Don’t put baby in a single box!

At the party on New Year’s Eve, I got chatting to a woman who I had met a few times before but whom I didn’t know all that well.  After chatting for a while, she said to me, “You’re such a homemaker! I can tell it comes naturally to you.”

The comment took me a little by surprise.

I have spent a great deal of my adult life believing the exact opposite.  I am not a homemaker, I would tell myself, and I am terrible at it.

Mr C and I spoke about this on the way home from the party.

“You are a homemaker, Sarah.

“But I don’t want that to be who I am.  I don’t know what I want to be, but I’m pretty sure a homemaker isn’t it.  I don’t want to be put in that box.”

“Why can’t you be made of different boxes – a homemaker, a writer, a crafter, a political commentator – a woman who hops from box to box.  Nobody puts baby in a single box.”

We laughed, but I continued the journey home deep in thought.

I have spent all of my adult life believing I needed a THING to define me.  Deep down, I hoped that would be writing.  Not only that, I wanted to be a literary writer.

I didn’t want to be a homemaker.

I thought about why I didn’t want to be a homemaker.  The first thing that came to mind is that I am no good at it (this is my default position on everything).  My second thought is that I didn’t want to be defined as the wife and mother.  I wanted to be defined as Sarah the-great-at-something.

It then occurred to me that this is a little arrogant, okay, a lot arrogant.  It also occurred to me that I haven’t worked at anything long enough to be considered great at it.

Then, when I thought about it further, the realisation that I am a homemaker and that being a homemaker came naturally to me really settled over me.

On Christmas day, I have a tradition whereby everyone who sits down at our table gets a Christmas decoration.  This year, I made the boxes and tags in which the decorations would sit.  Our son-in-law-to-be asked if I had made the boxes.  I nodded that I had.  “You are so good, Sarah.  So clever. You make such lovely things.”

From the earliest age, I have wanted to be a wife and mother.  It doesn’t seem fashionable these days to say that, but in my case it is true.  I’m aware of the notion of social conditioning and I did grow up in a household where being a wife and mother was all that was expected of me.  Nevertheless, I do believe that there are some women who find this environment a very natural habitat.

I have a vivid memory of skipping across the road on the way home from school at the age of 10 wanting to become a teacher.  I loved learning, but the reason I wanted to be a teacher is that it would enable me to work and be home for my children {at the tender age of 10, I had no idea just the amount of work teachers do HA!}.

When my boyfriend and I bought our first house together, at the age of 23, the first thing I did was set to decorating it.  I learned how to paint, how to wall paper and how to sew.  I made my curtains and wall papered rooms.  I loved it.

When my daughter was born a year later, I made her clothes.

I’m not sure when, but somewhere along the way I learned to fight these natural tendencies.  I think it was probably because by the time the 90s came along being a stay-at-home mum was not considered a good thing.  A woman should be out earning money, and should be financially independent.

It caused a great deal of conflict for me as I scrambled to find something to do from home so that I could be at home with my babies and be a homemaker.  No internet then, of course, and working from home, in South Africa, was almost impossible.  Finding part time work rarer still.

It made me miserable.  The pressure to be a career woman, to find something, my THING, grew to insurmountable proportions.  I spent a great deal of time trying to be something I wasn’t.

And I am still doing it.

I love to decorate, and am thinking about cooking all the time, even if I don’t actually get off my backside and do it.  Homemaking things are indeed the things that occupy my mind the most.

And writing, of course.

But it is really writing to impart experience or knowledge, rather than literary characters, that drive me.

I don’t know why I have fought this for so very very long.

Perhaps I just wanted to be famous.  Remember that book I told you about, Famous Women?  Maybe reading that book sparked in me not a desire to do good, but just to be famous.  Maybe that was my driver and not the career itself.  Maybe that was some kind of validation I needed.  And maybe not only could I be recognised for being a paragon of virtue, but earn heaps whilst doing it.

Oh lordy, I’m cringing at my internal arrogance.

Who knows if this is the case, I don’t, but I do think the time has come to face the fact that I am who I am and to embrace that woman in all her colours.

My interests are wide and varied – politics, philosophy, religion, history, crafting, memory keeping, card making, decorating, cooking.

I am a woman of many many boxes.

And perhaps indeed it is a case of a “jack of all trades and master of none”, but I think that possibly this is okay.

As we gather momentum towards moving into our new house on the 27th January, I am finding myself motivated and inspired to try different DIY projects to decorate my new home.  I am looking at lifestyle blogs and DIY decor sites too.  I do this unconsciously, without effort.  I imagine myself sitting at the dining room table, with those beautiful views stretched out before me, creating something for my home.

I can’t help it, it just happens.

I also imagine myself curled up in what will become my library, reading the many books I have never allowed myself time to read – the words of Shakespeare, Austen, Keats, Nietzsche, Bertram, de Botton, et al.  All of them adorn my shelf, and yet I have never made time to read them.

I imagine running classes perhaps one day at our property for people to come to learn to craft, or just to relax and have fun.  A distant dream perhaps but not beyond the realms of possibility.

These things are not going to change the world, nor are they going to see me featured in a book called Famous Women.  But they form the fabric of who I am, and they help me to leave my mark on the world in whatever way I can, however small.

These boxes change all the time, and that is okay.

Twenty seventeen is my year of being calmer, and kinder to myself.  It is about being accepting of the person I am.  It is about accepting that all the years I have lived and the experiences I have had, have made me the person I am today.

A woman of many boxes.  A woman that indeed cannot be boxed.

And that is okay.

I’m excited for the new year ahead.  It will bring many challenges I know – living knee high in dust being one – but I know that out of it will grow a beautiful home for my family, and a growth for me spiritually.

I don’t mean religious spirituality here, I mean growth of the human spirit, something I have been lacking for the longest time.

Let’s make this year, the year we accept ourselves, where we are right at this very moment.  Let us make this year the one where we accept all of our boxes, each individual to us.  Let us simply make this year the year we accept ourselves full stop.

Much love,

SHW Signature AmyG Font

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Don’t put baby in a single box!

  1. I know just what you mean about wanting one ‘label’ to define you. I’ve always wanted to be a wife and mother, so it was such a struggle for me when I couldn’t find Mr Right for the longest time. I finally married at 41 and we have no kids. It was hard to let go of the dream of a ‘family’ but I’ve come to learn that there are a variety of ways to create family.
    Wishing you a happy New Year and many blessings in your new home. On 27th Jan, we celebrate our 10th Wedding anniversary – so it is an auspicious day for you and me! 🙂

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    1. Hi Corinne, thanks for your thoughts. I can imagine it was hard to let go of the dream of no children, and you are so right – so many ways to create family. Congratulations on your 10th wedding anniversary – auspicious date indeed as it is also the date my dad moves out of his B&B after selling it, having run it for 12 years. The 27th January is indeed a good one! Have a great year Corinne xx

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