Friday, November 12, 2010

Well, I was saying I had a lot of thoughts about "Radical Homemakers" . The thing is, my thoughts are very conflicting. I decided that I just really never was the target audience for that book and even though on the surface there are a lot of things I may hold in common with the author and the people she highlights, they are just that-surface similarities. But we didn't start at the same starting point and while our point may in some cases may be the same, ultimately if we were to meet at a party our conversation would be all "shop talk" and that's about it.

If you read the book did you get an eerie feeling that you were reading one of those "the case for homeschooling" books/articles from the 90's? It was all there-the industrial revolution, men leaving the home for work, the shift from the home being the center of production to the outer work sphere, all of it. I guess my very initial feeling toward the book was frustration and or annoyance because the author seems to think that she was the first to realize this (or her movement). She mentions the "Stay at Home Mom" sort of stuff coming from the Christian community that came out years ago but dismisses it all as being only in a sort of "women should submit to men" sort of mind set like we weren't interested in community, health, rejecting the materialism of the yuppie lifestyle, neighborhood safety or any of that. No. we were only interested in the whole submission thing. But these modern tomato canning young moms, they got it figured out. So, yeah. A little annoyance there.

I mean, I agree with a ton of the externals. I agree that baking your own bread, not going into debt for a car, canning tomatoes, growing a garden, all of these things when we put effort and love into them are important things. I agree that there has been a shift in our society from the home being the center to career and materialism being our god, really, considering all we do to satisfy it as a nation. Rand does work for some of these people, who pick their one kid up from day care at 7:00pm and dinner is a tray of "lunchables" as he's falling asleep on the couch. It's really sad. I wonder what on earth his happy childhood memories will be? It's a pretty soulless way to live.

But it also reminds me about how during my Grateful Dead days most of the really hard core hippie types were really the rich kids from Long Island and places like that. They lived on mommy and daddy's trust money all the while despising all that mommy and daddy stood for. They were the angriest bunch among us. It almost seems like they are the target audience for this book. Which I suppose serves it's own purpose. Canning tomatoes and having a garden rather than going out to have a career and make a bunch of money probably does seem radical to them. To me it's SURVIVAL. At own point the author (with a serious, straight face I'm sure.) comments that while she can't determine what people's incomes should be, a family would do well on $10,000 a year per person. Well YEAH. I *GUESS*. Honey, if we made $10,000 a year per person we would be making $120,000 a year which I can assure you is NOT happening around here by any stretch of the imagination. So this is radical?

See. I'm not the target audience.

It almost kind of displays the fruit of an age segregated society. The author writes about these things like they are so radical but they are what our grandmothers and great grandmothers did without ever considering it to be radical. It was life. Service to family. Do what needs to be done. Maybe being shut up in school all day with only one's peers is the reason for the whole mindset.

Anyway, it was interesting to look at the way the author thinks, but I don't recommend the book and I hope nobody bought it on my account. I only meant I was reading it, not that I actually recommend it. :) I saw it on a few blogs and picked it up at the library because I was curious. But you'd get more substantial reading material by reading a Ball Canning cook book or for plain ascetic looks at community and family life I really love the intros to Cooks Illustrated  magazine. If Christopher Kimball wasn't such a rocking good cook I'd think he missed his calling as a writer. As it is I grab every Cooks I can find just so I can read his intros.

"The world over, it would appear that life is lived countless miles from where we wish we still were. I know that to be true thanks to modern poets who, when they speak fondly of home, mean some other hallowed ground, either distant or in times past. Here in the mountains life isn't always easy, but we are deeply rooted in the center of things, just a quick step away from where we have always wanted to be and the people that we had hoped to become."
                                                                Cooks July/August 2007

That's the vision of home I want to give my kids. It isn't a movement. It's just love.


  1. I think you're right about it being a radical notion to them. Can you imagine being raised in a household by two working parents, you went to public school and your dinners (if you had them together) were boxed stuff or take out? Seems foreign to me now since we do none of those things. Also seems kind of a sad way of life.

    I do think it's a good thing that people are talking about it and taking back that lost part of our society.

  2. I haven't read the book but I like your thoughts and recommendation for a Ball canning book! One of these days....

  3. Yeah, I agree it's good to talk about, and I should have also mentioned that I think Crunchy Cons was a better book to put forth the whole idea. Maybe it was the quoting of socialists that also turned me off. Are they the ones we want defining our lifestyles?

  4. I enjoyed you post, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I, too, thought she was sure quick to dismiss all the Christian stay-at-home moms and almost discredit them by saying it was a "submissive-wife" thing. I like how you said, "It isn't a movement. It's just love."

  5. I keep trying and failing to get a comment to publish. Rather than just shut up, I'll try again.

    This book still intrigues me but it isn't available in my public library and I'm not going to buy it so am unlikely to read it. I do think it's funny when people assume they are doing something radical or different when they are really doing something quite old and formerly commonplace. I grew up with a stay-at-home mom who gardened, etc and so did everyone I knew. Only children of divorce had working mothers. But maybe things have to be labeled as radical in order to attract new converts.

  6. This is an old post but I hope you'll still see this comment: wishing a happy and blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours.

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