The virtual book club that I helped initiate, with Eileen and Valarie, has just started reading Radical Homemakers (please join us if you'd like!) I'm really struck by the fact that this book speaks so closely to the path that my life has taken in the last year. Although I didn't make a conscious choice to be a "radical homemaker", the rat race of corporate employment ceased to make sense for my family, and "radical homemaking" seemed like the logical alternative.
I don't want to sound derisive of anyone who chooses the path of dual-income family, but the trade-offs for us of seeing the children for only 1-2 hours per day, just before bedtime, year-round; complete reliance on the global food market, except for summer farmers' markets; and the overall consumer culture bred by that system was wearying to participate in for the long term.
As someone who grew up in a family who grew our own food or bought locally, the culture of homegrown, home-preserved food was certainly part of our normalcy. But when you work a corporate job 45-50 hours each week, the normalcy changes to whatever you can feasibly do during your short evening and weekend hours, and unfortunately, home-growing, canning, and preserving often fall near the bottom of that list.
I did manage to can some jam each year and freeze a few fruits and veggies while I was working fulltime, but I've really watched the homemaking blossom at our house over this last year. I'm certainly not where I want to be (is anyone?) but I can see definite strides toward the goal of sustainability each season that we continue down this path.
And so now I'm one of those crazy people with sheets draped over half of my deck to protect the herb pots from a frosty night and a chilly child who wants to pretend he's a sheltered plant. I might not have sheep or chickens or bees or many of the things on my list as future goals, but I do have herb seedlings and packets of veggie seeds, waiting for a warm weekend. I have 1000 worms eating my compost and a rain barrel collecting a drink for my plantlings. I have an entire garage shelf full of empty Mason jars handed down from my grandmother and mother.
I have ambition. I have hope. I have determination. I am a radical homemaker.