a series about starting from scratch
Traditional. Great word when applied to holiday decorations, homecooked meals, and the act of passing on a particular tried-and-true technique to an interested apprentice. But traditional in reference to the home? Homemaking? Housekeeping?? Egads, get away thou vilest of words!
If you've been following this series, you know I'm studying and practicing my way through Cheryl Mendelson's Home Comforts. She has done quite a bit to turn that lovely-though-avoided word into something precious, a call to arms, a convicting echo of what can be.
What a traditional woman did that made her home warm and alive was not dusting and laundry. Someone can be hired to do these things (to some extent anyway). Her real secret was that she identified herself with her home. She lived her life not only through her own body but through the house as an extension of her body; part of her relation to those she loved was embodied in the physical medium of the home she made (9-10).
But most men and many women do not want to identify themselves with homes they create through their housekeeping and through which they offer themselves to others (10).
I agree. Most in my generation read the phrase "identify [him]herself with the home" and likely cringe with dismay. Surely, this is the thought of the 1950's enslaved and uneducated housewife. And that may certainly be true. But show me how Ms. Mendelson is incorrect? Do we not walk into another's home and judge it to some degree? Either by decoration, cleanliness and messiness, warmth, fragrance, and more? Perhaps we are generous critics, but instinctively we know that the home reveals much about a person's character.
My home used to reveal that I was too busy to take it seriously. I was rarely unclean or dirty, but I was almost always messy. The household which "neaten[s] mostly when the house is out of control"? Check. Dishwasher run when it is packed? Check. Garbages emptied when they are full and unsavory? Check.
And I never had peace. Never really felt rested. And looking back, I now see that we created an environment in which no one else could truly rest either.
It spoke volumes about me whether anyone acknowledged it or not.
She identified herself with her home. I'm well educated (though I know, I'm not a great writer by any means). I come from one well-educated family and married into another. I have a masters and the bill to show for it. I've been employed as long as I've been legally permitted, until quite recently. And yet, a great expression of self and of love for others comes out in my home. Crazy, eh? Cray-zay.
In these first few steps toward making it home, I find deep satisfaction in moving about the house, cleaning, organizing, preparing, cooking, and more, thinking to myself, people know me by the house I keep.
They know that I want them to be warm. They know that I want them to smell something lovely and delicious at 6:00pm. They know that I hope they feel festive by the manner with which I decorate. They know I want them to rest comfortably by the cleanliness of bed linens & towels, the sofa pillows that invite them to lean back. They know I care about their health by the smooth, freshly wiped kitchen counters & floors. Because part of my relation to those I love is embodied in the physical medium of the home I make.
If you are like
What is the area you put off until you just can't take it anymore? Laundry? Dinner remnants? Bathrooms?