For the moment, I live in the suburbs.
The two families on either side of me are the original owners and have lived along side us for 15 years or more. We get along great, although we are all very different from each other. One is an older couple from the hills of Kentucky, with one college-age daughter and five cars that they periodically park on their lawn. The others are born & bred New Jersey with three kids in their late teens, all still living at home.
I was asking my NJ neighbor to keep an eye on the house while we’re on vacation later this month. Along with getting the mail and papers, I told her she could take whatever she wanted from my garden because it was just going to rot on the vine (taking a big vacation in August was NOT my idea, and I will do everything I can to avoid that in the future!).
Then I happened to mention about all my cucumbers and that I was going to try to make some pickles before we went away. She chuckled and waved me off and said, “Don’t be telling me about all your domestic stuff. I was born without that gene. I don’t have time for all that.”
Ummm . . . ok.
I thought about her comment the rest of the day.
As little as two years ago, I felt the same way. I was involved in so many things outside my home that I didn’t have much time for the inside. And I was among those people who are basically unprepared to take care of themselves and their family for any significant length of time without help. I didn’t know it, though.
I never had more than a few days worth of food in my house. Nor any stash of paper, cleaning, or other supplies. (Yes, I, too, ran to the store for milk, bread and toilet paper along with everyone else prior to a snowstorm.) And I didn’t like to cook either – didn’t even really think it was necessary with all the grocery stores and restaurants within a 10-mile radius of my house. I certainly had no CLUE about dehydrating, canning or preserving food for long-term storage. And while I knew how to garden, I didn’t have time for it – at least I thought I didn’t.
Not only did I not have many “domestic” skills, I had no interest in learning them. Yes, back then I was exhausted and busy with small children and a husband that worked too much, but I was also too wrapped up in things that didn’t matter.
Many of the homestead blogs I follow are written by women with children. YOUNG children . . . whom they homeschool in addition to all else they do around the home. Now THAT’s someone who “doesn’t have time.” I have no idea how they do all that they do. I guess they never sleep. Maybe they have help?
I still have a spouse that works too much and so, for the moment, I’m leading the way in new skill-building. Translation – I pretty much do everything myself (unless I need to draft him as heavy labor). But I don’t have super young children anymore either (mine are 11 & 14). They can occupy themselves, feed themselves, and HELP me when I need it.
My neighbor’s comment really resonated with me. And in a way, it made me feel good. I NEVER thought anyone would call me “domestic.” I used to be where she is. But I’ve come a long way in a short amount of time. I realize I do have time to pursue the knowledge and skills for truly taking care of my family. And I’m making it a priority.