Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Homeward Bound: Why Women are Embracing the New Domesticity by Emily Matchar

I've started reading Emily Matchar's "Homeward Bound: Why Women are Embracing the New Domesticity" with great interest - after all, I'm a woman, I've embraced old-fashioned domesticity, and my blogs celebrate my domestic skills (among other things). 

What I am finding interesting is the idea that women are tossing away financial independence for this so-called "New Domesticity" ... which is not my experience, nor is it the experience of the younger women I know who are also rediscovering old-school skills. In fact, I am the breadwinner of my little household - and I also bake my own bread, can tomatoes and other products, grow a garden, sew for pleasure and gifting, knit for practical reasons as well as for pleasure, and practice many other skills. 

I consider these skills a key feminine heritage from the various women who taught me: my grandmother, great-grandmother, aunts, and my mother. 

I feel I honor my great-grandmother every time I pick up my knitting needles, especially when I make something beautiful to give to someone else. I knit colorful cotton dishcloths on the subway - they are unique, decorative, immensely practical, and the very act of knitting them gives me a meditative escape during my commute. 

I honor my mother and my grandmother when I practice healthy, old-fashioned, frugal cookery skills - from making stock and broth to baking from scratch to making soups of "whatever is leftover" to freezing seasonal vegetables. Over the years, I have fed my family delicious meals bursting with nutrition - and I have not broken the bank to do so. I recently noted to hubs that I have made 10 meals thus far for the two of us from one small ham - and we still have ham stock and minced ham in the freezer!

I honor my aunt when I garden and preserve my produce - my aunt was an inspiration in my childhood, with her large garden and canning skills. Since my garden is necessarily small at this time, I purchase bulk tomatoes to can delicious sauce for FAR less cost than a questionable quality and less-tasty supermarket brand. I buy windfall apples by the bushel from the orchard in the fall and can applesauce, apple butter, and curried apple chutney. Again, so much tastier and CHEAPER than what I could get in the cheapest jars at the supermarket. 

I do what I do for a number of reasons, but the most important is that I feel that I should use my God-given skills to make my home as rich and as rewarding and as filled with love and comfort as possible. My carefully honed domestic skills allow us to live a lifestyle that exceeds our income without wasting our income. My skills allow me to spend my hard-earned cash as I best see fit, to have "nice things" without resorting to debt, and to save for a rainy day. I do not see how this in any way makes me "less than equal" to my husband, my son, my brothers, or any other man.

What skills do you use to create the life you want? Do you feel that embracing practical domestic skills makes you less-than-feminist? What about less-practical but beautiful domestic skills - like, say, decorative embroidery or fancy baking?