When I was staying at home, I used to wonder if I would contribute more to the family if I was working. I worried, occasionally, and especially in the early days of staying home, that I wasn't "pulling my weight" if I wasn't doing house work or projects non-stop all day.
Last night, after work, Kathy met up with some colleagues and I volunteered to go home for kid duty so she could stay out. When I got home, I was instantly crabby. Our lawn is, in some places, a foot tall. A FOOT. The house was a shambles, with stacks of mail everywhere, dirty dishes, crumbs, toys, and sticky substances coating nearly every surface (this might be an exaggeration. Then again, it might not). I decided to spend the night cleaning, tidying, and throwing away. I worked non-stop for a few hours, until the house was at least tidy, if not clean.
I have been slow for the last few weeks at work. I hate being slow at work. Weirdly, it dawned on me as I was locating the source of the sour smell emanating from the dishwasher, that I like housework because it makes me feel useful. This was a little surprising, considering that only a year ago I was worried I would not feel useful if I was not financially contributing to the family. But looking at that garbage bag of junk that had accumulated in the house over the last month, I felt the full weight of all I did when I stayed home.
Housework is, for me, deeply satisfying. It yields tangible, visible results. It makes our family's life flow. It makes our home a cozy, good-smelling place instead of a dumping zone that is a source of stress. I think the kids really miss all the muffins, and I really miss making them. I really do feel way more useful and satisfied at home than I do at work. I realize not all women feel this way. Frankly, I am surprised to find that I am one of them.