Happy Homemaker, Ph.D.

A novice homemaker's attempts to use her engineering Ph.D. to serve her family

Domestic Engineering – Part 2 – Benchmarking

Benchmarking.  I remember my amazement at this concept when first introduced to it at the company I worked for after college.  It was actually someone’s job to find out what the competition was doing, in some detail.  One of my current colleagues used to work as an industrial spy in another country.   There’s something exciting about that to me, something daring, something risky.  

But, as I was cooking breakfast this morning, that wasn’t the aspect of benchmarking that came to mind.  Nor did the ideas surface that I teach in class about benchmarking being a process of identifying best-in-class companies and trying to emulate their practices to achieve similar performance levels. 

I thought of my friend Sherry telling me how she cooked her delicious scrambled eggs as I ate them with her family in her country kitchen.  (I had never heard of anyone adding water instead of milk.)  I thought of my friend Barbara who let me help her prepare a spaghetti dinner one evening and exposed me to how fresh garlic was used.  I had never seen this before or even considered this, though I did have a garlic press in my drawer.  This has transformed my ability to “embellish” recipes to suit our tastes.  I remember my friend and roommate Saylisse who exposed me to delicious plantains and Puerto Rican cooking methods. 

Benchmarking.  Don’t we all do it?  Find someone we admire and try to work to be like them?  Whether it be developing the skills to make your grandma’s chocolate chip cookies or fried chicken, aspiring to keep your home like someone who does a great job in that area, or following your favorite blogger who offers encouragement and ideas from her life.   There can be many benefits in learning from others.

There can also be dangers in this, too, at least for me.  I can be intimidated by great women.  I avoided pie-baking attempts because that was my mom’s specialty in the extended family, and I didn’t want my meager tries to be compared to her perfect pastries.  (This spell was broken last year, though, when my desire to have holiday pies exceeded my fear of failure.)  I can beat myself up for not being as organized as Miss Such-and-Such or as as good at sewing as Mrs. So-and-So or as creative, articulate, hardworking… the list goes forever on. 

But, the the ladies I mentioned weren’t intimidating.  The times together in the kitchen were sweet times of fellowship and friendship.  There was no scoffing at my inexperience or even much real instruction.  We were just being together, and I was learning and growing through it. 

As I think of leaving the workforce and focusing on my home and family more, I question whom I should benchmark.  The answer shouts from my heart today:


He is the only one that is truly perfect.  He is the only one that truly knows what this balance I’m searching for should look like.  I do not doubt His love for me, even in all my insufficiencies and sin.  Yes, I will try to learn as much as I can from those of you who are experts in your fields and those of you who are sharing the lessons you have learned, but may my foremost desire always be to make my life look more like Christ’s.