I’ve always had a slight dislike for the term “Domestic Goddess”. It seems to portray the image of someone who has everything in control, enough so that even if the unexpected guest is sprung upon her she will still have an immaculate house, filled with vases of fresh flowers and the scent of her latest culinary creation wafting through from the kitchen to welcome these guests no matter what time they arrive.
I guess it would be nice to be that way, but the very term “Goddess” makes me wonder whether, as a human, I’d ever be able to reach that level of being without a lot of stress and strain along the way. Maybe some of us, like Margot Leadbetter, are just naturally suited to that way of life and pull it off, even if it does involve several repetitions of, “Well, Thank you very much, Jerry” along the way.
Unfortunately, I’m not one of those people. I always thought I would make a much better Barbara than a Margot, rather more interested in having a life I enjoyed than one which was focussed on my reputation as a “Domestic Goddess” of any kind. And yet, the more I think about it, I realise that I am neither one nor the other.
I always wanted a nice house and a beautiful garden and the ability to whip up something tasty for any visitors that might arrive without fretting that I hadn’t tidied the living room or cleaned the toilet in a few days. But I never really had the incentive. There always seemed to be something more important for me to do.
First it was studying and trying to figure out what on earth I would do when I graduated. Then it was working full-time. When I worked in childcare I spent so much of my day cleaning and tidying that it was the last thing I wanted to do when I came home. And when I moved on to another job a combination of increasingly poor health and a challenging commute zapped me of the energy to do anything more than slump in front of the tv once I got home.
When I left that job and stayed home my time was taken up with moving house, planning our wedding, and then looking for a new job before falling pregnant and being hit by the worst sickness I have ever experienced.
And yet, when I look back, I realise that these were just excuses. Yes, I was busy (or ill), but I could still have done more around the house. And sometimes I did. I often rearranged bookshelves and kitchen cupboards. I had many ideas for craft projects to make our house more of a home which reflected us as a couple. But no sooner had the domestic bug bitten me than I would find some other thing to worry about and I ended up expending my time and energy on something I deemed “more worthwhile”.
It is only recently, during my initial sessions in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, that I have come to realise why. It all comes down to my incredibly low self-esteem and my need to “prove” myself somehow. My therapist has helped me to realise that whenever I feel anxious or guity about something I fall into a habit of trying to reach ridiculously high expectations to “prove myself”. And as these expectations just keep getting higher, I always feel like I fall short.
I’ve always been a high achiever. And for so many years my life revolved around achieving the best marks possible and later ensuring that I went above and beyond my designated duties at work. Even when I had the odd occasion when I realised my own health and sanity was more important than the results I achieved in work, my old ways would be reinforced by someone or something. Whether that was a tutor telling me I as capable of more or a personal issue such as needing to provide financially for my family, I would always fall back into the pattern of trying to reach an almost unattainable goal.
And I guess that was why I never really tried with the domestic side of things. It was one more pressure I didn’t want. And one thing that it seemed ok to fail in. I still felt guilty about it. But it seemed less important than everything else.
Just recently I have been telling TJ how much I want to be more domestic and enjoy my time at home with Little Man. I always dreamed of being a mother and as it is looking like Little Man will be our only child, this time is going to be much shorter than I ever imagined. There are only a few years he will be this young and dependent on me and I want to do the best I can for him.
But more than that, I want to simply enjoy being at home. I want to relish in the sheer pleasure of running my home in a more organised way, of filling it with pleasant things. And yet I feel unable to do this. I am so used to “proving myself” that whenever there is a question of finances I worry I should be doing more to bring in an income. And whenever the house is a mess I feel like I’ve failed.
It is something I need to work on. I have given off an impression of needing to qualify myself through work and achievements so well that it seems natural to do that. I’m not saying I will not continue with projects like my writing, this blog and the book on HG, because they are hugely important to me. But it does mean I want to work on these feelings of guilt and building up my confidence enough to say “this is who I am” and “this is how I live my life”.
I need to stop striving for “perfection” and that means avoiding such terminology as “Domestic Goddess”. I want a nice home and I want to be more of a Homemaker, but I can do without the pressure of Goddess-like tendencies!
This past week I have truly enjoyed putting books in the loft, rearranging my bookcases, scrubbing the bathroom, and totally revamping the kitchen cupboards. I plan on sharing some of these things with you on the blog. Some of them may seem totally inane to some of you, but I am tired of trying to find “important” things to blog about and want to just be me.
I do hope you’ll join me in this and have fun finding out more about our everyday life. It’s a pleasure to share it with you.