What to make of the homemaker

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For a decent stretch of my adulthood I was completely conflicted over my desire to pursue professional work AND take care of my home and family. I love both lines of work but felt upset and confused when one path completely overtook the other. If I could give some advice to my 20-something self, I might say something like this, "Don't worry about what everyone expects. Forge your own way. Work together with your husband to achieve a happy life." Also -- "Just stop fighting it. Go ahead and learn to cook already. You are going to need to eat all your live-long life."

Probably because of my internal struggle, my research interests have come to include the resurgence of interest in domestic pursuits in the 1990s and beyond (in the UK, but I'll include the US here as well). You can see this in the explosion of lifestyle televison (DIY and cooking shows), in articles about women "opting-out," in the way knitting became "hip," in iconic figures like Nigella Lawson or Martha Stewart or even Jamie Oliver. There's a definite, if not conflicted, move to reclaim the domestic as not only fun, but an essential center for personal and family development (and for conspicuous consumerism). Here's the thing -- I want to flit about draping pennant banners among Jonathan Adler lamps whilst reading a novel and eating homemade cupcakes. THAT'S what I want. Is that too much to ask?

I'm really interested in this article, by Ester Bloom, arguing for a reclamation of the term "homemaker," and at the same time doing away with the title "stay-at-home-mom." Bloom claims that the term "'SAHM' has become weighed down by Mommy Wars baggage, and its meaning warped by a hundred parenting philosophies." "Homemaker," on the other hand, implies a job beyond raising children. The homemaker's role is less about house -- more about home -- and extends beyond the nuclear family into the community. Personally, I'm not sure we can skirt around the heavily gendered expectations and stereotyping of the word "homemaker." I think it's too far gone -- too mired in old paradigms and closed-mindedness. I say let's invent our own word for those who care home and hearth. I've always been partial to "Domestic Engineer" myself. Maybe "At-Home-Creative-Director." Or what about "Chief Domestic Officer"?

You know, just your typical Thursday musings . . .