And then, on a whim, I picked up The Gentle Art of Domesticity by Jane Brocket. It's a beautiful book filled with photographs and musings on baking, quilting, crocheting, and in general, the simple pleasures of home. The author was educated at the height of the second-wave feminist movement in the 1970s, and domesticity was strongly discouraged. So she entered the corporate world, but always secretly enjoyed the projects she did at home. When her husband got a job in Germany and she found out she was expecting twins, she decided to become a full-time homemaker. Here's what she said about her decision:
Full-blown domesticity was now finally forced upon me and I admit I gave in willingly. Instead of fighting the glaringly anachronistic corporate-wife lifestyle, I realized I didn't have to kowtow to that particular set of expectations. Instead, I saw that enforced domesticity could be tremendously liberating and would allow me to do all the things I had loved for so long and yet had felt guilty about practicing. Knitting, baking, buying flowers and bread, exploring a different domestic culture, reading the Victorian novelist Elizabeth Gaskell--all this suddenly became worthwhile, and a way of being me in the face of impending motherhood and, that dreadful label, a trailing spouse.Reading this, I felt like someone finally expressed my thoughts on the subject of homemaking, albeit much more eloquently. Now, I am not nearly as accomplished a domestic artist as Ms. Brocket (namely, I don't sew in any form). But, I do enjoy being at home more than anything else. And I'm glad to see a departure from the view that being a feminist means you must be a (preferably single) businesswoman.
If you're interested in baking, sewing, design, or looking at pretty things, I'd highly recommend this book. It's not a "craft book," that is, it does not give directions for craft projects. But it's a great source of inspiration and a fascinating reflection on why the "gentle arts" are so appealing.