The New Homemaker Manifesto

You may be wondering right about now, "What's so new about homemaking? It's as old as, well, homes." Absolutely. But look around.

Domestic skills that were once common are now rare. Don't believe me? If you're under the age of 40, bake a loaf of bread, or, if this mystifies you, sew a pretty blouse, knit a sweater--or fold a fitted sheet. Then show your friends. Chances are they'll make a huge fuss over your amazing ability, one that most women born before 1950 took completely for granted.

In a generation, we have lost hundreds, maybe thousands of years of domestic knowledge. Girls are raised now with no idea how to run a household; it's assumed they'll never have to. And besides, their own mothers probably don't know how to run a household themselves.

We had feminist mothers who didn't believe in domesticity. We had domestic grandmothers who didn't know about feminism. The former threw the baby out with the bathwater in their zest for self-realization. The latter were too busy scrubbing the bathtub to think about self-anything.

Why would anyone want to return to the home? Isn't it boring, self-sacrificing, old-fashioned? Those are the base assumptions of our culture. But our culture's unchallenged assumptions about both partners working, when examined, may turn out not to reflect your values, or even your best interests. These are assumptions we hear every day: You can't make it on one income. You'd be bored at home. Your career will suffer. Daycare is good for children. The schools are raising your children just fine.

I can refute each and every one of these assumptions easily and in detail, but I'll sum it up in one popular phrase: On your deathbed, as you look back over your life, would you really turn to your children and say, "Gee, I wish I'd spent more time at the office"?

Increasingly, something is just giving in people; they've had enough. One too many breastmilk pumping sessions in the toilet stall at work, one too many microwaved TV dinners, one too many requests from a wistful child for more of a parent's time--or worse, one too many reports of problems with a child from a teacher--and families start to reassess their priorities. (I'm not talking about single parents, most of whom are doing the best they can to keep body and soul together with little help or support.) More and more young families are looking around and realizing that much of what's wrong with American home life today is that NO ONE'S HOME.

Single-income families are the fastest-growing segment of the American population. In ever greater numbers, one of the family adults is choosing to stay home and keep house--to care for and even school children, to care for elderly relatives, to care for the partner working outside the home, to care for the surrounding community, and any combination of the above. That adult can be male or female, but is usually female. She's taking responsibility for her own family instead of expecting other people to do it, either for pay or by government mandate.

This much is true: Homemaking can be a lonely, thankless task, especially when you feel like you don't know what you're doing. And that's where TNH comes in. Our goal is to provide the resources, tools and support you need to create the home you want, with no condescension and no proselytizing.

Today's homemakers must take the best from what our foremothers have to offer us--both the independent thinkers and the shy housewives--and create something new, a homemaker who knows the value of her work, respects herself, and gets respect from the rest of the world. Every person who puts his or her family's best interests first, as people have for centuries, is now a rebel, reclaiming an America that might never have been except in our minds and hearts, but that deserves to be born.

Homemaking is a craft, an art; make it your job, because it's the most important job in the world. Study it. Improve yourself. Respect your work. It does get easier.