Consumption Rather Than Production: The Modern Housewife

Caroline crocheting

Last week I went to an intriguing talk by organizational psychologist Carrie Miles, who spoke about changing gender norms in LDS society.

One thing that caught my attention was how she traced the way gender roles functioned in pre-industrial society to the way they work now in modern society. According to Miles, in pre-industrial society, women were essential to the survival of the family because they spent the vast majority of their time engaged in production — gardening, sewing clothes, making butter etc. In these pre-industrial societies, if your kid needed socks, there was one way to get them — the mom knit them. Purchasing such items was not economically feasible for most families, which generally lived in a subsistence mode. They produced the vast majority of what they consumed.

Additionally, women were essential because the survival of these families depended on producing labor (children) who would grow to work the fields, help nurse the elderly. Men, on the other hand did the heavy work with the plows, etc., work that women generally didn’t do because it would endanger pregnancy.

Miles pointed out that the LDS Church was born just at the beginning of the industrial revolution, so it makes sense that it, like other churches of the time, would embrace current ideas about sex divisions and gender roles. I would venture to add that what separates Mormons from other Christian religions on this subject, though, is that Mormons actually deify gender roles.

Fast forward 130 years. It no longer makes economic sense for women to be making their own soap, knitting their own socks, making their own clothes, or for that matter, having enormous families. What used to be essential to the well-being of the family (knitting, sewing, etc.) is now an expensive hobby. Women have labor saving devices like washing machines as well as schools to send their kids to, so the housewife is home alone much of the time and her presence is not essential like it used to be. She spends much of her free time consuming or purchasing for the family, rather than producing for the family.

Thus begins the mass exodus of women into the labor market in the 1960’s. Betty Friedan captures the feelings of emptiness and uselessness of housewives in the 1950’s and 60’s in her book The Feminine Mystique.

All this was fascinating to me, and I couldn’t help but wonder how Mormon women who stay at home today escape those feminine mystique feelings of emptiness. I’m sure several don’t escape them entirely, but many seem to find ways to fill their days with purpose, and moreover with production. Is this why so many Mormon women are engaged in handicrafts, blogging, photography, etc.? Because they feel this intense need to not just consume, but also produce? Do you feel a need to produce and what form does that production take?

Caroline

Caroline is a PhD student in Women’s Studies in Religion and mother of three.

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40 Responses

  1. Jenne says:

    This is kind of fringe, but it still does make sense for families to be units of production and doing everything they can to produce rather than consume. The book Radical Homemakers gives an introduction into those reasons for families to do what they can. While it may be economical to buy rather than make (and this a personal frustration of mine), the case can be made that there are ethical motivations to avoid consumption and that the morally superior and globally responsible way of living is opt out of consumerism. I’m not making the case well, but I appreciated the book and how it ties homemaking and producing needed goods into global issues, environmentalism, emotional well-being, living frugally, as well as empowering for women from a feminist perspective. I found that it was very in line with gospel principles while at the same time avoiding the pit-fall that the church is prone to as it minimizes a woman’s desire to more than wife and mother.

  2. shley says:

    I don’t think the statement:
    “It no longer makes economic sense for women to be making their own soap, knitting their own socks, making their own clothes, or for that matter, having enormous families,” is correct necessarily.

    Our country has fallen on some hard economic times along with the people in the country and it’s making more and more sense to be able to do things like make your own soap and repairing your socks instead of buying new ones.
    I know for sure it makes a lot of sense to make your own food like granola and yogurt because you of all the additives to be concerned about these days.

    Imagine that everybody at your house is laid off from work, but you do have money saved up to pay for your house payment and other necessary payments for several months, but not a lot of money for food, clothing or personal care items. That box of cereal you usually buy is three dollars, but that container of oatmeal is also three dollars, but can yield quite a bit of granola. That pair of pants is too small for the oldest child, but with a little sewing will fit the younger child just fine. One of your kids has an allergy to the cheapest soap you can buy in the store, but doesn’t have an allergy to those pricier natural soaps, but you can make those at home.

    I definitely think being a producer is still necessary, for a while it wasn’t that necessary because there were jobs and opportunities galore, but now there aren’t. The more things you know how to do, the better off you are.

    As for me, I want to learn how to do as many things as I can, so if I end up in a situation where I need to do those things, I am prepared.

    • Starfoxy says:

      This touches on something that I first thought of while reading this. Yes, I can buy a dozen eggs in the store for a $1.50, which is far less that it would cost to keep enough chickens to lay eggs for me. The thing is, though, the two aren’t all that comparable. The eggs the backyard chickens lay are likely to be organic, free-range, grass fed humanely produced eggs that are obscenely fresh- you can’t buy eggs like that for $1.50 at the grocery store. And for what one would have to pay for eggs like that, doing it yourself probably is cheaper.

      The same holds true for almost all home produced things- clothes (handmade, custom fit, in the exact color you like, and no sweatshop involved), baked goods (preservative free, and fresh out of the oven, with no nuts or whatever else you might not like) and so on.
      Saying that it isn’t cost effective to produce things at home depends on which costs you are accounting for.

  3. EM says:

    Even as a retired person I still love to produce stuff. Over many years I’ve collected fabrics, yarns and threads (who can resist a sale), to make articles of clothing for my family and friends. I’ve found home-made is of better quality. My knitted items especially socks are treasured items in the winter time. If I had a sheep or two or a llama I’d be spinning my own yarn!
    I totally agree with the other two comments made. As women we still need to produce, even more so today. I would like to see more time spent on teaching women of all ages to learn how to make do with what they have. We’re a society of “throw it away” instead of re-using. I worked outside of the home for 20 years in a great job, but I felt I contributed more within my home when I was producing items that were re-made and/or made by hand for my family.

  4. Becky says:

    I am single, live alone, and make my living in IT. I find this need to produce as well. It may be practical (I prefer to make my own yogurt and granola as well) or aesthetic (I am taking a painting class and have recently taken up quilting after a long time away from it.) I find myself restless and dissatisfied with life when I am not physically making anything on a regular basis.
    I often wonder if there is something in our nature as children of a Creator that drives this sort of impulse. Certainly pixels on a screen have never been quite enough for me.

    • Janell says:

      Similar to Becky, I work with computers all day and find myself quite restless if I don’t take time to create something with my hands. My job is very logic-based and never produces anything tangible. Creating something from raw-ish material with my own hands brings a much needed balance to my life.

  5. I am lousy at producing anything with my own hands–but I’m an excellent teacher. I produced income for my family which helped much more than making soap would have.

  6. Corktree says:

    This is so timely Caroline.

    I recently made some decisions to start producing more on my own to replace what I would normally buy. In food production this has come out of a desire for better health and to avoid waste from processed food and store bought packaging. And homemade (even things like condiments) are so much better tasting and better for you. But it took a long time to get around to this perspective and to actually act on what I wanted my ideals to be. The time commitment just didn’t seem worth it (I’m not a bored housewife with nothing else to do) but after eschewing almost all processed and packaged items for the last 3 weeks, I would have to say it is not NEARLY as much work as I thought it would be, and the positive health difference is well worth it. Money wise as well.

    In other areas, I’ve also recently started to look at what I can do on my own. Example; I recently saw a recycled tee shirt fashion scarf that I really wanted to buy. But frivolous spending aside, I realized quickly how many tee shirts I had of my own that were waiting to go to DI. Now, I’m not crafty and I don’t possess many skills in this area, but I do have a creative streak that needs occasional expression, which very much connects to my “need to produce”. So this was a fun, low skill project that brought me satisfaction AND saved money and resources (and kept stuff out of the landfill).

    But I think, in the push and pull of consumerism VS home production, it’s all about making wise choices. Some things are best to make, grow or fix ourselves, while others are best to buy; especially if we can buy local and support local farming, artisans, small businesses, etc. It’s easy to feel that spending is a necessary part of a healthy economy, but I think we need to focus on what type of spending and which economy scale that is, and how it affects people directly.
    (Sorry, getting off topic)

    But yes! I feel a need to produce, and it’s not just because I’m a housewife. Although, I tend to think that those of us that plan and navigate the majority of household spending are the ones that need to be exposed to ethical and responsible spending and consumer choices, and which things are really not any harder or more expensive to produce ourselves.

    (And I do think blogging is a form of production, but for me, I read more than I write out of a desire for education, so I’m producing something intangible but no less vital to my health and quest for self sufficiency)

  7. Emily U says:

    Really interesting topic, Caroline.
    Love the picture of Caroline crocheting!

    I agree that in the modern world there’s not much of a need to make soap, knit socks, or have an enormous family, but that people still feel the need to be creative and produce things. [I think Dieter Uchtdorf gave a talk on creativity in the recent past?]

    Yes, I think the reason so many Mormon SAHMs do crafts, blogging, and photography, is that they need a productive outlet other than mothering. And they’re really good at these things! You all probably saw the Salon.com article last week called “Why I can’t stop reading Mormon housewife blogs?”

    http://www.salon.com/life/feature/2011/01/15/feminist_obsessed_with_mormon_blogs

    The blogs mentioned in the article are unbelievably professional-looking. I thought the article was quite complimentary overall, saying that these blogs give her hope that marriage and motherhood can be something other than a “miserable, soul-destroying trap.” But some of the Mormon SAHMs I know weren’t so thrilled with the piece. They zeroed in on one part where the author’s friend says she wants to be like Mormon moms and arrange flowers all day. The author acknowledges that being a SAHM is more than just crafts and cupcakes, but the readers I know ignored that and got riled up about the flower arranging comment. In my experience there is nothing a SAHM hates more than to be asked “So, what is it that you do all day?” I agree, it’s an extremely ignorant question. But it’s a tender issue for some of my sisters and friends, because they feel it’s not obvious to the world what they contribute. So yes, I think blogging, crafting, etc, are ways to counter that insecurity.

    [As an aside, I’ll just say I don’t have a whole lot of sympathy for the fact that certain readers were offended by the flower arranging comment. They have the whole mighty arm of the Church around their shoulders, constantly patting them on the back for doing the right thing and dedicating their lives to nurturing. They want that AND the “world” to tell them they’re doing all right? No one is telling me I’m all right for being a working mom. That probably sounded uncharitable. Oh well, it’s not been a great week…]

    • Starfoxy says:

      As an at home mother who found the flower arranging thing rude, I think that this gets at Caroline’s point- people whose existence is centered around consumption are likely to have “feelings of emptiness and uselessness” as Friedan described because that’s how humans are. Humans like to feel useful and valuable, and consumption doesn’t create those feelings.
      So even if the church is patting you on the back telling you how great what you’re doing is, many at home moms aren’t producing anything except in the most esoteric and abstract ways. That isn’t good for anyone’s psyche, so we get defensive and/or find something to do make ourselves feel useful.
      And if you’re getting a paycheck then someone is telling you you’re alright being a working mom, even if it is just your boss. 🙂

  8. TopHat says:

    This reminded me of President Uchtdorf’s talk a few years ago at the RS General Meeting about being creators. I remember listening to that talk while knitting and thinking, “Look! I’m already being a creator!”

    There’s a Carol Lynn Pearson poem in Women I have Known and Been called “Creation Continued” that I try to remember when I need motivation- it makes me feel Godly to consider that I’m continuing the Creation.

  9. Caroline says:

    Jenne,
    That sounds like a fascinating book. And I love the idea that producing at home is more ethical and responsible than constant consumption.

    Shley,
    It seems to me like much of what you are talking about is mending/altering what you have already purchased. And I absolutely agree, it makes economic sense to take some thread and mend that hole in the sock rather than buy new ones. However, when it comes to actually producing socks – i.e. – buying yarn, I imagine buying that ball of yarn in many cases will cost more than going to Target and buying socks for $1. I do think you make a great point about these economic times – it does make sense financially to use and reuse what we have so we don’t have to purchase more.

    Starfoxy, I’m glad you brought that point up. Yes, we pay more for what we produce at home, but perhaps the quality is worth the price and even cheaper that purchasing similar organic items.

    EM, I want to learn how to knit socks!

    Becky, I love that idea that our drive to create is part of our divine heritage.

    Course Correction, I’m in the same boat as you. While I can crochet and knit a bit, I think my comparative advantage is in producing income for my family through using my skills as a teacher.

    Corktree, I would love to know more about how you are going about producing more food for your family. Are you using any book in particular?

    EmilyU,
    Thank you for bringing up that salon article. I thought about linking to it in my post but never got around to it. I think that article did do a great job of highlighting how much energy Mormon women are devoting to creativity in their SAHM lives. And as an aside to your aside, I do hope that the Church will soon put its mighty arm around all women who are doing what’s best for themselves and for their families. I have hopes that we’re heading in that direction.

    TopHat,
    Thank you for that link. Lovely.

    • Corktree says:

      A lot of my inspiration has come from Nourishing Traditions, but I mostly just look for ideas according to what I am trying to replace. Some examples include buying grains and non-grains in bulk from local sources and then doing the work to make them more nutritionally available and conveniently produceable, such as soaking oats overnight for breakfast (makes them cook up quickly AND removes all the anti-nutrients) Or buying dried beans in bulk instead of canned and soaking them in apple cider vinegar – again serves the dual purpose of increasing their value and digestibility, but also eliminates packaging and helps me to find local sources.

      The other things I have been trying are items like salad dressing. I have a recipe for vegan ranch or creamy cilantro dressing with a sunflower seed base that is absolutely delicious and actually healthy. And even though I believe raw and grassfed whole milk products are a healthy and vital part of a whole food diet, I have found a lot of value in making my own alternatives as well. Local raw almonds can easily be turned into deliciously fresh almond milk after soaking them to increase their value as well. And I’ve even found it to be quick and easy to turn the leftover pulp into almond hummus before cleaning out the blender. Two homemade food items from one source – very satisfying as far as production goes! And none of these things take more time than cooking used to for me, just a little more forethought – like planning a day earlier for most meals where I used to be a more improvisational on-the-fly type of cook.

    • kmillecam says:

      Nourishing Traditions is one of the most helpful and informative books available, ever. It’s all about eating the foods our ancestors did, complete with nutritional breakdowns and recipes and how-tos. I just wanted to second that book recommendation.

  10. Amy says:

    Wow! I hadn’t thought of things that way before. I think we do have an urge to produce. However, I think in our society today, there are many ways to produce and half the time, we don’t give ourselves credit for that. I am working on that as well. I am a SAHM and sometimes, it would be nice to havfe the paycheck- not even just for the extra money, but for the sense of worth it can give.
    I am trying to “produce” by raising children who will be able to support themselves and help others and to spend a good amount of my time volunteering, either through church callings and opportunities or through the community, but without having family suffer (that’s the trick,right?)
    But, so many of you have good ways of producing and as long as it makes you feel “productive” and doesn’t detract from other important things in your life, those are such great things and enrich your life as well as others.
    That article seemed like such an “aha moment” for me with the things I have been thinking about. Thanks for sharing!

  11. ssj says:

    I think our need to produce is largely influenced by our culture. We have such a need to stay busy and we want to use our time well (after all, time is money!). So SAHMs (although are busy just keeping up with raising children) probably just want to keep themselves busy during down times. It wasn’t until this fall, when I without work for a few months that I picked up knitting and other hobbies. I’m not saying our need to produce is bad, I just think it really relates to our culture. If you go to another country where people have a harder time finding work and not as much spending money… you notice people are more likely to just sit and relax with friends. They don’t have the need to be constantly busy. There is a lot more down time.

  12. Naismith says:

    First, is anyone out there a housewife? I am NOT married to my house.

    I dunno, what you say may be true for the well-to-do wives of surgeons and lawyers who don’t have to work (inside or outside the home).

    Being more on the working-class side of things, when I was at home fulltime, and even now I am employed, I still produce a lot of what we eat, wear, etc. Not as much as women in past centuries, sure. But today’s shopping is the moral equivalent of hunting/gathering. You have to track your prey (look for deals), decide whether the target is worth the ammo (whether it is really a worthwhile deal or not), and lug it home (get free shipping).

    Our RS book club read Barbara Kingsolver’s ANIMAL VEGETABLE MIRACLE, and it made such a strong case for eating local. I am not sure that we ever make money our vegetable garden, but at least it is a place to use the compost, and it is lovely to have fresh things.

    But most of my home production (or processing?) is still motivated by financial concerns. It is NOT an expensive hobby.

    I buy boneless pork in a whole loin for $1.69 to $1.89 per pound. I use part for roast, part for chops, part for stir fry (put in freezer all sliced), and part for carnitas or stew. The boneless chops would be over $4 a pound. So that hour and a half to do the slicing and chopping really pays off. We pick berries to freeze, and I have sweet memories of canning tomatoes with children underfoot helping (taking a bite out of each one, just to be sure they were good!).

    And then there is working through the food storage. We bake half-whole-wheat bread or rolls at least twice a week for less than half of the cost of the store-bought equivalent. Ditto for rotating dried milk, beans, pasta. We hardly ever eat out when we are in town.

    Recently I needed new living room curtains. Priced them out at a store, but it was hundreds of dollars over my budget. When a fabric store had Waverly fabrics on sale, it was clearly time to sew them myself, and they look very professional.

    I also plan our vacations, which typically saves us thousands of dollars every year–dollars that we don’t have, so it makes the difference between going on the trip or not.

    And while our children are enrolled in school, that is only outsourcing one small part of a child’s overall education. And school makes its own demands on a parent’s time.

    Does anyone really sit home alone with nothing to do?

  13. lazyfoxeranch says:

    I actually find it entirely worth it to make my own handsoap, washing detergent, dishwasher detergergent…the list goes on. It is economical, works so much better, and I control the chemicals.

    I also produce food in my front and backyard gardens, and we having laying hens for eggs. I grow my own herbs and prepare tinctures that I use for my family but also for what I do as a midwife.

    We don’t live in the middle of no where, we are in an urban setting. I do it because of my worldview, and I am not doing it because I feel a pressure in the Mormon community to do it a. Infact, we are no longer active. My husband and I equally create, produce, cook, clean, and raise our 5 children. We both have demanding jobs, but our internal need, love, and desire to create makes us all very happy humans.

    I also love what other families and women create. What else does everyone do to save, or to have a better quality of life that is not demanded by what is on the Target shelves.

    I also wonder if women didn’t compare and take digs on each other they would not feel that “housewife emptiness”. There is no one right way to live, or be a “housewife”. The important thing is to do what resonates deep within. Good (and Bad) vibrations can only carry us so far.

  14. stacer says:

    Haven’t had time to read all the comments yet, but as someone who grew up on a farm–growing “organic” simply because we didn’t see a need in most cases to deal with poisons on our garden vegetables and our animals rarely got sick so antibiotics were a rare expense that we’d be crazy to add on a regular basis, I find that everything I took for granted growing up—fresh tomatoes and lettuce straight from the garden, home-grown ham roast, organic potatoes and onions that lasted us all winter in the cold of our back porch—are things that cost me ridiculous amounts here in New York City, and don’t last as long because I don’t have a cold cellar to store them in properly.

    So in my own case, I’m not sure if feeling a need to “produce” has anything to do with the theory in the OP, though I agree with it, if that makes sense. I grew up as an integral part of the family economy—every single family member’s labor in the garden, out in the field, with the animals, and in the house, was necessary for all our survival—including the labor of my stepmother, the ostensible stay-at-home mom. Family farms are one of the last bastions of that pre-industrial revolution family economy where women and men both produce. I grew up envisioning my life as a farmer’s wife, working beside my husband. The suburban stay-at-home mom lifestyle was one I never expected or hoped for. (Still don’t, as I’m still single, but that’s beside the point.)

    Yet here I find myself in the city, trying to grow a window garden because I miss home-grown food. I can see how the thesis of the OP might have that effect on a stay-at-home mom. I am single and work, so I am productive in the sense of making books for a living, yet home-wise I don’t feel as productive as I always intended to be when I was growing up—I don’t even have a little plot of land to garden in. I knit, but I’ve always been into handcrafts as a way to make inexpensive gifts with love, because I grew up literally dirt poor.

    I wonder if there’s a socioeconomic status thing at play? I grew up being productive because I had to be, and I think a lot of Mormon women can fruits/vegetables, etc. for the same reason—producing and contributing to the family economy is necessary. It’s as that becomes an “expensive hobby” as opposed to actually contributing to the family economy that SES might come into play, though I can’t tease it out the way I’d like (and I really have to get back to this edit I’m supposed to be producing…).

    (Tangentially, it’s also nice to see the local-grown and organic movements gain steam, though I find it a bit ironic, being about 20 years too late for small family farmers like my dad, who lost their land in the big upheaval of the 80s. For 17 of the last 20 years, he drove a truck hauling Butler steel for construction sites, and now welds farm machinery for a living, just to afford the little 60-acre farm he has rented since I was in 4th grade—when we lost the big farm because of the economy in the 80s. I hope to see the day of the little farmer producing come back.)

  15. Caroline says:

    Amy, I’m so glad to hear these ideas resonated with you.

    ssj, interesting point about our cultural need for busy-ness. I hadn’t thought of that.

    Naismith and lazyfoxeranch,
    You two are what I would call in-home super-producers (or super-processors). You are an anomaly in my neck of the woods (S0-Cal suburbia). I speak as someone who has never canned in her life, rarely has it together enough to have a vegetable garden that produces. I am certainly a busy person, though I don’t do much in-home producing, but like a lot of people around here, a lot of my time is spent managing stuff. Picking up toys, washing clothes, etc. I think that stuff management and stuff consumption might lead to some of those feelings of emptiness that The Feminine Mystique describes.

    stacer,
    I think you’re right about socio-economic class coming in to play here. As someone who grew up in affluent suburbia, it didn’t make sense financially or in any other way for my mom to have a veg garden, can, sew clothes, etc. What she does do (and do beautifully) is knit baby sweaters. Lots of them – maybe 1 a week. But as Miles described, that’s definitely an expensive hobby, not an effort to produce a needed items. Goodness knows she could buy cheaper sweaters already made for at least half the price of the yarn.

  16. Two of Three says:

    “First, is anyone out there a housewife? I am NOT married to my house.” Love this comment. I feel the same way. Although I prefer a clean house, I will not stress myself out in cleaning it spotless, or making my own soap or my own cereal. These are not things I enjoy, so I do what I can get away with doing and spend the rest of my time doing what I like. I do however, get a tremendous amount of satisfaction in quilting. To look at a quilt square that I put hours into and finished without error is a joy. I guess you could say that kind of production pleases me. The housekeeping, not so much!

    • Two of Three says:

      Wanted to make sure I gave credit to Naismith for her comment. I wish I could edit my comments after I post them. I am rarely together on my first try!

  17. Michelle says:

    I never feel that analyses like these that look at motherhood and its value through an economic lens really get at the heart of what Mormon doctrine is al about. To look at women’s roles and choices based on “production” vs. “consumption” seems very limiting to me.

    I do think that creativity is a divine need and opportunity, with a hat tip to that talk by President Uchtdorf (and an exclamation point). Every time I saw “production” in this post, I felt in a Mormon context “creation” is a better word to capture what is going on.

    I also don’t see our emphasis on gender roles as somehow being locked in a place in history, but about reinforcing divine and eternal principles such as the importance of such things as building relationships, developing character and Christlike attributes, and engaging in the process of creation (which can manifest itself in anything from handiwork to, as Pres. Uchtdorf said, bringing a smile to someone’s face).

    For me, our doctrine also helps me see the moments of divinity and creation in little things in the routine of my day as a wife, mother and homemaker, and in the ways I feel moved to use my talents in other ways. I think we too often equate creation with tangible goods rather than creating moments, memories, and connections with others.

  18. Michelle says:

    I think I just had a comment go into moderation. Help?

    • Deborah says:

      Just released it — I have no idea how it ended up in there!

      • Starfoxy says:

        The spam filter had caught a few, including Michelle’s. I marked them as not spam, but that apparently just moved them into moderation rather than freeing them altogether.

  19. lazyfoxeranch says:

    Caroline,
    I am actually not an anomaly. I had to chuckle a bit, because there are so many like me in my area. We go unnoticed. We are hiding amongst you~ 🙂

    So my point is… I too live in so cal, and I am surrounded by urban homesteaders. I never thought I’d be where I am today, doing what I do. But I am, and I refused to categorize, or label myself according to the things I did or did not do.

    I used to think that all kinds of homemaking skills were so “Mormonee”and therefore avoided them in fear of getting that label and judgement.

    How silly of me to think that other people don’t mill grain, bake, grow gardens, make home handicrafts…etc…Outside the mormon kingdom it is done all the time.

    Come by sometime, Caroline. I’ll show you around!

  20. Michelle says:

    Thanks for freeing my comment. Sorry that meant you had to wade through the spam filter. Ick.

    I said: I never feel that analyses like these that look at motherhood and its value through an economic lens really get at the heart of what Mormon doctrine is al about.

    BTW, I understand the interest in doing economic analyses (I am a business head after all), so I don’t want to be misunderstood as saying they are useless or uninteresting. But to me, to understand LDS women and motherhood and all that piggybacks with that (like the kinds of creative expressions that women may pursue), I think there is more nuance and that there are more layers to consider than just economics.

    But that said, I think lazyfoxerranch has an interesting point, which raises a question — how different are lds women, really, from others with the questions posed in the OP? I can’t help but feel the desire to create, if truly divine, will be felt by all of us, whether we recognize it as divine or not (or whether we know who President Uchtdorf is {grin}). I also think that there is a human desire to engage in work that has ‘tangible’ results which I’m sure also factors into SAHMs who find creative outlets. I think one of the real challenges of motherhood can be that so many things are never really done; they simply are done for now and yet have to be repeated.

    What I do love about Mormon doctrine about motherhood is the reminder that that repetition has divine purpose and blessings, even though sometimes it can be hard to see. (I have some fave quotes on that, about how the notion of ‘one eternal round’ can apply to the repetitive in our lives. Decided to post them so I could link to them — too long to post here.) 😉

  21. Michelle says:

    Although I prefer a clean house, I will not stress myself out in cleaning it spotless

    p.s. My new personal approach on this (because I have chronic health issues and thus limited energy nevermind the fact that I’m cluttery by nature) is to work toward having my house clean enough that if I were to die unexpectedly, I wouldn’t be mortified at someone coming to my home. 😉

  22. Caroline says:

    Michelle,
    “I think there is more nuance and that there are more layers to consider than just economics.”

    I certainly agree.

    “I think we too often equate creation with tangible goods rather than creating moments, memories, and connections with others.”

    I’m sympathetic to this point as well. Though it does beg the question…. did our ancestors create goods as well as moments, memories, and connections? Or did they produce goods instead of these less tangible things. And if they did both, should we be trying to do both as well? Is producing more better?

    Lazyfoxeranch,
    I’d love to see your place. 🙂 I’m very interested in the type of thing you’re doing, though I’ve sucked at it in the past. I must have killed hundreds of worms in my worm composter when I was attempting to reduce my garbage a few years ago.

  23. Michelle says:

    And if they did both, should we be trying to do both as well?

    I do think our ancestors did create the intangibles as well — in part because their lives revolved around work in a way that more naturally included everyone in the process.

    But I am not sure where you want to go with the second part of this question. Lil’ help?

  24. Pretty sure I wrote my Master’s thesis about this. Thanks for the fascinating post.

  25. Jenne says:

    Michelle, I remember you mentioning your master’s thesis over on a WAVE post. I’m interesting in reading it if you have it available. And you’ve done the inconvenient thing of reminding me that I still need to work on publishing my master’s thesis. I try not to think about it too much…

  26. There’s a link to my master’s thesis on the side of my blog. However, just be aware that there are so many things I would change . . .

  27. Naismith says:

    “Naismith and lazyfoxeranch,
    You two are what I would call in-home super-producers (or super-processors). You are an anomaly in my neck of the woods (S0-Cal suburbia).”

    This comes across as a bit dismissive…I don’t think of myself as the least bit super. I’m pretty mainstream and in line with the church’s teachings on provident living.

    Over the recent winter holidays, I bought a turkey because they were 59 cents a pound. No occasion, just wanted to roast it and have all that cheap meat. But I did NOT boil up the carcass for soup. So I do not qualify for a super badge at all:)

  28. Caroline says:

    That’s not dismissive, Naismith. That’s admiration. I think it’s great.

  29. Olive says:

    Yes!!! I still have a handful of garbage bags in my garage full of kids clothing that my kids have outgrown, but I cant get rid of them because I keep thinking “I should look through them and see if anything could be cut up and made into something else!”. I blame all the crafty mommy bloggers who post all their super cute clothing creations from thrifted and outworn clothes! 😛 I actually had to have my husband talk me through it, saying “I dont need to make our clothing to be a good a mom”

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