Reclaim the Domestic Arts: Creating Harmony Through Homekeeping

Gender roles within the home, traditional is modern again.

| May/June 2003

I was not raised to be a homemaker. Like many other women of my generation, I was convinced by the women’s movement that there were more important things to do than make a home for myself, a husband, and a family. My own mother, a piano teacher, helped support our family financially, but she didn’t make a home for us.

My early years were not completely without role models, however. I had two grandmothers who were wonderful homemakers. My mother’s mother knew about thrift. My grandfather was a truck driver, and on that meager income my grandparents owned a tiny Arts and Crafts house and had money in the bank. My grandmother prepared all their food from scratch. She tended a backyard vegetable garden where they grew much of their produce. Her home was always clean and tidy. And she still had time to volunteer at her church and become an accomplished painter.

My father’s mother was also highly skilled at homemaking, as were her sisters. From them I learned to bring beauty into the home. In their homes, the table was always set with fine china and silver and crystal. They taught me table manners and how to arrange food beautifully on the plate.

After many years of focusing almost exclusively on my career—and with all options open to me as a contemporary woman—I have chosen to be primarily a homemaker. As I began to be more aware of myself as a being of Nature, the deep natural instinct to make a home emerged within me. Although I also produce income, it is the by-product of creative work I love to do, and my life no longer revolves around my work.

Home is the foundation that supports everything we do. It is where we rest and renew ourselves and receive nourishment. It is the starting point of every new day. Although other activities are more glorified in our culture, I cannot imagine anything more important than making a good home for oneself and loved ones.

Everyone’s work

Until the industrial/consumer age, women and men worked together to make their homes. Traditionally the man built and repaired the house and did the heavy outdoors work. The woman maintained the interior of the house, decorated, cooked, and gardened.

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