What does The Motherhood Manifesto have to do with baking bread? Here’s a taste from this month’s column:
When I was a little girl, I’d stand in the kitchen at my mom’s side, “helping” her make bread every Saturday. She’d measure warm water, yeast and honey into a big yellow bowl, then a few minutes later stir in a bit of salt and several scoops of flour. She’d give the mixture a few brisk strokes with a wooden spoon and then, as the dough held together, turn it out on to the table to knead. This was the part I loved. Dusting our hands with a bit of flour, we’d push and fold the dough until it was smooth and satiny. A couple hours’ rising, a bit more kneading, an hour in the oven and then: fresh bread for the family to eat.
Bread making, like childrearing, isn’t particularly complicated. The ingredients are cheap, the process is simple. But they both require time and attention. Childrearing of course wants very focused time and attention; it can’t be squeezed into intervals of free time like bread making. So when my mom went back to work full-time, when I was old enough to spend the full day in school, bread making fell by the wayside, replaced by breadwinning. Her forty hours outside our home didn’t allow the time at home for both bread making and childrearing; she had to make a choice (and I like the choice she made!).
But we really shouldn’t have to make that choice. There should be time for childrearing, breadwinning, bread making, and whatever else a mother wants to do. This is the radical claim of The Motherhood Manifesto.