Tuesday, June 26

Labels

I shouldn’t be writing this. I should be soaking fruit (for a Bara Brith) and gathering up cleaning materials ready for tomorrows extreme cleaning of my mothers new flat prior to her moving there on Thursday.
Stella is helping me. That’s incorrect, I am helping her. If ever there was anyone more qualified to show people how it should be done its Stella.

There is a lot of (flowery) talk about homemaking and being a homemaker in blogland – the label homemaker is one what makes me wince slightly – ‘I’m a homemaker and proud’, now that causes me to reach for the brandy bottle and inhale deeply. To be perfectly honest I have read a few posts recently that could have been transcripts from the Nationalist Socialist Party of Germany from the 1930’s!

It’s not that I have anything against women whose primary function is to keep house – I’m one of them but it isn’t rocket science and all this pumping up thinking how great we all are because we’ve cleaned the bath and made dinner is ridiculous.
Stella just gets on with it; she often say to me, ‘while you’re thinking about it you could have got on and done it’ and she’s right of course.

I hate being labelled, pigeon holed, hence my aversion to the name ‘homemaker’
Once you identify yourself with a label several things happen – you take on a collective persona which can be very limiting and restricting. All of a sudden you are asking yourself, ’why don’t I make jam?’ or ‘why doesn’t my house look like a photo shoot?’ You aren’t a better mother if you cover your child with a blanket you crocheted yourself or less of one if you bought it from Primark.

Regardless of a woman’s status, working or staying at home we should not feel guilt about what we do. We all need to be proud about our choices but accepting of the women around us who don’t follow the same path.

30 comments:

  1. i chose to be a homemaker for over fifteen years, however i also realize that i was extremely previleged to have that choice..not everyone is able to choose...i wear my label with pride
    along with my crafter one...

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  2. You always make me smile, wether you are being just plain old and down right funny or a "sarcie little mare" there does seem to be a great deal of "homemaker" stuff in blogland, and i agree it is not rocket science, i guess we all do things differently and have different standards and capabilities, i hate labels they give folk a preconceived idea of what to expect, thoughts of swanning around in a gingham pinnie, wearing my hair in a chignon, and doing my very best Doris Day impression, i am sure for some is spiffing however i do prefer camaflaged combats and a black t-shirt with some thing a little rude written across my ample bosom, but then i am not interested as being spotted to be the next Martha Bleeding Stewart, i would rather clean a toilet with a six month old toothbrush, keep it up and take care, Sx

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  3. I feel that a lot of this "homemaker and proud" stuff about at the moment is actually a case of not actually being confident in life choices - a bit of "she protests too much". And as you say, very flowery with it.

    I hate how this subject divides women and makes the women at work feel guilty and defensive while also making the women at home feel guilty and defensive. I feel, if you are lucky enough to have a choice (either way) then make it and stick by it but don't mither on about how it makes you and people who have made the same choice better people.

    The one thing I detest about blogland is the way that there is a tendency to edit lives and show "magazine styled" interiors. It is all a bit odd. The blogs that I like - and this says a lot about my life I think - are the ones with bulging odd sock bags, good food, a bit of a mouse problem and a lot of good honest fuzzy round the edges dilemmas.

    I love old labels but never manage to get new labels sewn into school clothes.

    I have loved your Florence Hope labels and would copy them if you weren't UK based!!!!

    Waffle, waffle, waffle - coffee hasn't kicked in yet obviously,
    J
    x

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  4. I think that everyone writes blogs for different reasons and we have to be careful not compare, contrast or judge. Some people relish the chance to display their angst and frayed edges and others prefer not to. It is just like real life really. I enjoy blogs which are well written and convey something of the person behind the screen. It is not really what they write about – it is more the sense that this is someone to enjoy spending time with. I think if we make judgements we miss interesting people. The great thing about blogs is that you can switch them off – you don’t get stuck with a boring person in the corner of a room! Can I stop ranting now?

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  5. Hi again it just ocurred to me whilst i was listening to the tale end of the week before lasts Archer's obmnibus, preparing for myself a wonderful mug of dark rich roast arabica, that i wish not to cast a slur on Doris Day, Doris rocks, but i do think she, bless her probably evokes the sentiment i was trying to convey, and lastly as women, i do believe we sometimes have pangs of guilt whatever pathway we choose, i know i have done in the past, but as a very special and wise person once said to me it is not the bricks and mortar that are important, it is the people in it, it took me a while, but i get that now, unfortunately for me, things are a little different now, but one thing i am sure of is that i am now on the right pathway for me, and i have no more guilt which is incredably liberating...

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  6. Catherine11:33 AM

    I agree with you about the label thing. I want to know why homemaker implies not going out to work? I work four days a week but I am a homemaker in the sense that I (and my husband because he cooks and cleans too despite working full time) make a safe, comfortable home for our two children and ourselves. I love reading craft/homemaker blogs, I cook and make and bake as much as my time allows and sometimes I wish I could afford to be at home full time and sometimes not!! I can't think of a label that fits me - I'm not a career girl, I'm not a homemaker in the generally accepted sense I'm just going about my days doing the best I can for me and my family. I sometimes feel guilty about my choices but mostly not - my kids are happy and healthy and so am I, you can't ask for much more than that!

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  7. I am the person who at a conference will wear my label (if I wear it at all) somewhere obscure. My label is my business and not something someone else puts on me... I don't like pigeons and I will not be pigeon holed if I can help it.... BUT
    I do think that there is a need to express pride in our homes and if the label homemaker does it for someone, then it's a label to wear with pride. And as Catherine puts it, homemakers don't neccessarily stay at home... surely everybody who works to make their home better in any way is making a home and therefore a homemaker?

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  8. Anonymous12:48 PM

    I've never heard you talk so much scene GIGI except when you are offering me food. I am not a homemaker and don’t want to be one, but I would burn my bra to defend any woman's right to be one. Isn't that what feminism is about, woman being able to make choices? Not having to follow a pre-determined path through life cos we’ve got knockers? BUT there are plenty of women out there who don't have the luxury to make choices about their lives and all this ‘look at my wonderful jam jars’ can, I think, paint a bit of an unreal view of women’s lives in today’s society. So lets make jam, knit, be deputy primeinster, raise kids or not, have careers or not and be proud of our contribution to our communities and society– bloody good for you my friend – but the minute we label ourselves we might as well go back to the typing pools of the 1950’s and wait for a husband.
    The neighbour

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  9. I like you!!!!! Your talking my language!!! Gin quoted my dear old mum on her blog yesterday as saying in, The Flour Loft's very own homemaker debate " You don't have to be at home all day to be a homemaker" - That from a 71 year old pre feminist who brought up 3 rather unruly kids, ran a full time business and was still there to make an evening meal.
    We all just have to get on with whatever path we're on either by choice or necessity.
    Love Alice

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  10. Well said! Whenever I read your posts, Lynn, I feel as though I've come back to my senses (not that I ever lost them, but your posts are so true and refreshing)! When I read all these blogs in blogland, I sometimes start feeling guilty that I don't have the picture perfect life some of these other ladies post of. Then I wonder what I can be doing better. THEN, I hop on over here to Gigibird's blog, and I'm reminded that I already HAVE made the right decisions... my kids are happy, they have clean beds to sleep in, clean (though not always "new") clothes to wear, food on the table (though not always "homemade"). THEY are my priority, not my floors and trashbins! I clean when I can, and really my house is never "dirty" (and I find that I am my own worst critic)!

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  11. To me 'Homemaker' has always been this nebulous, pie-in-the-sky thingy that is always just an inch out of my reach. I have been trying to achieve domestic bliss(mostly in vain)almost my whole life. Domestic bliss? What is that? It sounds good, I would like some please...but the whole 'perfect housewife' thing is just a dangling carrot. 40 years of trying to be perfect has resulted in 1 divorce and 50 million other failed relationships, no kids, no house, no credit cards, moving 17 times, lots of therapy, three career changes and a bad case of 'cynical-old-lady-itis.'
    Seduced by the 1950s nostaligia that I love so much, I tried to be a good homemaker but failed miserably. I honestly don't know how women do it.
    So...pass the brandy so I can have a good sniff please. x

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  12. I don't know what my label is but I know that, on the whole, I'm enjoying my life looking after my home, children, pets - baking, cooking, gardening, sewing - more now that I'm not working too. I worked for 17 years and have been at home for 6 months now, I tried to squeeze evrything in that I wanted to do before and just ended up frazzled so having the time to enjoy simple, traditional things, even though they are not rocket science, is great.

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  13. I worried all morning about the "detest" in my comment - when it is really more accurate to say "am disturbed by".

    I was having a stressy morning and prone to detesting things.

    Now I have done the things I had to get done (flowers for the funeral of a friend's father and shopping for an outfit I need for being on a tv programme on Sunday)I am much less stressy and don't detest anything at all.

    Even labels - because you get so many going through life that you could make a very nice coat out of them.

    I loved Alice's Mum's comment - very true. She was also quoted as saying something along the lines of "it isn't the bricks & mortar that counts it is the people inside".

    I also agree with Alice - because it isn't the case that I switch off every post about tidy linen cupboards, just the boring ones.

    Sorry for being stressy on your post!

    J
    x

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  14. before i go on i must just tell you that a bara brith was baked in my house this morning for a friend + i think of you every time i bake one!

    i confess that i've labelled myself a homemaker...my husband would probably challenge this as i'm a bit of a disaster with it all. but i just can't help myself but want to try + make our home the best it can be. i think it has a lot to do with the 10 or so years i spent at boarding school in my youth + then on to various dives in which i lived in as a student...i now have this desire to nest + i love the feeling of being settled.

    i don't really think about or judge what others do too much...i just try + get on with it + make sure i have plenty of cupboards to stuff the mess in! whenever i've spent time rearranging the furniture i usually end up forgetting to buy milk...hence the bad homemaker label! stella needs to train me up!

    xxx

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  15. WOW some deep thoughts..so for what it's worth i have struggled with years about the unfulfilment of staying home with four kids...i wouldn't change it for the world but i am okay to admit it wasn't all i wanted out of my life...my crafting helps me deal with that...i don't judge anyone on what they choose to label or not label themselves and in return i hope they won't judge me...

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  16. Wife, daughter, auntie, godmother, career woman, crafter, friend, homemaker...I cherish and take pride in all of my labels. My husband, who also has many roles would also be described as a homemaker.
    My home is the backdrop to my life and therefore I want it to refect me.
    Wonderfully thought provoking post Lynn.

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  17. Well I didn't plan this post it kind of popped out!
    And now I am high on Cif and bleach fumes from extreme cleaning! so I should limit what I say:)
    Thank you one and all for joining in on my late night ramblings.

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  18. Thank you thank you thank you! Those of us who have to work are already riddled with guilt that we didn't crochet the darn blanket, make the dinner from scratch, sanitize the tub, AND work a full day. I know neither myself nor homemakers can find enough hours in the day and we're all a bit stressed, so we ALL need to let ourselves relax.

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  19. The grass might be greener but it always needs cutting;)

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  20. Have you ever had 20 comments? Well, you have now:)

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  21. Personally i think that it is not for someone who neither works nor has children to judge the role of a homemaker. If a person chooses to devote themselves to the creation of a beautiful home and the care of their children, I think that they should be commended, as should everyone who makes a choice in life and gives themselves a purpose.

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  22. Hi Kaffy,
    I don’t think I was judging anyone.
    I must take issue with your opinion what because I haven’t given birth or work that I am not entitled to express my thoughts on the subject of homemaking.
    As many of the other commentators have expressed there are so many variations of what defines an homemaker, it’s the label I had issue with.
    The reason I don’t work or have children is because since the age of 30 I have suffered from a chronic debilitated disease which has put paid to a lot of dreams and plans I had for my life. Perhaps that has given me a slightly difference perspective of how I see things.
    And as for the subject of purpose in life and what defines it that is another subject for another day.
    Life isn’t black or white – there’s a lot of grey.

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  23. Lynn - I too thought Kaffy might be thinking you were judging people - and was going to write a comment saying you weren't but then I read in her profile that she is a student and I assume now that she is referring to herself with the no work or children bit,

    J
    X

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  24. Well, I thought Kaffy's response sounded harsh too. Whether or not she was talking about herself is unclear...but either way it still sounds narrow minded. What, unless a woman actually gives birth she can't comment or have oppinions on being a mother...or Homemaker? That is ridiculous! I could turn around and say 'what does an Illustration student know about fashion or baking?' But, that just sounds ignorant because being creative covers ALL areas and that includes motherhood! When it comes to children and being a mother, one should tread softly when passing judgement because you never really know why someone is childless. Some women can't have children, some have had miscarriages, some women have had a child but it passed away, some women consciously choose not to have any for unselfish reasons...and in Blogland where everything is edited anyway...you never know the 'whole story'. It's a sensitive area for ALL women regardless of their story or situation...and it's a sacred thing that only us women share with each other.

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  25. Anonymous11:21 AM

    I read Krafty's comment, It's clear that she did not read what Gigibird was saying at all and people who can't be bothered to do that shouldn't involve themsleves in a debate/chat between intelligent women.
    It's very interesting what peole are saying about not having children - a subject very close to my coil.
    The neighbour.
    P.S Can you save some papers for my wormery? X

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  26. Anonymous11:25 AM

    Above should read Kaffy - cool!

    I think I'll call myself The neighby from now on!
    The neighby.

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  27. I still think this is a case where she has been miinterpreted - if she wrote "As I am someone who neither works nor has children, I feel unable judge the role of a homemaker but I'd like to join the discussion" we would all be fine about it.

    Goodness, If I had to properly read everything before I commented I would never comment at all. I quoted Alice's Mum above and then when I checked Alice and Ginny's site found that I had made it all up - It was a good quote though and I'm sure someone said it.

    Please give Kaffy a break, whoever she is - it is so easy for things to be misinterpreted in cyberspace.

    J
    x

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  28. Catherine9:56 PM

    Hi again, I'm with Jane on this one - I presumed that Kaffy was referring to herself. When I was without kids and a student the term homemaker (or housewife in my day!!) was sort of an alien concept to me and was being sold to us as the domain of the downtroddon woman with screaming kids and a husband giving his wife the housekeeping. Now it is seen as something to celebrate and should encompass workers and non workers, those with children and without. Kaffy ends by saying that all choices that give your life purpose are worth celebrating. I may be wrong but I imagine most women who write/read these kind of blogs are interested in the good, decent, nice, beautiful things in life. All our choices/circumstances are different but our similarities outweigh them.

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  29. Now I'd like to take this opportunity to officially close this discussion of my 'Labels 'post and latterly the meaning of Kaffy's comment.
    I think freedom of opinion is great and I encourage it whole heartily.
    To be quite honest it's brightened up my rather dull weekend.
    Thanks Kaffy:)
    I have NEVER has this many comments!

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  30. As you've closed comments on this subject I won't say anything about anything, but I thought you ought to have a total of 30 comments. Twenty-nine is so not quite enough!!!
    Sue x

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