“…the true secret of happiness lies in the taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life…”
— William Morris
— Int'l Arts Movement (@IntlArtsMvmnt) September 27, 2016
As an 80s feminist, I have an ambivalence about house-keeping that goes beyond my lack of interest in it. It’s true, I find “house” routine and seldom intellectually stimulating. That’s one thing. I also believe that any social position that raises “house” to a female’s highest good is oppressive patriarchal bull, and I’m pretty sure that the number of people who remain mentally whole while only doing “house” is very, very small. Which belongs to the other thing.
Then there’s my yesterday, where I happily buzzed around my world showing love for My Sweetie by reducing chaos and adding beauty via polished, freshly laced shoes. That is, doing “house.” My spiky stripe-haired alter ego rolled her eyes in disbelief.
I’m all about the self-contradiction.
I have been a fan of the Arts & Crafts movement since I first found out about it. Not simply for the lovely designs, though I’m all about those, but for their ‘all life is art’ approach. In college, I wore down a copy of Alexandra Stoddard’s Living Beautifully Together, in which she recommends that grocery lists be written on marbled cardstock. It has a nice heft in the hand, you see.
But if you are making a grocery list anyway, and it doesn’t matter what paper it’s on, why NOT choose a paper that brings a little ‘ahhh’ when you hold it?
I know from personal experience that I find my home more restful when it’s tidy than when it’s cluttered. That it’s simpler in the mornings when my put-away clothes are all repaired and ready where they are, and my routine supplies are right at hand. And that providing these things for someone I love is a gift of service I enjoy sharing.
My egalitarian point of view enters in, I think, in that there’s no gendered expectation that I have to take care of these things. There are plenty of times I don’t, of which My Sweetie can provide signed affidavits. In fact, during the hectic full-court press that was our life with two preschoolers, no one got around to those things. I mis-state: laundry. Somehow we would together get the laundry clean and dry. Folding and putting away? Stretch goals. Underwear still works when you pull it from the basket. Once, when we were safely into late elementary school, I found a 4″ deep stack of papers that dated back 8 years. So much for decluttering! The Alexandra Stoddard lifestyle was a splurge for our time-budget, and we had cut back accordingly.
Right now we have no preschoolers… or any other offspring in our home. So it’s pleasing to set things in order. I’m relishing my currently deep time-pockets, and spending on the little things.
Back in the day one heard of “lipstick feminists,” persons rooting for equality while unashamedly ‘conforming to the trappings of modern beauty culture.’ Me, I’m pretty erratic in my lipstick usage. I guess I’m more of a “House Beautiful” feminist. After all, why would equality of opportunity mean none of us could have vases of fresh flowers on the dining table? Single stems of iris for all!