I’m currently reading…let’s see…seven books! I love to keep a roundtable going. It’s good for the mind. One of them is so refreshing. It’s about a wife and mother (written in the 70s) who eschews the modern familial values of her time in favor of traditional, long-standing concepts such as wifely duties, motherhood, and building and keeping a home for husband and children. The book, entitled Marigold Mornings by Dorothy Evslin, was published in 1976.
I am a traditional mother in many ways. A traditional wife? Not so much. I do not usually clear my husband’s plate from the table as I believe he is perfectly capable of doing it himself and besides, his mother loves to dote on him so he gets plenty of that at her house! Fine by me. I do not put all his clothes away, as I believe in teaching my children to take care of their own responsibilities as adults and they need to see both their mother and father doing that. As I’ve written before, he handles child duties when he gets home from work while I cook dinner and helps with household chores on the weekends if I’ve had a particularly crazy and busy week and can’t get to all of them. When I’m sick, he stays home and takes care of me and our children if it’s necessary.
I have taken a lot of criticism for all of the above. Many women, even today, believe that he is the breadwinner, so he should get to come home, relax, and do whatever he wants, and on the weekends he should do the same. And forget about taking care of me when I’m sick: I should put my health at more risk by not talking about, much less asking help for, my infirmities. Wouldn’t want him to lose his job! Wouldn’t want him to turn in his man card! I should be the ultimate martyr.
Well, obviously, I don’t care a whit about those things! I have slept for two hours each night while working full-time and having a four-hour two-way commute. This while cooking dinner each night and doing the dishes while my ex-husband relaxed on the couch with a beer. And on the weekends I did all the cleaning as well as yard work. So, take that you “well-meaning” women out there who love to think that I’m a witch for “forcing” my husband to do things no self-respecting husband and father would. Plus, HE is on board with it. Gracious, the brain-washing I must have done to this poor man!
But I digress. While reading Marigold Mornings I came across a passage regarding feminists and their nemeses, stay-at-home mothers and housewives. Gracious, but isn’t this the ultimate struggle for women? Especially educated women? The other day my ex-husband said, “Of course [my wife] is going back to work.” (She’s a teacher so is off for the summer, of course). “She’s to0 educated to stay at home!”
HUH???? It’s true that she has a Master’s degree and I only have a B.A. But how does that make my choice (I’m fortunate to have the blessings to be able to choose) to be a stay-at-home mother and housewife less important? Some of you may scoff at his response, as I did (inwardly), but he isn’t alone in his beliefs. Tactless, yes! But there are many men and women who have felt this way since the Sexual Revolution.
So, although I agree with most of what Evslin wrote throughout the book (at least, as far as I have gotten), there are some sources of contention I am feeling in the lastest chapter. For example: “Free women from the hassles and humdrum of childbirth. Never mind that most jobs are tedious nine-to-five bores.” Say what? I have done mindless work on the job, but I have also had rewarding work, even after my oldest was born. And many women choose careers precisely because they want to spend their days interested in their work. There is nothing wrong with that! The Good Lord above granted intelligence, diligence, integrity, and a fantastic work ethic to both men and women. Why should they short-change themselves when they have the ability to make more than a “boring” or “hum-drum” contribution to society and the world?
But here’s a passage I love:
“But – without mothers, the world simply stops. When a girl is told that she is lowering herself by becoming a mother, that motherhood is no-account drudge work, replaceable by day care center and uneducated cleaning woman, that girl is told to deny the splendor of her own anatomy. The woman who patterns her life style after a man rejects her own unique heritage.”
In this world of Teen Mom trash, it’s hard to imagine that girls don’t just dream of having babies as teenagers, but there are so many girls out there who don’t feel that way. Evslin wants them to be taught to choose marriage and a family, although she worked as a teacher at a community college. So it seems that what she is really advocating is that no-man’s land of working motherhood. She sewed; she gardened; she cooked delicious meals too, I think. Martha Stewart, married with children.
It’s a conundrum. Perhaps she only started working when her children were teenagers. I don’t know. As a working mother, I faced one of two fears twenty-four hours each day: be a good, productive member of American society and leave my child in the care of someone else, or devote my life to my child and rely entirely on my husband for support. Who wants to make that choice? Especially if you have a college education or some obvious, productive gift to contribute to the world. There is a push inside of us that makes us want to share that with others.
All of you moms out there who work know exactly what I’m talking about. The idea of leaving our child to have his or her first steps, words, claps, smiles, etc. in the hand of a day care worker or grandparent or nanny is sickening, it hurts so much at times. If you don’t feel like that, it’s my opinion that motherhood probably isn’t very suitable for you.
Which brings me to my original, stated question: Is a woman whole without marriage and children?
Yes and no! It is undeniably a part of a typical woman’s genetic and God-given makeup to to bear and raise children, and to provide for a man the comforts, no matter how simple, of a hearth and home. We can’t help having the inside nudge to have a baby and to fall in love forever and ever with the man of our dreams and spend our lives making both man and babies happy, well-fed, and entertained with our wonderfulness.
But not every woman is “typical.” The idea of changing diapers and wiping up baby spit makes some women feel sick to their stomachs. The idea of having a husband to answer to makes them want to run. Is this woman any less of a woman for feeling that way? NO! In fact, it is my opinion that when people marry for the sake of marriage that they often divorce or stay in those marriages, miserable as they can be.
It is when people have children because it’s expected that they do not actually love their children the way parents should, and is, in my opinion, the number-one cause of alcohol and drug abuse in teenagers and cause of suicide because they want to be friends with their children rather than making the consistent daily choice (made many, many times over during the course of the day) to teach them respect, hard work, Biblical values, moral beliefs, educational decisions, delayed gratification, and maturity.
Show me a roomful of smart-alack teenagers and I will round up their parents, who are too busy with their own lives to notice or engage with their own children.
Show me girls at the tender age of eight or nine, wearing short-shorts with words like “Juicy” or “Bombshell” glittered across their rear-ends, which are not covered because they’re also wearing tube tops, and I will show you why perverts are at the very least watching them or why they date and sleep with (meaning have sexual activity) with older boys. If you are encouraging your middle-schooler or teenage daughters to have the perfect body and hair, to wear sexually mature clothing, or to worship boys, why are you wondering why they “grow up” to be sexually active while in middle or high school? I got this photo at left from a fellow mother-in-arms who is outraged at the sexually provocative nature of young girls in American society. While I don’t advocate her use of curse words, her meaning is clear and on-point. Read it! I personally find it incredibly tacky that ADULT women wear this type of clothing, but when it comes to precious children it is morally wrong and you parents allowing your daughters under the age of 18 (at which point they become legal adults and their choices are their own, sink or swim) to wear clothing that makes them look like tiny prostitutes should be ashamed of yourselves. Does anyone remember the scene from FEAR when Amy Brenneman‘s character tells Reese Witherspoon’s character to take off her makeup because it makes her look like a slut? Um, HELL-O It was her slutty clothing!
The point is that parenting is such a monumental undertaking that it should not even be attempted if you know in your heart it isn’t in you to do it. The same goes for marriage. And God help the couple and their children if the adults combine the two.