Monday, July 8, 2013

A Day in the Life of a Stay-at-Home Daughter

At 21 years old, I frequently battled feelings of futility. As hard as I tried to believe otherwise, my life felt meaningless, wasted, directionless and unmoored.

To cheer myself up one day in early spring, I recorded the following on a note card:

For Your Encouragement!
On Monday morning, you:
  • made breakfast
  • made your bed
  • baked whole wheat bread
  • planted seeds (and put away the stuff!)
  • let Hope & Faith* watch the seed-planting
  • washed the dishes, including the dough mixer
  • checked the younger kids' math and reading books
  • answered a Sentence Analysis (advanced English grammar) question
  • cleaned the kitchen sink
  • practiced a vocal solo
  • spent an hour at the piano
  • practiced Bach and Hanon Studies and a hymn solo and did Lesson 17 and prepared for Charity's* lesson
  • refilled the yeast jars
  • changed Faith's diaper
  • tutored Zedekiah* in English composition and appreciation of his paternity
  • removed a spot from a blouse
  • returned a book to the bookshelf
  • helped put lunch on the table

After lunch, you:
  • washed the dishes
  • let Faith rinse and remembered to run the dishwasher
  • found the lost sweatpants
  • went for a walk
  • changed Faith again
  • chased 5 chickens back in
  • reported to "work" [for my parents]
  • gathered the back yoke of a nightgown
  • sewed a sleeve casing 
  • mailed two invoices for Dad
  • typed two pages of engineering jargon [that I didn't understand]
  • printed 14 graphs
  • tried a new idea for a gored skirt
  • helped Mom in the kitchen (while she was in the living room)
  • washed a mountain of dishes
  • vacuumed the upstairs

For months and years afterward, that little note card gave me a sense of accomplishment. When I found it again a few weeks ago, it gave me more of a sense of exhaustion!

It also reminds me of why I identify so much with this song from Disney's "Tangled":

Instead of asking "when will my life begin?" I used Old Testament metaphors like, "until the pillar of cloud moves" or "until my Isaac finds me". Oh, I knew I was useful, in the sense that every mom is useful. My family needed me desperately. It just wasn't my family I was exhausting myself for every day; it was my parent's family.

And I was desperately lonely.

*Names have been changed.


  1. " It just wasn't my family I was exhausting myself for every day; it was my parent's family." Ah. YES. That really sums up what it was like for me as well being stuck at home in my mid-20s. AWFUL! So glad we got out of the tower, Jerusha! :-)

  2. Oh, how heartbreakingly familiar it all sounds.