Just a housewife

Let me share a few things about myself which may not be immediately clear just from reading my blog:

I became a mother at age 21.

Last year I took my first commercial flight since I was 3.

I have never been outside of the USA.

I have done almost no traveling outside of the Midwest.

I was planning to be a high school English teacher before I became a mother.

I have 5 kids and two step-children.

I am entirely self-taught re scripture, religion, philosophy/rhetoric, psychology, ANE culture, and other topics I discuss here.

I have never been able to learn a foreign language.

I have been a stay-at-home mom/housewife for the last 12 years.

At this moment, I am sitting in my bedroom in a house that can be seen from I-94 ignoring 3 of my children who are bickering and pretending to be hissing cats.

All of which is to say that from the outside, I hardly seem like anyone special who would be qualified to speak on anything special.  I’m just a housewife in Wisconsin.  It has taken a lot of chutzpa on my part to keep writing here as if I had anything anyone might be interested in reading.

And it doesn’t help that I come from a family filled with people who have or are doing things that are much more impressive and interesting than anything I’ve ever done.  My dad and all of his siblings all have advanced degrees.  My dad travels the world as an expert in his field, speaking at conferences, testifying at trials and conferring with policy makers in his area of expertise.  My mother has a brother who is a multimillionaire entrepreneur.  Another of her brothers married into the family that founded a large financial services company whose name you are quite familiar with.  Several of my siblings have spent time living overseas in places like Italy, Poland, Turkey and Uganda.  Between all of them, I can think of at least 15 countries my siblings have visited.  They have earned their way to each of those places themselves.  They’ve had odd, interesting jobs like working on a whale-watching cruise ship, working on a pineapple farm in Hawaii and teaching inner-city kids.  They have hiked through Alaskan wilderness.  It can be a bit hard to be a housewife, surrounded by so many worldly, impressive people.

But I know a secret that most people never learn; that the landscape of the human heart is as wild and strange and fascinating as anything in all of creation.  And I don’t have to travel the world or make a lot of money or have a fancy education to explore the human heart.  Being a housewife in Wisconsin works just fine for that.

A few years back, my beautiful sister Cindy and her husband Greg quit their jobs and spent several months traveling around East Africa, Thailand, Nepal and India.  While there Cindy and Greg stayed at a Buddhist retreat center for a week of silence and meditation.  They kept a blog while traveling and wrote one blog post for each leg of their journey.  As I read the entry from this part of their journey, I had to smile.  They had traveled completely to the other side of the world in order to experience things that I have also experienced as a housewife in Wisconsin.

I remember how during long car rides driving my husband to work and my boys to their Montessori school back when we only had one car I realized that my head was filled with a chattering, often pointless, mean and critical voice that needed to be tamed.  I wanted to hear God more easily but had to shut that voice up first.

I remember having to learn to push impatience aside to just be while reading Hop on Pop and Everyone Poops 30 times in a row.

I remember listening and letting my brain chatter itself out while doing dishes.

I remember understanding at an emotional level that we are outnumbered by insects while watching ants move their nurseries when I disturbed them when turning sod over to make my first garden.

I remember learning to cultivate quiet in my brain while going about the mundane business of driving and cleaning and walking and gardening.  Where once my brain boiled like raging water,  my consciousness became like the still water of a pond early in the morning.  My thoughts became like the ripples caused by a fish nabbing a waterbug on the surface.  Purposeful, directed, sustaining.

I remember learning to let my brain pull up the scripture verses I had tucked deep within in response to the various questions, topics and problems that would float into my consciousness through the quiet once the chattering had been tamed.

On her final day of meditation, my sister was able to enter into the joy of the Loving Kindness Meditation.  I felt a certain amount of pride and gratitude as I read her description of creating and expanding love and kindness out from herself and into the world.  Although I am not buddhist and had only heard about the Loving Kindness Meditation in passing, as I read her description, I recognized the experience.  I knew that prayer, that place, that state of being quite well.  I have sat with it often over the years.

I remember long ago when I first found that place of loving kindness in my parent’s living room as a little girl, spinning in circles with my arms and heart open wide.  I had started to pray, “God bless my mom and dad.  Bless my brothers and sisters.  Bless my next door neighbors.  Bless the people in my neighborhood.  Bless my town.  Bless my aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents.”  As I prayed (I don’t ever remember saying a real prayer before this one), I brought to mind individuals and skylines and creatures and plants and rocks and maps and continents and oceans and the earth itself with its moon.  I asked God to bless them all as joy rose up in me and I continued to spin in the golden afternoon light.  I asked God to bless the galaxies in all their strangeness and the heavens with all their spirits and all that he had made and all that came before and all that would come after.  And then, when I couldn’t think of what else to ask God to bless, but still feeling the need to extend the love that felt like it was radiating from my chest outwards, I ended: “God bless you.  And God bless me.  Let me be a blessing to you.” and I was satisfied.

Because you don’t have to travel the world or live in exotic lands to experience great spiritual things.  Being a little girl spinning in circles or a housewife in Wisconsin works just fine.

15 thoughts on “Just a housewife

  1. Hello fellow blogger. I came across your post and I must tell you that I loved it. You need not think that readers will discount you because you are a housewife. My grandmother is 90 years old, has a grade 3 education and raised two children while her husband was at sea half the year for almost 15 years in the Navy. This woman was the backbone of the family and has more love to give than an army of nuns and charity organizations.

    I laughed upon hearing about your family overseas trying to find inner peace. Not because that’s funny but because I have done similar things over the past few years. I suppose it’s how my friends and I were raised.

    I’m in my early 30’s and watched my parents and my friends parents go off to work, working hard for more money. We were pushed to have a good education, get a good job that pays well then get married. It entered into our hearts and minds to keep going, keep searching and that standing still was a bad thing.

    It seems you were the one that stood still and learned from the heart rather than the surroundings or a 100 dollar weekend course on how to stand still in the mind. (Yes, I’ve done one of those. I could only focus on how much my butt hurt sitting on the floor.)

    From your blog I could read what a loving and beautiful heart you have. In your next blog you needn’t put yourself down and think that you are not special simply because you didn’t learn first hand what airline serves the best food in economy class. Your words proved it. It’s alright to toot your own horn and say ‘hey world I’m a beautiful person’.

    Thank you for your post and sharing something so personal with the world. That takes courage and heart.

    Bless you as well.

  2. I can say from first hand knowledge that through books, thoughts and dreams that you have managed to go places and do things that only you could do.

  3. Dedicating one’s life to family and raising children is far and away the most common path for women throughout the world today and throughout history. While this choice may preclude other modern endeavors, such as pursuit of formal education, career development, travel, and other recreation, it is a choice that transcends material endeavors. For one who prizes the spiritual path above all earthly endeavors, dedicating oneself to family and children seems a perfect choice, even if that means your mediation happens in a kitchen or parking lot instead of on ancient hilltop forest in Thailand. God bless you, Mother of Life!

  4. I am really glad that we could share the experience of meditation from such different vantages and such different places in life. One important difference between the Loving Kindness Meditations you and I practiced is the Buddhist meditation starts with the self, whereas the one you practiced as a kid ended with the self. According to the Loving Kindness Meditation I learned, a person must first practice compassion towards herself before she can truly be compassionate towards others.

    Buddhism also teaches “basic goodness,” instead of “original sin.” Since we all have basic goodness, the self is a very fine place to start any meditative prayer. I’ve found the “basic goodness” concept to be helpful in overcoming the habit of self deprecation that I developed as a kid, which never helped me or anyone else.

    One comment to postitwrite: I laughed, too, when I read that you thought my husband and I traveled overseas to try to find inner peace. We traveled overseas because we love travel and we wanted to experience parts of the world and activities (like meditation retreats) which are not kid-friendly before returning home and starting a family. Our life in Seattle is far more peaceful than anything we experienced while abroad (for more information, see our blog: http://www.brunksocki.blogspot.com).

    Also, I agree with Blog Watcher. Many villagers we met while traveling wondered why we were out wandering around like vagabonds so far from our families. They also pitied us because we did not have children. We never revealed our ages, as they would have been even more aghast at our condition. To be a mother and to dedicate oneself to one’s family is a normal, beautiful pursuit that cannot be compared to material and achievement-oriented pursuits prevalent in our modern culture.

  5. Cindy, Funny, I was planning on writing a post on original sin today. It’s been a highly abused and misused concept, imo. Probably not at all surprisingly, I have a slightly different take on the matter than is normally taught.
    When I said that prayer as a kid, I experienced it almost like it went out from me and then came back to me. Which fits with my concept (which I must have always had in rudimentary form) of God existing everywhere, but my point of contact with him existing within. I actually contacted a local Buddhist monastery to ask if someone would be willing to make themselves available to me to talk about such things and answer my questions. But they never got back to me. I’m afraid I’m stuck with my quasi-informed American views of Buddhism. Then again, I seem to be temperamentally inclined to value similarities more than differences. We misunderstand so many things that a lot of what we disagree is probably pretty illusory anyways. Not that there aren’t real differences, of course.

  6. Just reading this blog post brought tears to my eyes. How I envy(d word that came to mind) this loving kindness you talk about. I have been dealing with too much unhealthy chatter in my head. Finding away to pull it out, to be still in perfect love and peace most times seems far reached. I ask to know God more and experience his love and worry less about what this world poses infront of us as daily challenges…

  7. I’m a 19 year old dude living in Toronto studying English at Tyndale University and Seminary. Therefore I’m an unlikely target for your words, but dang do they ever hit my heart. You put words to the deep things that I think every Christian experiences but is too scared to speak. But you speak honestly, and somehow actually have satisfactory answers for your questions, which is so rare to find among everyday Christians such as yourself.

    Anyways, just know that you are blessing me greatly and offering much clarity into what it means to live every day as one who is in love with God.

    1. Conor, thank you! You just made my day. And FWIW, for all I know my audience is made up almost entirely of young cats. It’s a quiet crowd. I think everyone’s too busy being embarrassed at the things I’m willing to say out loud to speak. :p

  8. Housewife! High calling! My Mom mothered 12 children. Only 66 years old when she died. No words to describe how highly esteemed she is by her children.
    And, you write too! You are awesome!

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