I'm probably preaching to the converted here when it comes to homemaking and the importance it holds in our lives. There are so many homemakers here, from the traditional to the not-so traditional. Some of us are stay at home mums with children to raise, some work in corporate, retail, health or education sectors but still very much retain the homemaker's focus and find that the time spent at home well and truly prepares us for the work we do to earn a living. We have female and male, single and married homemakers, we have gay and lesbian homemakers, we have feminist and traditional homemakers, we have homemakers with many children and some with none. Some live alone, some are part of large families. Some homemakers combine volunteering with their home duties, some are forced to stay at home due to illness or disability but take pride in being a homemaker, doing as much as they can for themselves. Along with all the ways we differ, come all sorts of variations on how we work, income levels that effect what we do and how much we do for ourselves, and personal circumstances that dictate where we live and how we work.
We come in all shapes and sizes. There is no one-size-fits-all. There is no one right way to do this.
One of the things that unites us though is the common feeling that generally we're undervalued as homemakers. We know the work we do at home is vital for ourselves and our families but it's also part of what builds good citizens and strong countries. Usually, if someone doesn't understand or disapproves of what I do, I shrug my shoulders. I really don't care. Not everyone can like me or what I do, I'm realistic, I respect their right to have their own opinion. However, this is different, this is a commonly held view that is just wrong on so many levels. I love what freefalling said in her comment on the last homemaking post: "I kinda feel like I have a wonderful secret that only the enlightened are able to share." I think that is spot on. But then Cityhippyfarmgirl writes: "This is a subject that is close to my heart as I've been a stay at home mum since I had my eldest. I know our choices are right for us, I know I save us a bucket load of money for everything I make from scratch, and source from different places. I know my kids are getting the best start in life that I can give them, and yet still those occasional outdated comments that will come from someone completely irrelevant (bank teller, person on the street etc) cut to the bone." When I read that, I feel it too.
I love it when I read of a homemaker who works in ways familiar to me. I like reading about people who have made a success out of working from home or working in a tough environment. But I also love to read that Richard has just bought the CWA cook book and he has cut back his outside working hours; that Liz wrote: "I was amused this week when my female housemate, my teenage daughter and me were out fencing the paddock for our new house cow, while my husband was inside cleaning and looking after the children."; and that Shannon and Mel are moving towards a formal commitment with their girlfriends. We are all different. Even those who appear to be very similar to us are different in many ways. Some of us work in our homes, some of us work outside them and some combine the two. And that is fine. How boring it would be if we were all dressed in grey, with blonde hair and freckles. It would be equally boring if we were all brown-eyed red heads, or all dark skinned, or all fair. Diversity is what makes the entire natural world so interesting and wonderful. I would love us to all be proud of whoever and whatever we are and to celebrate that diversity, not be threatened by it.
When I first started blogging about my version of a simple life most of the bloggers on this topic were writing about the politics of climate change, peak oil and group action. Very few wrote about home, family, house work or personal change; I think they were seen as mundane topics and too ordinary to be of any consequence. Well, I thrive on the mundane and ordinary, I dived in! I believed then and still do now, that any permanent change will only come when enough of us change ourselves first, then start working outwards. My change started when I returned to my home and started taking it seriously. When I realised that I could make myself happy by working at home, making this place as comfortable as possible for myself, my family and visitors, that was when I knew how profound and significant our homes could be. When I recognised that the work we do in our homes can enrich and empower, as well as being creative and satisfying, I knew that I had stumbled onto the mother lode. Our homes are our starting points - no matter what we do - whether we work at home or go out to work. Home is where we start from and where we return to. Home is that important and it is the work done there that transforms the shell of four walls into a home that nurtures and protects.
I would like us all to form a united approach on this. If people don't understand us, don't know what we're doing, or wondering if we're sitting around all day watching TV, let's tell them. When someone asks you what you do, tell them: "I'm a homemaker. I'm looking after my babies/elderly father/volunteering/working part-time" or "I'm a homemaker and a lawyer/nurse/miner/carpenter." or whatever it is you're doing, and "I'm learning to knit, cooking from scratch, growing organic food in the backyard, I'm working on cleaning the house without harsh chemicals. I make soap. I'm saving money at home so we can pay off our mortgage faster." or whatever your version of the way we live is. Tell them your "wonderful secret". If you just baked the best bread you've ever made, tell your friends and everyone else who will listen. If we have to listen to all the babble about "bling", smart phones, "I can't boil an egg", Jimmy Choo shoes and how they can't get by without their extra shot vanilla latte, then they can listen to us talk about how we finding meaning and satisfaction at home. Now that's fair trade! Let's tell everyone who will listen how we spend our time and do it with pride and a smile.