Being a SAHM with household help isn’t a luxury

Household help, as a matter of historical norms, is crucial to the domestic life lived properly and correctly.

I used to joke all the time about the Proverbs 31 woman.  I used to say, “You know, if I had a few servant girls to help me out, I think I too might be able to get a lot more done around here.”

Hahahahaha!

But you know what?

It’s really not funny.  It’s not funny at all.  It’s completely true.  And you know what else?

It’s completely BIBLICAL.

You know what?  There are a few hours a week where something peculiar happens.  No, actually, peculiar isn’t the right word.  MIRACULOUS!  No, that isn’t the right word either.  I don’t know…how about…WONDERFUL.  Something wonderful happens.  You know what it is?

There are a few times during the week where I feel like …A NORMAL PERSON!

Where I don’t feel overwhelmed.   When I am actually motivated.   When I can actually think straight.  When I feel happy.  You know what makes all the difference in the world?

HAVING HELP!

Taken from  the blog “Hidden with you” (linked above). Her post is a good start to recalling that the modern idea of being a Super-human, able to do anything alone, is dispiriting and unsound.

Another excerpt from her post on this matter of having help (read the whole thing, it is worth the time):

Oh my.  It’s like living in a completely different world.  During those few blissful hours?  I can nurse the baby, delegate a task, and the housework continues.  All work does not cease to be done when I am caring for a child or helping them with something, because it is not completely dependent upon me to do it while she is here.  I have help.   I can use the bathroom without people following me.  I can make a phone call in peace if I need to while she entertains the kids.

We talk.  We commiserate.  Her youthful vigor inspires and motivates me.  My slightly more years of life experience answer her many questions.  We encourage each other!  It is absolutely a breath of fresh air in what can be very stagnant air of domestic life.

And then, there is another older woman.  A dear woman, who without her kindness, I would’ve given up hope a long time ago, and I seriously might have walked away from the boring, stagnant life of lukewarm Christianity.  She restored my hope in humanity actually.  I had just about lost hope that caring people existed in this world.  That is, people who cared enough to actually DO something for another person.

Do you know what this woman did?

She volunteered to use her day off from work to come over so I could go to the store alone!  Or to run any other errands I needed to do.   Whatever I needed to do for a few hours, while she watched my kids.

I still cannot express the PURE JOY of knowing someone cared.  The relief that comes from having physical help.  Someone to lend a hand during these years when our hands are so full.

So, these seemingly insignificant needs we have, that we often laugh and joke about, they are very real.  Yes, adult conversation, using the bathroom in peace and having an extra set of hands makes all the difference in the life of a young mother.

So often, I’ve wondered if my faith was weak.  Maybe that was my problem.  If I just had more faith in God, couldn’t this be better!?!  Couldn’t I handle this heavy load?

But we were created not only to live in communion with God, but also to live in community with one another.  Family.  Neighbors.  Friends.  For so many years of my mothering days, I have spent my life surrounded by empty homes.  I would not have even known who to ask for any help, no one is home!

What young mothers are truly lacking, is a culture centered around family.  Where families are not being ripped apart from every angle of society.  Where older women are there to teach and encourage the younger women in this extremely important vocation of wife and mother.  Where there are actually other women around to help one another out on the home front.  To be there to answer our many questions and to guide us in this calling.  That follows the Biblical model of Titus 2.

Anyway I can’t just reblog the whole thing (I suppose I could, but just go read it instead!)

That kind of post is why I started this blog.  SAHMs are being failed by the very people who talk so big about their “commitment to family values” and other such pablum.  This woman is experiencing real woman to woman support, genuine Titus 2 care from an older woman in her local community, and this should be the standard, usual experience for any Christian SAHM. It should not be some kind of unusual, magical fluke.

Just as it’s not a luxury to stay home with the kids at all, it’s not a luxury to have some level of household help and regular breaks and rest/recharge time.  If it is such a big important job, then those who call themselves family-oriented should be happy to make sure the tools to do that job effectively and sanely are available to the mothers working so hard for the sake of love.

Advertisements

Understanding why the manosphere is full of conventionally attractive black women

This is one of those little curiosities that seem like nothing much but reveal some unsettling things about where people feel they have to go to find pieces of normal life, however confused, distorted and (sometimes wildly) inaccurate.

The manosphere is full of black women who are conventionally attractive.  They are probably around their representation in the general American population (so about 3%, as they can’t all be pretty).  They are noticeably more attractive on average than the white women who make up the majority of women hanging around in the manosphere, but this is of course selection bias.

I had wondered WHY MY GOODNESS WHYYYYYYY and then I understood.

Black women can’t be conservative politically and interested in non-dowdy expressions of femininity.  They can pick one, but not both.  Conservatives want their black women dowdy and unfashionable and everyone else wants them politically and socially liberal.  Except in the silly old manosphere.  There a black woman can fight the dowdy within and also be politically conservative. And this is exactly what you see.  You see a bunch of black women who like being feminine and frilly and soft, but who are politically and socially conservative.

We gotta find a new place for these dames to hang out, stat.

Regular conservatives could help out by just not flipping out about black women wanting to look some way other than dowdy or granola-crunchy.

Modern SAHMs have acedia, not laziness.

There is plenty of bashing of modern women seeking to be SAHMs as lazy, but acedia is a spiritual problem.  It is a corruption of the soul so deep that effort itself is nearly impossible.  It’s clinical depression of the soul.

The woman in that link above turns to Ma Ingalls as inspiration and dismisses modern women as wimpy and pathetic (how very Titus 2 and loving, that).  She ignores that Ma Ingalls married poorly, to a man that kept the family on the move because he was a claim jumper and illegal squatter with “itchy feet”.  The overly common thing in conservative SAHM circles of fixating on Ma Ingalls as a sort of secular saint of housewifery ignores how much of her brave homemaking was the result of less than optimal decisionmaking on her part.

She made bad choices and she wasn’t the only one who paid for that.  Conservatives now forget that the pioneers were driven by greed, not godliness.  They were very isolated because the more land you staked out, the more potential wealth you could acquire.  They actively rejected community for a sort of get rich (kinda) quick scheming.  This is all readily available from writing around the time (Willa Cather is not a bad place to start at all), and yet for all the claims of being able to educate themselves independently, women such as the one in that fairly cruel post seem quite ignorant about the actual lived realities of the pioneers, rather than the interesting and more romantic version Mama Wilder and daughter put together decades after the fact.

This ignorance leads them to not recognize the real problem of the modern SAHMs– acedia, that spiritual depression that cripples.  Instead they demand that women “toughen up”, “man up”, “burnout is not an option” and other ridiculous and unholy nonsense.

We are all weak.  Acedia is a plague in modern life for those who try to step outside it to live normally.  It is crippling precisely because to callous others it looks like “laziness” or “sloth”, but it’s a spiritual hurt that makes it extremely difficult to perform one’s duties.  Screeching about how Ma Ingalls something something doesn’t make acedia’s impact less, it compounds the despair that corrodes a mother struggling to stay awake to fix breakfast after a night of constant wakeups from infants and toddlers, reeling with chronic sleep deprivation and knowing that she’s soooo blessed, and her job is really super easy, she’s just not tough enough to presumably beat her infants into 12 hour or permanent slumber like the good pioneer wives did (ever wonder why infant mortality was so high on the frontier?  It wasn’t Indians!)

We have come to a strange place in time where something that used to be considered a problem of the cloistered life is now very often a problem for SAHMs struggling to restore the hestia with little support even from other SAHMs.  But these women are not lazy and those of us with energy enough to blog who also SAHM have to not succumb to cruelty born itself from despair and unacknowledged acedia.  We must continue to pour out prayer, gentleness and care for the Christian SAHMs who are isolated and alone and who barely have energy or time for more than a hurried blog comment before they resume the struggle of managing kids and house with little in the way of money, resources or genuine support from family and community.

Beating them up doesn’t kill acedia.  Charity does.  I hope more blogging SAHMs can be charitable to their sisters in this domestic sphere who are battling a great spiritual evil and aren’t lazy wimps at all.

Deconstructing some homeschool myths

This is a general attempt to cover some of the myths of homeschooling that liberals seem peculiarly prone to thinking.

Myth #1: “Homeschooling works, but only because smart liberal college-educated white women do it!”

I have no idea why so many liberals really seem to believe this is the case.  Homeschooling’s effectiveness is boosted by selection bias, but it’s mostly in favor of conservative, intelligent, often (but not always) college-educated women.  Clever people can in fact be conservative and even go to “real” colleges like Swarthmore or Yale or Vanderbilt.  The entree of “crunchy” unschooling liberals into homeschooling has not panned out so well at all, and it’s interesting that anyone thinks so.  There is an idea that “ultra-conservative” homeschoolers are simply by virtue of being conservative and Christian too stupid to educate their own children.  Funny how that works.

Lydia McGrew (linked above) is far more typical of the original vanguard of conservative Christian homeschoolers than the mythical “fundie high school dropout” that is apparently associated with homeschooling and conservative Christian faith now.  Likewise, much of what became unschooling was not the product of what current liberals would consider “liberal” at all.

Myth #2: “Crunchy liberals collectively organize brilliant co-ops and arrange access to tutors and public school resources for their homeschooled kids, but conservative Christians just never, ever do!”

Nope.  Nope.  Nope.  I have beefed at great length about the problems with collective organization among Christian homeschoolers, but among non-Christian homeschoolers, there isn’t even anything to beef about.  For the most part they flail around and their kids suffer for it, as fewer such mothers who can make it happen without any other resources are neither Christian nor conservative.  It is true that much of what passes for homeschooling today can’t compete with Oxbridge tutors, but the idea that fundie and conservative women are just uneducated slatterns incapable of teaching fifth grade level reading, math and writing to children is basically misogynist.  Which is also par for the liberal course.  Liberals do not organically organize for homeschooling as any kind of norm.  Conservatives kind of do  as a norm and sometimes effectively do.  That’s a huge difference.  And every single time, the functional cooperatives involve the support of the local neighborhood, parish/church and community.  Funny how that works, too.

I was going to cover some more, but I think that’s well enough.  I do think homeschooling is part of a path to better schooling overall, but that it can’t work with an assumption that each individual mother can do it all alone along with all the other household stuff.  I do find it interesting that I consistently see among liberal criticisms of homeschooling the idea that liberals can somehow pull Exeter-level cooperative private schooling out of thin air when there is zero statistical data to that effect but that all conservative SAHMs everywhere are uneducated drudges who are probably teaching their kids that the earth sits atop a turtle and is only 400 years old when there is also zero statistical data to that effect.

A brief bit of realtalk before I end this post.  The fundie kids getting the craziest bad education in homeschool settings?  Are being taught by their fathers.  It’s the people who make weird idols of a “patriarchy” of a single family (which is not patriarchy) and really do think the women are too stupid for words who are doing that sort of “educating”.  Not mothers, not even mothers who didn’t finish high school.

And this is why feminism isn’t normal.  It can’t stay away from misogyny because it’s a critique of men that ends with despising women.

I am a normal woman, not anti-feminist, not Red Pill, just normal

An increasing number of women who sympathize with a few pieces of what used to be normal living prefer to identify themselves in opposition to the current mainstream view of women.  In modern American society, feminism works very hard to pretend it’s normal when it never has been and can’t be.  Thus, identifying as “anti-feminist” is simply accepting the false claim feminists lay to being the normal ones.

Likewise, the idea of being a “Red Pill” woman who’s learned some sekrit knowledge about how those wacky dames really are is again playing the game by liberal rules.

That’s just silly.  Normal women aren’t feminists and the whole blue pill/red pill stuff is also nerdier than most women ever get.  The Matrix was not a very good movie and its metaphor of taking red pills and blue pills isn’t that deep either.

I’m interested in normal life, and living it, and helping other people find the tools and support to live it as well.  I’m not interested in the idea that respecting your husband is abnormal.  It’s not.  Having a feminine sphere of activity that is located in the home, not cubicleland isn’t abnormal either.  

Feminists have always, in every incarnation historically and currently, not been normal women.  So being anti-feminist just means…being a normal lady.  And that’s why I use normal so much on this blog.  I’m normal, and most people called conservative these days are too, or desire greatly to be.  It’s ok.  We don’t have to define ourselves in opposition to the deviators from normalcy.  That’s their trip and they are free to take it any old time.

I’ll just continue calling my way of life what it is (normal) and normally raise my normal kids and my normal cabbages to the best of my family’s and communities’ capabilities.

Support production of CAFO-resistant animals.

One might ask what this has to do with conservative living, but it’s quite simple.  Animals that do not mesh well with the heavily industrial food production system can support a more distributed, robust food supply that is not controlled by a small number of centralized superproducers and their revolving-door government attaches.

What animals are CAFO-resistant?  Ducks, geese, goats and sheep breeds optimized for grass/hay feeding (so, not dairy sheep).  There are other CAFO resistant animals, but those are easy to find and the learning curve on raising them is not too hard for someone with no background in rural living (which is nearly all of us these days).

CAFO-resistance simply means that when you try to crowd the animal in conditions similar to what is done with chickens or pigs by the ten thousand, you lose production rather than maximize it.  Goats can’t really be feedlotted, and many breeds of sheep are unsuited for it as well.  Ducks and geese can fatten without purchased feeds at all and also don’t thrive with the small amount of space that permits chickens to reach market weight or lay eggs.

Now there is a trade-off.  There always are, though.  These animals were dropped for cattle and chickens precisely because they don’t take well to overcrowding and high inputs from the farmer.  They need more space, but they produce well and are reasonably scalable to small and medium farm sizes.  One thing there’s no shortage of in America, though, is land to raise hardy breeds of livestock on.

Taking a step away from the cow/chicken/pig triptych when supporting or attempting homesteading and small farming is an essential component of having a functional alternative to the current food system.

Real Talk for SAHMs, Women’s Work edition

Contrary to popular belief even among SAHMs, women have have historically done more than bear children and provide infant and elderly care.  They also produced economically valuable goods (in addition to the children, I mean).  For thousands of years, women literally made the money. Cloth was as precious as gold and used as currency.  Even through the Industrial Revolution and the Pax Americana of the middle 20th century, women were still producing household goods as SAHMs, typically things like towels or bed linens.  Women also produced a lot of food and drink.  It was both the nuns and the monks who brewed, after all.

Female labor was economically productive for nearly the entirety of human history as a norm.  Not an exception, but the norm.  This is hard to understand in a world where people believe only alienated labor exists and that unalienated labor is a mythical construction.  The key difference between economically valuable male labor and economically valuable female labor is that the female labor has generally contained substantial unalienated components.  Someone more versed in Marx than myself might suppose that female labor cannot help but contain unalienated aspects.

The travail and despair of the modern SAHM is not so much that the alienated (economically productive) aspect of her labor has nearly disappeared, it is rather that nobody (not even her) is able to understand that unalienated labor is still labor, quite precious labor specifically because of its, let us say intimacy.

In a different economic system, one I cheerfully support (techno-distributism), the interwoven strands of alienation and unalienation could link back together in women’s work and they could be part of economic production again.  In a less mean version of the current system, the fact that female labor is currently almost 100% unalienated would not stop people from devaluing said labor.  The work of the SAHM would have value to her own family and local community even if it never brought in a penny of its own accord.

Though, one must ask, what is the value of making it possible for a man to earn higher and higher wages?  Surely it is a number larger than zero.  It is worth noting that no matter how small, primarily male industries like IT and construction have (nearly always female) secretaries.  Specialization has its own value in creating and maintaining the economic surpluses of civilization and dismissing the work of the modern SAHM because she doesn’t have to beat clothes against a rock is a perilous and ignorant thing to do.

The labor of the modern SAHM is shifted, not “saved”.  Her workload is moved around to different places than before labor-shifting machinery came along, but it’s not gone.  The cruel and petty meme that modern SAHMs don’t really have enough to keep them busy is simultaneously cruel and historically ridiculous.  The feminists, in blind squirrel fashion, are correct to note that women have been considered not busy enough for millennia.  It is nothing new as a criticism or snipe.  It’s just a way to get out of acknowledging that male and female labor are complements.

Nothing is gained by minimizing the importance of women’s work, or its potential economic, social and psychological benefits to marriages, families and communities.  Much, however, is lost, making the world of cake parties at the job and social life solely found at work outside the home look wonderful compared to being told what you do is nothing much and worth even less by even your fellow SAHMs.  That way lies madness and a lot of women running away from the hearth, home and hestia.  This is, in fact, the current situation.

Further, the isolation and dismissal make it even more difficult for modern SAHMs to be able to restore the hestia sufficiently and consistently enough to let men maximize their own production.  Yes, misogyny is economically depressive.  Female subjection is less economically productive than female submission.

Women’s work is not superior or inferior to men’s work, it is simply different work.  But it is not some pitiful rag end tacked on to the “real work” of teh menz either.  The fullness of God’s creation is reflected in respecting and understanding that women’s work is important, has been important and can regain its old importance and status if only people desire to follow God’s will and not give in to envy, jealousy, bitterness and despite.