Wednesday, February 8, 2012
On my road trip with the kids in October, I got to turn a Blog World friend into a friend In Real Life. I had lunch with Margo, a frequent commenter on my blog and the writer of a fantastic blog of her own. Our mutual friend, Rebecca, introduced us to one another in the blogworld and now we feel quite informed about the other because we each faithfully read one another.
Margo is a homemaker whom I admire because she is no-nonsense, methodical, and has a Depression-era Granny's sensibility regarding make-do and thrift. While I congratulate myself for buying clothes off the sale rack, Margo makes friends with Women of a Certain Age, who retire from sewing and give her their fabric stashes. Then she makes adorable clothes for her children for Absolutely Free! I feel like an accomplished haus frau because I decide at 4:00 PM to cook dinner for my family and make a meal out of staples in the pantry, while she plans her menus a week at a time, journals it all faithfully, and markets for them with intention.
On the day of our meeting, Rebecca and I stopped at a simple Mom and Pop grocery for contributions for lunch, which Margo then hosted with aplomb. It was so comfortable to gather with all our children and Margo's husband around the dining room table in her city rowhouse. What hospitality! I never felt like the New Friend or Third Wheel. We talked easily and shared secret chocolate after we sent the children away to the neighborhood park. Rebecca had brought along new buttons for her fabulous vintage coat. When she sponged needle and thread from Margo's supplies, Margo whipped out the quilt she had in process and they did handwork while I watched cathartically.
As we chatted, I started thinking that it was fascinating how Margo has educated herself in the home arts. True, she was raised by a hardworking, Mennonite momma who kept a proper spic-and-span home and taught Margo how to be a hospitable joy to guests. And she did so while following her passion to earn a college degree and begin a career in a time and community where that Simply Was Not Done. But Margo's passion is, for sure, homemaking and much of it she taught herself. As much as I respect and try to emulate the way our foremothers did things, Margo is in a higher reading group than I.
Margo really is a wiz with finances and there probably should be a blog post on just that, but, frankly, it just doesn't interest me. Dear Margo, new friend though she may be, felt free to give me a mild scolding when I confessed I'd be lost financially if I happen to outlive Mike. No, what I found most interesting was her passion and determination to learn the art of homemaking. When I asked her about it, she said she'd always been a nester and that even as a child, she played house and made order from chaos.
In college, Margo felt a sort of primal urge to get out of the dorm and into an apartment with friends. Living in this setting, she could cook, clean, maintain some order and feel the sanctuary of Coming Home at the end of each day. When she told her then-fiance that she wanted to stay at home, he didn't question it. Together they bought a home with income-earning apartments within to help make her dream possible. So important is her job at home to her that the promise of a Sanctuary Home was a part of their wedding vows! I think Margo's following quote helps to define the picture of that type of home: "I love to send my family out into the world warm, fed, loved, and on time. And then I love to welcome them back with a good-smelling house, home-cooked meals, and a soothing presence (well, I'm not always nice - but that's what I aim for)."
As much as she thrived in the home, she found that having a husband challenged her to become 1) a better cook, 2) more skilled at organization as two entities merged their stuff and two souls merged their lifestyles, and, 3) a true manager of a the real finances of a real household on a budget. When Margo and her Mister added children to the household, new needs added new routines, such as increased order since children thrive when their enviroments are comfortable and reliable. She also desires to give her children nutritious food at every meal so again, she stepped up her game in the kitchen.
The Evolution of a Homemaker is a huge topic, one I'm not sure is served well in one measly blog post. I think Margo sets herself apart in her work ethic and can-do attitude. When she recognized the benefits of nesting in college, she found a nest in which to roost. When she had babies who needed her on their own schedule, she didn't shrug and resign herself to undone work, she figured out how thrive in the new normal. If you'd like to be inspired and learn a ton, check out her blog and, through it, get to know my friend, Margo.