I'm in the midst of a fabulous new read, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and just had to share with you something the author, Barbara Kingsolver, said that caught my attention.
It's uncommon to hear a feminist admit the losses and burdens accompanied by the removal of wives and mothers from the home. I thought it was just so telling, that these should be the observations of one who has "been there, done that" as far as establishing herself. She sees, in part anyways, the dilemma of feminism and has come to value family time, the art and tasks of homemaking and even the role of the mother in setting the tone in her home, things which are sadly being lost and even despised in our current culture.
"…Cooking is a dying art. Why is a good question, and an uneasy one, because I find myself politically and socioeconomically entangled in the answer. I belong to the generation of women who took as our youthful rallying cry: Allow us a good education so we won't have to slave in the kitchen. We recoiled from the proposition that keeping a husband presentable and fed should be our highest intellectual aspiration. We fought for entry as equal partners into every quarter of the labor force. We went to school, sweated those exams, earned our professional stripes and we beg therefore to be excused from manual labor Or else our full-time job is manual labor, we are carpenters or steelworkers, or we stand at a cash register all day. At the end of a shift we deserve to go home and put our feet up. Somehow, though, history came around and bit us in the backside: now most women have jobs and still find themselves largely in charge of the housework. Cooking at the end of a long day is a burden we could live without…
When we traded homemaking for careers, we were implicitly promised economic independence and worldly influence. But a devil of a bargain it has turned out to be in terms of daily life. We gave up the aroma of warm bread rising, the measured pace of nurturing routines, the creative task of molding our families' tastes and zest for life; we received in exchange the minivan and the Lunchable. (Or worse, convenience-mart hot dogs and latchkey kids). I consider it the great hoodwink of my generation.
Now what? Most of us, male or female, work at full-time jobs that seem organized around a presumption that some wifely person is at home picking up the slack- filling the gap between school and workday's end, doing errands only possible during business hours, meeting the expectation that we are hungry when we get home- but in fact June Cleaver has left the premises. Her income was needed to cover the mortgage and health insurance. Didn't the workplace organizers notice? In fact that gal Friday is us, both moms and dads running on overdrive, smashing the caretaking duties into small spaces between job and carpool and bedtime. Eating preprocessed or fast food can look like salvation in the short run, until we start losing what real mealtimes give to a family: civility, economy, and health. A lot of us are wishing for a way back home, to the place where care-and-feeding isn't zookeeper's duty but something happier and more creative."
I'm so grateful to be able to be at home, achieving my "highest intellectual aspirations" in the midst of the incredible task of supporting and caring for my husband, nurturing and training my children, nourishing and feeding us all, and making my home a productive and welcoming haven. 🙂
So, what thinks you about this quote? Do you think it's an accurate depiction of families today and the impact of the loss of a mother at home? All thoughts are okay, just keep it friendly, please!