A friend asked me one morning: is homemaking archaic, or does it have value? I answered yes and yes–that we’ve made it archaic by losing both the home and the making, but it does have value. This is part two; you can read part one here.
A friend sent me a text one morning, before the children were up, after my eggs and toast and coffee had been made and eaten but not cleaned up after, with this question: is homemaking archaic, or does it have value?
I answered yes and yes. It’s archaic because we’ve both intentionally and unintentionally made it obsolete (by destroying the two things that make up the term–the home and making–rendering them both disconnected and useless); but it is valuable, whether we as a society will recognize it or not.
Is the home valuable? What is the message of the home? Why does it exist? Why make one? Why make one? Why must it be made? Can’t it make itself?
I want to work through my thoughts on this topic. It will probably take more than one post–and I will try this time (I really will) to finish the posts and thus present a complete and coherent thought. I want to apologize in advance for referencing works while assuming you, my reader, are familiar with them; it would take too much space to explain everything thoroughly.
He was five years old and he could barely contain his disappointment as he stood there, barefoot, in the path between the garden rows. One older brother already had his hands in the dirt, and one little brother was busy making sure his sister wasn’t digging any seeds out of the dirt. I was pulling baby tomato plants out and laying them out to check the spacing. I didn’t look up from my work, but I could see his feet, and I could hear his voice. He has asked what reward there will be for helping with planting, and he’s been told by his father there will be none.
He wasn’t happy with that answer.
I wrote this about a week ago, in the midst of our packing:
I have just gotten Elvie to stop crying and go to sleep and am sitting for a couple of minutes in the silence. It is late for the boys–usually they are up by this time–but they must be especially tired to be sleeping late. And as if on cue, that thought is followed by the appearance of Ephraim, bleary-eyed and bed-headed, dragging his blanket over to where I sit. We exchange our good mornings, huge and kisses; he goes back out, and Clive comes in for the same morning treatment. After he wanders towards the bathroom, I get up to get Anselm out of his crib, where I can already hear him protesting his brothers’ absence.
When everyone is changed, dressed, hugged and with teeth brushed, we head downstairs for breakfast, a chatty row of ducklings still clutching their favorite blankets and talking about oatmeal. We eat–I’m last because I’m waiting for my coffee to finish–and one by one they ask to be excused and trot off upstairs. Once they are all squared away with toys and a show so I can focus on another day of packing, I hear Elvie begin crying from the other room.
Some days are just like this. Not every day–yesterday wasn’t–but some days I seem to bounce from child to child to child to child, kindergartener to preschooler to toddler to infant, in a sweet and essential cycle of hugs and kisses and meals and ouchies and nursings and what’s this? and where’s that? and sorries and forgivings and several other words I could also make up right this moment. There’s no exasperation in days like this (well, except for when Elvie is inconsolable for no apparent reason) but it certainly feels very busy.