Today's thesis: Modern housewives have too much leisure time.
And maybe money.
Perhaps I should back up with a bit of an introduction. Several months ago I was meeting with my book group and I made the above statement in the context of reading a novel about women in an earlier, and in many ways simpler, time. Immediately, the group of sister argued the point, "Women are so busy, so active!" they insisted. Well, yes, women are busy. As busy as they have been in any time, and I didn't disagree with that. But I think we need to take a look at all that busy-ness.
If you are reading this post and have just had your fifth (or sixth or seventh . . . ) baby, and/or your family is out of work, I am obviously not writing this post with you in mind. As with most posts on my blog, I'm writing for me in an attempt to work out how I feel about things and provide a forum for ideas.
Women in my generation have re-introduced themselves to many of the homemaking arts. Such skills have regained much popularity in recent years; craftiness has become quite chic, in fact. The difference, however, with our grandmothers is still stark, for all that the skills are the same. Even my own mother sewed because making our clothes was still cheaper than buying them. Into the 80's, many clothes were still manufactured in the US. This is not the case any more, and even China has subcontracted labor to North Korea where labor is REALLY cheap. My friends who sew now, and some of them are amazingly talented in this area, mostly do it to decorate their homes, create quilts that aren't necessarily needed, and to make super cutesy one-of-a-kind dresses for their daughters.
Don't misunderstand. I mean no criticism of the talent itself. My point is simply that a skill that was once essential to survival is now kept alive because of extra time, and money, to pursue hobbies that we like. Cooking in some ways is the same. Convenience products and an over-abundance of restaurants (for any demographic), would potentially take me out of the kitchen if I wanted to be. Instead, I have learned to cook very well because I like to do it. I like nice, high quality ingredients, re-creating my favorite restaurant dishes and making my food look pretty. Is this necessary for getting everyone fed? No, of course not. In fact, my kids would probably be just as happy with a three-night rotation of chicken nuggets, chicken salad and tacos.
This week I've picked up crocheting again after a hiatus of some years. But I'm not making blankets essential for warmth (for myself or others), or necessary clothing or anything wonderful. I'm just making scarves. Because they are cute. Because I have the time.
I read because I have time. I've been to the pool four times in the last two weeks because I have time, and may go again tomorrow. I blog because I have time. I have ambitions to publish a novel. Because I have time.
My sister and I were talking some weeks ago (She sews to REdecorate her house, she runs because she likes to be a size 4. Because she has the time.) and she was saying how she had a friend who often talked about "needing a break" and how easy it was to fall into this trap. Now here comes that word entitlement again. Somehow, because we stay home with the kids and are doing this NOBLE WORK OF MOTHERHOOD we feel that this somehow entitles us to finding multiple ways to carve out time for ourselves.
Again, don't misunderstand. I think that especially for women with large families, such alone-time, me-time, break-time, whatever-you-want-to-call-it-time is important for a re-charge, but I know that I have to be careful in taking advantage of that. It isn't as though my husband gets a lot of downtime himself. He gets very little opportunity to pursue his dearest hobbies, or even ambitions, at work, and is expected to be 100% when he walks into the door at night.
Last weekend at Crater Lake, we got to talking about all the fun things we have done this year. And it is a lot. In fact, after our Disney vacation (mom's awesome Christmas gift to her whole family this year) in November, our family will have done 2 big and 3 smallish vacations this year. I also got a vacation on my own. When I add to that my sweet husband's gentle insistence that I find a friend to take off to Ashland for a weekend with, it has been a VERY good year. Probably more than I have earned. Certainly more than I deserve.
I'm just thinking I need to focus less on getting my next break and more on enjoying the time that I have with my kids. I need to focus more on the work that can be done instead of the work I can avoid.
At Crater Lake, I also realized that there were 500 pictures in my camera, most of which were never posted this year. I have awesome camera skills like that. So in case you think I'm making up the fact that we've had our share of fun in the last several months, here is the run down. Then, of course, feel free to soundly abuse me all you want in the comment section about "lazy" modern women.