Homeward Bound/The New Domesticity
There is nothing glorious about domesticating, I discovered in my late twenties, when I was given responsibility for taking care of my nephew both in his Brooklyn home and at my Princeton abode. By the end of the day, I was passed out on the couch as we watched “The Simpsons” or “Scrubs” while A. sat on my supine, slumbering body.
“High maintenance boy,” I would say, as he pillaged my living room, strewing cushions and pillows along the floor.
“Here, put on your clothes,” I would yell, throwing his Paul Frank underwear and shorts and graphic T on his head.
“Find anything good?” I would inquire as he prodded his nostril.
How about spending full days around this little kid? Loving, quirky, fun, 24-hour days singing Wiggles songs and conducting science experiments in the bathroom?
It’s possible but ultimately it shortchanges both the kid and the parent — for instance, I knew my nephew wasn’t being stimulated enough by just being around me; he needed a trained early education teacher and fuller interaction with his peer group. For my part, if I had to take a timeout from doing my work or from pursuing a career, I would feel as if I had become less competitive by being out of the game.
Emily Matchar’s Homeward Bound notes this social trend of “urban homesteading” in which well-educated young women are reverting back to the domestic ways of yore — canning, baking, sewing, gardening — in search of a slower, more wholesome lifestyle. Hence we see Williams-Sonoma’s agrarian line and Food52′s “Provisions” section selling the tools for the domesticated life. Do I buy into this? More on that in future posts…