The weekly “little of this, little of that” feature here at Like Mother, Like Daughter!
(This will all look and work better if you click on the actual post and do not remain on the main page.)
SECOND UPDATE TO THIS POST:
If you are a new visitor here, welcome. To all — I have not changed one word of this post. I have added an update below, and now this one, but NOT ONE WORD HAS BEEN CHANGED from the original post.
I’ve been re-purposing quilts to cover cold doors. It seems to help a lot!
The following is a little meditation on how difficult it is to hold on to simple convictions.
***Updated: As I predicted below, and since my thoughts have been misrepresented rather stunningly on the internet, let me go ahead and say a few things. I hope you will read my actual words!
Here is what I do not say: That a woman must be ONLY in the home. That she MAY NOT work. That working is BAD.
None of this is personal, and it would be a mistake to think I’m attacking anyone personally. I am trying to get across a thought that I’ve developed quite a bit here on the blog (and you can definitely go ahead and check out my archives).
It is certainly possible to have work or pursuits outside of the home that do not detract from the vocation of making a home.
But if someone finds that it’s not working out to “have it all,” or notices that society is not doing well with the current model, this post is my encouragement.
Here’s what I do say:
I am saying that our society increasingly prioritizes working and that women are overwhelmingly encouraged to seek honor in society through work. This has been the case since the 70s when I was a girl and has only gotten worse, to the point that I can’t even encourage the sacrifice made by women who devote themselves to their families (without in any way suggesting that they stay ONLY at home!) without sparking outrage.
And I am saying that this devotion is in fact the vocation of the woman who is married, and its rewards are hidden and take conviction to pursue. ****
Like the conviction that children need their mother; that it’s ultimately enjoyable, important, and spiritually healthy for a woman — even a woman who could be successful in the world — to devote herself to her family; that when a family does not have the wife and mother (same person!) devoted to it, everyone from the baby to society suffers. It’s just a little meditation, not a whole book (working on it, also there’s this), so don’t expect much.
But it’s sparked by my observation that even so-called conservatives, by and large, have wives who have separate careers or who themselves work (if they are the wife), and that this fact bears on the ability of the rest of us to hold on to our convictions and have confidence in them.
Because of this state of affairs, I’m not sure that even my little meditation can be received at face value. But here it goes anyway…
We are addicted to wanting to find new ways to do things!
Have you ever noticed that?
When applied to all the ways we must “subdue the earth,” it’s human nature to try to do things better, to be innovative, and to improve technique. I love reading in Belles on Their Toes how the young Frank Gilbreth challenged veteran bricklayers to a masonry contest — just through observation he had noticed inefficiencies that slowed them down. His way really was better, new, and improved — and that’s fine.
But not everything is subject to this kind of improvement, and forcing the issue can lead to vast and unintended consequences. Yet our addiction and our fatal flaw drive us to it. This fatal flaw is to expand on our propensity to be active and to achieve by means of our own will all the greatness we can encompass, and to call it all ours. You can find a little discourse on this flaw in the first letter of John, 2:16: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”
So naturally, those who do and achieve attract our attention. And we start to listen, in spite of ourselves, to those who (perhaps on account of a need to rationalize choices they didn’t quite think through) claim to have found a new way to do fundamental things — not bricklaying but, for instance, raising children or living as a family.
Over time, we find that we are convinced, against our innermost longings and even fundamental decisions; that we are tempted to affirm something that we intended to reject; or that we simply forget important but hidden things. We aren’t aware that it can be a kind of false humility to let go of our principles. There is nothing praiseworthy in being open to doubt, when we know the good.
For women, especially in our time, this is going to be the constant battle. It’s hard not to be worn down. We will always be unsure that we are right when we’ve committed to devotion to the family. We don’t see or hear any affirmation for what we have chosen — on the contrary, we find only congratulation for worldly honors, even from those who ostensibly value what we value.
I think that social media have increased the volume on the voices telling us that we are only good enough when we have exhibited the right degree of achievement and what the world calls excellence (it’s not the ancient philosophers’ definition, though!). It makes sense, doesn’t it, that in an age of individualism lived in public, individual success — well documented online! — will be most prized.
It’s just not going to happen that a general outcry will arise, praising the hidden life of devotion that in this journey of ours brings lasting satisfaction. Ultimately that is probably better for the soul, don’t you think? But we’ll have to have fortitude, then. Because — Who will love children from day to day with a love of service, if not their mother? Who will make the home if not the wife? Who would prize financial security, public honors, and prosperity above a happy home? Even the most highly educated and smartest women have realized that all the honor in the world doesn’t make up for a neglected family. Believe me, I have an email folder full of messages from ladies who turned away from the expectations of the world…
Well, even though I’m writing less here these days, I want to remind you that I’m doing my best, little as it is, to help anyone who wants to “live differently” (in the words of Pope Benedict that I have posted on the sidebar). I will always maintain that the family is God’s plan for life in this world of ours, and that any sacrifice we make to fulfill His plan is worth it. And I try to show you how it can be done! In fact, that’s what this blog is about.
On to our links!
- My husband’s book The Lost Shepherd is available for pre-order on Amazon now! (This is an affiliate link.) It will be coming out in a few short weeks, and pre-ordering really helps a book to be better known, as this one deserves to be. So if you are pretty sure you will buy it, we would be very grateful if you did so right now! Thank you!!
- In case you are interested and in the area, on March 7 I will be speaking as part of a Lenten Series at St. Patrick’s and St. Raphael’s Parish in Williamstown, MA, which is adjacent to Williams College. My topic will be “The Four Cardinal Virtues: Living the Good in Daily Life.” I really hope to see you there!
- In the Department of Homeschooling: This idea of the Morning Basket has been kicking around — probably those of us who are long-time homeschoolers (retired even!) did something like this, but somehow when you give it a nice name, it all seems more possible and easy to explain… here is a nice link from Pam Barnhill with lots of rabbit holes for you to go down. The main thing is to have a little ritual every day (with morning Mass perhaps? a little Lauds from the Liturgy of the Hours?) that is enjoyable and edifying — and most of all, is what you want to do in your home school.
- Fr. Gerald Murray is always worth a read. Here he discusses the Kazakh bishops’ “Profession of the Immutable Truths about Sacramental Marriage.”
- Also always worth reading (I’m sure Fr. Murray wouldn’t mind me saying even more) is St. Francis de Sales, whose feast day was last week. This article pulls out his gentle and loving practical advice for the interior life — do read, especially as we begin to head towards Lent!
- Speaking of Lent, here is a great post about how the Church used to gently prepare us for that time with the “little mini-liturgical season” of Septuagisima. Many of the thoughts can be pondered and this time can be revived in our own homes. Perhaps eventually our priests will catch on, and then the bishops…
From the archives:
- In case you question how important the mother is to the children, I have a series on the moral education of children. This is the last post in the series and you will see that the others are linked in it.
- I know that mothers can be driven to distraction when thinking about how to “celebrate” Lent. The fact that it can’t really be done must show us that it’s an interior season, when the seed dies in penance and study, to come to life again at Easter. This is the work of a lifetime, so don’t be impatient. Don’t dig at the ground to see what progress is being made! I have lots of posts about how to live your Lent, which is the best catechesis you can offer your children! Just keep scrolling…
- By the way, dear Pam (linked above) interviewed me for a podcast a while back — I spoke with her about Order and Wonder. (You can find other podcasts and interviews I’ve done on the menu bar here, under “Speaking.”)
While you’re sharing our links with your friends, why not tell them about Like Mother, Like Daughter too!
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