As I’ve mentioned before in this blog, I am what might be called a homebody. For me, home is best, and traveling, however broadening it might be, is not my thing. I love the rhythm of home life—the writing, the puttering, the cooking, the community, and I am willing to be as frugal as can be so that I can stay home.
When one writes such a retro statement, qualifications are immediately in order, and I will duly note them. First, I realize that not everyone is a homebody, and I respect that. To paraphrase Jane from Pride and Prejudice, we are not all alike. Some people, indeed many of my friends, need to be out and about with other people. Simply put, staying at home, day after day, mostly alone, would drive them nuts. So out they go, and out they should be.
Second, some people have a passion for their jobs. My friend Alice, who works with hearing-impaired folks, feels this way about her job. She thinks she is making a difference, and that is indeed a good feeling. I expect many in the service professions—teachers, nurses, social workers, fire fighters, to name a few—feel this way, too, and they are doing exactly what they should be. Lucky are those who love their jobs, especially when those jobs fall under the category of right livelihood, which Alice’s certainly does.
Third, most people need to work to earn money. Few of us are independently wealthy, and for many families, two incomes are essential. (Try supporting a family on two jobs that pay $10 an hour and see how lavish the lifestyle is. In Maine, at least, there are many families who fit this category.) Most people need to earn money by working outside the home.
Therefore, while respecting the choices that others make—sometimes by necessity, sometimes by choice—I am so grateful and happy to be able to do what I love—stay in my own cozy home and write and cook and putter. I would also argue that by staying home, I save as much money as many low-paying Maine jobs provide. Because I stay at home, my husband and I only need 1 car. This is a huge savings. My wardrobe can be very basic—blue jeans are perfectly fine—and I can fill in with thrift store finds. By cooking so much from scratch, I not only save money but I also make mostly vegetarian meals that are so much healthier than their processed counterparts at the grocery store. Because I am home, I (mostly) don’t have that rushed, frazzled feeling that so many working families have, when it seems far easier to get takeout than to cook a meal at home.
Finally, but just as important, because I stay at home, I have time to be involved with my community—to volunteer at the food pantry, to be a trustee at the library, and to to be on the town’s green committee. To my way of thinking, a vibrant community is essential to the health of a village, town, or city, and volunteers play a crucial role.
So while it might seem a little poky to love being a homebody (and, by extension, a homemaker), there are lots of benefits, and as oil becomes less available and more expensive, those benefits will be even greater.
It’s my guess that in the upcoming decades, more of us will become homebodies. We can either complain that we are “stuck” at home with no place to go, or we—men as well as women—can turn our creative energies toward our homes and our communities.