With a cup of coffee, a marathon laundry folding session and a very compelling podcast.
I was listening to one of my favorite podcast teams, the witty ladies at Stuff Mom Never Told You, and they were interviewing Emily Matchar, the author of “Homeward Bound” and about what she deems the Cult of New Domesticity. This resurgence of crafting, cooking, canning, home birthing, all things natural, which she contends is both fueled by and in backlash to, our ultra-wired world.
Etsy, Pintrest, Instagram, food blogs, parenting blogs, all these venues are so fun. And exert so much pressure.
When I started staying home with my kids, almost 17 years ago, I was a bit of an oddity among my lifelong friends. Those women were finishing advanced degrees, climbing the career ladder. However, I was safely cocooned in the conservative, evangelical world that (still) is Wasilla, AK. Staying home with the babes was exactly right in my part of the world. I was free to proudly fly my hippy flag(as long as I also participated in MOPS).
I sewed my nursing clothes, ground my own grain, baked my own bread, roasted my own coffee beans, had an out of hospital birth, made my own baby wipes, hung my clothes out to dry (because we didn’t have a dryer, but still), canned and baked, even went down that freaky road all the way to drinking raw milk and making butter with the cream I skimmed off the top.
I did all this, I still do a lot of this, because it was/is me.
I have been sewing since I was a little girl, i made doll clothes and prom dresses and my wedding dress. I have always loved to cook and bake. My goal, since a young young age, was to have a pile of kids and be home.
(so, perhaps my measly 3 kids doesn’t quite qualify as a pile of kids, and since I send them to public school, I do lose A LOT of credibility)
And now I am in my 40’s. Quite comfortable with who I am as a woman, as a parent, and I look around at the moms I see in their 20’s and 30’s, and often my heart hurts for them.
It’s all such a contest.
Is your fridge filled with organic produce? Or better yet, produce you grew yourself, using poop from your backyard chickens as fertilizer? Are you going to use that fresh home grown, chicken poop fertilized produce to create an authentic Ethopian dinner from scratch in your spotless and perfectly decorated, cleaned only using non toxic cleaning supplies you made from lemons and vinegar, kitchen? And when you present this dinner to your perfectly groomed children (not to mention your impossibly handsome, cross-fit loving husband who never leaves his sweaty workout gear on the floor) who are wearing impossibly cute/hip hats you knit for them while they were studying their Latin during the quiet time of your homeschool day, will your plates sit on delightful and charming placemats that are your beautiful children’s reproductions of famous pieces of art? have you made sure the lighting from your mason jar chandelier is just right, so when you go to take a picture and post it for the world to see, your friends/family/instragam followers will be struck dumb with awe at this representation of your perfect life?
Well, you fail.
I suspect this is nothing new, this pressure. No, I know it is not. I have felt it, still feel it from time to time. Maybe not to have the perfect house, or perfect kids (I got over that a loooong time ago). Oddly, unexpectedly, the pressure for me now comes in the form of fitness and body. A different rant for a different day.
And although I know that some pressure within society is not only normal, but needed to move us forward and keep from imploding, the pressure I see on the 1/2 generation younger women is heartbreaking.
Now I recognize that for some women, these home pursuits are truly a heart’s desire. It was/is mine.
But not everyone’s. And that is ok.
If a woman wants to work and hire someone to clean her house (with or without homemade cleaning supplies). I say yay! I would love to have the number of her cleaner.
If a woman chooses to homeschool. yay! Public school. Yay!
Grind your own grain. Yay! Eat out at local restaurants 4x a week. Yay!
Make all your furniture from salvaged pallets. Yay! Hire a designer and claim the credit for your fabulous home. Yay!
I think it’s long past time where we, as women, stop trying to outdo one another and start helping each other to do our very best. At what ever OUR very best may be.
And with that, I am going hop off my soapbox and bake some cookies.