Recently I read some discussions on the idea of being a stay-at-home wife–not a stay-at-home mom, but being just a married, childless woman who stays at home all day while her husband goes to work. It’s an idea that gets pretty highly criticized, often for good reasons.
It’s also something I was for the two years between our move northward (when S graduated and got a “real” job) and the birth of E.
I don’t regret that time. I think it’s good when women can throw themselves–their entire selves–into the work of their home and of supporting their husbands. This article describes it well. In my own case, I was recovering from cancer treatment and then dealing with a pretty throw-uppy pregnancy at the same time that I was a SAHW, but there are some things I still wish I’d had more determination and wisdom to accomplish. Reading the articles made me think about those things pretty consciously, especially since I’m trying so hard right now to get my house under better control!
1) Made my own cookbook binder.
More specifically, I wish I’d accumulated a good thirty or so recipes that we liked, that were kid-friendly, and that were easy to prepare with toddlers and their unpredictable schedules. Then I wish I’d arranged those recipes into “weeks” with matching grocery lists categorized by area of the store. I’ve been trying to do something like this ever since, but I don’t seem to have quite the coherence of thought to pull it off–at least not yet!
2) Created some income-generating WAHM-type ventures.
Specifically, some things that would require little or no continued intervention from me–something that a mother of very young children could continue to maintain without it infringing on her household duties. A blog, perhaps, as I’m trying to do now, or what I think would have been really ideal is if I’d written down some of the patterns for the various knitting projects I was inventing at the time, formalized, sized, and sold them. An ongoing source of revenue with a pretty big time commitment to initialize (time I genuinely don’t have now) but then little or no further attention needed. Or, more pleasantly, I could have polished up and prepared for publication some of my short stories or essays–not that they would have gotten published, but at least I could have tried!
3) Engrained some really good housekeeping habits.
This is one that really makes me kick myself, because I really should have had a handle on the housework before kids came along. No reason at all not to. I should have had routines, skills, and HABITS.
4) Made good, close friends with women with very young children.
We were planning on having kids as soon as we were “allowed” to, but for some reason I didn’t realize at all how hard it would be to make good friendships with a toddler around. I wish I’d planned ahead by trying to forge some friendships back then that would have carried over well to this stage of our life. I did try to get very involved with church and Bible studies and so on, until I got too sick to go out, but I didn’t aim my energy very well or pursue things nearly as hard as I could have.
5) Sorted through my old stuff and downsized.
We pretty much filled up the house with just the two of us and our stuff, but now we’re going on five with the same amount of space. Needless to say, there’s been a lot of downsizing and our priorities about what to keep and what to get rid of have changed drastically. (It used to be, “is it possible we’ll ever in a million years need this, want this, or know someone who does?” Now it’s more like, “do we really actually use this very much, like once a month, or is it really expensive to replace?”) So I’m not sure that if I’d gone through things back then that I would have had adequate perspective to achieve quite the state of stufflessness that I’m wishing for now–but if I could have, man do I wish I’d tackled some of the many boxes in the basement, and had the nerve to throw away some of my moldy old toys. I have the vague idea that now, since they’re tucked away nearly invisibly in the basement, we won’t tackle them for eons, if ever. And have you tried going through anything with toddlers around? Everything is an exciting new toy, and they pull everything back out of the trash.
If you were ever a SAHW, what do you wish you’d done better with your time? Or if you never had the opportunity, what would you have liked to have accomplished?