Joys of Domesticity

I hate the fact that time has turned things like keeping house, cooking for the family, and tending to the yard into things that are by their nature somehow demeaning to women.  I find a lot of pleasure in knowing that my family is well cared for.  I LIKE a clean house, a tidy and often used kitchen, the smell of a meal cooking on the stove.  I prefer spending my evenings in the garden than to sitting around watching television.

I sometimes think about having a career, but I don’t know that it would be more fulfilling than domesticity.  I don’t think that being a housewife is my highest or most important calling, I don’t think that it is the extent of all that I’m made for, but it is usefull.

And, hey, if there ever IS a zombie apocalypse, my family won’t have to worry about being well fed.  I also am fairly good at going without electricity.  Long power outages in snowstorms have sort of prepped me for the end of all things.

I just think that while women’s suffrage was a good and necessary thing, the backlash against being pigeonholed as women has cost us a lot as well.  Breastfeeding your child isn’t demeaning, it’s healthy and natural.  Caring for your family isn’t a torment, it’s a gift to both family and caregiver.  Domesticity has it’s joys and importance.  It may not be as “important” as being president, but…  How big of a price tag does a happy, well fed and well loved child carry?  I’d gladly trade my own dreams for the future for the dreams of my kids.

Not because I’m forced to.  Because I want to.

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19 thoughts on “Joys of Domesticity

  1. I appreciate your post! You’re right, much awareness came from the sufferage movements, but also much harm (that’s the way any reactionary movement is, just by nature). While I must admit that being “President” is pretty important, I still think mother and homemaker is more vital. I’ve told my wife that over and over. I mean, if my wife were the President (she could be you know) is she going to be able to teach my kids things like honor, respect, consideration, how to truly love… likely not… and especially not in the natural timing of life that those conversations typically come up. There’s something very vital to actually BEING THERE when those unguarded, teachable moments come waltzing through the kids’ minds… you can’t put a price on that!

  2. Lindsey, when I was young, I sort of scoffed at the ideals you are talking about. To me back then a career was what was all important. I couldn’t even begin to see the beauty of staying at home, caring for a home and a family. I thought those women were lazy. I couldn’t imagine not having any ambition.

    My life changed when I was 30 years old. My whole thinking changed with it. Suddenly it was a joy to have a home where I provided nourishment, peace, happiness and a good environment for my husband to enjoy. That became my JOB. It is a job. A worthy one at that. My husband can be who he is because I am who I am. It works beautifully.

    People ask me what I do with my day. I am always really busy with something! I don’t sit around bored wondering what to do. I actually wonder how people can do a good job at these things, take care of themselves, and their families and work too. No wonder we are a nation of stressed people.

    I think what you are doing is important. We need mothers to raise our children. Im sick of them being raised in childcare with no manners and no connection to who they are.

  3. I was a social worker until my first son was almost a nine months old. I found out that I was missing so many important thngs in his life. I wasn’t the one to discover his first tooth or hear his first word. I quit that job so I could be the one to raise my kids.

    Now that my life has changed, it is necessary for me to get another job so I can financially support my two boys. But there is no shame in being a stay at home mother. It is the most important job in the world. But for some, it isn’t possible due to financial reasons and others.

    You and I enjoy staying at home, but some mothers enjoy the career and helping to finacially support their kids. Both decisions are just that, decisions based on desire, need, and personal to everyone who makes it.

  4. I’m glad I found this string. My hat goes off to the mothers of this world who take their job seriously and clearly see it for what it is – the most important job in the world! Thanks for what you do.

  5. Great post, Lindsey, though I’m puzzled by something – the mention of breastfeeding as somehow “demeaning.” Here’s why: because breastfeeding became a “progressive” thing to do at about the same time that late 60s-early 70s feminism was gaining ground.

    Also, are you sure that women’s suffrage is the culprit? 😉

  6. Oh, I forgot to say – where have you come across people who speak of breastfeeding in derogatory ways? I’m really curious; for a lot of people my age, it was the “in” thing to do, and almost the *only* “right” thing to do, according to a lot of its advocates. (Again, a slight 😉 there… I know people who felt like others were trying to guilt them into breastfeeding.)

  7. E: I really don’t know WHAT is to blame- My generation is fairly far removed from even the “new” feminism of the 60s. My own mom was just an infant then, you know?

    A lot of young mothers (read- mothers in my social circle, my age) see breastfeeding as “gross” or as the baby “owning you” and think that formula is actually healthier. It’s become so widespread that the US government started sending doctor’s offices literature about the comparative health benefits between breastfeeding and formula. From what I understand it’s fairly widespread, actually. And not just breastfeeding. My mom has had to deal with patients who wouldn’t even CONSIDER natural childbirth, because they felt that a planned C-section was more sterile and safe (which is NOT the case).

  8. Lindsey, it sounds like everyone is reacting to what their parents’ generation did by doing the opposite – seriously. I know people who are younger – and gung-ho on natural childbirth, breastfeeding, etc. – but from what you’re saying, it sounds like they’re in the minority.

    It is *weird* to see this happening, mainly because I’m now old enough to be aware of a backlash against things that I once held dear! 😉

  9. But the following strikes me as truly bizarre:

    “a planned C-section was more sterile and safe…”

    having been through abdominal surgery of a similar kind, I just… [shakes head slowly]

  10. A lovely post, especially for someone like me who is (likely) beginning that SAHM phase, at least for awhile.

    However, I find that instead of feeling the need to justify myself to those who would look down upon domesticity, I want to make it clear that work was fine, too, and that I’m not suddenly embracing some uber-mommy lifestyle. It doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing attitude. It’s should be about what works for your family.

  11. I find it interesting, too, that your circle is far less accepting of breastfeeding. (I guess give our ages, I think of you and I in similar ones, though I know that is not necessarily so.) Perhaps it’s just my circle, but there is a far wider acceptance of breastfeeding as I see it than not. I know no one who would actually say that they find it demeaning (even if they think it.) And I think it *could* be a response to the previously held acceptance that formula was the better route, but there is a pretty decent support system for breastfeeding from the doctor’s offices to the maternity nurses. We can even have public nurses and lactation consultants come to our house if we need help 🙂 so the social cues are well established. (I never thought not to breastfeed – it’s what my mom did, as did my aunties and my mom-in-law, so it just seemed the norm to me.)

    In fact, if anything I see moms who feel the need to justify their decisions when they stop breastfeeding at 4 or 6 months, which is really too bad. Like I said: it’s what works for the mom and babe!

  12. I have a trememdous amount of respect for women who work outside the home AND raise a family… I can barely manage to balance the checkbook, let alone balance work and family!
    But (and there’s always a “but”, isn’t there)I wish I got the same repect… I get tired of moms saying to me, “Oh, I wish I could stay home and sit around all day”. No kidding, people actually say this to me.
    I haven’t had a day to relax since Clinton was in office.

  13. I agree. I think what people miss about the women’s movement is that it isn’t about getting women out of the home and into the workforce or vice-versa. It’s about women being free to choose the life that is most rewarding and fulfilling for them, whether that means career, family, both–or something else entirely!

    Personally, I’m not making any concrete plans until the babe is born… there’s no telling how parenthood will change me (or my husband, for that matter–we’re not opposed to the idea of a stay-at-home dad). Barring extreme circumstances, breastfeeding is definitely on the agenda, but beyond that, it’s too early to say. I enjoy my career, but I’m also very much a homebody. On the other hand, I know from past babysitting experiences that 3-4 hours with a toddler is enough to make me wonder if I’m really cut out for stay-at-home-motherhood. I suppose only time and experience will tell.

    In any case, I’m glad I’m free to make those decisions for myself!

  14. Lindsay: For the record, being a stay at home parent is a WAY more important job than President; you just might be raising a future President, so see?? Seriously, my partner and I have a ten year old daughter, and my partner was able to be home with her for the first four years of her life. It was totally awesome. I have worked evenings, in addition to days, since she was a baby, and just a couple of months ago, quit my part time work that kept me away in the evenings. It was the best gift I ever gave myself, our daughter, and our family. You totally rock girl- your value is ALWAYS in what you reflect and offer to the world, and what you are offering is of priceless value…..

  15. Lindsey, something odd is going on w/Wordpress. I’m logged in, and that shows on other blogs, but not here…

  16. e2c: It is TRULY bizarre. It seems the tides may be turning again. The next generation of women (the ones who are just heading into their twenties) in this area seem to be very into whole-body-wellness and the like. Which is nice, for me, because that’s always been who I am.

    Tryphaena: that’s it, exactly. It’s about what is best for your family. And part of what is best is what keeps everyone contented. Some women would be highly discontented if they had to end their careers- and that’s okay, too.

    sammanthia: Even when I am sick I still have to work all day! The kids still need diapers, someone has to feed them, someone has to make sure that things get done… when my husband is sick he always goes to work unless he can’t drive, because as he puts it “you can’t really rest with the kids at home.”

    Caro: It’s good to keep an open mind. I’ve heard a lot of new parents say “why didn’t anyone tell me a baby would be like this” or “change me like this”- and the truth is that no one can prepare you for what life will be like once you are a mother. For every mother it is different. Just know that you will change, but you will WANT to change, because that’s what being a mother is all about. Learning to know and love that baby. And it is WONDERFUL, truly.

    Vanessa: There is something about a happy, stable, connected home that totally changes the world. I’m glad you and your partner are able to have that with your daughter. 🙂

    E2c: heh. odd.

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