Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I'm no June Cleaver

In my recent post discussing attitudes about not having much money, one of the commenters said that while it's great for some moms to stay home and be June Cleaver, she's happier working.

I'm no June Cleaver.

Here's the thing. I don't think any woman wants to be June Cleaver.

Our society has this thing going where we're expected to work (to be a good feminist) AND be a good June Cleaver. It's exhausting and unhealthy. What I think has happened is that we all, women AND men, are happier and healthier when home is the center of our lives rather than just the place where we sleep, store our stuff, and eat an evening meal. Before the Industrial Revolution, both men's and women's work was centered around the home. Then men went off to work and all of a sudden women were left to do it all. Alone. All freaking day long. No brain stimulation, no creativity beyond maybe trying a new recipe now and then. Clean the house, do the laundry, tend to the children, if you're lucky watch soap operas and eat bon bons, and meet your husband at the door with a fresh outfit, hair-do, and a smile.

Instead of a living, breathing, constantly creatively flowing center of productivity, the home becamee a center for consumerism, buying what was necessary to keep up with the Jones's and look all picture perfect Stepford Wifey.


Blech, blech, blech, blech, BLECH!

I highly recommend this book:

It talks about why feminism isn't at odds with Radical Homemaking and about the importance of building community and making the home the center of social life and creativity. It even touches on the idea of multigenerational living.

One of the things I like about this lifestyle is that it affords us time to work on creative pursuits other than homemaking. Like writing for me and buying and reselling clothes for my adult daughter. It will hopefully allow my husband to retire a bit earlier but still be comfortable. It lets us take lots of interesting day trips with our kids and grandkids.

In fact, I spent all of yesterday writing, editing, and going to a workshop. Today, I'm playing catch-up on housework and blogging.

Here's how my very un-June Cleaver-ish three-ring-circus of a day went.

My teens asked me what's for dinner and I threw my hands in the sir. "Leftovers?"

"But we just had that yesterday," one of them said.

"Hmmm... How about fried egg sandwiches?"

"Fine." Said in a voice where I wasn't sure it really was fine, but at least it's better than day two of leftovers.

We got our Christmas tree two days ago. They give it to you all wrapped in string for easy transportation. We unwrapped it and discovered it is not the tree we picked out. We decided to go back to the Christmas tree farm to exchange it.

I scrubbed the fresh new crayon drawing off the tv screen while my husband vacuumed up the popcorn that the toddler had littered the floor with. The guys loaded the old tree back into the truck.

"Wait, before we go," I said, "there's been laundry in the washer since last night. If I wait to hang it, it will smell."

So I took the dry laundry off the drying rack and Alisha dressed her kids but couldn't find her phone and Tripp was getting rambunctious and I was aware that it was getting later and my husband has to go to work tomorrow and we hadn't eaten dinner yet. So we left without the laundry being hung.

We put up the much bigger tree.

Much, much bigger tree.

This was the first tree. Cute, but not the one we had picked:

The tree farm thought this was the one we had picked out. It wasn't. Much laughter ensued as the teens pulled the strings off and revealed the full size of the tree. We're keeping it since it humors us so much to have such a behemoth of a tree in our living room. It goes against Radical Homemaking perhaps, since we'll probably have to buy more lights to fit around it, but it will be an awesome memory.

My daughter and I fried the eggs for their sandwiches. More laughter as the guys gave her a hard time about remembering who wanted runny, who wanted unrunny, and who didn't care. Then she made herself some vegan, gluten free pancakes while my husband played Call of Duty by hiding behind the behemoth tree with the baby.

Finally, I hung the laundry that had been in the washing machine not quite 24 hours. I smelled it and decided it was good enough.

Alisha found her phone under my manuscript.

June Cleaver I am not.

Maybe a bit closer to the Waltons except I assure you the Waltons' kitchen never looked like it exploded like mine did today. Maybe because Olivia Walton never spent an entire day working on her manuscript instead of doing housework. And her kids went to school. At least the dishwasher is running (I have no idea who did that...but I am grateful to whoever did). I get to clean the kitchen tonight when I'm finished this blog post. Oh, and try to organize the attic steps so we can carry down the tree decorations, since practically all year everything that had to go to the attic got set on the stairs instead of carried up and put away properly.

If I worked, we probably would have ordered pizza or went out to eat on the way home from the Christmas tree farm. We probably would have not had fried egg sandwiches, which we had just enough bread for everyone to have as many as they wanted as long as we used all the crust. We might have, in another few days, ended up throwing the leftover baked beans away. Instead, the teenagers will finish them for other meals, since they eat all their meals at home instead of at a school.

Yes, we cloth diaper and make soups out of homemade chicken stock and grow stuff and forage for wild ediblesand upcycle stuff we already have so we don't have to buy new. It's never the same old boring thing, though. I want to try making sassafras tea. I've never done it before. We're talking about taking more camping trips. We read really good books together. We watch really good movies. My son and I have written a book together. We get together with friends to make peanut butter and jelly. We work hard, but we also play hard. Life is full of laughter. I don't think our life is the typical housewife-bored-at-home some people imagine when they think about adults staying home and living frugal lifestyles.

1 comment:

  1. Whew! That was exhausting....but I have a smile on my face after reading about your non-June Cleaver day. More like JUNO Cleaver -- kudos to you Sheila!! Janet D.