Thursday, July 21, 2005

She Never "Did" Anything

While discussing the estate of a beloved relative, which involved the details of her tea cups and furniture, I was told by someone in her family that there wasn't much left to the family, from her belongings. This was, he said, because "she didn't do anything much."

"She never worked outside the home," he said. "She didn't have any money."

I felt sad that this was his attitude toward the worth of this woman. While I knew her--approximately 25 years, she created beauty and order in her home. She was a good helpmeet for her husband. She crocheted the most beautiful pieces I've ever seen. Her home exuded a warmth of old-fashioned welcome, that I have not been able to match. She sewed her own clothes and was a good cook. I always looked forward to visiting her. She had a cheerful response to everything, no matter what troubles came upon her.

Married in the 1930's, her husband, like many others, was proud to support her full time at home, and did not wish for her to work. One could easily see that it was a full time job just caring for him, the garden, the house, and the many ways in which she served the local church.

The thing I remember most about her is her laughter, and her optimism, until the day she died.
Though she had no children, she was loved by her nieces and nephews, and all her other relatives.

How very tragic that people cannot think of success in any terms but money. I'm sensing a real attack on family values, Biblical standards, and the sanctity of marriage and the home. It doesn't matter what achievement one has in the corporate world. If they cannot keep a marriage together, their accomplishments will not last. If they do not put a concentrated effort into teaching their children, nothing of real value will be handed down to the next generation. If the women cannot become experts, through years of practice and experience, in homemaking, they have no glory. If they are praised by the world for their profession, they can still lose their families. There is no accomplishment that can make up for this.

Such women of the home, ought to be honored. At one funeral I attended, I heard someone remark that "She cared about her home. She was a good housekeeper, and a conscientious mother, and a good wife." There is no greater acclaim.

The beauty of such a life, is that it is unique. Each homemaker has her own talents and way of doing things. Each can make her home special. It would be boring indeed, if, when visiting the homemaker, we would find the homes identically kept. Everyone brings into the homelife their
own likes and talents. One may have her home decorated in blue, while another might enjoy antiques. Others may be keenly interested in baking breads of different types, while some may love the touch of the sewing machine across a pretty piece of fabric. Others might find great fulfillment in providing hospitality, and others may be able to create a home business from their talents and hobbies.

We ought to laud these women, who do not feel they have to compete; who pay no heed to the voices that call them from their nests. We ought to give them prizes, medals, and big baskets of gifts, for their steadiness of purpose at home. There is constant pressure on them to relent. "You won't have a pension," "You won't have any tenure at work," "You'll have nothing to do when you are older." This is nonsense. It is a smoke screen. It is a diversionary tactic. None of it is true.

I heard a religious woman speaking on the radio one day who was claiming to offer counsel to younger women. She claimed that "this is not the 1950's, and no one is ever going to look after you all your life. You have to get some training and get a job." She obviously didn't do the research. There are still a lot of women, more than can be counted, who are staying home. Through their helpful frugality, and the wise management of their money and posessions, they've helped their husbands become successful, and now, in their later years, they are both secure. The ones who thought they should work, however, are still working, still not secure, and sufferring from health problems.

You don't have to justify staying home. The Bible clearly shows that a woman best ministers and blossoms in her home. She is protected from outside stresses, and she can more easily build up a reputation of being "a good woman."

If you've been home for a few years, you've done well. Keep on doing it. Stand up to those who say it can't be done, by showing that it can, and that it is being done. There is no greater accomplishment in life than to have a successful home life. Divorce, troubled children, mother working, a house in disarray, is not successful home life. Much of this can be turned around by the woman's return to the home as a career. Not all women will approach it the same way. It is different for each home. Through a woman's own special personality and dedication, each home though different, can produce the same successful results: children who are able to form good relationships, houses that are well cared for, hospitality shown to others, strong churches, and good marriages.

I overheard two women talking about their finances. One woman said, "We added and subtracted, and looked over our expenses, and decided that "I" should do something." There it is again, the new bywords: "do something." It means "I must leave my home and go to work."
An acquaintance, seeking sympathy from a co-worker about the trouble he has making ends meet (his house payment and taxes are very high), was told, "You wife should 'do something.'"

"Do Something," is a modern phrase for "My wife stays at home. She doesn't earn money or 'help out.'" In colleges, young men and women are taught, in not so many words, that a woman should get a job so she can "help out." "Help out," is the next new phrase on the scene.

I know a couple in financial trouble, who decided to follow the Biblical standards of the roles of men and women. They had a tough first year, as the wife quit her job and stayed home to homeschool their child. Now, only a few years later, they are out of debt, with money to spare. Her husband has no impressive income. He has no job of any prestige. They have decided to follow the Biblical plan and let the wife keep the home and the husband provide a living. There are plenty of stories like this, and it might be surprising to learn that these people do not live miserable, overly frugal lives. On the contrary, they have more leisure time and are under less stress than other families where both people work.


Anonymous said...

Lady Lydia~

What a wonderful post. I have been a stay at home mom since 2000, and although there are days I wonder "How are we going to survive?" God is faithful, we are like the family in your closing we have five children, homeschooling, and my husband is a full time student and nurse. It is by the Grace of God we do what we do hopefully all to the glory of God.

Anonymous said...

Your article is sooo right. I have been a homemaker for over 30 years. My husband's salary has never been that much but we have always kept a pantry, paid our bills,have savings and had extras to share with others in need and even paid off our home years early. We shop wisely and check out thrift stores and garage sales and store sales. Our home is beautifully furnished and we have all the tools and such we could ever need. 99% bought used. The hunt for them is really fun and I cannot imagine how boring our home would be if I HAD to shop for everything at stores in the mall. Everything looks the same there. We bought our things here and there and the children had happy memories from outings doing so. We have never regretted our decision. I rejoice when I see articles of many more woman who are choosing again to be at home. Their lives and those of their families and community will be enriched.

Anonymous said...

I have recently graduated from college with a Bachelor's degree in Business. My life's ambition is not to go out in the world and work, but to stay at home and raise my children and ensure that my husband has a warm meal to come home to. I will be getting married come October and I cannot wait for the day when I can live my life as I have always dreamed of: taking care of my home and my family in a way that no second income or working mother can. My future husband and I are going to have a home. And that will be the best blessing we could ever pass on to future generations. I hope that I can be like the woman in your post. Forget the corporate ladder. Let my climb the ladder to my children's bunk beds and kiss them goodnight. That's a dream I think too many people don't recognize as a viable and true aspiration of women today.