I read a blog post recently by a stay-at-home, homeschool mom in which she bemoaned the fact that homemaking seems to be turning into a lost art. She wondered if, not too far into the future, the art of homemaking will be something only read about in fictional tales of yore. And she seemed to be aiming at least a little bit of negative energy at the women of whose homemaking efforts and skills she disapproves.
I am a stay-at-home mom, too. I also homeschooled my kids for many years. And I have enjoyed my life. Are there things I regret, things I wish I had done differently? Yes. Do I see the negative side of homeschooling, as well as the many ways in which it benefited my kids? Yes. Do I romanticize homemaking? No. Well, at least not as much as some other people seem to. Can I be kind of a rebellious bitch? Yes. Definitely.
So, in the spirit of rebellious bitchiness, here is the way I look at things.
First of all, many years ago (when I was a little girl), most women were home the majority of the time, but it was often out of necessity more than desire. For example, there was no Trader Joe's, or any type of food that could be prepared conveniently and in little time. Women had to cook from scratch, for the most part. There were no dish washers. The dish soap was not as good, thus necessitating more scrubbing. Stores such as Target -- which provide a variety of relatively inexpensive clothes -- did not exist. Women had to do at least some sewing. There were no cotton/poly blends, so most clothes had to be ironed. A lot of people didn't even have clothes driers, thus time had to be spent hanging the wash out on lines and then taking it back in. Floors did not have easy-to-clean finishes. They had to be stripped of their old wax and re-waxed regularly. Same with the wood furniture. Freezers had to be defrosted about every week -- manually. This meant emptying the freezer of its contents, turning it off, filling it with pots of boiling water, and then cleaning up the melting ice before it got all over the place. Baby bottles needed to be sterilized every day, because this was before pediatricians realized it really wasn't necessary. Doctors also required mothers to prepare baby formula daily using sterilized water Some women did nurse their babies, but it was not as common back then as it is now. And women who did nurse their babies generally didn't do it for very long. A lot of families only had one car, too -- usually used by the dad of the house to get to work -- which really put a crimp in the style of any mom who wanted to leave the house regularly.
So, when I see women criticizing other women for not attending properly to the art of homemaking, but instead working and bringing their kids to many after-school and summertime activities, I get a little annoyed. Especially when some of these critical women are bringing their kids to PLENTY of extra-curricular activities, which take up plenty of time. In fact, I have seen these critical women bristle when other, even more "traditional" women criticize them for putting their kids into too many sports and stuff. I mean, COME ON PEOPLE, maybe we should mind our own business and allow moms and dads to make their own decisions about their own kids and family styles. Maybe when are tempted to look to long and hard at others, we should instead turn our gaze to Ben McKenzie in "SouthLAnd." Um... I mean... to our own business.
I will close out with a little personal history. My dear cousin and her dear husband have three kids (now young adults) who are about the same ages as my three kids (also now young adults). Her kids went to school and did many sports and activities. They weren't home all that much. Their mom was not overly-concerned about the state of the corners of her kitchen floor. She also worked two days a week in a wonderful career field in which she excelled (and still excels). On top of it all, this remarkable mother earned a teaching credential while raising her kids. I, as I said, did homeschool. My kids were involved in activites, but not quite as many. I was a tad too concerned about the state of the corners of my kitchen floor. Did my kids turn out better than hers? Not at all. Not one teeny, tiny little bit better. All our kids are wonderful kids, making their way in the world as responsible, happy young adults. Would people rather come to my house than hers? Is my house warmer and more welcoming? Again, not at all. In fact, most people would rather go to her house. The food at her parties is better. And the atmosphere is full of fun. My point? Creating a wonderful family and a wonderful home can be done in many ways, including by ignoring the "art of homemaking" to a very large degree. It is the loving welcome that matters, not the organization of the linen closet.
In my opinion, anyway. ;-)