Anyone who knows me well is aware that I’ve always been drawn to activities associated with (cringe) “being domestic.” I’ve always liked to bake and craft things, and I enjoy giving hand made gifts. My first apartment after college was a second-story, one-bedroom in Bowling Green, Ohio. It wasn’t much from the outside, but the inside was filled with light and had gleaming hardwood floors. It also had two doors leading to the bedroom, which I loved for some reason, and a built-in cabinet in the dining room. I loved that apartment. I even liked to stay home on Friday night so I could clean with the music turned up loud, and delighted in grocery shopping for myself. I made curtains for my bedroom, and even decorated lampshades. Despite the obvious pleasure I took in these domestic pursuits, I didn’t embrace this about myself. Truth be told, I still struggle with it.
Somewhere along the way, women have learned to disparage domesticity. Perhaps the women’s liberation movement, in teaching us that we had a part to play in the world OUTSIDE the home, also implied that tasks associated with the INSIDE of the home were stifling, dull, and somehow beneath what we are capable of. Labeled as “women’s work,” activities like baking, quilting, knitting, sewing, and cooking are often dismissed and even ridiculed. (I’ve been called “Suzy Homemaker” on more than one occasion, which has made me even shyer about admitting that I, indeed, enjoy being a SAHM.) Domesticity is often devalued, making some women who leave the workforce to stay home with their children very self-righteous about their choice; I think it’s because they feel somehow inferior to their working-mom counterparts.
Recently, though–I’d say just in the last five years, judging from the perspective of the publishing industry–there has been an effort to make domestic pursuits cool. Women have begun to figure out that domestic pursuits don’t have to limit our lives, but can actually enhance them. Books like Stitch ‘n Bitch and The Happy Hooker by Debbie Stoller are great examples of that effort, and, I hope, so is Home Made Modern.
One of the basic premises of Home Made Modern, in fact, is the belief that our own corners of the universe should be personalized spaces that reflect who we are. This doesn’t mean you have to monogram everything in sight, hand knit sweaters for your entire family, and aspire to Martha-esque perfection at all times. Rather, contemporary domesticity is about picking and choosing what works for you. It also doesn’t mean that devoting time to these pursuits will be isolating. The resurgence of things like knitting circles proves that modern crafters enjoy a sense of community, meet up often to discuss their work and their lives, and even blog about their craft. Finally, Home Made Modern believes that domestic pursuits aren’t frivolous, but practical. While you can still find plenty of tea cosies and weird outfits for concrete geese at craft fairs across the country, I personally don’t have the time to make anything that isn’t really useful, or at least a personalized enhancement of my surroundings.
While it still takes practice on my part, too, I think if you’re the least bit inclined to be domestic, embrace it. Own it. Take pride in your home and yourself, and exercise your freedom to create.