Rest Where You Are, 1925

With the exception of one aspect, I have truly loved my 40+ years of being a housewife. What is my one exception? The following old saying states it best: “A man works from sun to sun, but a woman’s (housewife’s) work is never done.” Since my home is my workplace, my many duties are always in plain sight staring at me, begging to be done! Although I knew that I needed a change of perspective rather than a change of job, I was never able to grasp a solution to my problem until now. A teenage girl from Nebraska, born more than a century ago provided me with the answer.

I am a high school girl and know the meaning of hard work. My mother is an invalid and I have five brothers and sisters and so have housework and school work both to do.

I want to tell you of some magic words I found. Maybe you will not think they are magic if you read them casually. I don’t know who wrote the verses but I do wish every harassed house mother and others who are overworked, might try their potency. Read them slowly with the idea of getting their full meaning. There is something almost mysterious about the way they fit each hard day.

“When spurred by tasks unceasing or undone,
You would seek rest afar

And cannot, though repose by rightly won,
Rest where you are.

“Neglect the needless, sanctify the rest,
Move without stress or jar,

With quiet of a spirit self-possessed,
Rest where you are.

“Not in event, restriction or release,
Not in scenes near or far

But in ourselves are restlessness or peace,
Rest where you are!

“Tasks, unceasing or undone,” which spur you unmercifully on–isn’t that sometimes true of housework? If you cannot be spared for a vacation, why “rest where you are!” I know it can be done.

“Neglect the needless” and half of your load is lifted. “Sanctify the rest.” After all is there any office on God’s green earth so well worth filling as that of caring for your home?

“Move without stress or jar,” in other words, take your time and do not worry. Now say the rest slowly. It is magic!

I may be little but I have found the magic within which makes me bigger than the biggest day’s work that ever comes my way.

Her Own Prince Charming; 1920’s

More than 90 years ago, Alice Robinson from Ohio, won first prize in a contest where she was asked to describe her “Prince Charming.” 

“If you had asked me not too long ago, I would have said that he had to be tall and dark with wonderful brown eyes. But he has come and our little home is being built. Just after the New Year, the most wonderful honeymoon that ever happened (to us) will be in progress.

My real Prince is as little like my dreams as anything could be. His light hair and blue eyes (which are always shining with kindness and merriment) are more wonderful to me than I ever dreamed anything could be. I dreamed of a rich man who could furnish me with a magnificent home. My merry farmer lad is giving me a tiny bungalow with everything modern and convenient, if you please, which no one would call magnificent, but everyone would say was adorable; they couldn’t help it. And in it with Christ’s help and blessing, we shall be happy, forever and ever because I know I am getting the world’s truest and best. And ‘he’ says he is satisfied.”

The following is a simple plan for a garden wedding. What a lovely and unstressed way to marry Prince Charming!

My cousin is going to be married early this summer and we are planning for the happy event together. Neither of us have any sisters so we are real chums even though she is a little older. They have a large shady lawn with pretty flower beds and bushes on it and she has chosen this pretty place instead of the church or house for the place of the wedding. My mother has given us permission to take over our piano and I am to play for them. My brother has a lovely voice and he is going to sing several pretty songs that cousin has already chosen. We are going to decorate the lawn with rugs and benches and the prettiest pillows we can borrow from our friends. Brother will make an altar near the piano. We shall borrow the large candles and candlesticks from the church so that in the evening the lawn will be lit up and that is when it will show it’s splendor. The altar and piano we shall decorate with wild flowers. The ceremony will be before dinner and the reception held under the shady oak trees out on the lawn. We shall make everyone present feel that my cousin’s outdoor wedding was a happy and successful affair.

 

In Love With Her Life, 1915

It is dusk. The children and I have just come in from the corral, where I milked seven cows. I am so in love with life that I find a day very short to hold its allotted joys.

First, I awoke a little earlier than usual this morning and lay thinking over the “had-to-be-dones.” It is baking day; but that is a glad-to-be as well as the other, because I love to experiment outside of the cookbooks. At half-past five I arose and by half-past six had breakfast on the table and my bread set. By eight o’clock we had breakfasted and I had the seven cows milked. How I love my gentle cows! What an inspiration their calm patience is! And I love to get out at that hour. At this altitude the mornings are always chilly but by eight it is pleasant. At half-past eight I had the three larger children dressed and at breakfast, while I ran the milk through the separator. While the children finished, I went again to the barnyard, where I fed my little chicks and turkeys and looked after the rest.

I have two rows of flowers between the barnyard and the house, so I stopped a few minutes to smell the sweet-peas, to admire the gorgeous colors of the poppies, and to pull a few weeds. By ten I had Baby bathed and all his little wants attended to, the breakfast dishes and the milk things washed, my bread in the oven and my dinner started. So I sat down to churn and to read while I churned. I use an old-fashioned dash churn, therefore I have an excuse for sitting down. I am glad of it, for I can read then.

By twelve I have my sweet golden butter printed, have heard my daughter’s lessons and have dinner ready. By half-past one we have had dinner and I have the kitchen in order and we all lie down for a rest. At two I begin making the beds, by three the whole house is straightened, so I have two hours for myself. I read a little story for the kiddies and then send them all to play while I read a little. I write a couple of letters and then go out to hoe and pull weeds a while.

I cook most of my supper while I cook dinner so I can prepare supper in a few minutes. So I feed my biddies, and the children gather the eggs, until we hear the men coming in from the field. By seven o’clock we have had supper, and Baby is put to bed. Daughter helps me put the kitchen to rights.

Then comes the goodest part of the day. We go to milk. Daughter and Son sit in the wagon out of harm’s way and I milk. We all enjoy the beauties of the sunset, the beautiful colors, the crisp little mountain breeze. By nine the kiddies have had their bath and are in bed. Daddy-man is playing the phonograph so they can go to sleep.

At ten o’clock my day will be finished. I shall finish this paper and read a little with Daddy-man and then it will be my bed-time. As I finish I see I have left out many little joys. I have kissed little hands to make hurts well perhaps a dozen times. I matched some colors and cut some blocks for Daughter’s patchwork quilt; I made a finger-stall for the hired man. I have answered the ‘phone a few times and–Now if some university can help me to make my days more elastic so that they can encompass all my joys comfortably, I shall be glad. There’s so much I want to do but–Good-night!

 

Drudgery? Not in Springtime! 1926

Drudgery! It is an old-fashioned word that we rarely hear today, but a century ago, it was used a great deal to describe housework in general, and often Spring Cleaning. In 1926, a woman from Iowa wrote, “True, we have vacuums, dust

mops, electric washing machines, and washable floor coverings…but there always will remain, to the conscientious housewife at least, a certain amount of dread because somewhere, try as hard as she may, there is bound to be more or less of drudgery in house cleaning.” 

I have begun my 2018 Spring Cleaning but instead of getting discouraged with so much ahead of me, I plan to take this woman’s advice:

This spring I have decided to work out my own plan of escape from this drudgery. I am going to take a lesson from Mother Nature herself. I shall don the gayest of percale aprons when I go outside. I am going to “step out”–oh, anytime in the first part of the mornin’, nine o’clock if I feel  like it–under the

trees, into the garden, up the hillside; watch the robins arrange their summer cottages; smell the intoxicating scent of apple blossoms; and go to sleep at night listening to the soft pitty-pat-pat of rains against the window panes or the sigh of the wind in the trees, knowing for a certainty that they will accomplish fully their ever new and lovely process of spring rejuvenation and knowing that I too, even though I do a small portion of my work at a time, making room every day for other sights and interests more pleasurable than housework, I too shall find I can have the house just as sweet and clean, my tasks just as amply done if I take each one as it comes. Not crowding–and without worry or thought as to the days that are just beyond my reach. Sun, wind, rain–it is all in the glorious scheme of a spring day–why shut out the better part? Three cheers for Mother Nature’s easy way of House Cleaning!