I see much appealing about “the olden days.” Anywhere from a few years back to the 1950’s to centuries ago. But, on the other hand, I see much appealing about our day and age. I am thankful for much of the technology, advances in science and medicine and modern transportation. When I am grown and doing what I know God has asked me to do; being a wife and mother; I want to give my children as many benefits as I can in a sweet combination of yesterday and today. I want them to have plenty of land to roam about on…and bug spray. I want them to have homemade jam on freshly baked biscuits…with disposable napkins. When they are sick I want to give them hot chicken noodle soup and tea…and tylenol. Big windows with checked curtains to open up in the morning…and lock safely at night. A garden full of tasty, hard earned vegetables…with an irrigation system perhaps. Do you see what I mean?
Secondly, there is an art to keeping house. A lost art. Here’s a quote from dear Uncle Alec in Louisa May Alcott’s lovely book Eight Cousins:
Well, now, there is one very excellent, necessary, and womanly accomplishment that no girl should be without, for it is a help to rich and poor, and the comfort of families depends upon it. This fine talent is neglected nowadays, and considered old-fashioned, which is a sad mistake, and one that I don’t mean to make in bringing up my girl. It should be a part of every girl’s education, and I know of a most accomplished lady who will teach you in the best and pleasantest manner.” ” Oh, what is it ? ” cried Rose eagerly, charmed to be met in this helpful and cordial way. ” Housekeeping! ” answered Dr. Alec. “Is that an accomplishment?” asked Rose, while her face fell, for she had indulged in all sorts of vague, delightful dreams. ” Yes; it is one of the most beautiful as well as useful of all the arts a woman can learn. Not so romantic, perhaps, as singing, painting, writing, or teaching, even; but one that makes many happy and comfortable, and home the sweetest place in the world. Yes, you may open your big eyes; but it is a fact that I had rather see you a good housekeeper than the greatest belle in the city. It need not interfere with any talent you may possess, but it is a. necessary part of your training, and I hope that you will set about it at once, now that you are well and strong.”
And two quotes from a great book called Beautiful Girlhood chapter title Home Life:
“A girl should have her full share of responsibility in the home. She should go about her work willingly, not as if it were an irksome duty which she was ill-disposed to perform. She should count herself one of the family, one of the children, having only equal rights and privileges with the rest.” ….
“Have you seen her, the ideal big sister? She is ever ready to kiss away the bumps and bruises of little heads and hearts, she knows just how to mend broken dolls and balls, she likes to pop corn and make candy for little people to eat, she knows such wonderful stories to tell or read, she will pick up and put out of sight those evidences of childish neglect that might bring little people into trouble, she understands and is a companion for everyone of them. Yes, many homes have just such older daughters as that.The girl who is learning day by day to be a good daughter at home and a good sister to the young children, is also learning day by day how to make in time a good wife and a good mother. She is getting ready for the greatest work a woman can do.”
And now a passage from The Holy Bible that every good Christian girl has heard. Read it again for there is no better example than what God himself asks us to read:
A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.11 Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.13 She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.14 She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls.16 She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.17 She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.18 She sees that her trading is profitable and her lamp does not go out at night.19 In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.20 She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.22 She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.23 Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.24 She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.26 She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.27 She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.28 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:29 “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.31 Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
This passage does not say that the best sort of wife/mother always has perfectly manicured nails, nor does it say that her yard holds the most inflatable snowmen during the holidays. It praises her for her patient, continual work. The bible tells us to do everything as if we are doing it for Christ himself.
There is an art to keeping house and keeping house is praise-worthy.
Thirdly, it is never too early. I am taking a baby-sitting class soon so that I can be officially Red Cross Certified in hopes that this will help me if I ever want to seek employment as a baby sitter. But, I have worked/lived at an orphanage, the church nursery and as a domestic baby sitter before; I have five younger siblings and plenty of little cousins. I can change diapers, scrub floors, dust mantels, do laundry, bathe children, cook dinner and tell pretty good bed time stories (if I do say so myself.)
The point is, little girls become little ladies, little brides and little mommies. What you say, everything you do, and everything you teach will affect them in a moment, tomorrow and twenty years from now. It is never too early to begin training them for what M. Hale calls “the greatest work a woman can do.”
It isn’t weak to keep house and be a stay-at-home-mother. It is brave! In this day and age it is truly courageous! The strength it must take…the courage to hold the lives of babies (who will someday be men and women) in your own hands and give them your life and time and love-to raise them physically, mentally, emotionally and, most importantly, spiritually. So along with patience, hard work and love, I feel that there is another aspect of home-making not to be forgotten: courage.