Friday, June 25, 2010

Bake or Buy: Be Happy

By all intents and purposes, the females of my generation – the Millennials – and of my socioeconomic and racial profile – middle class, Caucasian – came into this world a pretty privileged lot. Women had gotten the vote 65 years before I was born and by the time I was toddling around, the Feminist movement was on its last legs (be that good or bad). In fact, females my age sometimes take the idea of “equal opportunity” so for granted that we often treat the word “feminist” like a profanity. We didn’t have a whole lot to prove: we were accepted for who we were.

But as the first generation of women who have basically gotten whatever we wanted, we might be just a tad spoiled. We forget how hard other women fought to get us where we are today. We forget that at its heart, feminism is about equality. More than that, we forget that equality and getting whatever you want are two different things entirely. And we forget that we have feminism to thank for several general ideals we use to navigate through life.

Ideals? Well, like the fact that we can do whatever we want to do, but with that comes an obligation to find some sense of purpose in life and to live up to your full potential. It’s fine to have kids, if you want them, but we were taught that being a mother is meant to be a small part of a larger context. And also, you better be really, really into being a homemaker if that’s the path you decide to head down, young lady.

Often it seems as though I’m in a strange power struggle with feminism. I never know who’s winning and I don’t understand why we can’t just be friends. Try as I might, my inner career woman is always picking battles with my inner homemaker.

Which is why I threw a fit when I discovered we were out of bread yesterday morning. (We’ve been out of butter for ages too.)

Lately, it’s seemed like the gears are finally turning and I’m starting to slowly chug down the tracks towards my career goals. It’s exciting and fun and it means long hours and having to eat store bread while your house falls into an increasingly chaotic mess. In general, I try to keep homemade bread on hand – when there’s time -- but that’s not to say that we don’t eat a fair amount of store bread too. For the last month, we’ve been buying a loaf of bread every now and then to tide us through until I have time to bake. But instead of me finding time to make bread, mostly we’ve just been running out of bread on a pretty consistent basis.

Yesterday, when I opened the fridge door to grab the sandwich makings for my bag lunch and spied only a flat bread bag holding a single crust of bread, I felt as though something in the big scheme of things had failed me. After all: does having it all mean we’re so busy we don’t have time to stock basic food stuffs?

So today I made Betty Friedan roll over in her grave. I baked bread and brownies and attempted to make sense of the piles of crap that had accumulated around the cabin. I realized what a lot of work it is to be a homemaker. For sure, it’s a full time job (I’m exhausted), yet we largely poo-poo homemaking because we fear the great merit of homemaking – comfort – is synonymous with complacency. That’s not really fair.

Maybe the secret to being a female in 2010 is to stop feeling like you’re letting someone down. I don’t want to have to eat store bread just because I have a busy work life. I don’t want to feel like Betty Friedan is glaring at me every time I take a loaf of bread out of the oven either.

I have yet to strike the perfect balance between, well, everything. It’s tricky business determining how to best live life as a privileged female, without squandering or taking our advantages for granted. And at its heart, being a female in 2010 isn’t really about choosing one way to live your life. Rather it’s about mixing together all the life lessons from previous generations of women who taught us to be independent and determined and who reminded us that baking should be a pleasure, not a stressful obligation

So the moral of the story is this: Bake your bread when there’s time. Buy enough to last when there isn’t. Above all else, be happy. After all, we’re a pretty spoiled lot.

1 comment:

  1. You ought to read _Made From Scratch_ - it's a book I picked up for 25 cents at a library sale, about the cult of domesticity in America, how and why we lost touch with being domestic, and what that means for us as a nation and people. The best part about the book is that the author isn't being preachy - she's just sharing what she's researched and found out, without making it look like it's a breeze to bake all your own bread and making you feel guilty for buying store-bought. It's fascinating.

    Also I love your blog and I love you. You're such a talented writer.

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