker does. Why would a woman who cares for her own home and kids be looked down upon but a woman who works at a daycare or as a teacher or as part of a cleaning crew is not? What's the difference? Serving a company and bringing home a paycheck? Does the exchange of money make those menial tasks more noble?

Or the argument that women would be leaving no other legacy than caring for her kids or cleaning her home her whole life. That's just silly. How many people will actually be remembered for their career? My accountant's amazing work on my 2018 tax return is not his legacy. John's sister's marketing campaign for a tool company will not be remembered for generations to come. And that's okay. Careers are not some sort of grand life fulfillment. They're about surviving - using talents and time and paying the bills. It's a very modern way of looking at careers, to view them as a way to find total fulfillment. But they're just one piece of the puzzle.

And fulfillment is subjective. Not every woman is cut out to be or wants to be a so-called 'boss babe.' So why do we define fulfillment in terms of careers? Does that mean that disabled people or children or retired people can't find a fulfilling life? Is bringing home a paycheck the only way to measure success? It can't be - the nuns who taught at my high school are going to have a very different definition of personal fulfillment and success than a Kardashian would. Success is deeply personal - it can be found in family, religion, hobbies, etc. When we only see success or potential as how much money we're making, how many followers we have, how many cities we've traveled to, we're reducing people and their value to material things. It's a very consumeristic way to view other people. You are more than the number at the top of your Instagram account or bottom of your paycheck.

So the question isn't whether or not homemakers can meet their potential at home but rather what potential do we truly have? Human potential should not be exclusively spent on churning out resources, on finding recognition, or even on extensive education. We all have potential but it's not just to find money and fame. It's to find peace, to make memories, to love others, to experience this world. True contentment doesn't just arrive after you've used the most amount of your talents to make the most amount of money and get the most amount of fame. None of that guarantees you a happy life.

Too many people boil down homemaking to just cooking and cleaning but we're our own bosses and we do get reimbursed. The benefits of staying home have long been overlooked, and I benefit just as much as John does. We are a team, building our dream life together. Because my personal fulfillment is found at home. It doesn't come from checking off certain boxes or using certain talents, it comes from contentment and gratitude. From living a stress free life, organizing, perfecting recipes, enjoying time with John and Hawkeye and my parents. From being able to show up when my loved ones need me. True fulfillment and meeting my potential cannot be defined by anyone but myself.

So that's my message to you, too - it's okay if your dreams are different and don't involve traveling everywhere, acquiring degrees, or moving up a corporate ladder, and yet you find your life deeply fulfilling anyway. It's okay to enjoy the small things.