Thursday, December 30, 2010

In case you were wondering (or even cared!)

I've been on Christmas break.  I'll be back when I have fewer guests and a functioning computer in the house for more than 30 minutes at a time.  Enjoy your Christmas season!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Of Mary and the Stable

I've been thinking a lot of Mary lately.  I'm sure the snow-clad wreaths and the shimmer of lights from neighboring houses has been somewhat influential.  Regardless, I keep wondering about that night in the stable-forget that animals that were or weren't there breathing on the baby and giving him their wool for clothes, forget the sweet-smelling hay, forget all the sentimental things that make us sigh and forget that a woman just gave birth, and possibly alone.

Anyone who's been through labor, or seen labor, has to know it's not pretty.  Not in the least. I'm certain Mary's was no different.  Though her child was not conceived in the traditional way, it came into this world as any other (or so I think).

What really gets me, though, is that she was miles from home- miles from the women who would have attended her at the birth, who would have supported and encouraged her.

I can't help but think that some woman in the crowded town heard and rushed to her side.  Or that Joseph went to find some help.  I can't bear to think of her having to do that all alone.

Nor can I imagine being visited by a bunch of strange men with their cute little lambs shortly after giving birth.  I suppose it's a good thing God asked Mary do the Mother-of-God job.  I would have botched it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Needs vs. Wants

Sometimes I have a hard time figuring out the difference between needs and wants.  Some examples:

Son crying in the middle of the night: Does he need me, or want me?
Shopping for clothes: Does he need more pajamas, or do I just want to do laundry less often?
Shopping for groceries: Do I need more flour, or do I just want to bake more cookies?
Watching Cars:  Do I need peace and quiet, or do I just want a moment to myself?

So last week, while at the mall buying a pair of shoes to replace the one the dog chewed (a definite need), I glanced at the boots on the rack.  I thought to myself  "Gee, I bet boots would be something I would need, seeing as we're living in a state that tends to get a lot of snow."  Then I glanced at the prices.  "Nah, it's probably just a want.  I can deal with regular old flats.  I've walked through lots of snow before and dealt with wet feet just fine."

And then it snowed. 

A week later, it snowed again. 

Two days later, it snowed again.

And now the wind's blowing, and the drifts are upwards of 3-4 feet.

I think the boots were a need.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Happy hour, anyone?

God, in his infinite mercy, created young children with a need for naps.  I heartily believe it is so we can continue to like our children, especially the ones who have spent their mornings screaming at us.  Therefore, when one of these screaming children refuses to take a nap, or only sleeps for 10 minutes, it's understandable that his mother wishes to run out the front door screaming. Right?

Trust me, the feeling's mutual.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Let this be a sign unto you

I'm certain it's a sign that, while doing a general decluttering of the kitchen, my heart rate picked up and my breaths came a little more often.  But a sign of what, I wonder.  That I need to start running again, or that my son can terrorize my kitchen faster than I could lose on Minute to Win It?  Either way, I rewarded my hard work with a cookie.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The cook, the baker, the candlestick-maker

Leah graciously referred me to another Chesterton quote from his book, What's Wrong With the World, which I found worthwhile:

"Women were not kept in the home in order to keep them narrow;  on the contrary, they were kept at home in order to keep them broad . . . A woman's function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute.  I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task;  I will never pity her for its smallness."

Traditionally, the woman's task in the home was broad.  She was expected to have a variety of skills necessary for the proper running and upkeep of a home.  She could mend a garment, and sew a new one; strip old shirts and piece a blanket's top, then quilt that top for the bed.  She knew how to read a recipe and cook a meal.  She could nurse an infant, and tend the garden.  She kept the laundry caught up, and knew which combination of household goods would be best to get the stains out of her husband's clothing.  She baked bread, and put up cans of homegrown corn for the winter.  She enlisted her children to help make butter and candles and soap, and still invited friends over for dinner. I could continue, but you get the point.

The interesting part of this, however, is that each of these tasks once expected of all women, have now become hobbies, and women only do those of interest.

We now divide ourselves according to our likes and carefully honed skills- we are quilters, or stitchers; knitters, or bakers; soap makers, canners, gardeners, day care providers.  Anything we dislike doing that has to be done, we outsource.  We order in, or eat out.  We hire a nanny and a maid.  We drop off laundry at the cleaners, and pick up cans of peaches from the grocery store. 

Or, if we can't outsource, we convince ourselves that our husbands should be helping out more, and we push our duties off on them..  After all, with both parties working a full-time job, it's unfair that the woman would have to do all housework and child-rearing by herself.  So we assign our husbands jobs, and keep track of their completion on our mental chore charts.

When neither of these options work-they are too expensive, or jobs aren't done to our level of expectation, we'll pull on the rubber gloves and do them ourselves, but with a scowl.

Now certainly, not every woman in the past enjoyed every part of her jobs.  Every mother rejoices when a child is potty-trained, for that marks the end of rinsing that child's dirty diapers day after day.  And certainly, not every woman was equally skilled at every task.  If that were the case, county fair judges would have a difficult time placing blue ribbons on the winning quilts and pies.  Rather, women realized that they had work to do-whether they were experts or not, and whether they enjoyed it or not.  Families had a square meal on the table, even if they had to douse it with ketchup.  Children had clothes, even if they were all made from the same simple pattern.  They knew their duties, and they had the range of skills they needed to make sure their house was in order.  And now, in our modern age women have few of the same skills our mother and grandmothers were taught.  And we are the ones claiming to be "advanced," and "progressive."  Seems a contradiction to me.