I’ve spent most of the last 35 years working as a homemaker and stay-at-home mother. You could say I’m invested. But I have often felt out of step with most of my age, class, and education peers, not to mention the consciousness and culture of the work world.
I was an early adopter of second-wave feminism. I found confirmation of my belief in the full personhood and value of women, and the principles of equal rights and freedom of choice.
And my choice, my longing, led me to prioritize having children and a committed equal partnership. I have enjoyed the life Nick and I have created.
For me, and for Nick, frugality, gardening, food preservation, and do-it-yourself homesteading were central to how we lived and made our home and family. We called it back-to-the-land, simple living or voluntary simplicity, and it was usually creative and rewarding.
Nick spent a large portion of his time and energy working at a full-time job, to bring in sufficient income and health insurance for our family’s needs. I birthed babies, and did more than half of the child nurturing, and of the extended DIY chores around the house and yard. This division of labor worked for us.
Recently I have been reading about a new wave of “radical homemaking” practiced by today’s younger adults (20-, 30- and 40-somethings). Sounds like this trend has much in common with our earlier approach, updated with concerns about climate change and economic insecurity, and a postmodern punk aesthetic instead of our wannabe hippie style.
Today’s radical homemakers, like us, seek alternatives to the mainstream American lifestyle, where it is based on mechanization and consumption instead of hands-on production; where it is based on high use of energy instead of a lower carbon footprint; where it is based on using more than one’s share of resources instead of striving to use only a fair share so there is enough for all earth’s inhabitants; and where it is based on valuing wealth and stuff more than our relationships with people and how we behave toward others.
In future blogs I plan to explore the whys, hows and whats of this brand of homemaking, in the context of the multiple, interwoven crises unfolding in our time: climate change , resource limitations, pollution, inequality, injustice, etc. These crises are happening now and will have a huge impact on the future life of humans on this planet.
I hope to answer questions like: Why bother? Why value homemaking? What can we learn from the domestic practices of other times and places? What are the ethics of how we live in our homes? How do we balance personal and political action? How do we sort out our needs and wants? What is the implication of radical homemaking on women and gender equality? What can radical homemaking look like?
I hope you’ll join me and share your thoughts as we have more adventures in the good life together.
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