Thursday, February 21, 2008

Connections.

I have noticed, the last couple days, something interesting. With my modern house, and my internet connection, and my Jeep, I've somehow wound up repeating history. Somehow, with all the technology and social choices and the college education, I have wound up doing exactly what our female ancestors have done for tens of thousands of years: Stayed home, tended the kid, and spun, knit, and generally done fiber related crafts to bring in a few extra bucks. Put me in a palace in Minoan Crete, a herder's yurt on the central Asian steppes, or a little clay hut in an ancient Egyptian city, and I'd be doing the same thing. Fiber crats, food prep, and kid-tending.

This should probably horrify me, what with the women's liberation movement and the insistence I'm capable of doing anything and being anyone. But it doesn't. Seems to me, liberation means being free to do whatever I want. Even if that means knitting sweaters while watching my kid grow up. Hardly an original choice, but for me a satisfying one. The last few nights I've spun and knit (and read), and thought about all this, and my only real conclusion is, I'm damn glad I can do this for enjoyment, when I choose, how I choose, and don't have to rely on it to feed my child or keep us from freezing.

But for the most part, I think of all the women who've gone before, and what they would think of me, and my life - listening to internet radio while spinning - and what I would think of theirs - the details of life that never make the history books.

Then I hug the Goober, and knit some more.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is my dream lifestyle. I'm very jealous

Nanacindynz

Donna Lee said...

I only got to stay at home for 6 years while my girls were young. Those were sewing and bread baking years. I baked all our bread and made jams and jellies and things all from scratch. I loved it. If I got the chance to do it tomorrow, I'd jump on it in a heartbeat even though the children are all grown. And women's liberation is about choice. Your right to choose how to live your life.

Rose Red said...

I think about this often, and about how lucky I am, that I can choose to stay home or I can choose to work, and I don't have to do either constrained by money or class (social and otherwise!!)

Bells said...

Good post. I wonder what it would be like to have to do these things that we now choose to do - what if was your bread and butter, so to speak.

Kim said...

I have so much respect for you. Julie you truly are an amazing woman. Liberation is more than about becoming a corporate exec, president, or Rosie the Riveter. I agree with the other women who have posted. It's about choice. Being a modern woman I never thought I'd enjoy knitting. Too girly, too old fashioned. But, as I make socks for my boyfriend, washcloths for my brother, hats for friends, I see the connection with all the many generations of women who have come before. Even now so many women dont have a choice. Revel in it.

Roxie said...

And hugs to the husbeast for making it all possible. Used to be, women stayed home because someone needed to do all the work that it took to feed and clothe a family while someone else did all the large muscle-mass work like plowing and digging and wrestling livestock. Now that we don't need to spend our entire day providing for the most basic needs, we have time to enjoy the art of doing it well.

Alwen said...

A lot of that insistence that women should be out doing X in the world, and that handwork somehow precludes them from doing just that came straight from suffragists like Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Who, I'm sorry, I liked a lot less after I read her letter to Eliza Osborne.

http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/11982

"Looking forward to the scintillations of wit, the philosophical researches, the historical traditions, the scientific discoveries, the astronomical explorations, the mysteries of theosophy, palmistry, mental science, the revelations of the unknown world where angels and devils do congregate, looking forward to discussions of all these grand themes, in meeting the eldest daughter of David and Martha Wright, the niece of Lucretia Mott, the sister-in-law of William Lloyd Garrison, a queenly-looking woman five feet eight in height, and well proportioned, with glorious black eyes, rivaling even De Stael's in power and pathos, one can readily imagine the disappointment I experienced when such a woman pulled a cotton wash rag from her pocket and forthwith began to knit with bowed head. Fixing her eyes and concentrating her thoughts on a rag one foot square; it was impossible for conversation to rise above the wash-rag level! It was enough to make the most aged optimist 'solemn' to see such a wreck of glorious womanhood."

Couldn't I just SMACK her! Wreck of glorious womanhood, indeed! (I wonder if Eliza Osborne found her a bore and picked up her knitting to keep from biting her!)

Amy Lane said...

I've been saying it for years--but you said it better...

Being a mom and a housewife is a hard job--but it's sooo damned important. (I suck at it.)