09 August 2006

Stray thought...

...and not well thought-through, but this came into my mind this afternoon:

In the 60s and 70s, women were urged to get out of the kitchen and away from the home and demands of the family, and enter the workforce. Much of the rationale for it - not all, of course - was that women ought to do this, on principle, because they were "better" than just homemakers.

That principle is still cited today. Today in some circles one is considered rather odd if one considers one's calling to be homemaking.

Are we happier because of this? Are women truly fulfilled, demonstrably better off, clearly light years ahead of where they were?

Most women these days are more or less ignorant of what it takes to make a home. The FlyLady membership has topped 300,000 and is steadily growing. Many of us - and yes, I count myself among them - never learned the simplest techniques for taking care of a family. It isn't difficult; but there's nowhere to learn, these days. The concept of do it now, do a little bit, rest, balance, release perfection, etc. are all things many of our grandmothers knew and didn't even know they knew it. Now we have to rediscover it and learn it all over again.

What got me off on this kick was putting together my "control journal." This is a FlyLady thing. It means to write down one's routines, so as to stay on track throughout the week and get things done in little bits, instead of killing oneself trying to do it all on Saturday. I couldn't even grasp the concept for months and months; now I'm beginning to figure it out. So I wrote down my routines, morning and evening. The morning routine goes until 7:30, when I leave for work. The evening routine starts when I get home.

All of a sudden I realized that those hours in between were just - lost. I've never considered work part of my Life. It is a blank to me. I go in, I do my work, I go home. I have interesting, good work, for good pay, in lovely surroundings with great people. I earn my money fair and square. But, at the end of my life, when I look back over my time on earth, will I remember the days I spent at the office? Of course not.

I think doing anything out of principle, because someone just said you should, is a risky deal. And I think it's time for us women to take a long, hard, honest, unflinching look at what the feminists told us, and see if it really fits. Is it really what we want? Is it really who we are inside? We have a duty to ourselves, so that we can faithfully discharge our responsibilities towards our families and towards society. Society happens to need lots of well-adjusted, healthy, smart children. We are not being generous with our progeny. That is a serious thing, because we are putting ourselves and our fellow citizens at risk. Are we so incredibly happy, joyful, fulfilled, that it's a worthwhile trade-off, to stint on raising sound, happy families? Or are we getting a few hints from the weeping we cannot stop as we leave our newborns in the hands of others when we go to the office, or the anguish we feel as our empty-headed teenagers behave in ways we know are risky and will not bring them joy, happiness, or fulfillment?

We women have tremendous power. We knew this before, and we know it now. Do we have to blindly swallow the rhetoric of a bunch of women who wanted to tear apart society for their own ends?

What, exactly, is so wrong about devoting oneself to one's family, if that's what one's called to do? Should girls be taught to deny those yearnings to make a home and raise children because it's somehow more healthy to sit at a desk each day and go out to clubs at night?

Like I said, not thought-through, yet. And rather larger of a topic than I have time for tonight. I just think it's time for us to get brave and push back a bit against those who Know Better Than We What We Want.

Paul the apostle tells older women they should be guides for the younger ones. I think maybe that's true; we need to reflect seriously upon our lives, and help the young women around us to truly choose, not just reflexively do what they're told - by anyone.

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