I can see the world- 1907

From my farm I can see most of the world; and if I wait here long enough all people pass this way. -1907

This is one of my most favorite quotes. While it wasn’t specifically written from a housewife’s perspective, I think it’s especially fitting.

I haven’t always been a housewife. I spent many years working different jobs and going to school before I got married and settled into a career running our home. Back before my life was centered around the home, I always felt a restlessness on the rare day that I spent at home. even when I had a lot to do. I felt like I could go stir-crazy looking at the same four walls. I know I haven’t been the only one. I’ve heard it from mothers on maternity leave….”What do you DO all day?  I’d go crazy staying at home; I have to be out and around.”

However, in seasons where my outside commitments have been minimal I find myself liking to be home to the point that I’m not anxious to leave. I’m not a recluse or a hermit, but I’m definitely a homebody. From what I’ve noticed, it takes everyone a while to break from the “on-the-go” mentality and to slow down enough to enjoy being at home. But now if someone offered to do all my errands I would be perfectly content to stay in my home and yard and leave just on the weekends to go to church and visit family. It seems that the more I’m gone from home, the more unorganized our home life becomes. You’d think the house would stay cleaner the fewer people were home making messes and eating and changing clothes, but it’s not the case. And instead of getting bored, I have the opposite experience. The more I’m at home the more I find to do.

From my home I can’t see most of the world but I can see most of my world. That’s enough for me. (I’m sure that was the author’s point.) I think sometimes we make our sphere too big. It gets overwhelming and becomes too much for us to manage. I don’t believe we miss as much as we may think we do at times, which is why it’s called the fear of missing out and not simply “missing out.” The stuff that’s important and the people that matter will find us.

The Dream of a Tired Woman; by Mary E. Gardner; 1913

It had been a hard day.

I looked at my cross, tired face in the glass and noted bitterly, almost savagely, its lines of care; its drooping lips of dissatisfaction; its worldly eyes, and aging, yes, its unpleasantly aging, expression.

It was a depressed, discontented face that stared moodily back at me, and I did not like it.

“What’s the good of it all?” I muttered, sitting down on the edge of the bed and addressing, vindictively, no one or no thing in particular.

“What’s the use, tell me that,” I growled, banging my shoes, aggressively on the floor, “will you, of living, of life, anyway? Just moiling along day after day, to earn enough to keep you moiling along the next one. Ugh! I could have thought out a better world and system than this, myself, I do believe. It’s just a shred and a patch of creation, not getting anywhere or doing anything; anything worth while, anyway.” And so, with complaint and self-pity and discontent and all uncharitableness, my eyes closed and I was asleep.

In my sleep I dreamed. I thought I was walking along a shaded lane. Beautiful trees lined either side, both behind and before me. I could catch, though, occasional glimpses, when I raised my eyes, of rare cloudless, blue sky, far above. The lane, or road, stretched straight ahead, miles of beautifully shaded thoroughfare, until at a great distance, it reached a green hill, on whose summit I could see the sun shining.

All my discontent had vanished. I walked calmly, serenely, along the lovely road and my soul was at peace with itself and the world. I did not know where I was nor how I came to be there. Nor did I care. I was glad to be there and I hummed a merry tune as I sauntered along; one that belonged to the happy days of Long Ago Youth, and which I thought I had forgotten.

I saw flowers and tame wild animals but I did not pluck the one, nor scare away the other. Why should I?

It was so good to be alive that I would not have dimmed a ray of the day’s joy by shortening the brief life of a gay blossom, or disturbing the rambles of my little dumb brethren.

Presently, I saw afar off, a form appear on the top of the green hill. I watched with joyful interest. It was a woman. She was, I noted, as we drew nearer, stately in form, dignified of movement, and, where had I heard that phrase, “nobly planned.”

I muttered it confusedly as we approached.

“A perfect woman, nobly planned.” It described her anyway, that was certain.

We met. We clasped hands, and as I looked up into a face so calm, so benign, so peaceful, so free from hint of
passion or uncleanliness, yet so full of wisdom and dignity, I felt both abashed and comforted.

We did not speak for some time. Then as I gazed at the noble face of the woman, I suddenly saw a resemblance.
“Why,” I exclaimed, in all sincerity, yet with abasement and amazement, “You are like me!”

She smiled down at me and clasped more closely my hand.

“I am you,” she replied, in tones that were like the sweetest music. “I am what you should have been; what you were meant to be.”

The vision faded as it spoke. I held, or tried to, madly, the loosening hand and cried, “Oh, do not leave me, stay.”

I could not keep her, but as road, hill, woman, birds, flowers, all disappeared from my longing sight, I heard these words, this promise–

“Be Comforted. Be Comforted and Hope. I am what you yet shall be.”

I awoke from my dream and life was labor again, and oft the labor seemed great and the gain small, and I was still careworn and wrinkled and weary, but the memory of my dream abides with me and who shall dare deny, but that in some life, somewhere, sometime, I shall become through much tribulation, perhaps, but with final certainly, that which I was meant to be.

And this dream that I dreamed, was it for myself alone, or was it not meant rather for all the great sisterhood of women toilers; weary workers who lift tired, oft rebellious eyes and empty work-worn hands, to a silent Heaven and ask, “Why and for what was I born?”

It will be, I like to think so; to believe that in some Great Coming Time to Be, we shall all be what creative Love and Wisdom planned.

And God shall wipe all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. Revelation 21:4

Teaching Young Women; 1913 & 1938

From 1913–

Some women think their whole duty to their children consists in drudging for them.

An eighteen-year-old girl boasts that she could work if she had to, but “my mother wants me to have a good time, she says I’ll have to work after I get married.”

If she marries a poor man, I shudder at the life he will lead–yes–and she also, for her only life is running through streets, and spending money for little things to eat and enjoy. She has never been taught to think of the good of others; yet her mother prides herself on her “love” for her child. I know it is difficult for mothers to know just how much to do for the children of the home and how much to require from them. We all want them to be happy, yet does it take from their enjoyment, if they are taught how to add to the happiness of others? Will not their future homes be happier and better ordered if they are accustomed to do the necessary work of a house?

From 1938–

When my daughter was “teen-age,” I suddenly woke up to the fact that I was a martyr mother and was teaching her to be selfish. The real awakening came when she got her first permanent and took on a patronizing air because mother never had had one. Well, I got one and she said, “Why, mother you are pretty?” So I went farther! Instead of buying daughter the more expensive dress she coveted, we each got a less expensive one and I hied forth to Sunday School with her. I know that she respects me more for it, than when I dressed her so nicely that there was nothing left to buy a good-looking dress for me.

Blessings be upon the mother who has the courage to spend money for a new dress for herself and makes over an old one occasionally for her daughter!

 

 

Just for To-day; 1921

Strength for to-day is all that we need,
As there never will be a to-morrow;
For to-morrow will prove but another to-day,
With its measures of joy and of sorrow.

Then why forecast the trials of life
With such sad and grave persistence,
And wait and watch for a crowd of ills
That as yet have no existence?

Strength for to-day! What a precious boon
For the earnest souls who labor–
For the willing hands that minister
To the needy friend or neighbor.

Strength for to-day–that the weary hearts
In the battle for right may quail not,
And the eyes bedimmed by bitter tears
In their search for light may fail not.

Strength for to-day, in house and home,
To practice forbearance sweetly,
To scatter kind words and loving deeds,
Still trusting in God completely.

Isn’t that a fine poem, sisters? It means a great deal–do you not think so? I used to get so blue and discouraged I did not know what to do, going on in the same old treadmill, with no possible “let-up” or change of view; at such times I would stop and read this poem over slowly, trying to get the inner sense of every line; and then I would say to myself: “Well, there’s one comfort; I have only got to get through to-day and do the best I can. The work that is right ahead of me now is all I’ve got to look out for.” And after I had reasoned things out this way with myself, I found I could keep at what I had to do and not get half so tired.

Now we are getting along splendidly, have started payments on our own place, and you couldn’t find a happier household anywhere. So I say, sisters, when you get to thinking of the work piled up ahead, and of troubles that may come–just don’t! You’ve got the strength to go through to-day, and you haven’t anything to do with to-morrow until it arrives–and then it will be to-day. It surely does make a great deal of difference how you think about things. If you say to yourself that everything is sure to come out all right, and there’s nothing to worry about, and act as though you believe it, going around smiling and cheery, you can’t think how much happier you and everybody else will be, and how the clouds that look so dark will really break away. I know, for I have tried it and have proved that “the trick works.”