Thursday, January 26, 2012

Guest Post: Female Roles in the Home

Today, I am happy to share a guest post, written by my very dear friend, Celeste.

Celeste Batchelor is a home educating mom of two teens and one adult child away at college. She has been married for 18 years to her best friend. She loves to read, read, read! Her hobbies are writing, blogging, blog and web design, organizing chaos, and collecting books. She is passionate about helping special needs children and fostering children in crisis. Celeste blogs at Freedom Educators and runs a website dedicated to wise home economy at Thrifty Like That.

Feminine Nature
I firmly believe in the mystique of feminine nature. Women and girls naturally coo over cute things like puppies, babies, dainty articles, and pretty dresses. This comes from something deep in our DNA that causes a sincere reaction to things that need nurturing. I feel it still with a friend's new baby, satin material for prom dresses, and little boys who skin their knees. My instinct kicks in and maternal nature comes through with a need to comfort, snuggle, caress and hold. So why, then, do we sometimes feel silly with these feelings?

My husband still looks over at me during sad movies to see if I'm tearing up. He smiles and says, "There goes mom again." But, his smile is tender, not condoning. He likes it that my tender feelings come through for moments of sadness and happiness, and that those feelings manifest in teary eyes. He enjoys that I am soft, while he is strong. He values my nurturing to balance out his toughness. Opposites attract is a truism that is vividly apparent in the husband and wife, the father and mother, the male and female.

In Our Home
One aspect of teaching role models for me was to define what they were. Yes, it is a bit of a masculine way to go about things, but women are prone to lists and organization, too. I don't feel too bad about my defining list approach. My previous post lists some of the classics I use to define feminine nature.

In the early years of our marriage, I was a feminist leaning woman who felt I didn't need a man to open doors for me when I could do it myself. I wanted equal household duties and child care. I wanted to work and be self-sufficient. Part of this resulted from my first marriage that ended after 5 years and a father who was not a successful provider. I never wanted to be reliant on a man.

To this day, I cringe when I think of that poor former self! I was so hurt and damaged that I bought into the feminist movement. I soon realized what folly this was, but some damage had been done. My husband was distant and hurt himself. He wanted to take care of us, to be the man of the house, and to be loved for who he was. I didn't do this initially, but thankfully, began to correct this mistake.

I did the following:
  • I quit my full-time job and told him I had faith in his ability to provide for us and that we would live within the means he could provide.
  • I took on all household duties and child care full-time. My husband was a full-time student and worked full-time. I never required him to change diapers in the middle of the night or do 2 am feedings. He needed the sleep and it was selfish of me to think he needed to do half of everything when he was so busy outside the home.
These first steps were just the beginning. It would take me the next 16 years to get to a place where my feminine nature could shine and bring balance to our home. This is not to say that men should never do anything. My husband often sees a need and will wash a load of laundry or make breakfast for everyone on a Sunday morning. However, I understand that the household jobs are mainly mine to do and the help he gives me is a true gift, not a right.

I do earn some money outside of the home on occasion, especially now that all my children are teens and young adults. But, when they were young, my primary concern was to be home with them as much as possible.

Children's Roles
As a child, it really burned me up that the girls did almost all the household work and worked outside the home while my brothers did nothing. This was an out-of-balance home. To correct that in my own home, I've taught all of my children to work. Boys and girls need to know how to iron, cook, tend children, do laundry, mow the lawn and change a tire. These are simply life-skills that every person should have. My mother-in-law did an excellent job of teaching her children these skills. I decided to use her example in teaching my own.

We have two daughters and a son. All of my children rotate jobs around the house and outdoors. They have duties with animals, cooking, cleaning, and mowing. That said, my daughters are still the main cooks and my son is sent out to work on the car with dad. My daughters know that their main concern will be the house and children while my son will be the provider for his family. It is part of our every day language and teachings. The skills are important to have in case they need them, but the main concerns of each role are taught in our every day example.

It makes me happy to see my oldest daughter away at college talk about her collection of recipes, her daily care of the home she lives in, and the actions she delights in making her home cozy and pretty. I can see that she is getting the "domestic bug" in wanting to prepare for a future home. It pleases me to see her work so hard to keep things nice and tidy without relying on a mother or maid like some other young adults I've seen. 

My second oldest daughter also delights in sewing and preparing her skills to be self-sufficient. She is the best dishwasher I've ever seen. She takes pride in things being done right and talks about the day she will be a wife and mother. She is also 17 and never been on a date. She is waiting for the right guy to ask her and refuses to chase after a boy like the other girls. When I asked her about it, she said, "The right guy for me will ask ME, not expect me to ask him."

A note from Celeste: In addition to my previous post, I felt it timely to write about what we do to encourage and teach feminine roles in the home. If you read my previous post, you'll know that this has been a challenging process of learning these roles as they were not taught to me specifically as a youth. They are also not portrayed in modern entertainment and cultural life today.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Motherly Intuition

"There is in every true woman's heart a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity; but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity." ~Washington Irving


Last night one of my little ones was feeling pretty sick. As I rushed around to make her more comfortable, I felt quiet ideas come to my mind quickly and clearly. I was reminded of my own sweet mother and how she seemed to know exactly what I needed when I was sick or troubled. She always seemed to say the right words and do the most comforting things. And I pondered how I, too, instinctively know just what to do when my children are ill or upset.

I could easily attribute my inspired thoughts to all my past experience. I am a mother of many, after all. But that doesn't come near explaining why this intuition has been with me ever since that first baby was born eighteen years ago. Granted, I have made some pretty stellar mistakes, but those seem to happen only when I ignore that still, small voice that fills my mind with thoughts and ideas I know are not my own.

I'd like to share an example from when I was a young mother with three little kids, one girl and two little boys, close in age. I believe they were five, three and two years old at the time. They all slept in a large room together-- the nursery. I had an evening routine where I would help them say their prayers and then tuck them into bed every night singing them lullabies until they drifted off to sleep.

My three year old son had a habit that I was trying to "help" him grow out of. He still insisted on drinking a sippy cup full of milk at bedtime. I had decided that he was too old for this habit, and I was happy when one night he couldn't find his cup. Secretly I was relieved!

I remember thinking to myself, Ha! Now maybe this will force him into giving up his silly cup!

As I helped my tiny son lisp his sweet prayer, he pleaded with the Lord to help him find his cup. I admit that I mentally rolled my eyes when he prayed to find it. I wanted it to stay nice and lost!

After tucking my babies in bed, I began to quietly sing to them. And as I sung, a crystal clear thought came into my mind.

"Check in his drawer."

I could see it plainly in my mind's eye.

No, no. I did NOT want him to have that cup! I was sure his little nighttime habit needed to disappear. That cup was not so important. He could go to sleep without it.

"He needs to learn this lesson. He needs to know that I will answer him when he asks."


I stopped singing and walked over to the drawer I knew it would be in. And as I opened it, there the cup lay, ready and waiting for my sweet son.

In that moment, I also learned many important lessons that have carried me through my parenting experiences. I learned that our all-powerful Father in Heaven hears and cares about the concerns of even the most small and simple of us.

I also learned that as a mother, I am a living, present tool in God's hands. Simply because the Lord has sent children to my home, He also gives me daily, hourly inspiration I will need to raise them. It's all part of the magic and mystery of motherhood.

It is humbling and a bit daunting to realize how close to God we need to be in order to mother our children. And yet, how comforting it is to realize that we have such divine, omniscient help available to us whenever we need it.

How grateful I am for motherly intuition.
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