24 October 2009

The Story of Corabela, Continued


There once was a time before careers, cell phones, and Walmart when home was a very special place.  Going back to pioneer days and before, home was everything to most families.  It was shelter, of course, but more than that, nearly everything a family needed was made right at home, from maple sugar to clothing to potatoes.  Most everything was handmade, hand-stitched, and handpicked with love and unfortunately, the exceptional craftsmanship of those days is, for the most part, rare as rocking-horse manure.  Most American homes are filled with mass-produced Chinese goods that just don't quite feel the same as something crafted individually, with care and happy thoughts.

Back in those tough pioneer days life was all about housework:  cooking, baking, churning, smoking, drying, sewing, washing, ironing, and weaving.  Even planting and harvesting, milking and shearing, logging and building.  All the work directly supported the home and the home supported the family.  These days, life isn't always as physically demanding but many families have become financially entangled enough that the choice is gone and both the husband and the wife have to leave the home to work to support a house.  So what's the difference between a home and a house?

If both caretakers of the home are away all day, every day, a home may sadly eventually lapse back into being just a house.  Those iconical aproned homemakers of the 1950's surely understood this.  But when all their hard work went unappreciated and became expected rather than valued, the liberation of the 1960's had them all ripping off the bras and throwing down their aprons in a struggle to be recognized as equal.

Well, we've gained a lot of ground ladies.  Our Great-Great -Grandmothers would be proud.  But now the laundry and the dishes are piling up, the kids are eating boxed sugar-coated variations of soy, corn, and wheat pumped up with MSG, and the house is full of cheap Chinese crap that falls apart in two years.  You might have a job, but that doesn't relieve you of your duties of mothering and housekeeping, (unless you can afford a nanny and a maid).  After a full day of waiting tables, running the company, or negotiating peace talks, your family is still at home in need of healthy meals, a safe refuge from daily stress, and a loving connection.  And so many times, because it's so incredibly overwhelming to juggle the demands of having a job, being a mother, a wife, and whatever else you've volunteered for, many of us forget that we also need healthy meals, a comfortable place to unwind, and loving connections.  Then we wind up literally sick and tired.

While that sort of life feels wrong to me, every situation is unique and it may really work for some families.  But it won't work for me.  Now I'm not suggesting to all  the women reading this that we should burn our business casuals and quit our jobs.  (Not the wisest move.)  I'm simply pointing out that although we've gained ground as equals and made significant technological advances in manufacturing and business, we've really suffered some losses, and I don't need to list them all.  I'm sure you have your own list.  So what do we do?

Well, it was that quandary that led me to fall madly in love with that blue apron.  Many apron-wearing women of the past suffered some hard times but to look at the bright cheery colors and the little decorative touches, you wouldn't know it.  Those women were strong and resourceful and they knew the true value of making lemonade when the lemons rolled in.  They understood the interconnected importance of every task they did, and even if it wasn't done gladly, it was done with loving hands.

That blue apron symbolized everything I wanted:  freedom from the airs of corporate culture, freedom to be real and true; a deep, abiding resourcefulness; gentle kindness and wisdom; self-reliance; simplicity; and even creativity.  Not to mention yummy things from the kitchen.

When I tied on that blue apron, I felt a tug on my heart-strings...the joyful, teary relief of finally finding your place in the word, after the longest, hardest search.  It felt like coming home.  So this is my cause.  And I hope to inspire by living my dream.  Maybe I'll still need a “job” and maybe I won't.  Maybe life won't always be perfect but I'm sure it will be sometimes. My dream is to return to the strong, resourceful roots of my fore-mothers and reclaim that ability to always smile, always make the best of everything, and return to the richness of home, no matter what it takes.

I make my aprons to keep the dream alive.

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