23 January 2012


When my parents applied for their passports a couple years ago, my dad happened to show me his original birth certificate. The old Virginia birth certificates asked the mother and father to list their occupations. It caught my attention that my grandmother had written homemaker. It would have made just as much sense to write housewife, mother (after all, this was her 8th child!) or even none. But she chose to write homemaker.

In the last several years, when filling in that question on forms, I've written things like none, stay-at-home wife and mother, and PT school librarian. I'm never quite sure what to write! To be completely truthful, when I used to be able to write "HS English teacher," I took pleasure in the fact that people often acted interested in that description. But, it seems, "stay-at-home wife and mother" sounds a little... typical... boring... unambitious. So, while I strive to tell the truth, I always hesitate what to write. It also doesn't help that "occupation" sounds like something you get paid to do.

But, in actuality, Merriam-Webster defines "occupation" as "1. an activity in which one engages, 2. the principal business of one's life." And as any wife and/or mother who is at home most of the day will tell you, the "principal business," the thing that makes us most busy, is caring for the family's needs.

Those needs include everything from making sure everyone is fed, everyone has clothes to wear (ones that fit and ones that are clean), to being the main supervisor and caretaker of the children, to being my husband's personal home secretary - that means dealing with insurance or other business issues, making appointments, acting as the official "purchasing agent," and running errands that he asks me to do - and several other things in between. For the record, I list these without any resentment! I'm truly happy that I can help him and care for the kids!

So back to the "homemaker" label. Despite the fact that "homemaker" sounds right out of the 1940's, I think my grandmother had it right. More than that, though, doing the work of a "homemaker" is biblical.

"That they [the older women] may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home [homemakers], good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed." (Titus 2:4-5). So, whether or not employment enters the picture, "homemaker" must be part of my description. God gives me the responsibility (which may or may not include some delegation) of making and keeping a home for my family. But, ultimately, the responsibility for seeing there is a home made lies with me.

Because of the stage of life we're in, we've chosen to make homemaking my primary "occupation" for now. Now, I do hope there will be a day when I can again write "teacher" in the occupation box. But at this "season" in my life, I think the next time I'm asked, I'll write, like my grandmother, "homemaker." And I'll do it with thankfulness and satisfaction.

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