Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Good Report is Good For the Home

Part of the old homestead road, later called the "home road.' A little path on the right led to the location where we first lived in a little cabin, near the beautiful lake.

It makes sense to put home life in a positive light. My belief is that it does no good to harbor resentment or to dwell on unhappy events. There were probably other women like me whose parents were careful to teach the value of creating something good to remember, out of circumstances that seem very dire at the time.



A view from where the windows of the house used to be. My father chose a place on a hill, to build a house, where it would get the most benefit from light, sun, and warmth. It turned out to be the very best spot.
I tried to capture the dew drop in the middle of the going-to-seed lupines. It glistened a lot more than this in "real life" than in the picture.

This is the place where Mama tied up her little canoe that Daddy built her when they first began their life in the wilderness. The metal post he put into the edge of the lake for her to tie up the boat, is still there. The tree roots created a natural stair-step path to the little cabin that they lived in temporarily while the "big house" was being built. This little cabin had a tent for a roof, and one day it caught fire while Mama was sleeping. She quickly got the children out onto the snow, on sleeping bags, and that is how our Dad found us when he came home that night. He wasted no time putting on a real roof, with a bucket for a chimney. I found pieces of the red tile in the ground, where this cabin had once stood.


In connection with this wonderful trip to remember the lives of my parents when they were in their early 20's, I got a sense that although they had hardship, they did not allow themselves to dwell on anything morbid or anything unhappy, for very long. Although I remember many things happening that were not pleasant, my parents insisted that we not speak negatively about any event in a way that would discredit the family, and my mother, in particular would answer people who asked how she was doing, by saying, "We are just fine! We are doing well."

There were a lot of people like that, in those days. We just assumed that most trials were normal to real-life, and did not waste time complaining. I think today, we as homemakers, have to remember that we are writing our own story, and that we contribute a lot to the negative view of being a guide and guard of the home, by complaining.

If we give a bad report, people will conclude that the role of a homemaker is not a lofty one, but a demeaning one. Of course, there will always be times when it seems you can be lost in a mountain of laundry, or an over-supply of tomatoes from the garden that need attention right now. There will be times when you are tired, sick, or discouraged, but there is no profession that will guarantee that there will be perfect rest, perfect health, perfect plans or perfect results.

There will always be those who wish break down the home, as there has been, from the beginning of time. In the book of Genesis, one reason that Eve lost her beautiful home, is that she wanted the one thing she could not have. In that beautiful garden there was nothing denied her except the fruit on one tree. She believed she was missing out on something. Because she took of that one fruit, she lost the whole garden!

Sometimes homemakers will think they are missing out on something, and start to complain, not realizing that they have so much that they will lose, if they go out into the working world. Many who have no choice but to work, will gladly tell you they are losing a lot of ground in their house keeping and with their children and other interests. The workplace takes up the major part of the day and the week, the month and the year. The homes that cost so much in monthly payments, can sometimes be barely lived in, when a woman gets a career.


I was just in an antique store, where I looked at some old school readers with very nice art in them. Some of them were dated in the 1920's. I like old books, so I thought there would be something of value in these. What a revelation I had when I read so many negative stories connected to home making and being a wife or mother. I thought to myself that the war on women at home began a long time ago, breaking down the image of the woman as the nurturer of the home, one decade at a time.

In one of the stories in this reader, a woman was shown in a very pretty gown sitting on a nice chair, looking out a window. It was a very peaceful scene in her home, and I thought maybe the story would reflect it, but instead, it was a story telling a woman that she didn't know what she wanted. It portrayed her as lacking contentment. The next chapter showed a drawing of a woman in what I would call a very stiff outfit, a suit of some kind, doing some kind of work away from her lovely home. The story put this woman in a good light, telling her that she knew what she wanted. Little elf-like creatures were sitting on the shelves speaking to her on every page.

Although it might have been hardly noticeable to a child, the seeds of discontent were sown in these stories that compared the woman in charge of the home to a woman away from home.

Nothing was written in this reader about the many duties that a woman was responsible for at home. Nothing was shown about her responsibility and her achievements at home. She was shown in a negative light. She was shown as being discontent. If we are not careful, we can do the same. We can show home making in a good light, or show discontent, and perhaps lose that life at home. We probably need to give a good report to ourselves, our children or our husband, at the end of each day, about life at home. It re-enforces the belief that God created the home to meet the needs of mankind.

There is probably nothing we can do about those naysayers who do not want women to be able to stay home and see that it is run smoothly, but there is a lot that can be done about the way we portray our lives to others "from without." We can do a lot to give the home a good reputation. Everyone has a relative or a friend who seems to be just looking for a crack or a break in their lives to prove that marriage, or homemaking is just the worst choice a woman could make. We can not divulge our discouragement to people who are not on our side.

We can refrain from revealing problems with our children unless they are people who are going to really help us succeed. We can also refuse to reveal personal anxieties to our own children. The parents of the past tried to protect their children from their fears. They didn't think childhood should be disturbed by too much worry.

We can refuse to complain to anyone unless they are people who really believe in what we are doing. We can be careful about our appearance, which is an important part of giving a good reputation to our families. We can be sure to warn our children not to talk about their family problems to others, or to tell their family business abroad. We can at least have one room looking peaceful and tidy, so that when someone enters the house, it feels orderly and calm. There are many things we can do to protect the reputation of the home, ourselves.


It would be hard for a reader of a young age to see what was missing in this elementary reader. The woman who was not at home all the time, could also have been shown in a different light, going from job to job, and being told she just didn't know what she wanted. Instead, the homemaker was shown as discontent, aimless, and without purpose.

No matter what events occurred in our lives, many of our mothers made sure they ended on the up-side. The car may have gotten stuck at the end of the road, but the walk home could be pleasant. The plates might not have been washed, due to the fact there was no water, but we learned to turn them upside down and eat of the back of them. We may not have had money, but we learned how to use available things, to create what we needed.

Many people in those days wanted to find a way to make a day end pleasantly, even if there had been troubles. We did get depressed, but our mothers were always ready with their sayings or their songs, or their favorite cure of "work."Our night time prayers gave us great relief in troubles, and helped us begin the next day with a great deal of hope. The alternatives became future stories that were handed down to the grandchildren. We were not allowed to be discouraged or depressed for long, and never would we have dredged it all up and created a case against our parents for making us go through hard times.

Of course, there are "giants in the land" in the form of government agencies, courts and judges, and various kinds of educational establishments, that seem always at work to divide the home rather than keep it intact, but like Caleb, I think it would do us more good to bring back a good report, particularly to those who seem ready to denounce the idea of guiding the home full time, and to insist that the members of the home only give a good report of their home life, to the public.


22 comments:

Melissa said...

What an awesome post......God is so good as I really needed to hear this right now!

Many Blessings,
M.

All things bright and beautiful... said...

I love the way you open up my mind to see an exta dimension.
I just love being home. It is not the easy option by any means but it is the most meaningful.

Anonymous said...

Thank you dear Lydia for this article. I'm inspired to verbalize all the positive aspects in our life's calling, with it's duties and responsibilites. The pure delight and contentment I feel in my homemaking role must be openly shared when applicable, and any difficult times only broached with like-minded people for their advice and support. That's why I'm so thankful for your blog. May I always remember to only convey the delight and joy this profession gives; the fulfilment IS beyond description. Love, LML

Cindi said...

Your mention of the book and thinking it was written around 1920 made me think that around then was the start of flappers and such. That seemed the time when discord began to be a public thing in the lives of women in our country.

Anonymous said...

A wonderful post. You are a truly gifted writer and thinker.

~ Ann

Anonymous said...

As a homemaker of 21 years, I loved this post. Thank you for sharing these words of wisdom with your readers. Also, I just wanted to tell you that I really like your long posts such as this one. I've enjoyed your visit back home and all the beautiful photos as well. God bless you!

Cherish the Home said...

I didn't know this tearing down of the home started as early as the 1920's.

This is a lovely post and has given me lots to think about. I especially liked:

"She was shown in a negative light. She was shown as being discontent. If we are not careful, we can do the same. We can show home making in a good light, or show discontent, and perhaps lose that life at home."

That is a very sobering thought.

Luvs2BMommy said...

Great post! I would add it is good for the marriage too. I have seen too many wives go on and on about how horrible their husbands are to anyone who will listen, sometimes in front of their husbands. I wouldn't be FRIENDS with someone who talked about me like that, let alone MARRIED to them. I always wonder what these women think, do they ever wonder what we are all thinking...like "Why doesn't she just be quiet or Gee, I would be mean to you too". I even did this foolish thing with just my best girlfriends until they told me to shut up. Thank God they did, they were right! I try not to ever say anything about my dh (try, I am only human) that I wouldn't say right in front of him AND that is nice. I mean, I wouldn't want him telling all my faults either.

Many Blessings :)
Ace

Judi said...

Excellent post. This sentence stands out to me: "We can not divulge our discouragement to people who are not on our side." Boy, I've made that mistake before -- shared my frustrations or worries with someone who then offers a barbed remark rather than empathy, encouragement, or even helpful criticism. Perhaps they are not happy with their own lives and see an opportunity to feel superior about something. Choose your confidantes carefully, and try to be the supportive friend you'd like others to be for you.

Thanks again for a great post.

goldilocks said...

Wow, what a fantastic post!

I think complaining has gotten to be the fashionable way for women to bond... just yesterday I was sitting at a park with my children and listening to a nearby group of women complain about EVERYthing, from pregnancy to husbands to household finance to their own kids, who could hear every word they said.

Sometimes it seems that if you do not return a complaint with a complaint of your own, that the other women see you as stuck up, or "fake."

I admit I play along, especially when I'm trying to make friends in a new community, but sometimes it feels like a really dirty game to play.

(on the other hand, working women gripe and complain just as much as homemakers, imo. Not that this makes it OK, by any means.)

Jessica said...

What a wonderful post! I am so inspired by this blog! It has really helped me in the beginning of my marriage. Wanting to be a homemaker and a mother at home does not always make me popular among inlaws and other friends but it is nice to know that there are women who feel the same way as I do. Thank you for your encouragement as always!

Clare said...

Thank you so much for this post, it is such an encouragement. For me, your words of wisdom are very timely! We're in the process of moving and I've been doing a good deal of complaining recently. Thank you for reminding me that I'm a 'guard of the home', and 'writing my own story'. God bless you!

Mrs. Wood said...

When we complain to others, it is as if we seal our problems into our own hearts. They become harder to fix. I think this is especially important to remember when our children are infants and we may be more tired and prone to complaint. I didn't complain endlessly when my children were small and I loved my every minute with them. But, I look back on the few complaints I made either publicly or to my husband with shame. What a glorious time of life that is, to have your children's futures stretched out before you and to share such physical intimacy with them. I know now I had nothing to complain about. Nothing at all.
These days, I notice that women who are working seem secretly intrigued that I rarely whine about my life. It makes them stop and think.

BarbaraLee said...

I live like that. It isn't easy w/a hubby & dd1 complaining all the time. We have fun a lot but they see the neg. before the pos.

My dh asks me how my day was when he is at work just as much I ask him.

Jill said...

This is such an important subject! It is one that must be actively taught especially if complaining is the "norm" in a person's upbringing. Many women's "support" groups are simply a complaining session!

Our pastor's wife always said, "If you're going to share your problems with someone, make sure they are part of the solution and not part of the problem". In other words, choose a strong, godly person to share with...someone who will stop you from complaining just for the sake of complaining!

As a young wife and mother I had to shut up about our poverty and struggles to our unsaved family because it would have given them an opportunity to scoff at the name of Christ. Years later I realized that learning to be quiet about our very real problems AND put a smile on my face when I didn't feel like it, was used by God to mature me in many ways.

Jill

Sue said...

Again, I agree whole heartedly with everything that you say here.
So, glad you got to spend time in your home land and that you shared you experiences with us.
Hugs,
Sue

Lady B said...

This paragraph spoke volumes to me.

"Of course, there are "giants in the land" in the form of government agencies, courts and judges, and various kinds of educational establishments, that seem always at work to divide the home rather than keep it intact, but like Caleb, I think it would do us more good to bring back a good report, particularly to those who seem ready to denounce the idea of guiding the home full time, and to insist that the members of the home only give a good report of their home life, to the public."

I must confess havent been much of Caleb, bringing back a good report about family all the time. But Calebs example spoke volumes to me, from this day forth, i aspire to walk where Caleb walked, and speak as Caleb spoke....AS IN BRINGING BACK A GOOD REPORT, NO MATTER THE SITUATION...A million thanks for this beautiful piece,in it there is lots of wisdom...
Lady Barbra from Uganda.

Rosemarie said...

Thank you so much for this post, and for speaking in it to those of us who are unable to be at home. As a wife and mother who works outside the home I find that it is important not to bring the worries and negative aspects of the workplace back to the home. They seem to sully it somehow.

Your post has given me the determination not to be dissatisfied with the imperfections that I see every evening when I come home - all the things undone that would be done if I were at home - but to concentrate on making our home a place of peace and happiness.

And actually, while I was thinking about your post, I saw a very strong distinction between the terms 'being at home' and 'staying at home'. The latter is used all too often to suggest some sort of imprisonment or limitation. I know that some ladies describe themselves as 'stay at home' mothers/wives', but this isn't who I'm referring to - I mean the pejorative use of the term by those who can't believe that a woman would be happier at home. When I think of wanting to be at home I always find myself using the term 'be' rather than 'stay'. 'Being' is a much fuller term, almost spiritual. It has to do with fullness of experience, time to live properly and fulfill one's potential.

lady cess said...

thanks again for this beautiful, encouraging post.

Mrs. P said...

Hello, I'm new here but I thoroughly enjoy reading this. I wanted to share something. I have recently learned of a tradition in Europe (specifically Germany) where young ladies were sent to live in other peoples homes(usually relatives or close friends) for the sole purpose of learning how to run a household once they get married. This was happening as late as WWII.
I just thought it was very interesting. Does anyone know of any traditions similar to that?

Elizabeth G. said...

Very timely for me, well thought out and true.

Sometimes it seems as though we are truly walking against the wind in these matters.

Thank you for the encouragement.
Elizabeth

Country Victorian said...

Excellent Lydia! If we have any concerns it is best to take it the Chief! Christ knows exactly what our needs are. Can you imagine if God was trying to teach a particular character quality through the difficulties of life and all we did was complain? What lessons are we avoiding, what beauty are we missing and who is it we are really complaining about. I think if we all really thought about it, it may be God himself we are resisting.

Love Lisa

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