Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Rich Home Life


Examples of contented women who guard and guide the home full time are often so far away from us, that discussions about the normal model of marriage, home and family make us think of some kind of lost civilization.

Although there is a generation that thinks of the woman as a wife, mother and full time homemaker as an imaginary story, there really was a time when most women preferred to be at home rather than out in the world competing for jobs. Most women knew how important it was to create an atmosphere at home that would comfort the family and provide protection from the world, as well as bring up children who would be polite and be able to bear the responsibilities of life.

A family did not have to be rich in order for the woman to be able to stay home. They stayed home because they wanted to give their families their very best, not because they could afford it. It wasn't considered some kind of luxury to stay home. I often get letters saying, "I can't afford the luxury of being a full time homemaker."

In the 1950's, when I was a child, it was rare for a woman to go to work outside the home. They were not rich, but they didn't think that lack of money was a reason to leave their responsibilities at home. They weren't languishing in the luxury of being homemakers. They were home managing their husband's earnings and finding ways to live on the income a man could bring home. A woman would have been ashamed to admit that she could not manage on her husband's income. If they were not doing so well, it would have been kept quiet, as it embarrassed them if they could not make ends meet. There was rarely a complaint, even in difficulties.

Being home meant that there would be time to bake bread and cookies and cook wonderful meals. It meant also that clothes would be cared for by being washed and mended. Things were not easy but the family learned how to live in a home and have a rich family life in a house together. This was all on the surface, but underneath there was a greater thing going on. The loyalty the family felt for each other made them strong emotionally. They stuck up for one another and pulled for one another. They protected each other, and each other's reputations.

By watching their parents, children learned to be good caretakers of the home. They learned how to treat the family possessions, which in most cases, were hardly as nice as the things young couples have today. Being home also meant that the family and the house would have dignity. It would not just be a place where people came to crash after a day away. It would not be a place where people came to shower and fuel up and rest up in order to go somewhere else. Home was a place that had a purpose and a rich meaning. The family was royalty in their own right inside those sacred doors.

The family was making a name for itself by its reputation. It could either be a fine, upstanding family, reliable and steady, or a ne'er-do-well type that produced children that were always troubled. The mother knew she had a big part in what kind of reputation that family would be, and the children learned to keep the family name clean, by their actions and words.

Children who grew up in this environment experienced a rich home life. There was make-believe play and made-up games. There were evenings spent at home with the father and mother around the hearth. There was singing. There was story-telling. There also was preparation for the evening. People did not just fall into bed after staying up half the night. They prepared for retirement by having a meal, reading a verse or two from the Bible, or doing something very relaxing.

One way to understand how this home life was made so incredibly and indelibly impressed on the lives of many young people, is to look into the past. What kinds of things went into making a home life so rich ? Poems and songs and stories of such childhoods abound in schoolbooks of the 19th century. What was it about childhood and homelife that made people weep in sentimental love when they thought about it?

Prior to the 1900's, a good family life was the most important element in building a safe society. This was largely dependent upon a mother who stayed home, and even if there were no children at home, women wanted to guard their home and see to its keeping. They did not have a great desire to go to work for wages. They had it good where they were. For more information about the way in which the women's movement of the 20th century took women out of the home, see http://www.ladiesagainstfeminism.com/artman/publish/LAF_Theme_Articles_13/Women_s_Lib_They_re_Spoiling_Eve_s_Great_Con_Game_5010050.shtml
Before relating the various things that went into making the home life great, here are some things which were not included in that rich home life:

*There was very little television, and most families did not have any. When television was first available to the home in 1954, most programs did not even start until 8:00 in the evening. Children went to bed then, and the adults watched Bonanza or Wagon Train. On Friday nights, Disney presented a series of programs for children. One of them was called "Daniel Boone," which made a whole generation of boys want to wear coonskin caps, build and explore.

*There were no weekly trips to the movies.

*Parents did not think they had to give children a lot of toys. Many children had one or two treasured childhood toys.

*Clothing and food were prepared carefully from the materials available. There was no such thing as "fast food" unless a child wanted to pick an apple from a tree.





*Lack of money was not considered an excuse for a broken family or for a weak family or an unhappy family. (Some of the poorest people had the most love in their homes.) Financial gain was not considered the answer to strong families.
*There were not a lot of agencies available for family matters to be solved.Families preferred to solve their own problems.
*There were not a lot of things that kept young people playing and indulging in games and pleasure in their young adult years.
*Families did not have more than one car, more than one record player, more than one television set. They shared. It was exciting to get married and know you would finally have your own house and your own car. This was very grown up and everyone looked forward to it.
You can think a moment and probably come up with a lot more things that the 19th and early 20th century families did not have, erstwhile having a rich and complete family life.

One source of richness in home life is seclusion. It is at home that the family is free to be who they are without feeling obligated to tolerate the world and its demands. In that seclusion, however, there must be something in the home that makes it restful. If it is full of electronic noise and commotion most of the time, the mind cannot be restored. If the homemaker concentrates on making that home a place of beauty and peace, it will be a place where the family can restore their minds. When they are able to do this, they can think more clearly and make rational decisions and behave with dignity.

Personal responsibility was part of developing a rich home life. From an early age, we were taught that we were responsible for anything we came across that needed to be done. Granted, there would often be younger children who avoided responsibility, but eventually they, too, would learn that "if you see something that needs to be done, you do it." Therefore, books that needed to be put away, were immediately picked up if someone saw them cast aside. Clothes were put away and possessions were cared for. One reason we looked after everything is that if we did not, it would be destroyed by careless use, and everything in those days was valuable. It felt good to take responsibility and do the right thing, by being concerned for others in the home. It made us feel grown up, and the more grown up we were, the more responsibility we would be given. Eventually we would be trusted, and be right up there with the adults, drinking tea in their midst.

Creativity was also important in a rich home life. When family members think "how could we make this," instead of "how could we buy this," they enjoy using their skills to make things work, make things do, and just make things. This is the kind of thing memories are made of; the kind of things they will talk about to their children and grandchildren.

Resourcefulness made a rich home life. It helped families rise above their circumstances. Resourcefulness is that inner strength that surges forth when you need something. It says, "How can I do without this?" or "How can I make this work?" and "What can I do to make things better?" We all practiced resourcefulness by using whatever we had around us, rather than depending on money or services and conveniences. When we didn't have resources, we invented them, or used substitutes. For sentimental reasons, I still save a paper bag and a box now and then just to make something that I need, whether it be a file box, a gift bag, a special placemat--just about anything.

Being resourceful does not only apply in matters of finances. It is important in urgent matters in life. One time my husband was driving across a desert in summer and his tire went flat. He got out to change it and took the old tire off. As he was sitting on the ground he noticed he had parked right on top of some red-ants nest and they began to sting him. He remembered that he had a piece of cake in the car, which someone at church had given him before he left to go home. He took the cake and put it a ways from the ants, providing also a little trail of cake for them to follow. He got rid of the ants and got his tire changed and went home. Everyone needs to learn to be resourceful in order to face difficulties with confidence.

Frugality adds to a rich home life. I feel sorry for those who will not learn this, because frugality is actually a lot of fun. It is fun to think how to do without something or get something cheaper or for nothing. It is fun to trade. It is fun to get more out of your money by using things in several different ways. When I was growing up it was harder to get things like paper towels, plastic wrap (there was no such thing as plastic trash bags), and all the paper and plastic products available today. Therefore, I know I can live without them if I need to hang on to my money. If money is tight, which happens to everyone, the first thing I eliminate is any non-food item like foil, zip-lock bags, and household cleaners. These things can be substituted cheaply and money used for food. Without frugality, a young couple will have no stories to tell their children and grand-children. It is a challenge to look for a cheaper price and to count your purchases by rounding off the price to the nearest dollar before you check out. It is very good to look at your cart and decide to live without some of the things in it and put them back. A lot of people refuse to be frugal because they think it is beneath them, but if they didn't spend a dollar, they would have saved a dollar, which would come in very usefully later on.

Seclusion, responsibility, creativity,frugality and resourcefulness were the motivating factors in the settling of North America. The people found ways of getting what they needed, and many of them used their discoveries to create businesses for themselves and their families. It is no different today. There are many resourceful people who have taught their children how to create things and make their own businesses. It is unfortunate, in a way, that so many people are born into a world already made for them, for they do not have the will to develop resourcefulness and do not feel the need for seclusion. It is very important that we deliberately create the opportunity for all five of these things, right there within our own houses. It can be done, there are many who are doing it, and we can do it.







22 comments:

Lady of the house said...

I enjoyed this article very much, Lady Lydia. Thank you.

Anna S said...

Dear Lady Lydia, maybe this post isn't finished yet, but it's sure a good one! I have been away from reading blogs for a while and it's a pleasure to visit you again.

Tracy said...

I truly enjoyed this post. Thank you for sharing examples of a rich home life with us all!

Anonymous said...

Oh dear Lydia.. Thanks for this wonderful article! "Even if there were no children at home women wanted to guard their home and see to it's keeping." Yes it's a truly wonderful occupation! And 'seclusion in the home'.. it is a beautiful thing and something to guard especially as your homeschooling children are growing up and you listen to the too much 'what about socialization?'question fired at you regularly. Keep that family 'special-ness'. As I type we have special visitors, my wonderful son and his sweet new wife asleep in his old room. My heart sings as I think of the beautiful life with him growing up in that very room and now he is a happily married man. Thank you Lord for your blessings. I wouldn't trade one day of his childhood to go out and leave to earn a wage and have position in our society. Being present in our family's lives in the day to day, hour to hour happenings is so very, very precious. I knew it then and I know it a hundred times more now. L.M.L.

Paula said...

Very wonderful article!! Everything today seems to revolve around structured activities for children. I am consistently bored by women who feel a need to have their child in every single activity imaginable. Not only that, but the children look miserable. We've really tried to limit what our childen do outside the home because they need the time at home to create and build and explore. That's why I love when my children head out on their bikes to go to a friend's house or other children just show up to play. Even though we are physically secluded by where we live, we need to do a better job with the electronic noise and commotion. Some of it comes from having a child with special needs--although I will say that he has a wonderful imagination and now with all the snow around us, has invented a new way to sled with my husband's furniture cart and a chair for the seat--I didn't have the heart to tell him to take it apart because we, as a society, go waaayyyyyyy overboard on safety. We continually work on "take care of your things." But that comes from living in a disposable society where if something breaks you just go replace it.

I will say our family has been really good about doing away with the fast food--it is very rare for us to eat fast food--almost akin to having a treat.

Am really excited because our son will be getting from Santa a book entitled "The Dangerous Book for Boys" which I'm sure he will love.

I will say I've been out of the workforce for close to 9 years now, and absolutely cannot imagine ever returning. Although I do realize that, if necessary, I may have to some day. Many women would love to be at home, but will not give up "things" in order to be at home. I'm really trying very hard to understand if it is out of economic necessity that it takes a second income to get by, or if that second wage just goes to pay for all the items required just to work--such as clothings for work, transportation to work, daycare, etc. I think I'm getting off topic from your original post.

Blessings,
Paula

Anonymous said...

All I can say, Lydia, is you are truly wonderful and I love to read what you write. I wish we lived in the same neighborhood. Oh, sorry to get so gushy, but your words are like a refreshing spring in the midst of my personal desert right now!! Its just that right now, as I prepare for Christmas and all its glory, I am also having to prepare to find a job and/or go back to school so I can get an even better job. I am 53 years old and have raised a family and still have children at home. Yes, I know there is something wrong with this picture. Pray for me, would you?

Machelle said...

Thank you for taking the time to pen (so to speak) this article. I greatly enjoyed it. Too often, I use to think back to what families in earlier years were and wonder painfully why mine couldn't have been that way. But I later learned that self pity and wondering what could have been would get you no where. I want to give this sort of family and loving environment to my own husband and children, and reading articles as uplifting as this one inspires me.

God bless,
Machelle

Mrs Rosemary said...

This is a wonderful post,life was just like that in the 1950's when I was growing up and most Mother's stayed at home in the 1970's/80's when I was bringing up my family.I was talking to a friend of my daughter's yesterday who was being made to feel guilty because she was staying at home to bring up her children !! I tried to boost her confidence by telling her she was doing THE most important job that a woman can do and I think I succeeded.What can be more important in a good society than nurturing the next generation.A happy secure and settled homelife is the most important thing in a child's life,all the expensive toys and holidays in the world cannot compensate for the absence of Mother and Father's care in a loving home.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this article...it's so very true. My husband & I are trying to give our children a sane & solid upbringing, & this means saying "No" a lot! And not just to them, for activities that would take them away from home too much of the time; I must be careful about taking on too much, myself, lest I have nothing left to give the family.

I hope many of your readers, Mrs. Sherman, will see that the beauty of family life is attainable for all, & not some "lost civilization", as you put it. I have something called "Beatitudes for the Home" up on my refrigerator, & here are a few of the verses: "Blessed is the home where children are welcome & given their rightful place." "Blessed is the home where each seeks to bring out the best in the other." And lastly, "Blessed is the home where children grow up & grown-ups do not act like children."

warmly,
Brenda

Daughter of the King said...

This is one of the best posts that I have read on this subject.
I too...was brought up in the 50's and 60's...and life, indeed was so much simpler...I can remember coming home from school..hanging up my clothes..putting on play clothes...and then wearing my school clothes again....abundance was not necessary...we GOT BY....when times were tight...we ate beans and cornbread...and to season my mom's vegetable soup...we used ketchup....for a family ride...we would stop..buy a loaf of bread...and a jar of sandwich spread..sometimes a package of bologny......my parents would carry a thermos of coffee..and my dad would sing..and we learned so many songs....not Christian..but harmless....
"Can you bake a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy boy"

NOW...this is dismaying as I see this generation as a generation that IS NOT willing to ever go without...this feeling of entitlement....wanting more and more things...that end up in yard sales or Thrift shops....

How does one swim upstream...I don't know....
Deby

Adlyn said...

though I'm not of age to get married I want a life just like the one you a describing in your article. Thought sometimes like mrs. rosemary said some times I do get discouraged by my family (my sisters) and because I'm african-american. where I live my parents and about 4 other couples are married the rest having children out of wedlock is common and marriage is laughed at. The men here are cowards and don't want a job or a family and disrepect the women here and calling woman out of thier names is common. but I am optimistic about my future and I know that G-D will provide for me thanks you you give me hope.

Kimber said...

Thanks for this article, Lydia. It was a balm to my heart today....I am struggling in my home this very day and struggling my my heart about it.

I just needed a pick me up. I always know when I read here it is going to be refreshing and a validation that what I am trying to do here in my home has value and great worth.

Ok, back at it I go with a lighter heart.

Kimber

Ann said...

Thank you for another wonderful article.

I am constantly astounded how much of an uphill battle it is to be a wife or mother at home these days. Somedays, it seems like the whole world is telling us that we are stupid, wasting our talents, and that we are actually a drain on society.

We are devalued from every angle. Our homes aren't good enough for our own children, they must be in daycare, or classes, or preschool for socialization. We must hire experts.

I do believe that we are a culture absolutely addicted to outside activities and going from here to there to there. Most people would simply not to know what to do with ourselves without the constant hustle. It's almost as if we only exist in the eyes of outsiders, whether at a job or the multitude of traps that even a SAHM or wife finds herself pulled into.

Thank you again.

Happy in TX said...

Thank you Lady Lydia for this lovely article! What an encouraging reminder of the importance of my place at home!
Adlyn,
Take heart! "Delight yourself in the Lord and he shall give you the desires of your heart" the Psalmist says. I am an african-american who loves being at home for my husband and children. Yes it seems that we are a rare breed, but if God wills for you marriage and children, He WILL bring it to pass! Meanwhile, stay faithful, and love Him with all your heart.

Regards,
Happy in Tx

Anonymous said...

Another thing to note is that most people don't understand how desperate you had to be back then for the wife/mother to have to work. My grandmother was widowed at a very young age and made ends meet by doing laundry at her house so she could be home for her daughter. I never appreciated how hard she had to work until I started reading this blog and realized how un-normal that situation really was.

Merry Christmas!!

-Lizzy Farrow

Anonymous said...

It astounds me that women are willing to say that being a full time mother/housewife is a "luxury". There are many,many sacrifices of material things to stay home. (Which I don't regret-we all make our choices of our priorities and how we spend our time in this life.) I cannot count the number of times women with huge new SUV's cry and whine about how they "have" to work and wish they had the money to stay home. What an empty promise feminism has sold us. I thank God my mother was home for us and for all the sacrifices that (highly intelligent, genius IQ even) woman made for us. Keep up the good fight. You wise words are sorely needed.
EllaM

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

As far back as history records, even the poorest peasant woman was a homemaker, so money has nothing to do with it. I do remember when the media began to play their game of changing trends in our culture, by making news reports that couples could no longer live on a man's salary. This was not true but the next generation was so brainwashed with it that they believed it.

Anonymous said...

All I can add is, Amen! What a wonderful article, thank you. I am Scottish, and over here it is the norm for mothers to work out of the home, in fact, you are frowned upon if you don't. I'm happy to say I focus more on the Lord's smiles than people's frowns!

Anonymous said...

Dearest Lady Lydia,

This post hits the nail right on the head yet again. I'm in my late thirties, having grown up in the 70's and 80's. Our mother stayed at home, we were very poor (being of the divorce generation) yet she made do with practically nothing. Our meals were simple, but nutricious, biscuits and cakes being made from scratch, everything else made at home and so on. Commercially made cakes were a real treat. In my teens, mum attended sewing classes at the local TAFE college (community college for those in the US) and learned how to make undergarments and overgarments (such as stretchknit pullovers etc). She made lovely slip/camisole sets and even made briefs out of fabric remnants, re-elasticated the commercial ones we owned and so on. She knitted and even tried her hand at patchwork.

Please pray that in the new year, Vision Australia is able to put me in touch with local seemstresses and sewing circles etc who are willing to teach me how to do these things for myself without the use of eyesight..

Interestingly, money's tighter here in Aus due to the current global financial situation so folks are finally learning the joy of getting more out of less. People are giving from the heart, not the wallet, and even I have spent very little, making hampers for most folk with a mixture of chocolates and my own home made marmalaides, jams an marinated fetta; bought some of those nice small square bowls, arranged the items, with help from my husband, wrapped them in Cellophane and tied with a bright ribbon. our national broadcaster has released a magazine called 'home basics' to teach what women traditionally learned from their mothers, 'shows like 'better homes' are teaching people how to cook nutricious yet budget meals from scratch and books such as 'Spotless', 'Comfy' and 'Speed-cleaning and 'the Commonsense Cook Book' are best sellers. Commentators are remarking that we're choking on our own prosperity (and right they are) while other commentators are unwilling to go the extra mile suggesting we need to slow our lives down and become time rich (as this would mean facing the tiger in the livingroom - the fact that the fulltime homemaker model is the ONLY FUNCTIONAL AND TRULY SUSTAINABLE MODEL FOR SOCIETY - ensuring strength in family relations, ecconomic sustainability (not to mention environmental sustainability as we make do with less consumerist 'must haves') is known deep in the heart of many but ignored for politically correct expediency.

here's a frightening concept for all to mull over:- In the event of a really big financial crash (our modern Global ecconomy is little better than one giant worldwide game of monopoly), after the dust settles, after the initial pain and shock, people may indeed finally learn (via the hard way,sad though it may be) the incredible benefits found through thrift, greater self sufficiency and value of a tight knit family bound by the ties of kinship, respect and a oneness of purpose. We in Australia can't understand the need for the average American family to drive a truck! (essentially this is what an SUV is). When we grew up, it was one car; a small four cylinder Datsun or Toyota; a six cylinder Kingswood, Commodore or Falcon if the family was a little larger. This trend has stayed with us; many downscaling to hatchbacks.

When I was a girl, we didn't have plastic wrap either (it didn't become popular till about 1980-1982 here). Mum used wax paper - Rainbow paper was a real treat, either in yelow, pink and blue or in the 80's earthtones of brown, orange golden yellow. Bread came in wax paper also (not in plastic till the early 80's, Milk came in recyclable glass bottles, as did softdrink. We weren't any the worse for it. Tupperwear was the big thing and I was using mum's tupperwear (bought in 1978) till the late 90's! Flour, sugar and the like came in tins; re-usable once bought to take the paper sacks it also came in. Now these only come out as special editions. We had the very best of modern life (refrigeration, a few appliances (but not many) and one telly; with shows that the whole family could watch (stations closed at midnight). Everyone knew each other. Activities like sports didn't take up all the time and my own brother even as a teen would go and play with his mates - going to the local park with their bikes and building jumps etc. (yes, they got into a bit of mischief from time to time with the local constabulary putting them in their place but it was harmless skylarking by today's standards and a real sense of community still existed between folk in the street, the local shop owners, petrol station lady, doctor, soccer team etc.

I can't believe how much its changed in the past 20 years. yes, some ladies worked, but they were only part time nurses, teachers and the like who still gave amply to their families wen times were simpler).

I can't believe how politicized its all become nowadays; how we're howled down for our views and the way we live our lives. When the crunch comes (and it'll be only a matter of time) we'll be the ones with the upper hand, called upon, not called out against.

Blessings,

mrs. E.,
Australia.

Kristy said...

What a wonderful post, Lydia... I can say a hearty "amen"! As a young wife and mother, I certainly agree that most couples in my generation expect far too much in terms of material goods for their families. I'm thankful to have been raised in a frugal home where FAMILY was paramount and TV (we didn't even own one), money and "extra" activities and things had little or no prevalence in our daily living. It is a joy for my husband and I to raise our young children to enjoy the simple but most important things in life.

Blessings,
Kristy

Father's Grace Ministries said...

I think that this is a wonderful article, full of wisdom and truth. We need more Titus 2 women like yourself in our churches today.
God bless you,
Claire (from Australia)

Anonymous said...

Ladies,

Something else to think about. on 'Collectors' (aired on Christmas eve) a segment was given over to pre 1950's toys (particularly those from the Depression era and WWII). This is by and large a working collection that the owners take around to schools and youth groups. Once the children learn the significance of these toys and learn how they work, they fall all over them with an eagerness often unexpected from the 'plastics and electronics' generations. These toys have stood the test of time, are still in working order and there is not a piece of plastic in sight. You can almost hear the cogs turning with the question 'why'? and 'where's it all gone'? The principle of less but what was there being of good quality or homemade seems to awaken something in them that is missing nowadays.

Pre 1960, over 90% of toys were made locally in Australia. Now its only around 5%. With the crushing of our industry brought about by cheap imports from China etc, a legion of skills and craftsmanship knowledge are being lost forever. Furthermore, these cheap imports over the last year have shown their true colours - brimming with toxic substances. Furthermore, when one purchases these, they are inadvertantly supporting a labour system little better than slavery with workers toiling in conditions where safety is unheard of and exposure to a myrriad of dangerous substances is commonplace - not to mention child labour (hushed up though it may be).

Blessings,

Mrs. E.,
Australia.

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