I’m reading Mrs. Sharon White’s Mother’s Book of Home Economics. Mrs. Sharon White is very old fashioned and loves God. She is so delightful to read but beware as she refers to the modern woman in terms of “rampant feminism”. I have to chuckle at this because I know what a fit my mother would have about that comment. I have a love of the feminist and thank them for all our freedom and rights today. And I love being an old-fashioned housewife. I think the two can mix well actually as I am both.
Despite some of her ways that are a bit too old-fashioned for my taste, I adore these books and eagerly await the mailman…or lady. There is a simplicity and rhythm to her stories of keeping a home, raising children, and all that goes with that. It reminds me to slow down and stop trying to be some super freak house frau with the home, kids, writing. It reminds me that life is precious in its pure daily routine. Babies are off to college too soon and we can lose all that we have in a blink of an eye.
Being a housewife means that I run the house and tend to the family. That is my true calling and my real career. I like to call my writing a career but that is my mothers influence of thinking that homemaking was really not a noble career, that college and professions outside the home were all that was worth mentioning.
My aunt’s partner had a high profile life, a Yale education (or Harvard, what’s the difference right?) and enjoyed his martini lunches and expensive life. He was also unhappy and fat. One day he left it all and moved up to the coastal mountains, started running daily and ate vegetarian. He lived a very simple and frugal life, I’m not sure he even worked. He thrived and loved his life at last. One night at a nice and uppity party a doctor came up to him and ask, “and what do you do?” He replied, “about what?”
Ah, I love that story, it makes me chuckle every time.
I was blessed to be a housewife. It is not a doctor, lawyer, or novelist on the New York Times bestseller list (although anyone who has a book that is read by more than a hundred persons seems to get on this list). I never completed college. I am a shame to my mother’s good name. But I am something my mother with all her degrees, law license, and professional career was not…happy.
I am simple, content, happy. I love the homemade yummy stuff that fills a day with all the things that entice all our senses. The brewing of coffee in the morning, the baking of bread that you have to knead by hand for 10 minutes, sweeping the floor in silence and thinking about all sorts of things. How about gardening and working out some issue that has brought you stress? Working outside with the birdsong in the trees above and the sun filtering into your garden while you water your new baby plants. How can one be distraught or grumpy for long with that? Listening to the happy chatter of boys getting along well over a puzzle, happy dogs rolling on the lawn, a phone call from a good friend.
Don’t think I don’t wish for bigger and sparklier things sometimes, or that I’m always dancing about with my watering can and singing with my bird and squirrel helpers like Snow White. I have days when I’m sick and tired of those damn dishes and the same serving of the mundane that is housework. I sometimes long for a servant of some sort. I like reading the Bible when a woman of the house would have a servant by her side or a handmaid, oh yes!! I would like to go on a spending bender now and then. I get tired just looking at the broom some days.
But this is with any job or career. So, then you have to re-inspire yourself or up your education so you can be promoted to a more advanced position that offers new challenges.
I have been educating myself for years. I started out as the basic housewife and mother but I have been reading piles of books and doing hours of research, joining groups, and reading blogs on everything that is housework, cooking, cleaning, urban farming, homeschooling, chickens, writing, health and nutrition and beyond. I learn more and more and as I venture into new areas, make a lot of mistakes, master it, I then go on to put more skills on my resume.
It helps that I love what I do and I have a bizarre obsession with being frugal and backyard farming. I am far from great at either and I’m still stumbling about. But I have a lot of fun with it and I do reach my bite-sized goals day by day.
Right now I’m learning about my hens. I rescued these girls from a factory farm and felt very noble. They have me wrapped around their little claws already and are running the backyard. However, as their life grows more fabulous they give me fewer eggs. I purchased them to save money and so far these eggs are the most expensive ever. I was feeling like a failure at chicken farming. Then Bali suggested we put a few fake eggs in the laying boxes. My cousin said this is just for a brooding hen but it worked! I got eggs from 4 out of 5 hens and I think that 5th hen is debating it now. Those girls lined up in the coop like they were waiting for the public transit this morning.
My garden was a flop this summer but we moved the beds behind the garage and with less sun the winter garden is doing well so far.
Then there is the housework. I have been so preoccupied with getting the hens settled, planting gardens, painting the kitchen, writing books, becoming an elder care giver, and starting homeschooling that the house was getting the basic tidying. I was reading Mrs. Sharon White and knew that I had to return to my housework with great pride and affection.
I woke early and brewed my coffee with a day of serious housecleaning in mind. As I cleaned each room thoroughly I realized how much I have neglected my home. I also was reminded how good it feels to clean and decorate, to rearrange things in a way that feels good as you enter a room. I put extra pieces away and found new jobs for old furniture. I decluttered some rooms. Less stuff means easier cleaning. I washed walls, baseboards, scrubbed and dusted. My house feels so good now and therefore I’m inspired to keep it up and do more.
As you can see, we have a real “homemade” house. I love it. As Mrs. Sharon White shares, I prefer the painted kitchen, old tiles on the counters and worn wood floors. I have no desires for the modern homes with the granite and stainless steel. My home is very old and all my belongings are hand me downs and thrift store finds and my home is cozy and adorable…when cleaned properly.
I also add touches such as candles, music, and lots of good, healthy food.
The afternoon is always a time to take a break with my coffee and reading a good book.
Whenever I get weird and want something different, I look about and remind myself that this is my little cottage. I waited 47 years to have this home. I remind myself that I have this amazing life where I can stay home and be with my children all day. I can do fun things during the day at this job like can pickles, make a quilt by hand, write a book, play blocks.
I never did that at an office job and I certainly never had a coffee break that could last hours if I was caught up in a book.