I had so much to share from Shannon Hayes‘ book that I couldn’t fit in all into one post. The book Radical Homemakers was just that meaningful for me.
Young families find that humility enables them to accept help from willing parents without stigma, or vice versa, reducing their duplicative demands on an extractive economy.
I think there is something wrong with a culture that demands independence from one’s family. I think it’s good for young adults to have autonomy from their family of origin, but I disagree with the idea that living at home as a young adult means you’re a loser. It’s sad, really, that old people are put into homes with other old people instead of living with their families, and young adults are forced to try to live above their means or with (sometimes) crazy roommates to make ends meet instead of sharing the family home a while longer.
Pioneering home economists in 1899 created a field in academia so a female scientist could be a full professor, and believed they were making room for women in the American university system, but in truth were pigeon-holing them. And a larger glitch (if it can even be called a glitch, instead of a catastrophe) was they needed to be portrayed as the experts. To achieve this, the housewife, a fixture in American culture, was now demoted to the level of lowly amateur, compared to the professional, salaried, “expert” home economists.
The very ones who were trying to help women find fulfillment instead robbed them of it when, if they chose to pursue a career full of diapers and dimply knees, tomatoes and tiny toes, gardens and stories and dressmaking and cheesemaking, they were disdained.
In the early 1950s the U.S. was one of the healthiest countries in the world, but by 1960, it had sunk to the 13th healthiest…Since then we have continued to fall, so that we are now 25th, behind almost all other rich countries, and a few poor ones as well.
We spend so much money on medicines and doctors and yet no one tells the truth or asks about nutrition. Everyone believes the diet dictocrats so irrefutably. The lack of true nutrition education, the key to real health, in this country is deplorable.
In 2005, editors of The Economist magazine proposed an alternative gauge for evaluating our nations’ economic health, one which accounted for indicators such as divorce rates, community life, well-being, and political freedom. It found that the U.S. ranked thirteenth, behind even Spain, where the citizens earned only 60 percent as much money.
See, money can’t buy happiness! In fact, it appears to buy misery instead. Pretty sure God knew what He was talking about when He said, “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”
Psychologist Michael Yapko observes that when other societies achieve America’s standard of living, their rates of depression increase.
I don’t think it’s necessarily having a high standard of living that causes depression, but what our attitude is about it. If you’re constantly in pursuit of the next thing, the new game, the new toy, the new car, the new whatever, you’re bound to be unhappy. I read about a study once that said upon purchasing something the happiness level would rise to the same height and drop just as quickly regardless of whether they had purchased a new small dollar item, like shoes, or a new high dollar item, like a car!
True happiness comes from reaching out to others, in serving. Well, truly, loving God first, then serving.
Buying all that stuff consumes more than our dollars, it consumes time too; the New Road Map foundation reports that a typical American now spends six hours a week shopping and only forty minutes playing with their kids.
Maybe they should shop with their kids. 🙂
It is ironic that after overthowing imperial/corporate rule in the 1700s, Americans have not only accepted it, but have come to think that it is imperative for the well-being of our nation.
We have become part of a mechanics of government, of lobbying, of powerful corporations (Monsanto would be a classic example of how the corporation rules what a farmer can do with his own livelihood) and we feel generally powerless to stop the relentless push of the machine.
We no longer worry about “keeping up with the Joneses.” Instead, we now compare ourselves to those glamorous people we see on television, in movies, magazines or in the music industry. When our societies encourage perpetually rising expectations, and those expectations exceed our ability to met them we feel either aggressively resentful or depressed. Or, in the words of Gore Vidal, “it is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.”
We have a serious comparison problem in this country. Personally, it’s one of my worst traits. And what good does it for someone like me to see Barron Trump’s solid gold nursery, and compare my baby weight to his mom’s? None! Normal people couldn’t and shouldn’t try to live up to the standards of the people who pay more to their bodyguards than my husband makes.
Between 1997 and 2005, more Americans declared personal bankruptcy than graduated from college.
Clearly, many others would agree with me, but much too late to save themselves from financial irresponsibility.
Making careful use of family resources or government programs is not a shameful sign of undo privilege or leeching off the taxpayers; it is a prudent effort to stretch resources father, tighten family and local ties, build a culture or interdependence, and reduce reliance on the extractive economy.
Farmers do take advantage of a lot of government programs, that’s why the government has them. The requirements of WIC mean that if you are a one income family with children under five, you probably qualify. It’s weird for me because I’m in favor of as little government as possible, and yet I feel like since those programs are already in place, why not?
The following quotes describe my home and life to perfection (or lack thereof, as the case may be :-))
(Their homes) are filled with books, simmering pots, some dirty dishes, musical instruments, seedlings, wood shavings, maybe some hammers or drills, sewing machines, knitting baskets, canned peaches and tomato sauce, jars of sauerkraut, freezers with hunted or locally raised meat and potted herbs. Outside the door, one is likely to find a garden plot or potted tomatoes, fruit trees, bicycles, probably a used car, shovels spades, compost bins, chickens, maybe a wandering goat or other livestock, and laundry blowing in the breeze. These people are producing their life, not buying it.
Enjoying what she has, feeling as though she has enough of what she needs–enough true wealth(family, friends, community, nourishing food, interests, security)–make the products and overtime work-a-day world seem repugnant and utterly unnecessary.
(Radical) homemakers had to become autodidactic, self learners. They had to think independently, embrace general knowledge, work with what they had, make mistakes, find their own teachers, and muster the courage to star from wherever they were.
When many of us picture homes with a full-time Radical Homemaker, we may envision a lush garden devoid of weeds, accented by sunflowers. Maybe some precociously articulated and well-mannered children are gathered around a long harvest table, helping each other study their lessons while a few perfectly made toys wait neatly along a shelf or windowsill. Chickens wander peacefully outside, keeping the lawn free of bugs. the house is kept secure and well repaired by competent hands, there is something delicious simmering on the stove, the dishes are always washed, and there is always time to sit with a mug of tea, study the pristine landscape, and ponder the good life. If such an image inspires you to move forward, wonderful.
There might occasionally be blocks of time (never more than about five minutes) where a Radical Homemaker life can look like this. The remainder of the day is a flow of contained chaos where we endeavor to play a deeper and more mercurial role in our family ecosystem. When working with an ecosystem (as opposed to an office system), the work is never done. Life is always going on. Weeds grow, children express their true nature, the pump for the solar hot water burns out, windows stop closing correctly, chickens wander in the road or poo on your porch furniture, and the best toys have a quirky trait of preferring floor sand kitchen tables to shelves or window sills.
The reduced income didn’t matter when she had rest and pleasure. That ability to find pleasure, incidentally, was yet another critical skill each of these homemakers possessed.
Finding joy in all circumstances is an art form few can achieve, but it’s sincerely a joy to try.
Many of you will find yourself on the following scale. Keep moving forward, my friend. It’s a worthwhile goal, and freedom is yours to be had!
Three stages of Radical Homemaking:
Renouncing–becoming increasingly aware of the illusory happiness of a consumer society.
Reclaiming–the homemakers entered a period where they worked to recover many of the lost domestic skills that would enable their family to live without outside income.
Rebuilding–Their homes had become more sustainable and meaningful places, and now they were applying their talents and skills to bring their communities and society along with them.
And this I love if only because I’m the girl in the middle of a knitting project, several sewing projects, a cross-stitch project, always the cooking and the baking and the improving of our nutrition, the learning and the teaching, and the learning through teaching, a remodeling project, cardmaking and some scrapbook layouts.
“The greatest happiness comes from absorbing yourself in some goal outside yourself, “explains Richard Layard. “Prod any happy person and you will find a project.”
2 thoughts on “Radical Homemakers part 2”
I'm going to be honest. At first, I kind of rolled my eyes, but now I'm interested. I might have to go find this book.
I totally agree with you! It sounds like a book I'd enjoy reading. I know I totally fail in some ways as homemaker, but I enjoy all the creative aspects – trying to do things the old fashioned way like making clothes and household things (right now I'm working on a braided rug). Anyway, I can relate to putting aside the usual desires of culture for something a little more family based.