Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The Homemaker of the 1800's

Contrary to popular modern myth, the homemakers of the 1800's had tremendous power. They controlled the direction of the family and often the success of the men, by the manner in which they conducted the home life and homemaking. A woman who practiced thrift and good management, did so partly because she knew it would help her husband be more successful at work, and make him more prosperous at home.

The homemakers of the 1800's thought it was scandalous if a woman left her home and her children in the care of others, because the influence of the wife and mother was keenly felt, and very important. When the so-called "Women's Libbers" came on the scene, the homemakers in general laughed them to scorn, for their backwards attempt at reconstructing the family and society by getting women out of their natural female role that since the beginning of time had suited women just fine. Queen Victoria herself said that the feminists "ought to get a good whipping," stating that if women left their roles of wives and mothers, men would no longer feel the obligation to take care of them.

There never has been such a large population of single mothers, displaced homemakers, or broken homes. The downfall of the family unit (father and mother, children, husband and wife) contributes to the downfall of the nation. The strength of a nation depends on the strength of the home. This may be hard for people today, some who have never seen very many strong families, to understand. Families that love each other and do not "break up" are families that can not be led astray by false teachings and false "liberators," and families that will not abandon their noble purpose in life for riotous living.

There are some things the homemakers of the past have left that we can look into to get a glimpse of their character. For example, their textiles (needlework, sewing and crafts), their art, diaries, scrapbooks, letters, household utinsels, furniture, dinnerware, and houses. The design and space of these homes give us clues about their manner of life. Many a person who has restored an old house of the 1800's has stated that they have felt a kind of contentment and inspiration while living in these old homes.

The homemakers of the past didn't just live for their own pleasures of the day, but thought about how their actions would affect future generations. They knew that the memory of themselves in their descendents could influence them for the better. It was considered shameful for a woman to be a slothful homemaker. However, the homemaker of those times was not worn to a frazzle running around in a car all day, or over-extended on appointments and social engagements. They had more time to do their work, and were not concerned about so many of the things that women stress over today.

3 comments:

Serena said...

I'm really glad that we have only one vehicle and that I don't have to go out often. I have found that when I leave the home we spend more money than when we stay home. Since money is in short supply while my husband is going to university to finish his degree, it is best to not be spending it.
I know women who think they have to have their children involved in all kinds of special activities and they are running here and there all the time. I appreciate our quiet life. I do not think my children are deprived because they are learning to appreciate a quiet life, too. We are the ones who determine how our household will be, just as the women in the 1800's did. I want what they had and hope to keep on working for that goal. It can only be an improvement for the family.
Love and shalom,
Serena

Amy, Rochester said...

As an educated woman with a master's degree in education, I absolutely agree with your statements above. I think it is an atrocity that mothers would allow someone else to raise their children. Many of these mothers don't pick their children up from day care until 6 pm only to sit them in front of the television while they cook dinner, eat and then go to bed. Why even have children if you are not going to raise them properly? In my pre-motherhood teaching days, I saw horrendous manners and values in many children I taught. I also feel many childrens' bad behavior stems from parents buying their childrens' attention and wanting to be their childrens' friends rather than their guidance (because they feel bad about how little time they spend with them. I feel all the popular parenting magazines also perpetuate this crazy culture. There absolutely is a breakdown occuring here. I have decided to stay home and raise my now 6 month old son. I know having his mother around is a comfort to him and I know that he has had a day full of love, play, and educational experiences. It angers me when people say they cannot "afford" this for their children- the last person who said this to me had recently bought a new car, wears Banana Republic, and hires a woman to clean her house once a week. I guess it is really about priorities. I choose to spend time with my children rather than money on my children. I hope there is a return to traditional values at some point- our country desperately needs it.

Anonymous said...

I am a stay at home mother of two. My husband and I make many sacrifices so that I can stay home. We see everyday and even in our own extended families how careless people are with their childrens lives. It sadens us to see little lives given no direction or encouragement. We are satisfied to sacrifice the high cost of social statements and convinience for a safe and structured home life for our children. I only wish that I could make other mothers see that the pains of staying home with your children are so small in comparison with the joys of success at providing a fondation built of strength and love for your childrens future.

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