Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Rad homemaking Part I: by definition.

A year ago I picked up the book Radical Homemaking. Mostly because its title was catchy and I thought, a modern book with the word 'homemaking' in the the title? That's rad. waaaa waaaaah.

If you think about it, the term homemaking is antiquated in many ways. It's like a cute, trite term associated with images of robotic, oppressed women with aprons in the 1950's. It's most definitely NOT considered any sort of viable profession or title to identify yourself primarily with. Just look around and see what your average high school graduate describes as an aspiration or interest: I'll just go ahead and issue the spoiler alert! now and guarantee that homemaking will NOT be on their list.

 So really, as the author points out: deciding to be homemaker, to really claim that title, in today's culture?...

is a radical choice.

I'm not going to do a play by play book review, but I highly recommend reading it. There were parts I loved and parts I found lacking but overall, it was extremely educational and eye-opening for me. I feel like it was a great, outside of the norm, motivator for me to take my domestic skills more seriously.

Personally, I have always held homemaking with a certain level of reverence and respect. I can definitely say almost every positive vibe I felt towards domestic endeavors came from my faith tradition, a faith that places an extremely high value on home life and family interaction and regularly emphasizes its supremely sacred nature. Although we are encouraged to be actively engaged in education, career building, and productive citizenship, men and women are regularly instructed that no outside success can compensate for failure inside the home and the most important work you will ever engage in will be within the walls of your home. These ideas have always been at the core of my life's assumptions: home and family are the roots of humanity. If the tree of life is to be strong and healthy, it must start here.

But because this book is entirely secular and coming from a non-religious, rigorously academic author whose career trajectory was in full swing, I immensely enjoyed her new, alternative perspective. I believe that all roads to truth converge at some point, and the message of her book echoed my own strong sentiment regarding this subject which is summed up by declaring that:

As a society, we desperately need Homemakers.

But what IS homemaking? It's become such a loaded term. Fraught with gender assumptions, dissected by feminism, and generally avoided by the media other than to create caricatures worth laughing at, I found it important to start at the root and define the term for myself.

So, I asked myself: What is it that I am doing here? Hmmm...I'm not technically engaged in a standard profession that brings in regular income to our house. I'm also raising children. So I believe by that description I would be known by the title Stay-at-Home Mom.

But that is a lame title.

In fact, I hate that title.

Stay implies....well, staying. Stagnation. Passivity. Am I simply standing on the front step every morning waving Goodbye husband! Enjoy all that productivity and progression, I'm going to just STAY here with the kids. 


What a STUPID, INSUFFICIENT description.

That is NOT what I do.

And I'll be damned if I write that title  in another "occupation" description box for the rest of my life.

I mean, come on! I create spaces, I raise the future of humanity, I direct thoughts, I mold belief systems, I determine schedules, I establish order, I shape character, I teach lessons, I engage with emotion, I cultivate awareness, I embrace the limited time I have to be present, I nourish my children, I nurture my husband, I support my community, I participate in education, I seek knowledge, I represent the trust and security my children seek, I regulate what good and negative influences enter our environment, I pay time and attention to the details of family life, I serve others, I practice patience, I fail a lot, I succeed {sometimes}magnificently.

And yes, I may manifest as the undercurrent, the underpaid, and the unrecognized. The job is hard but its effect is mighty. So, I'm not exactly "stay"ing anywhere.

They say it is the hand who rocks the cradle who rules nations? You betta believe it.

So no more stay-at-home-mommy for me.

I am a homeMAKER.

And proud of it.

"For national and social disasters, 
for moral and financial evils, 
the cure begins in the household."

-Julia M. Wright, The Complete Home, 1879


Alexis said...

Amen and Hallelujah...
I am so grateful for the wonderful "homemaker" role model in my life: Mrs. Luce (my best friend's mom) - who would have been 80 years old yesterday if she hadn't been snatched away from us way too early from breast cancer. She gave me the inspiration to embrace homemaking in a time in our society when women were being devalued for choosing home over profession. She did everything with excellence (not in an OCD way) and she had the attitude of a saint and comedienne...Her example and the re-affirming messages of the importance and value of women & mothers and homemaking my faith has continually given me - Keep me motivated and trying to always do better when I fall short.
George Washington - in-spite of all his accomplishments in his life insisted that his gravestone bear this title "A Planter" - he loved his farm and took pride in his connection to the
I want my gravestone to say:
(Not: "there was an old woman who lived in a shoe, she had so many children she didn't know what to do:)
Great Post Rae...

Katy Nicole. said...

Oh my gosh, Rae! This was so awesome. Totally needed to read this today. Can't wait to read what else that brilliant mama mind of yours has brewing!! AMEN SISTA!!!!

Katy Nicole

Janet said...

That's perfect! For my 10 year reunion we had a packet with a life sketch of everyone. Under Occupation I put: CEO Hofmann House Inc. It probably should have been COO for Chief Operating Officer. :)