Shelby Lancaster is a homemaker, loud and proud. The 27-year-old expectant mom of two from Middle Tennessee is part of a growing movement of women redefining what it means to be successful.
“I started gardening, I started canning and cooking from scratch, and I genuinely enjoy doing that stuff,” Mrs. Lancaster told The Epoch Times.
Sharing her simple, creative way of life online, the young wife and mother quickly began to connect with other like-minded women feeling the way she did. “They know that things aren't exactly right, and they want change,” she said.
Mrs. Lancaster believes Western society is right now in crisis and degrading. “Because of the feminist agenda ... we've been told we need to be like men, get out there in the job market in order to be valuable to society, but I think we've lost what valuable really means," she said.
Reframing PrioritiesMrs. Lancaster says her own attitude shift came when her son developed bad colic at 3 months old. She'd gone back to work, but the idea of sending her newborn baby to daycare didn’t sit well, so she quit. After the initial worry about surviving on one income and fielding judgment from others, she now greatly values her role as a home steward and full-time mom.
It’s a choice that has attracted derision, but Mrs. Lancaster says society has its priorities upside-down, and a view of homemaking that is completely wrong.
She said: “For millennials especially, there’s this view of the 1950s homemaker. You know, the wife is just supposed to be posh and pretty and quiet, and dinner is supposed to be on the table at 6 p.m. sharp. Well, that's not exactly what a homemaker is.”
Mrs. Lancaster asserts that the effects of the Industrial Revolution and consumerism have torn the traditional family unit apart and resulted in the widespread loss of essential skills.
“Skills that were once obtained by women and passed down through the years have been completely demolished,” she said. “For instance, herbalism, midwifery; simple things like that. Plus, we don't have aunts and sisters and grandmothers rallying around us and guiding us through motherhood and womanhood.”
Homemaking, she says, provides vital course correction; nurturing those skills once held dear, raising kids properly, and ultimately benefiting society as a whole.
Being the Best GatekeeperThe Lancasters’ own existence, lived on their "mini-homestead," has blossomed.
She says her husband stepped up to that "protector provider role," while she gets to ensure that what's coming into their home is healthy for their children.
The family has sacrificed having two incomes, and it isn’t always easy. “The cost of living is ridiculous right now, and some people have to have two incomes," she said, adding that for them, it was a question of: Is money and stuff more important than a strong family life?
For Mrs. Lancaster, following the alternative path means she’ll be able to pass down skills to her children, something she finds immensely rewarding. She does acknowledge that the traditional homemaker set-up has led to abuse in some unfortunate cases but says, “It's not meant for that when a good, godly man understands his role and lives out his role.”
Also recognizing that her choices wouldn’t suit all women, Mrs. Lancaster says it comes down to priorities.
“If a woman wants to be a CEO and climb the corporate ladder, then sure, homemaking might not be the best thing. It could restrict your growth. If you’re looking at it from a materialistic viewpoint, it might not fulfill you," she said. “But if you’re wanting to look at life a little bit different than just money or what society deems as valuable, it can be wonderful.”
In terms of personal self-growth, this stay-at-home mom says she has done more inner work in the last few years than she ever thought possible.
“Because of my role in the home, because I have to be the best gatekeeper, I can act for my family, for myself. And I’ve learned so much," she said.
Mrs. Lancaster says there’s such a gap with women when it comes to homemaking.
"We don't know what that is. We don't know what to do," she said. “This collective has benefited all the women involved. It’s so much more than what the world might deem as successful.”