Why Are We Doing This?

Many years ago now, from the depths of mothering two little firecrackers, I made a small zine. After an epiphany at copy store, I wrote this post which I still believe to be one of my best works. I decided to pin it here to the top of the home page, because it really nails what this blog was all about. Enjoy, and welcome. May you find solace and solidarity within these words.


I finished my small but satisfying zine recently, on the subject of Getting Shit Done (With Kids). To clarify, the shit I am referring to is all the same ‘sustainable home’ stuff that I generally write and obsess about. Growing some of your own food, responsibly sourcing the rest, cooking everything at home, consuming a minimum of our world’s resources, finding the smaller and simpler pleasures in life– all in the context of homemaking.

After finally getting the zine all laid out, I spent a few hours at Kinkos printing it. While I stood organizing my piles of pages, I felt myself and my work laid naked before the world. There it was for any passerby to glance at– the Apron Stringz cover page. What at home had seemed clever and spunky suddenly seemed trivial and indulgent. Embarrassing. I felt a tiny crash in my heart.

I’m so excited? I wrote a zine about being a housewife?

Here, in this corner of cyberspace, we are together. All of us strange people who value home work. We come here to remind each other that we are important, to take shelter in one another. But out in the big world, people still think housewifery is for women who can’t get a job. People don’t understand what we might be doing all day, at home, and even if we explained what we were doing they wouldn’t understand why. Why go to so much trouble to make something you can buy at the store for $1.99?

As much as I want to believe that I am this strident renegade who doesn’t give a damn what the world thinks, it’s not true. Of course I care, everyone worth anything does. It’s destructive and beautiful, but absolutely human– our pack mentality, our sensitivity to others.

So I go along, carrying my secret work in my heart, brandishing my beliefs occasionally in public too loudly and with too much passion. Confusing well meaning relatives, alienating myself and consequently those who try to be close to me. It’s a hard row to hoe, and I would be lying if I claimed to never have had a breach of faith.

Having kids is hard work. You know. Unbelievably, previously unimaginably hard work. Sometimes I find myself wondering why on earth I try to do anything else. Why do I spend so much time and energy with this whole punk housewife thing? Is it really so important? Isn’t the “revolutionary” tagline in my header just tongue-in-cheek? Who do I think I am that what I do matters so very much. What precociousness!

My lonesome Kinkos moment was just me, out in the real world. Remembering that I am a freak. Questioning my self, my motives, my outcomes. Not feeling at all sure of the answers.

It was somehow much easier to keep a grip on the import of my ‘work’ when we lived in Alaska. My daily activities just seemed more revolutionary– even after having a kid reduced my efforts to the household realm, at least I was making stock out of deer bones. We drank wild salmonberry juice and picked chantrelles out of the mossy forest. Whenever I needed a good jolt of ‘why’ I had the big wild mountain right there out the window.

Here in the city, the sustainable lifestyle looks less radical. I make my stock out of plain old chicken, even if it is from the farmer’s market. We buy organic juice concentrate from Whole Foods, and locally grown shitakes that come in a plastic box. Is this revolution? Really?

Maybe not revolution exactly, but inglorious though it may be, this work needs to be done. Figuring out how to live happily in a thriving wilderness ecosystem will not save humanity at this point (though it well might be our salvation in the future). Right now we need to figure out how to sustainably keep large populations happy and healthy in cities where their concentration is most efficient, we need to come down off of the drug of convenience slowly and explore the genuine possibility of change. There is much work to be done to turn cities and urban homes into sustainable working systems, and it is helpful to have someone actually in the home to do the work.

Wendell Berry is, arguably, the grandfather of the now very fashionable ‘local’ movement. He writes about farming primarily, about staying in place and owning up to land use, but he always honors the home itself as the nucleus of everything. His monumental book, The Unsettling of America was the first place I ever read the word housewife used without malice. It is obvious that he reveres the traditional rural housewife, but– perhaps because he himself is the farmer and not the farmer’s wife– he doesn’t focus much on the role.

Wendell and the local food movement broke ground, but Shannon Hayes was the first public voice I heard with the balls to say, without mincing any words, that choosing not to have a paying job, and instead staying home to care for yourself and your family is radical political action and will effect significant change, change that we desperately need.

Shannon’s book Radical Homemakers, gave us some real meat to chew, a fat gleam of pride. But like Wendell, she lives rurally. Although some of the people in her book live in the city, the overall effect is the feeling that if you’re going to quit your job, you’d better move to the country and start raising your own grass-fed beef.

Then came Harriet Fasenfest with The Householder’s Guide to the Universe. Dramatically less academic and achingly more intimate, Harriet lays out her own struggle to turn the farmer’s ethic of thrifty, hard working, conscientious living into an urban reality. She uses the genderless word ‘householder’ to describe this more tightly focused work. Harriet started right where she was, with what she had, and there is great inspiration in that. But Harriet’s kids are mostly grown and she has has been able to give incredible energy to the task.

I feel that there is a great untapped labor force– people like me, and maybe you– stuck in the city, partner working full time, little kids providing the greatest motivation for positive change that mankind has ever known and simultaneously carving our time and energy down to within an inch of it’s life. We can’t get anything very big and impressive done, but there are so many of us. Our actions might be small, but our potential is big.

This post is not meant to be a declaration, an imperative or a manifesto. Purely an explanation, to myself above all. Because, although it is absolutely true that I do what I do because I love doing it, it’s also true that I often don’t love it at all. Sometimes it’s a downright shit job, a literal shit job, and I do it anyway (mostly). DIY punk housewifery as described herein is dirty, tedious, time consuming and, after the inital high of aquiring the skills, often flat out boring. Today I need to remind myself, and any of you who haven’t had a good pep talk lately, why we do this thing.

Let’s be frank.

I believe the world is fucked up. We have ravaged the wilderness into near oblivion, sucked the life out of every arable piece of land, bombed and enslaved our fellow humans, all in order to provide for our extremely decadent first-world lifestyle. I know I can’t change things to any significant degree, but neither can I turn aside and pretend I haven’t noticed. I cannot, in good conscience and healthy mental condition, proceed at full speed. Over time I have accepted that I can’t and don’t want to withdraw from my countrymen into the wilderness. In fact, since having kids I find that I am drawn more and more back from the fray. I am guilty of participation at every level, but I cannot reconcile a life that does not at least try for something better. If I am weary with effort, I will know I am doing what I can do.

And here’s what I can do.

If I believe that massive-scale agriculture is defiling our land, and corporate food products are defiling our bodies, I can base our diet instead on whole foods from local farms.

If I believe that using fossil fuels supports global bullying and violence, not to mention environmental degradation, I can make the time to walk and bike whenever possible.

If I believe that the immense resources sucked down and shit out for every piece of plastic crap we think we deserve is inexcusable, I can mend broken things, reuse materials, buy second hand, do without.

But you know damn well those choices are not so simple, and that is where the skill and craft and countless hours of housewifery become meaningful. After the romance of changing the world has subsided, it all comes down to the number of hours in a day and the number of dollars in your bank account. In case you’ve never been to a farmer’s market let me tell you that local, sustainable food is enormously more expensive. If I want to be able to afford the luxury of responsible purchases, I need to defray costs by cooking everything from scratch. Creativity in the kitchen is worth money– stretching that costly ethical meat by picking every last shred off of last night’s roast chicken and cooking the bones into stock; planning ahead for variety and convenience so that we are less tempted by the many corporate foods surrounding us on a daily basis; and ‘adding value’ at home by making our own jams, yogurt, granola, and bread.

Although cooking tends to monopolize my own housewifery, cleaning up after everything is a law, like gravity. It has to be done, and someone has to do it. The infinitely humble task of washing dishes is radical political action, because after cooking your ethically and sustainably raised chicken into stock to make a second or third meal out of it so that you can afford to keep supporting that righteous local farmer, there is a pile of greasy dishes to be done. If a=b and b=c, than a=c. In other realms, it doesn’t take very complicated math to realize that eschewing 2-3 years’ worth of disposable diapers, per kid, has radical environmental impact.

And if you want to quit your job so that you can be home to do all this radical chicken cooking and diaper washing that means that you probably can’t afford day care for your filthy little angels, which means you will be involved in the now political act of picking up the floor on a more or less continuous basis.

Welcome to my world.

57 thoughts on “Why Are We Doing This?

  1. Although I don’t usually comment I do read everything you post. I am working right now but my dream is to be a housewife, a mother, a farmer, a builder, a homeschooler, a revolution in my own kitchen.

    I just wanted to let you know how inspiring you are. Thank you for showing me that the effort is worth the end results and that it’s ok to not be perfect as long as you keep moving forward.

    1. Thanks Jenn,
      Regarding the not being perfect bit, I have a confession to make.
      Over the many hours that it took me to organize my thoughts and commit those words to writing, I completely neglected all of the righteous housewifery I was so busy glorifying. You know what they say, ‘those that can do, and those that can’t write about it.’
      In other words, I left a filthy house, drove to the coffee shop to write all afternoon and my man took the kids to Wendy’s for dinner.
      No joke.
      And honestly, does that make me more or less inspiring?

  2. I wish I had something more cogent to say than “This, yes, exactly, can-I-get-an-atheist-Amen.” This crystallizes so much of my daily ambivalence towards my own philosophical commitments, then says a little cheer to keep me going. Thank you.

  3. I am with you my dear, internal conflicts and anxieties and all. (Well, not usually the swear words, but we’ve covered that already ;-) ! )

  4. I recently noticed that what, or who, is never at the table during symposiums and panels on environmental, political, social or agricultural justice are the homemakers (or householders as I use the word). We are rarely there when we should. Your words speak to the reasons.

    Perhaps it is time to join voices because there is not a thing happening out there in the larger world that is not confronted and addressed by what we are doing in our homes. Everything from child obesity to soil health, from food justice to economic stewardship is up for analyses. We tackle in the microcosm what is confronting us in the macrocosm.

    We are also the bookends to a small farmers movement just as farm wives have always been. I posit it is all the more important today. As we have heard and will hear, the success of the young farmer’s movement is not assured. They will be up against economies of scale, land prices and debt just as farmers in the past have and we, in our small scale economies, live and are challenged by much the same. My hope is that we can confront the challenge together – farmers and householders. Seed to table in as small a loop as is possible.

    Yes, that is how I often think of us. We are the rural/urban farm wife hybrid of a completely new strain and we have never been here before. We are pioneers of a different stripe. Pioneers with some pretty incredible brains and hearts. We are re-imagining food systems which is what everyone is trying to imagine. That we practice these systems in a domestic realm hardly makes them less valuable. Frankly, I think it gives them added heft. Walking the walk.

    Perhaps we are the canaries in the coal mine seeing if the air is fine or just trying to make it fine.

    So that is the call — a voice at the table or maybe, better yet, a table of our own. Just as the early home economist gathered in the late 1800’s in Lake Placid, we should gather ourselves. Back then It was an audacious and energetic group of women who were voicing the many sides of women’s concerns and women’s knowledge. Sounds a bit familiar.

    Though I use a more genderless term, it is true that our movement is mostly women. It is a beautiful women’s knowledge. Its power and mystery was most enlivened in native american women, who, for centuries kept watch over mother earth. But that was before we sought to take the wisdom away. I think we are trying to take it back, if only as best we can.

    This era can be a quagmire of contradictions. We are pulled hither and asunder. We live at odds with a popular indifference. We swim against the tide and too often feel like freaks in a world that simply does not get us.

    Yet women are tied to the natural world, come from the natural world, grieve for the natural world in a particular way. Bully for us for imagining solutions for living in a natural world that is under attack. Just as we attempt those systems in our homes, kitchens, gardens and community so do we wish to extend it out onto the larger world. Yes, its about laundry and dishes and tons of crappy every-day chores but it is also about revolution and that’s the truth.

    So here’s to all you whip-smart, hard-working, boss-ass babes (and dudes), who get what the hell this life is about. Might be time for our own Lake Placid. Yep, it might be time for a gathering.


      1. Inspiring post, inspiring comment Anisa. Social change is always accomplished not where we think the front line is, but at the REAL front line, through the householders who make ideas take root and grow.

        The sustainable farming movement, like many other movements, is not assured and unless people like you continue to stay focused I fear for the future.

        I’m sorry for each and every time a home maker was made to feel unimportant at a cocktail party, or at Kinko’s, especially knowing that I, in my full-speed-ahead-conquer-the-world days, may have been the one to have made you feel boring and small.

        And let me say today, boy was I wrong. It was the shallow corporate achiever me who was boring and small, and you who hold all the power for the future.

        Thank you householders. Don’t give up hope, or think nobody cares. We do, we just may not know it yet. We need you more today than ever; if you don’t have hope, we’re all screwed.

  5. Once again, you’ve left me without the words to describe adequately how much I feel like your writing is my own mental dialogue…this is just perfect. Thank you.

  6. Very well said. I became a SAHM (stay at home mom) for many reasons, but mostly because we decided the kids deserved some dedicated full time to counteracting all the crap out there. It’s a diry job…

  7. The balance between participating in the world we live in and living our own life is hard. I am an urban householder. I feel no desire to live in rural isolation. It sounds fun for the first few months, then just damn hard work. I truly believe we can get it right if we pay people to produce food locally, live with what we need and tread carefully in an urban environment. I am going to stop now before this becomes a rant!

  8. Amen! Seriously, though, this post was worth the Wendy’s meal. And, my kids have never eaten a chain-fast-food dinner (local burger joint, yes), but if this is what I could have written, then it would have been worth it.

    What I’m saying is you’re right on with thoughts I’ve had too, but haven’t had the wherewithal to articulate.

    We are a silent army. This is my favorite:
    “I feel that there is a great untapped labor force– people like me, and maybe you– stuck in the city, partner working full time, little kids providing the greatest motivation for positive change that mankind has ever known and simultaneously carving our time and energy down to within an inch of it’s life. We can’t get anything very big and impressive done, but there are so many of us. Our actions might be small, but our potential is big.”

    If only our efforts were measurable on a large scale…with food I think we’re at least a generation or two away from seeing any affect.

  9. Some of us grew up with SAHMs way back in the 50s. I grew up with a working mom during that time when it wasn’t cool to be one. I swore I would be a SAHM when I had mine. And it was way back when being home wasn’t cool. And my ex agreed with society that me being home made me a useless burden. (grrrrrrrr) I feel like I cant get a break here. Ive been pushed to go to work and do something productive all my life. I was an angry SAHM cuz NOBODY saw how productive and important that job really is. Now my kids are grown, Ive divorced and am starting over…….only now Im old and need to get a job and nobody wants to hire an older woman. And I still love being home and taking care of me and my bf now. And I can and garden and create everything I can to save some money. And Im happy. But Im still angry too that society had to mess with my life over the yrs. Why cant we just accept people for who they are? If you want to be home or work………..BOTH should be accepted as one persons choice. Honestly tho Im very happy to see this next generation realizing just how much it takes to run a relationship, a home and a family. There may be hope for humanity yet. :) Love your article. More should speak out so things can change for everyone.

  10. I agree that this housewifery thing can be tedious and boring – I finally left my job this past summer after aching to be home with the kids for the longest time. Despite the fact that I sometimes think to myself, “I left that (relatively good) job for this??” I know I did the right thing. Not every day is going to be a big day for us home-bound warriors, but, brick by little brick, I think we are building something great. Rock on.

  11. Amazing. Thank you for putting the perfect words to my feelings. You are so right, we are the untapped labor force. Let’s do something about it…. O wait…we already are.

  12. Thank you for sharing your story. So much of what you say mirrors my own life and my own thoughts. As a college-educated, formerly career-oriented woman, it took a lot of years – even after I knew that being home was where I needed to be – to reconcile myself to the fact that I was “just” a housewife …

    … and then a lot more years to come to the realization that there is no “just” in what I do – that were it not for me and my contribution to my family, we couldn’t have the lifestyle we have … and the lifestyle we have is, not only the way we all *should* be living (in my opinion), but I think it also makes for some happier, more contented people ;).

    I’ve choosen this lifestyle, because it’s the way I want to live, but as the economy continues its slow downward trend, more folks will find themselves, perhaps, involuntarily leading my life (and yours). In my opinion, that’s not a bad thing, but it will come as quite a shock to a lot of people, and to borrow from the Famous Poet’s Society – too many will “not go gentle” into that new life ;).

    Which is unfortunate, because what I’ve found is that I’m much more content with this lifestyle than I was before. Having choosen to be here makes it that much more wonderful ;).

    That said, this line in your piece stuck out for me, and seemed to capture me, pretty well, too: “… me, out in the real world. Remembering that I am a freak.” I’ve learned to embrace “the freak” :). Sounds like you have, too.

  13. I will stand right behind you when you say the choices we make in raising our kids and running our households and keeping our hearths are radical political actions. They totally fucking are. There is no other way on earth for any of this mess to change but new generations and what they come to value, who grow up with intact hearts and souls and a connection to the earth, who know they have many other choices available than the “obvious” ones presented by an industry-generated culture..

    Thanks for doing this important work. And blogging about it! I’ve dreamed of doing it for a long time but the kids are still too little for me to take the time yet. Keep on swimming upstream, lady!!

  14. Love these words. Very nice to have my insanity backed up. While I my focus on farmer’s markets, gardens, and canning still seems askew sometimes, I’m hooked by your elaboration of the public vs. private and how we see ourselves.

    For me, I acknowledge fully that I am a latecomer and this is all a trend. I often wonder aloud if my own children will be buying velveeta weekly in reaction to my craziness. But I still don’t tone it down. It’s all so fun to learn and figure out. And there is nothing cooler than being able to give your neighbor a jar of pickles. I’ve heard a few times that people are searching for comfort in this crazy world by going back to basics. My jars of nectarines and freezer full of blueberries make me feel like I’m a little bit more in control.

  15. I too hardly ever comment, but treasure your blog! It’s a reminder that I’m not the only one. Thank you. Today, I have to comment. I grew up in this type of life, the alien to everyone I knew. After a decade of adulthood feeling guilty because I reveled in the conveniences of life like many other people I knew, I met some like minded folk who helped remind me who I was, what I knew I should be doing. I am now trying to continue that with my own child. Saving things, reusing, making what I can, growing what food I can and trying to stay within season for what I need to buy, buying responsibly, trying not to be very wasteful. This is my value system, this is how I was raised. It IS important. Not buying everything brand new, going without, making do, staying home with my son, to do things here, this gardening of food and herbs, the herbalism that I study. This lifestyle (I hate that it’s a ‘style’) was called into question not so recently by someone whom I thought was a friend and understood at least in theory. She ridiculed me, harshly judged and disrespected my choices and my life and demeaned the value system I hold dear, that I am teaching to my child, that was taught to me by my mother and she by her mother. Our friendship ended that night. I was stunned and before I left, I gave her a hug, said take of yourself and your son, I hope you find peace. While what she said to me hurt terribly, I was strengthened by it after I got over the shock. It gave me all the more certainty that I will keep doing what I am doing, and more as it comes, no matter what. My sense of purpose grew & solidified. A year later she sent me a message saying she knew she had been wrong, asking for forgiveness I was unable to give. She had mistreated me in the past, had done so the previous year, so I knew she was likely to do it in the future, and I refuse to allow it to happen again. She lives a very different life than mine, filled with disposable conveniences, wasteful things, no creative outlet, producing nothing but more waste and a paycheck, an empty life. While she says one thing, she lives the opposite. While she chases after spiritual enlightenment, bribing her son with new plastic expensive toys every week – I grow food, cook and bake from scratch, along with all the other things involved and make medicines in the kitchen – I teach my son how to grow and about the herbs. He knows tree and wild flower names, he can identify some herbs in the wild and in the garden, we make burdock burr figures and act out little plays, he pulls carrots from the ground for dinner & asks for radishes to go with them. After talking with a mutual friend, I understood that this woman wished to have a life similar to mine where she gets to stay home while the husband works, “putter around in the garden” & cook, that she was envious that my life wasn’t hers. But what she told me was that my life would drive her crazy, because she thinks all I do is sit around and have no social life, no money ‘of my own’ – what she and others don’t understand is that that isn’t important to me. What is important is that my son have a healthy start in life with home grown food, being grateful for what we have and that he has a basic grounding in how do it himself when he’s on his own.

    What we do is important, it’s for the future of not only our families, but everyone.

  16. YOU are my HERO! You just put into words (quite eloquently, I might add) what I’ve been trying to do, and why I’ve been trying to do it for the last three years. Three years ago, I quit my job as a teacher to stay home and CARE for it, and my three sons (now 15, 12, and 10), partially in an attempt to “just say no” to corporate greed, wasteful consumerism, and that drug to which you referred, convenience. So, if you’re a freak, I’m a freak right there with you! Thank you. You gained a new follower today. I’m so glad I found your blog.

  17. I struggle with how to explain to people what it is that I do since I’ve chosen to stop working and now I have the perfect catchphrase, from your post: DIY punk housewifery. Come tax time, when you have to fill in the “occupation” box on the signature line, THAT is what I’m writing! THANKS!

  18. Interestingly I posted on a similiar topic this morning. I *know* my homemaking matters but sometimes I wonder if it matters enough. Sometimes I feel radical and then I see solve a big world problem and I wonder if I am radical enough. Ah, if only I could find a DIY solution to self doubt!

  19. Yet again I find myself in awe of your ability to articulate just what so many seem to feel. The Internet is a great and wondrous thing. Thirty years ago when I chose this path, I really felt I was the freak. Oh, if only I knew Harriet and others like us even existed then. Absolutely no one I knew would ever be caught living this life, and all were of the opinion I was mad. What comfort this generation can take from one another.

  20. Kick ASS. I mean seriously, you KICK ASS. First time reader, now I’ll be a subscriber. Even though I don’t have kids (yet?) I am on board with so much of what you’re saying. Just started my worm bin in the condo, carry around enough canvas bags to scare every grocery bagger, subscribing to a local CSA, wanting to do more more more! We can all do SOMEthing. Keep it up!

  21. Few are the blog posts that sufficiently muffle the din of the progressive echo chamber and then sneak their way past my veneer of cynicism and apathy to finally settle into my heart and soul. This one did, and I am grateful. I cannot thank you enough for your vulnerability, honesty, persistence, and inspiration.

  22. Just a quick thought regarding your quest for sustainable eating: meat and dairy are simply not sustainable choices for the world. Meat causes more greenhouse gases than all forms of transportation put together (don’t take my word for it: both the UN IPCC and the Union of Concerned Scientists say so).

    I understand that you likely buy more “humane” meat, dairy and eggs, but the truth of the matter is that the world cannot–in terms of land and water use–support the kind of meat/egg/dairy production you likely favor for the whole world. A small wealthy population in a few select countries, sure. But if your food choices are meant to make you feel good without being viable for the planet, then they become a matter of pride and self-care and no longer a matter of politics.

    1. I believe that if wild ecosystems include and depend on animals, then healthy agricultural systems should also include animals. If you spend much time growing vegetables, you might find how valuable animals and their excrement are– when they are not being kept in such close quarters that it amounts to toxic waste. Properly done, vegetable farming and meat farming don’t add up to double the resource use, but rather fold in together like a pack of cards into one closed loop farm-style ecosystem.
      However, since it’s so rarely done right, and the transition would take quite a while, I do see your point.

      1. I wish I could figure out a way to like comments as you would on the facebook. Another point is that a lot of the green house gases from some animals are actually caused by the unnatural foods that they are forced to eat. If all these animals were fed a diet more in line with how nature made them then this would be a moot point.

        I agree that it is not sustainable in the current industrial model, however this alone does not make all meat unsustainable.

  23. Thanks for the inspiration and the rallying call. It’s hard to keep the point of it all in sight sometimes when the work is tedious and I don’t think I’m up to the task of doing it day after day, year after year. It’s important to know that we all have each other to turn to in low moments. So thanks! :)

  24. This brought me to tears.

    Being at home with wee ones can be isolating and rattling around by yourself in the house all day can quickly make you suspect you might be losing your marbles. It’s reassuring to know other women out there have the same thoughts running through their heads. Thank you.

    We are trying to do the homesteading / radical housewifery/husbandry in the city, too. We’re lucky enough to have a yard – which means even more work, but less money, as we’re able to save a ton of cash by growing our own organic veg, mushrooms, eggs and meat. (Yes, meat in the city. Don’t tell.)

    I quit my job when I got pregnant and now am in a similar boat as you – trying to balance getting it all done – be a good mum to my 10 month old and wife to my husband all while trying to squeeze in writing and freelance marketing work.

    I feel like I am constantly sacrificing one thing or another and never feel like I’m doing my best at any one thing. (As I’m writing this the baby escaped his makeshift jail. Par for the course.) Sometimes I think I just need to accept a certain level of guilt and feelings of failure.

    But you know what, eff that! Every little bit we do matters. It all adds up. What we are doing IS radical. We are superheroes. Don’t forget it.

    Thanks and I’d love to see your ‘zine!

  25. Hi Calamity Jane. Brilliant post. You almost make me want to quit my job ;-)

    I love that you are helping ‘DIY punk housewives’ feel good about their role in society.

    For those of us who choose not to stay at home I think the ‘radical political action’ you speak of is achievable by us too. I manage it by outsourcing. We pay someone to clean our house once a week so that I have time on the weekend to make sauce, visit the farmers markets and manage our sustainable lifestyle. We pay someone to grow our food locally (CSA share) so that I don’t have to worry about not having time to get our garden up and running again. I buy ‘handmade by someone else’s hands’ more often than I make myself. I don’t feel guilty for any of this, nor do I think my life is any less sustainable than someone who makes everything themselves and grows their own food.

    The beauty of this journey is that there’s many different routes to the same outcome.

    1. Thank you so much for bringing this up. I know my writing is heavily biased by what I myself am doing. I try my best to illustrate the openness of the possibilities, but I am inevitably hemmed in by my own experience. Writing this post made me uncomfortable actually. I knew it would validate many people who deserve to be validated! But also knew it would make others sad/mad/regretful, which I truly did not intend! I labored over how to write it, in fact went on a long tangent trying to explain how deeply I feel that this is not the only way, but in the end it just didn’t fit so I deleted it. Another post!
      I am glad you felt comfortable saying this, and I love the carefully respectful way you phrased it. Very well done. Thank you!

  26. Thank you for a wonderful, very well written post. Being a “house holder” is hard work. It can be boring, isolating and drudgery. But it is important work and somewhere along the line we made it lack purpose. I am now a grandmother. I had my children when it was still OK to stay at home with your children but also a time when most mums I knew were off to work, so I was isolated and unsupported. I didn’t know how to be a good house wife, I didn’t have the skills and didn’t know what a house wife ‘looked’ like. I am so thrilled to see young mums such as your selves owning the importance of your job and working hard at it. Everybody has bad days even if you those that choose to go outside the house for their work. And there are those house wives like Tricia who choose to have a career as well as a household who I know do a good job at both.If we are to have any impact on what’s going on on the planet we must return to the basics as you have outlined.

  27. Thank you so much for this blog. As soon as I hit “enter” on this comment, I’m going to frame this artical and keep it close.

  28. Love your blog (just stumbled on it today)! I am neither a mother nor a wife, but due to a rough economy coinciding with a change of careers… I find myself more of a homemaker than anything else at the moment! I have also been concerned over our food system here in America for many years, and with my new found freedom, I spend a great deal of time researching and writing about it. I recently started a blog, Facing Your Food (www.facingyourfood.blogspot.com), to help bring some of these important issues to light for the average American who seems blissfully unaware of the many problems that we currently face, or will soon be facing, if we do not change the way we treat this planet, grow our food, and consume resources.

    I live in a rural area of Georgia, but within the city limits of a small town. I am currently learning to grow my own food, cook from scratch, make locally produced meats stretch, and live on less than I ever imagined that I could. During these past two years while I have struggled to find work and make work for myself, I have come to realize that I have no desire to return to the rat race. There is a peace and a purpose that I found in a simpler (yet so much more complicated!) way of life.

  29. Thank you so much for this blog. I searched for an email address but since I never found it I’ll just say it here. All my life I was told by my Femi-Nazi parents (yes Mom AND Dad) that I needed to have a career. “what are you going to be? what do you want to do?” over and over for years. While I certainly believe in equal rights for all regardless of race/gender/social status etc. I was ashamed that my goal in life was to be a wife and mother. To this day when I speak to my father his first question is always without fail “so when are you going to get a real job?” when I protest that I have a job I like quite a bit and I’m proud of my homemaking skills his response is usually in the ball park of “pfft. what is this? 1956?! get out of the kitchen!” My mother, thankfully, has over time come to see how fulfilling I find housewifery and is amazed that I do things like bake my own bread and can fruits and veggies. Not only that I do it but that it IS the career i’ve chosen and one that I’m very happy with. (my grandmother hated it and was fairly addicted to ‘mothers little helper’ back in the 60’s)

    Although severe fibroids and cysts took my baby making parts before we had a child, I am married to a man who loves me and fully supports my decision. In fact during a brief time when I did work outside the home, although we certainly had more than enough money, he pined for the homemade meals I was too tired to cook and wrinkle free laundry I was too tired to fold.

    So, thank you. Thank you for making me feel less shame about what I do. thank you for making a place in this world for those of us who say equal choice means every choice is equally valid. Just thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  30. I just stumbled across this blog and found great comfort and fellowship in it. It made me prioritize and take immediate action. It just so happens that my 20 year old called me from work and said he was having a panic attack. He only had two more hours to work, and I had 3 more of what would have been a 16hour work shift for me. I thought about this blog and promptly called my home health supervisor and informed her that my clients parents were home and I was leaving to take care of my son.(I spared her the details). This was a highly uncharacteristic move for me as I work doubles everyday , leave after the first 8 hours to go cook dinner on an hour break and then return to work for another 8 hours. Throughout the years ive managed to work these shifts, make costumes and last minute party dishes to send to school ,clean the house, and so many other things that defined me as a great hardworking single mom of three: 20, 16 , and soon to be 12 year old. I would always agonize over leaving work for a sick child, but this blog let me know that i am still a professional and dont need to make apologies for caring for my kids when they,te in trouble. i live in an urban area and have a goal of semi- rural living in 3 years. The current economical and social climate along with the exacerbation of weather anomalies have spurned a “living-off -the Grid” obsession in me that I just can’t shake. Self sufficiency without reliance on the government is an ever increasing theme for me these days. But the task of maintaining everyday living as I prepare to live a more self reliant life is just one more thing demanding more of my precious time. Never the less I am determined to see It through. I have a pressing need to equiptment my children with the skills necessary to survive should society collapse…. If it doesn’t , at the very least they will have s template for a life that’s not dominated and governed by what the “Powers that Be”, Corporate America and the Marketing industry would have them think is a successful life. There ,s a book out called “The Virus of the Mind”, It explains “Memes”. This book made me more aware of marketing and how I adopted insidious self/expectations . I am going to take myself off the hook from unreasonable expectations that validated my definition of Super mom. I am going prioritize, become generally self sufficient, and cut out the unreasonable expectations and live as green as is feasible for me. Thank you for your blog.

  31. Just stumbled in here and this post made my day. I came to this mindset gradually but I’ve been thinking that surely I’m not alone in these beliefs. So reassuring to come across a whole group of lovely women dedicated to the same ideals!

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