Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Radical Homemakers, by Shannon Hayes

Thanks to a recommendation on a forum, I ordered Radical Homemakers for my Kindle last night and started reading it right away. I'm not sure how I missed this one before, since it's right up my alley. Anyway, I'm finding it's pushing me to think about "halving it all" in a whole new way.

When I started this blog, I wasn't working outside the home. I was, in fact, doing what many of the people in Shannon's book are doing - finding ways to live frugally and make things myself as a way to live a better life.

But I struggle with wanting and at some point that wanting became so strong I started several jobs: I went back to child care (teaching preschool) and I started a publishing business. Child care was fun because I love kids and I got nice steady paychecks, which I'd missed during my years at home. The publishing business was fun because it used every ounce of my brainpower and was a roller-coaster ride of learning new things and averting crises.

Then something happened, actually a convergence of things. I looked up a few months ago and realized that I no longer have time for my family - any time. I rush through meals, which I no longer cook: my husband took that over. I go days only exchanging a few sentences with the older kids. I rarely go outside. Rarely. Instead, I work twelve to fourteen hour days for very little remuneration. I eat out more, as a "reward" for my hard work. I've put on twelve pounds in the last year - a lot for my small frame. I eat ibuprofen like candy. And twice in the past two years a large corporation (one of the giants) has damaged my family's earning potential by throwing its weight around in ways that are criminally unfair to the people who create the products it sells.

Why am I doing this? I find myself asking again and again. Is it worth it? What do I really need that money for?

According to Radical Homemakers, I'm not alone in longing for my old, more sane, life. Part of the reason I wanted a career is because I felt so boring at cocktail parties (the few I attended). When people asked me what I did, I said "I'm a mom." If pressed, I said, "I homeschool." I could talk your ear off about curriculum, and often did, but most people didn't care, or were antagonistic to the concept.

Now that I have the career, people are somewhat interested, but only for a few minutes. That's not a good enough reason to lose track of my own kids, the weather and the phase of the moon.

I look forward to reading the rest of Radical Homemakers to see what choices others have made in my shoes.

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