while she was sleeping


I remember the first time I ticked "home duties" on a form asking for my occupation. It needled and I wasn't proud. 

If you'd asked me when I was fifteen, or twenty-five, how I'd feel about being a full time homemaker, I would have snorted my fair trade coffee up my nose. Homemaking was not how you changed the world.

And I wasn't even at all maternal until I was pregnant with my first baby. 

The idea of baking bread, gardening, tending chooks, making laundry soap, these weren't the occupation of a smart girl. The smart girl didn't even take the chef's apprenticeship she was offered at 21, though she adored cooking. She was going to be professional

And so she was.



I'm probably living someone's nightmare. 

I know that making clothes for your family is not everyone's cup of tea.

I know the idea of making your own tomato sauce seems like an utter waste of time to some. (Blogging, it turns out, can be seen as an abject time-waster.)


I also know that not everyone has the opportunity to stay at home with their kids. The financial or social reality for some means that homemaking is something that has to be outsourced. 

I'd like to think it's always a choice. Deliberate, considered. But of course it's not. Maybe once I've read Possum Living I'll figure out how people live without money. We haven't figured it out. 

You have to pay the rent, right?



Today, as my poor wee babe's sore throat and ears responded to the antibiotics and she finally slept for two hours straight, I got busy homemaking. Washing, baking, drying bay leaves, making laundry powder, casting on another cowl (this time on purpose) and making flatbread (details and recipe tomorrow). 

My critical feminist brain skittered across the jobs list, wondering at the feeling of satisfaction gained from folding washing off the line and re-making beds. 

Because it is satisfying. 

And I will not be told that I've adjusted to mediocrity. That finding joy in laundry means I've given up plans to change the world. I just found the world, right here, isn't so bad just the way it is. And from this place right here I'm stronger, able to organise, and my little words building a wall against the world's crap are a little bit clearer.

Is there something just a little bit holy in these everyday jobs? Particularly if you are there deliberately? Consciously? Not insanely pulling washing from the dryer while I wonder if I have anything for tomorrow's school lunches and what time was that meeting in the morning and the cleaner didn't come and so tired so tired spaghetti on toast for dinner. 

There is no doubt there's something political about it. 

So hello, homemakers. I hope you had a window of some kind to do a bit of homemaking today.

It's hard when you're out of action for any reason, sick babe, feeling blue, low energy.

Gives you time to think, though.




And there's always toast for dinner. 



24 Comments on “while she was sleeping

April 13, 2011 at 11:20 pm

What a timely post Fi. Today I had a little crisis over loss of independence, self, possessions etc, and wondered, not for the first time, how I got here. I too would not believe anyone who told me BC (before children) that I would end up here. But really, why do we devalue the raising of children in our society? Surely it’s a supremely important job (even if there is no pay ๐Ÿ™‚ x

April 13, 2011 at 11:35 pm

And sorry to hear about poor little Ivy, hope those drugs kick in soon.

island dweller
April 13, 2011 at 11:48 pm

Great post. I have been a SAHM for near 12 years, now at babe 3 (due shortly), I love it even more. I am busier now helping with a business, kids activities etc. but to just having a day at home to do those essential things like folding, sit and read over a cuppa, make some curtains for the nursery, alter a top to my growing belly is just bliss! This is how it was always mean’t to be, we have, as a society got away from what is real and important. Keep on changing the world this way girl, you are making a difference to the most important ones and you are encouraging us all along the way!

April 14, 2011 at 4:47 am

Sounds rather zen! Sounds like a book I recently read. A book I loved, mostly.
Hand wash cold, care instructions for an ordinary life. Here’s an exerpt from the author’s site…

Itโ€™s easy to think that meaning, fulfillment, and bliss are โ€œout there,โ€ somewhere outside of our daily routine. But in this playful yet profound reflection on awareness, the compelling voice of a self-described errant wife and delinquent mother reveals the happiness at the bottom of the laundry basket, the love in the kitchen sink, and the peace possible in oneโ€™s own backyard.

And best wishes to the little one and her health getting back on track asap.

April 14, 2011 at 5:07 am

What a lovely post. I am tempted to forward it to all those who have ever looked askance in disdain at my choice to leave a promising career after my precious first child was born. Your words echo my heart. Now fifteen years later, I sometimes wonder whether they still wonder at my choice when they see the fullness of my life.

April 14, 2011 at 5:40 am

This is such an amazing articulation of what I often feel. While I do work part time out of the house I have long been contemplating making the move to being home full time, for many the same reasons as you describe here…but mostly the “holiness” of those deliberate and loving acts of caring for our children, our families, and our homes.

Thank you, thank you!

April 14, 2011 at 7:36 am

Have you read “One thousand gifts- a dare to live fully right where you are”? This post has echoes of it. INCREDIBLE book. Great post honey.

April 14, 2011 at 7:57 am

So glad I popped by this morning ๐Ÿ™‚ A great inspiring post reminding me of the joy was just what I needed ๐Ÿ™‚

April 14, 2011 at 8:57 am

Fabulous post, as always. I find all that stuff so hard to process. I’m never certain what I *want* to be. Hmmm. Thanks for expressing it all so nicely.

Leigh @ Toasted
April 14, 2011 at 10:15 am

Lovely post. It’s funny, but I’ve only recently started enjoying the achievements of homemaking. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve started getting some decent sleep (after five years of serious sleep deprivation) or I’ve started working part-time in a very satisfying job (tutoring in community development which pays me to think excellent feminist thoughts like ‘home-making being devalued is a bit patriarchal.’ Actually it’s probably both now that I think about it. Like you, I feel satisfied.

April 14, 2011 at 11:20 am

Couldn’t agree with you more. I’m on maternity leave (this is my third year) and have dreamed of continuing this career for as long as possible. Unfortunately our mortgage has other plans for me!

Before this, I was always a working mother.I’d rush home from a meeting, greeting my latch-key kids hurriedly as I started listing off all the things we needed to achieve before sun-down.To be frank – it sucked. I was always exhausted and felt my life was being lived in fast-forward. I had a satisfying professional life, but it was at the cost of family life. I got so tired of having 2 jobs, so I decided to concentrate on the “homemaking” job for a while. I find it a whole lot more meaningful and satisfying than my professional life.

I’m feeling a bit sad about going back to work – but it’s like you said -sometimes we have to work to pay the bills.

Let me know if you work out a way to live without money.

April 14, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Fi, I love your passion and centredness around being a SAHM, it is such a wonderful gift to be able to be with our children as they grow and enjoy every moment of their lives and really indulging in this amazing place where we live. Hope Ivy gets well soon.

April 14, 2011 at 1:53 pm

thanks for the book suggestion! i just love it when people give specifics! always looking for a good read.

angelina hart
April 14, 2011 at 1:58 pm

what a great post. always nice to find kindred spirits out in blogland!

April 14, 2011 at 7:52 pm

great post! that’s why I love blogs, because when people around me aren’t like me I always know I can find people like me out there. Now with 4 little ones I have well and truly embraced homemaking and being at home. But my mum did her PhD in Simone de Beauvoir and feminism. I never read her thesis and she was big on her girls going to uni, having a career and making our own money. And I did that for 10 years and I’m so glad I did because it makes me appreciate my home life so much more. No regrets here. Love it. Never going back to the 9-5 but always looking at ways to escape the big city! keep doing what you are doing

Meg Story
April 14, 2011 at 8:07 pm

Care to share your recipe for Laundry Soap?

April 15, 2011 at 12:15 am

fi, in the short time i have known you i have never not thought of you as a homemaker.
yes, one could argue that is because i met you toward the end of you corporate office career…
or maybe it is because you were born to be what you are doing right now with you family.
a great mum, making a difference in your world.

everything that came before was just preface.

just like to add that your 3 kids are fucking LUCKY!!!

April 15, 2011 at 12:27 am

Ha, I remember the day, you called to tell me you’d filled in the form. We talked about it for sometime, then decided a coffee and pannetone might make it all go away. My how far we’ve come! Babies, working, not working, working again, and so much to teach our little people about the joy of choice! I miss you my friend! xxx

April 15, 2011 at 7:17 am

I too am glad i stumbled on this post today. i guess there’s a “home duties” crisis every day for lots of mums at home. i still reluctantly wear my home duties tag, but now and then i throw myself into with baking, washing, gardening, sewing, knitting, crocheting, reading, craft (notice there’s no mention of cleaning). i feel invigorated after reading your post and am now planning our first day of school hols AT HOME !

April 15, 2011 at 11:25 am

that was refreshing to read~

YES, it is holy

YES, it is satisfying

and Hell YES, you ARE changing the world!

April 16, 2011 at 7:03 am

Love this post Fiona. Seems there is a lot thinking going on amongst us ladies, these days.

Have you ever thought of tele conferences? Just a thought. Virtual tea time or something. Surely such things are possible???

I just stumbled upon this magazine and I thought of this post….

What a fascinating time to be a woman, I say!


Rachel Melson
April 16, 2011 at 9:20 pm

Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa ( may be another choice. i know alot of people use it, its also non alcoholic, though it’s effectiveness is not as good as alcohol based cough medicine, but it’s still good to use on not so serious sore throat.

April 17, 2011 at 11:16 pm

Dear, how I love you. Thanks for posts like this. I’m happy to feel like I’m getting closer all the time, (well, 2 steps forward…) though also heartily embrace spaghetti on toast for dinner. Yum!

May 4, 2011 at 11:39 pm

I never really imagined being “just” a mama, either. But now that I am, now that it has been my job for more than two years, I love it! It is all oddly satisfying.


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