Pretty profound if you think about it. Especially in light of the posts I frequently write on how things were done in my grandmothers/great grandmother's day. A quote from the book that pretty much sums it all up is this, "Mainstream Americans have lost the simple domestic skills that would enable them to live an ecologically sensible life with a modest or low income." In other words, the skills that would allow for a family to survive and dare I say thrive, on one income in our materialistic driven society.
I believe we women made a mistake. We gave up some dearly held treasures in search of what I call "Bigger, Better, Faster." Women for years fought for more rights to be ascribed to ourselves and we won many of them. When the feminist movement began women wanted out of the home and into the world. Women, and girls now do firmly believe that you can be anything and anyone you want to be, and you can. But no one ever mentions the price at which that comes. I am not suggesting that there are not some positives that have come out of the feminist movements of the past. Women should not be second class citizens and be treated as such. But, we unwittingly bought into a lie with a consequence that we are constantly trying to rationalize. The lie? That we can be all things to all people, we can have a budding and successful career, live the American dream and it will not have any negative effects on the economy, our family, and our way of living. There are effects that are far reaching. We don't have the time to teach our children domestic skills, they have mostly been lost. Few people know how to can from thier gardens, make multiple meals from a roasted chicken, sew clothing or even how to just do without what you cannot afford.
We rationalize our need to work to "make ends meet" we have to have newer vehicles to get to work, we must go on vacations, we have to have cable television, smart phones, fashionable clothing. I can make all of these statements clearly because for the first 15 years of my marriage, I too bought that lie. To remain a middle class family we needed a dual income, or so I thought. Back then we had one, then two, then three children, two car payments, credit card bills to help buy the stuff we didn't have time to make/do for ourselves. On the outside it looked like we had it made, but we were struggling. I was struggling. I had a very successful career as a social worker and I had branched off into teaching after being certified by my state to provide ongoing education to social workers for their licensures. I was working full time, had a budding second career going, managed to make dinner for my family and work an opposite shift to avoid daycare for my children. What more could a mama want? To breathe...and have peace...and not be pulled in so many directions that one cannot give 100% to any one thing, but rather only provide degrees of ability in any one area. To not be so short fused that you feel ready to yell at the world at any given time.
The mistake we made when we women bought into the the feminist movement is that we gave up being the center of our family's world. Being the pin that holds it all together and keeps the calm, and enjoys the role. We gave up learning how to and teaching our daughters how to have domestic skills. We gave up knowing how to do without and how to make what we had work. I have to admit that had I been a stay at home mama from the beginning, I do not think I would have clearly understood this as I do now. But, I understand this to be fact after playing the role that society gives us. You know what? That role wasn't very much fun. Because, as most women will attest, just because you make a good living and have a successful career, you still have the other responsibilities of mothering, being a wife, maintaining a home and figuring out the grocery list. Oftentimes it also creates conflict in a marriage because as a woman working full time the argument then becomes, "I work just as hard as you do...you need to divide the household and childcare equally with me." Most men do not share this mindset which can often lead to arguments and burnout on the part of mom. So then we fall into the trap of "me" time...because when in the rush to have a successful career and mother and hold together a family to we actually have time to find ourselves? We don't.
Our family decided to put the brakes on and make a dramatic shift from chasing "Bigger, Better, Faster" to a simpler life. I would not go back for anything. When I look back at our incomes, we did very well for ourselves during those years that we were a dual income family, but there was so much we gave up that it just was not worth it. We are now doing life on one income, no cable, driving used cars with no payments, have added 2 more children (that's 5 if you are counting) and have moved out to a small farm that allows us to do more for ourselves.
By not being pulled into the mentality of feminism any longer, I find that I really enjoy the role of mother. It is not an oppressive role, not a downgraded one. We gave up the sense of family that comes with having a pin that holds it all together...but I have found that we can reclaim that role if we desire. It is not out of reach. I am learning as I go, I make mistakes, but I now have the ability to not give up my role as homemaker, mother and designer of the role that homemaker is in my generation.
I have not gotten past the second chapter yet, but I am anxious to keep reading, the author has nailed it on a couple of really good points. We gave up a lot, but we can take it back if we are willing to go against the grain.