Mistress of the House

Do you think of yourself as the mistress of the house?

It sounds really grand to use that title – I love it!

But, what does it mean to be a mistress?

The OxfordLanguages definition is a woman in a position of authority or control.

(Or, a woman having a sexual relationship with a married man. But, I’ll leave this to one side for the purpose of this blog post!)

So, mistress of the house meaning is a lady of the house or the head of the household. This implies that you take responsibility for everything that happens in your household.

Seeing myself as being responsible for everything that happens under my roof is something that has taken me a while to get used to. I know it sounds nuts. Why would you not be in charge of your own home?

I think it’s a mindset thing.

I’ve always been nomadic, not stopping anywhere for too long. This wasn’t intentional at all, but the result of life choices made by me in my adulthood and by my parents when I was a child.

If you’ve always lived in the same place, or are a proper homemaker by nature, you’ll probably think I’m crazy! But, I’ve found taking responsibility for making a nice home is not a natural process for me.

It doesn’t help that we live in a project house that we bought almost seven years ago. I think subconsciously, I always see our house as not finished and, therefore, something I don’t need to focus on.

However, living in a mess is actually quite stressful!

I have been known to lose my rag at my husband when I’ve returned home to piles of dishes in the sink, bits of wire all over the floor, and the kitchen table piled high with remote control cars, soldering irons and various other unfinished projects… Agghhhhh. It drives me nuts!

I’d never lived in a mess before, and I still really struggle with it because I have no control over how presentable my home is.

And that really niggles.

This is why I don’t think of myself as being in control, as a mistress of the house should be. I really need to work on this.

And, I’m trying really hard to change because unless you take responsibility for things, they don’t happen. This is the way it works in my professional life, and the principle is surely the same for my home life, too.

After all, when our house is messy, which it is a lot of the time, it’s me that’s embarrassed and not my husband! (This is despite the fact that the mess in our house is usually his…)

Historically, women have always been the homemakers, the mistress of the house. Even today, despite more and more of us going out to work, we are still taking on most household and family duties. (Any idea what the male synonym for mistress is…?!)

In my house, both my husband and I work full-time. However, it’s me who organises the children, does the food shopping, and cooks most of the meals. It’s me that does the cleaning, the household administration and the gardening (well, when I can find the time…) But, he spends longer away from home working than I do, building a business, and earns more than me. So, we work together, the yin and the yang.

This makes me the mistress of the house! And I need to develop the right mindset if I’m to take control and improve my situation because no one else is going to do it for me.

I like to use the term mistress of the house because it’s so much more fitting than ‘homemaker’, or ‘housewife’, which I think are really bland words and take the importance away from the role – no one else in my house can step up to it. Not yet, anyway.

And a clean, well-organised house makes life so much easier for everybody.

So, I’m going to become the mistress of the house. Judge me at your peril!

Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household; and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

Proverbs 31:25-28

Are you the mistress of the house? Do you want to be?

P.S. Have you ever wondered what is the old-fashioned meaning of mistress? It comes from the original French, maistre, meaning master. In fact, Mrs and Miss are the short forms of mistress, and both used to be respectful terms of address. It’s also where the word madam, or Ma’am (pronounced Mam, not Marm) comes from.

The history of the word mistress is really interesting. You can read more about it on the University of Cambridge’s website.

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