Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Can Knitting Be Considered My Day Job?

(I can't get this picture straight, and it's making me slightly dizzy. In any event, it's the scarf I just knit, which is keeping me very warm these icy days.)

A long time ago I taught writing at a nearby college. I loved teaching and I loved my students, but what I didn't love was all the work I had to take home. It was a job that was never done. In that way, it was very much like housework.

Now I make my living as a writer. When I'm working on a book, I feel like I have a job, and I organize my day around my writing. If the bathrooms don't get cleaned, if the attic remains steeped in junk, well, that's how it is when you have a job.

But when I'm not working on a book, my day feels a bit more nebulous. What is required of me? My presence, of course, when the children are home. My cooking skills, most definitely, and my willingness to chauffeur children hither and yon. Because I like things to at least appear orderly, I am employed daily in the fight against chaos: I wash dishes, make beds, fold laundry, pick up, pick up, pick up.

My workday runs from 6:50 a.m. until 9:30 p.m.. But during that time, there are long stretches when I am not occupied in ways that contribute to the running and maintenance of my household. It is my tendency at those times to sit down with a cup of tea and a book or my latest knitting project.

The problem is, I always feel like I should be doing something else. Because there's always something else to be done. Errands to run, attics to organize, clothes and toys to be sorted to take to Good Will, hardwood floors to be mopped, a refrigerator to be cleaned, and on and on.

I suspect this is the plight of every housewife, every stay-at-home worker. When is our work done? Never. Never, ever, ever, ever.

But I'm going to argue (to myself, mostly) that reading and knitting (and quilting and scrapbooking and Sudoku and blog reading and writing) contribute to the happy life of a household. If books enlarge my mind, making me a more lively and interesting member of the collective, and if knitted socks keep your feet warm, aren't we all a little better off at the end of the day?

Yes, we are. So housewives of the world, let's slack off a little today, okay? Let's knit and read to our hearts' content. Let's work on projects we find relaxing and amusing. Let's find quiet time in which to meditate, and maybe watch a little TV. Let's blow stuff off and take a nap. Let's do it for our families. Let's do it for love.


Heather said...


Tracy said...

Amen and Amen.

I've been taking advantage of the slower pace of summer holidays and reading a lot. And today we will entertain some friends who are sick of the sight of their own four walls. Since we've just returned to ours they're coming here so we can enjoy our four walls together....with cooling...cos it's already feeling like someone turned the heater on outside... at 6.57am!

Cathy said...

Hello there
You are echoing all my thoughts on this subject

Many years ago when we stil had youngsters in the house friends would find me knitting or reading and ask me why I wasn't 'doing something'

I quickly told them I was 'doing something' I was looking after myself as well as the household by keeping myself sane and rested lol

Nowadays I still knit and read but the house can look after itself :)))
Take care

Dulce Domum said...

Frances, I think you're dead right! How unpleasant must it be for the family to have a stressed out, unfulfilled cleaning freak for a mother? Becausethe job is so constant we need to take our time off when we can, and this may feel a little odd to those who are used to 9-5 work. I reckon we women should stop beating ourselves up and get off the perfection train, nourish ourselves so that we can nourish others.

PS. I've found a plumber, he seems like a nice chap, but he bites his nails...and think of where his hands have been!

Ali said...

Amen. Though it's the end of the day here, so I may have to defer until tomorrow!