Monday, March 23, 2009

The love of home

The love of anything and everything connected with domesticity is common to women of all ages, generations, cultures, races, religions; characters, inclinations, hobbies and crucial life choices may differ. Women may spend almost all of their time, or just a few hours after work, at home. But rare is the woman who won't exchange recipes with her friends, who will resist taking a peek at a store that sells home decorations, who doesn't delight in new curtains, crisp linens or freshly washed floors.

Take a look at a typical women's magazine. Right next to interviews with high-ranked, power-centered career women, you'll see articles about how to decorate a table for the holidays, how to discipline your children, and of course, recipes, recipes and more recipes.

How about the ever-blooming interest in various crafts? Whenever I board a bus, I can notice at least one woman knitting or crocheting something. They make kippas for their husbands or sweethearts, tiny baby items, scarves, and more.

Sure, some women will claim that they never had any interest in the domestic arts. Some will go as far as saying that the interest in home and everything that has to do with it, is an oppressive patriarchal scheme designed to occupy women and keep them busy with trifles, so they won't have time or energy to enter the truly influential, high-paying, high-powered spheres. But no scheme could bring this satisfied glow onto a woman's face, when after a long, productive day, she observes her realm and sees clean floors, fresh linens, and a hot home-cooked meal on the table.

Some men, on the other hand, will be more domestically inclined. My husband loves cooking, baking, shopping, and dedicated much thought to home comforts. But the typical man, while he likes good meals and ironed shirts, does not have the "nesting" instinct which is so common with women.

There's a true, these days often lost, freedom in a woman who cheerfully delights in her home and dedicates her best efforts to it.


Jennifer @ Conversion Diary said...

How excited I am to have discovered your blog! I was also raised in secular society and dabbled in feminism, and I now share your views completely on marriage, children and "having it all."

I'm going to subscribe to your blog's feed right now. Can't wait to read more!

Annajean D. said...

I definitely agree. As women we have a culture embedded in us that goes back thousands of years. A culture of love, harmony, unity, and creating homes with atmospheres of all these qualities. Unfortunately we see more and more of this diminish as wives and mothers are compelled to enter the work-force to help sustain their families in an economy that has been damaged by feminist ideals. In the attempt that women in recent years have made to encourage "equality" of the sexes it seems that we have lost our identity as women with the most noble mission to fulfill-that of creating the very basis of society which can only truly be done in the sanctuary of the home.

Tamsen said...

It's terrible how I'll feel almost embarrassed to tell old HS friends how much I love being home, taking care of my home, and the pride of a job well done. While growing up, this was never even presented to me and my peers as an option. It truly is the most satisfying work I've ever done. What's better than ending the day with 2 happy, well-tended children, and a to-do list that has more items checked than not :)

Tammy said...

How true! Even the most career-minded women I know love to peruse a good home-interiors magazine. We love to make our homes beautiful, or at least dream about it. :o)

Summer said...

When I think about all the feminists I know in real life your comments hold true. They all enjoy decorating to some extent and feel that it is important for their homes to be clean and welcoming.

I think that's what is so sad about pursuing feminism. Women feel like they have to go out to work and earn money but also feel like they want to be at home and work there too. But trying to do it all so often creates burnout and dissatisfaction.

Civilla said...

Yes, that is very true. I've noticed that, too. Get two high-powered career women together, and they, too, will talk about their homes and children. It's natural.

Tracy said...

Amen! I was just telling my hubby how good I felt at getting so many things done today. Like cleaning out the frig. and making my laundry soap. I love when my house is clean and in good order!

Leslie said...

I despise crocheting, sewing, knitting, and all that domesticated artsy stuff. However, I love being in the kitchen! Baking and cooking is my thing.

I still prefer a maid to do my house cleaning for me but if push comes to shove, I will clean the place myself.

I just would rather spend my time outside enjoying the outdoors when I do have free time. I love camping, hiking, fishing, riding horses, playing with my dog, etc. Being stuck inside the house tends to make me go stir-crazy! lol.

At least I enjoy cooking. That is about the only domestic thing that I am good at! :)

Anonymous said...

In general, I agree women have a much bigger nesting instinct. But I do think your assertion that all women love domestic activities is too extreme.

Personally, I love decorating. It's a hobby of mine (very frustrating as it's a hobby that requires some capital!) But I cannot stand anything connected to 'crafts'. I don't enjoy the process at all, I don't have the patience for it, and I certainly don't want to fill my home with crafted objects that will soon look like clutter. For me, that time would be much better spent elsewhere.

I don't sew much either, though I might like to learn some day.

I too gleam when there's a lovely home cooked meal on the table. However, I really don't enjoy the process of cooking that meal! I do it because I have to. If I exchange any recipes with my friends, they are low effort recipes, designed to provide the biggest bang for a buck (by buck here, I mean my time). Certainly, the bulk of our conversations never revolve around recipes.

I don't think women need to love all the domestic arts, even if they stay at home (although it will certainly help their personal satisfaction if they like what they're doing). Homemaking has elements that are just like any other job. Men don't like everything they do at work. Sometimes they hate their jobs. But they do it anyway.

BTW, my husband likes to cook far more than I do...

Terry @ Breathing Grace said...

I certainly love caring for my home and family. Wonderful post, Anna.

Anonymous said...

I'll chime in, Anna, with a "hear, hear!" There is so much about a well-run home that a woman can enjoy. I do like the crafty, creative side of things, myself; but there also is great satisfaction in cleaning the home. Moreover, I believe I'm setting a good example for my children. I can hardly ask them to learn to take care of their environment if I'm not willing to give them a proper standard! It's not always easy, but so worth it.


jAne said...

**There's a true, these days often lost, freedom in a woman who cheerfully delights in her home and dedicates her best efforts to it.**

I'm so thankful to have realized this true freedom, years ago, and embraced it willingly.

Swirlypepper said...

I know exactly what you mean by this. Living in university really made this apparent, the most that boys would do to cheer the cell-like rooms up was put up a few posters. My friends and I had coloured rugs, changed lampshades, pinned coloured fabrics on the walls and made sure our bedsheets coordinated. Even if we were only to be there 9 months it became important for us to have little nests to go to at the end of the day. I'm so lucky now to have a home I can invest in abd get the rewards for years and years.

Anonymous said...

My mother raised me to believe that housework was drudgery. I was born in the 70's and my mother was an ardent feminist. I followed the path she laid out for me and got my degree and began working. My son, who is now 4 years old, was in daycare. I still work full-time, but my view of domestic life is so different now. I would love to be home and to homeschool my son. My husband and I, unforunately, got into the two-income trap and are now trying to pay off debt so that I can stay home.

My mother never taught me to cook, clean or sew. I have taught myself cooking and cleaning. I would love to learn how to sew. I don't know any of my women friends who knows how to sew! They are all in the same boat as me.


Anonymous said...

This post focuses on the pleasure many women derive from home arts. As a woman who enjoys winding down from a long work week by cooking a nice meal on a Friday night while drinking a glass of wine, I can attest that home and hospitality can be enormous sources of pleasure.

But there is a huge difference between (a) occasionally cooking or knitting for fun, and (b) feeling that your main object in life is to cook and clean for your family at the expense of your livelihood or other aspirations you may have.

A clean house and a home-cooked meal are both great. But my husband and I gladly tolerate some dust and eat a few frozen meals every week so that we have time to do other things.

-- Pendragon

Mrs. June Fuentes said...

Great post!

Many blessings...

MarkyMark said...


There's no question that men & women are VERY different WRT the home. While I don't have a filthy place, it'd only take a person two seconds to discern the fact that a guy lives in my domicile-ha! Guys, as a rule, don't have the same nesting instinct a woman does. Can I do cleaning & cooking? Yes, but it's not the same source of pride for me as it is for you. For me, they are simply tasks that have to be done, nothing more.


cmoursler said...

I always wonder why people feel its "wrong" for the main object in your life to be cooking and cleaning for your family. Is it any better cooking and cleaning for a paycheck? Who better to cook and clean for than the people you love most? Why is it better to put all your energy into pleasing people who have no real interest in you at all? That doesn't make you a 'more complete' person. The main object in life shouldn't be your own pleasure, it should be the people who love and love you back. That is what makes life worthwhile. A person who places working or hobbies ahead of relationships isn't more complete, they are people who don't realize what really counts. Your family.

Anonymous said...

In response to cmoursler, I personally see nothing wrong with dedicating the bulk of one's time to taking care of family. Many mothers actually do this even if they work outside the home (thus actually working two shifts).

Indeed, taking care of family is a worthy cause. I just think that many of the tasks it entails are not necessarily enjoyable. I actually know a lot of women who just dislike cleaning and cooking on the whole. I am one of them, but my house is pretty clean and most meals are home-cooked, just because I think it's important.

I would love to stay home full-time, not because I love domestic work, but because I have to do it anyway and would rather complete those tasks at leisure than at breakneck speed. If I were rich enough to employ a full-time housekeeper and cook like a grand Victorian lady, I would do so in a heartbeat, and just 'supervise'.

Finally, a lot of the domestic activities mentioned here are things women do for themselves, not for their family. Many women enjoy crafts as a good outlet for their creativity, but I'd guess that most husbands would say the final products are pretty useless. Even decorating....a woman who invests hours deciding which shade of taupe goes with her new couch is doing it for her own esthetic pleasure. Most likely her husband won't be able to tell the difference and won't care.

In other words....often the domestic arts which women most love are those they do for themselves, not for their family.

Anonymous said...

I always wonder why people feel its "wrong" for the main object in your life to be cooking and cleaning for your family.

This statement seems to be based on the wording in my above comment, so I will respond.

I don't think it is wrong for someone to make cooking and cleaning for her family the main object in her life. I DO think it is wrong to tell other people that cooking and cleaning for their families should be the main object in their lives.

As for whether these tasks have worth, you don't have to persuade me. I did my own household cleaning for years so I know exactly how exhausting and backbreaking it can be. I also now pay hard-earned money for others to do my household cleaning. That's why I think it is wrong to expect women to be exclusively responsible for it without compensation and at the expense of their own earning capacity and other aspirations.

I don't blame homemakers for feeling awfully defensive in a culture that completely devalues work that women traditionally do. But this defensiveness shouldn't be directed at feminists and career women since we face the exact same issues as you.

-- Pendragon

Anonymous said...

Speaking of devaluing housework:

I think there is an element of devaluation that goes on when we talk about how much women "naturally" love household chores. Sure, people often enjoy their work. But this idea that somehow women are all naturally inclined to love toilet scrubbing tends to erase the hard work involved in keeping a house clean. Indeed, I think those not responsible for housecleaning often have no appreciation for the work involved.

Anonymous said...

I have got to agree with the comment above 'those not responsible for housecleaning often have no appreciation for the work involved'.
Usually women take over the bulk of household work, and men overwhelmingly underestimate the amount of effort and time this takes. They somehow seem to believe that a house takes care of itself.