back arrowView show

#15: Homeschool Mom Liz McEwan on the Work of Family

Episode description

Liz McEwan is not your typical homeschool mom.

Or perhaps she is. Maybe the “typical” homeschooling parent doesn’t actually exist.

Most of The Distiller‘s guests have some professional ambition or goal they’re pursuing. The majority of our discussions about “work” necessarily center around professional concerns, and how people balance the question of meaning with the need to put food on the table. But what about people who have made different decisions, and have different priorities? Or what about people who, through no choice of their own, have been removed from the workforce, such as retirees, or the disabled? How do we appropriately value and recognize the work of those whose “value” is less tangibly tied to economics?

We’re committed to showing as many sides of the “work” discussion as possible. Our conversation with Liz is the beginning of bringing more of those marginalized voices into the discussion.

The Economics of a Different Path

We sat down with Liz on a hot Tuesday afternoon in June, at Sundry and Vice, an apothecary-themed craft-cocktail bar in the center of the smoldering city. Owners Julia and Stewart welcomed us in, and behind the bar Joe served up a cold hefeweizen for Liz, and a perfect old fashioned for Brandon. And we got down to it.

Liz McEwan Links & Information

When their first child was born, Liz and her husband decided they didn’t want (and couldn’t afford) to pay for daycare. It was actually cheaper for Liz to scale back her hours, keep working part time, and be home with their son. There was no over-arching plan to leave the workforce, no grand belief that homeschooling was the perfect way. Seven years and three more kids later, Liz gave up the last of her freelance hours and today, while she still picks up the occasional freelance writing job here or there, she is every bit the full-time stay-at-home mom.

Challenging Our Definitions of Work

Sure, we’ve seen articles that say the work of stay-at-home moms is worth $115k per year. And perhaps we nod our heads at what grueling work we know it is. But in the same breath we minimize the contributions these parents make to society. Or we judge their choices to homeschool out of a belief that their kids are lacking socialization. Maybe we just carry around the stereotype of the “weird homeschool kid.” For Liz, these aren’t hypothetical considerations. They’re her daily life. That’s why we wanted to dig into the rhythm of the days, the intention behind the choices, and the sacrifices and regrets that accompany them.

Liz was as candid and forthcoming as we could have hoped, describing both the complexity and simplicity with which she and John arrived at this point. And she talked about how she does and doesn’t pay attention to what people think of her choices. For Liz the ecosystem of input is necessarily small. But that doesn’t mean their lives are sheltered. Living smack-dab in the middle of the largest intact historic district in the United States, in a neighborhood where this conservative white mom is definitely in the cultural and ethnic minority, these choices have meaning and impact that goes far beyond the caricature of the suburban homeschool co-op parent. Liz and John are raising their kids as open-eyed citizens of the world.

We can’t talk about work in a vacuum. Or at least we can’t learn anything much if we do. But if we’re genuinely interested in what it means to do “meaningful work,” then we have to investigate different perspectives on that question. We’re grateful to Liz for providing us this perspective, and we’ll keep working to broaden the conversation. Sure, stories of entrepreneurs and artists are fun and sexy. And we’re not going to stop talking with people who do the exciting stuff. But there’s a balance to that. Liz is evidence of that balance, and there are more to come.

The Distiller Podcast with Liz McEwan at Sundry and Vice





The post #15: Homeschool Mom Liz McEwan on the Work of Family appeared first on The Distiller.

episodes iconMore Episodes

#31 – Design Impact’s Ramsey Ford & Kate Hanisian On Truly Meaningful Work

February 7th, 2019

Design Impact Was Built To Make A Difference

It sounds simple when you hear it, but the idea of involving those most affected by social problems …

#30 – Filmmaker Yemi Oyediran On Work That Builds Community

January 24th, 2019

Yemi Oyediran is full of surprises.

We might have expected Yemi Oyediran to immediately jump into promoting his new film, “Queen City Kings,” …

#29 – Songwriter Kim Taylor On Sustaining a Life of Creativity

January 10th, 2019

Kim Taylor knows how to be vulnerable.

After all, as a songwriter with five full length albums and two EPs under her belt, she’s …

#28 – The Distiller Podcast 2018 Year In Review

December 24th, 2018

The Distiller Podcast is one year old.

Our first episode aired on December 16, 2017, and featured Danny Korman of green general store Park & …

#27 – Kelly Dolan of Ingage Partners On the Impact of B-Corp Businesses

December 6th, 2018

Kelly Dolan knows business can do good and make a profit at the same time.

Kelly, along with her business partner Michael Kroeger, are the …

#26 – FireLab Creators Anne-Marie & Luis on Immigration, Work, and Hope

November 22nd, 2018

There’s a lot of talk about immigration right now.

In fact it’s become one of the central hot-button issues in our political discourse. But studies …

#25 – Tree House Builder Django Kroner On A Life In The Trees

November 8th, 2018


#24 – Piano Technician Nevin Essex On Craftsmanship and Mastery

October 25th, 2018

Nevin Essex doesn’t play the piano.

At least he wouldn’t call himself a pianist. But he’s directly responsible for thousands of pianos, and tens of …

#23 – Melis Aydogan of Ruya Coffee On A First Generation View of Meaningful Work

October 11th, 2018

Ruya Coffee is the realization of a lifelong dream.

That’s not surprising, since Ruya means “dream” in Turkish. Melis Aydogan, the founder of Ruya Coffee, never saw herself as an entrepreneur, or a small-business …

#22 – Justin & Tasha Golden On Navigating Work Transitions as a Couple

September 27th, 2018

Tasha and Justin Golden have been married a long time by any standard.

Just about twenty years, in fact. And you don’t stay married that long without …

#21 – Humanist Chaplain Bart Campolo on the Intersection of Work and Belief

September 13th, 2018

When Bart Campolo lost his faith, he didn’t lose his desire to minister.

After all, the word “minister” was a verb before it became a noun. The fact …

#20 – EcoATM Founder Mark Bowles On Entrepreneurship and the Tech Startup World

August 30th, 2018

Mark Bowles Is Not Afraid to Fail, He’s Done It Many Times Before.

Talk with Mark about his experience in technology startups and venture-based …

#19 – Theatre House Owner Marty Boyer on How Values Guide Decisions

August 16th, 2018

Theatre House owner Marty Boyer is a high-character individual.

Marty is a unique individual in that his ego has (apparently) almost no bearing on what he does for a living. Marty is the most pragmatic individual I’ve …

#18: Potter Christie Goodfellow and Sculptor Beth Graves on Creativity in the Gig Economy

August 2nd, 2018

Christie Goodfellow and Beth Graves Are Two Very Different Kinds of Sculptors.

The similarities and differences between Christie and Beth’s work …

#17: Libby Hunter on Overcoming Poverty with Literacy

July 19th, 2018

Libby Hunter Believes Storytelling Is the Key to Overcoming Poverty

When you talk with Libby Hunter about literacy, you’d better buckle your seat belt. Libby talks quickly, and with purpose. Aside from a brief stint in …

#16: Artist Mark Dejong Turns His Profession Into His Passion

July 5th, 2018


#14: Chef Derek Dos Anjos on the Business of Food

May 31st, 2018

Chef Derek Dos Anjos’ Secret Weapon May Surprise You

Ask a chef or restaurateur what skill is most important to running a restaurant, and you’re likely to get a lot of different answers. Maybe it’s the ability to …

#12: Corben Bone – Professional Soccer Player

May 17th, 2018

Corben Bone’s Work Is Play

On the field or off, Corben radiates energy. Watch him play in his midfield role for the F.C. Cincinnati soccer team, and …

#11: Dr. Meredith Shockley-Smith – Equity, Inclusion, & Community Specialist

May 3rd, 2018


#10: Michael Wilson – Photographer

April 19th, 2018

Michael Wilson Is More Than Just A Photographer.

He’s a Master. A storyteller. A record-keeper. A history maker.

Michael Wilson has been making pictures* for nearly 40 years, and in that time he’s developed a look and …

#9: Julius Jenkins – Dancer, Educator, Community Activist

April 5th, 2018

Julius Jenkins Wants to Bring Street Culture Back to Life.

You may already know of Julius Jenkins, or his work, and not even know it. You may have …

#8: Megan Trischler – Community Designer

March 22nd, 2018


#7: Tamaya Dennard – Cincinnati City Council Member

March 8th, 2018

Tamaya Dennard is the future of local politics.

As one of the newest members of the Cincinnati City Council, Tamaya Dennard represents everything …

#6: Matt Hart – Punk Rock Poet

February 22nd, 2018

Matt Hart Is Not Afraid to Go Deep.

When discussing motivation, or empathy, or the pure punk rock power of a kick-ass poem, Matt is not afraid to get …

#5: Stephen JohnsonGrove – Public Policy Attorney

February 7th, 2018

Stephen JohnsonGrove is a professional do-gooder,

the Deputy Director for Policy at the Ohio Justice and Policy Center, a non-profit law and advocacy …

#4: Matt Gunderman – Director of UC Health Air Care & Mobile Rescue

January 25th, 2018

Matt Gunderman saves lives for a living.

Some people do work that seems sexy…exciting…but when you dig a little it’s just another job. Other people make a difference in the lives of individual humans every single day. …

#3: Musicians Ric Hordinski & David Wilcox at Brew House

January 11th, 2018

Ric Hordinski and David Wilcox have known each other for over 20 years.

They’re craftsmen in the truest sense, and two guys who bring a great deal of …

#2: Dominic & Judi LoPresti – Spun Bicycles

December 28th, 2017

People talk a lot about “work-life balance” these days.

But what if your work is your life, and vice-versa? What if your work life is also your marriage? And what if the combination of the two is tied to your mental …

#1: Danny Korman – Small Business Owner, Outdoor Advocate

December 16th, 2017

Danny Korman has been a fixture in Cincinnati for the past decade, but things change.

In the inaugural episode of The Distiller, Danny talks about moving from Chicago back home to start his “green general store” Park + …

Episode 0 – The Distiller Promo

December 8th, 2017



The Distiller is a podcast about the soul of work.

In this short preview clip, host Brandon Dawson talks about what you can expect from The …

Loading ...

Download the RadioPublic app for
 FREE and never miss an episode.

Get it on Google PlayDownload on the App Store