Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Hipster in the Mirror?

The Washington Post featured an opinion on the trend of "new domesticity," and I read it with interest and more than a little self-recognition. I've been gone from the U.S. for so long, and when I've been back I've been overwhelmed by children and language learning, that I didn't realize this was a new thing. I thought I was just uniquely useless until recently, the first to get eaten by a lion, the first one to be voted off the island. Turns out, this may have been brewing for a generation or two.

There are many Categoried Peoples claiming this trend of old-fashioned self-reliance: feminists, hipsters, libertarians, conspiracy theorists, People Currently Occupying Wall Street. A friend on the Facepage suggested this might even be our reaction to what we perceive as the imminent collapse of economies and governments. That thought is depressing, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that that crosses my mind more than occasionally these days. Not enough to buy automatic weapons and circle my wagons, but enough that I think I'd better have some flexibility.

So why am I sitting in a room with a sewing machine, a serger, stacks of fabric, a box of knitting needles, a box of yarn, and a whole lot of glue, when five years ago I considered making a salad to be cooking? A few reasons, I think.

1) I am a serial hobbyist (see description on left). I like having something I'm interested in. In Tel Aviv, I had a personal trainer and ran a lot. In New York, I earned my black belt and spent about 6 nights a week at my Tae Kwon Do school. In college, I had theater. In middle school and high school I had horses.

I'd still love to do TKD, and I'd more than love to go back to riding, but as a working mom I don't get a lot of time at home. So home-based hobbies are particularly appealing.

2) Related to the working mom thing: I like my job, I really do, and I can't complain about my income. I know I am providing for my children, and they will thank me when they don't have to take out the equivalent of a large mortgage to go to college. But with two of us working all day, I feel like no one is making our home a home. That's mighty subjective, I know, but in my mind the amount of love and thought I put into a cable about Social Security, I wish I could put into dinner. It makes me happy that I made the blanket covering Girl as she sleeps. It's a little sloppy and a completely amateur effort, but it's full of love.

3) Nesting: I didn't get to nest when I was expecting Boy. We were in a one bedroom corporate apartment in Falls Church. When I returned stateside from India, I was 20 weeks pregnant with Girl. A few days later, I learned we were not having a boy (despite all Husband's claims that in no way does his family make girls...except for that one that obviously carried him) and I immediately set about imagining her nursery. A proper nursery! There was the issue of curtains, sheets, crib skirts, etc., ignoring the fact that I knew she would sleep with us for at least the first few months. The obvious solution was to buy a sewing machine. Check.

4) Self-reliance. I hate the idea that I went through all the trouble of college, grad school, and a career just to be totally useless when it comes to basic survival skills. I am slowly reversing that.

5) The environment. Do I really need salsa package in Idaho with ingredients from Mexico through a New York distribution center sent to Frankfurt and then Estonia? Probably no.

So there we are. There are other reasons I've developed an obsession with being Suzy Homemaker, but those are the biggies. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to return to purling my purls and knitting my knits.

('s Christmas present making time.)

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