Do you appreciate your life as a homemaker? I usually do, but sometimes I fall into a lackadaisical way of thinking. Maybe you’re a newly retired woman who suddenly finds herself at home. Possibly, you’ve been at home for awhile, but you’re feeling overwhelmed by debt, raising children, taking care of your parents, or all the above. Sometimes I just get so busy with the blog, the Airbnb my girls and I clean, and homeschooling, that I forget about what’s really important. I was shaken out of my stupor this week, after watching an old black and white movie. A few days ago, I took my two youngest daughters to a co-op for the first time. For us homeschooling families, a co-op is usually one day of the week where the kids attend classes taught by other moms. My fifteen-year-old’s Grammar/Literature class is reading the play, Our Town. Since we’re starting mid-year, I asked my daughter if she wanted to watch the 1940 film version. I’d seen the movie before, a long time ago, and wasn’t expecting it to affect me so much. Now, I may have to go and read some other stuff by Thornton Wilder!
In the 3rd act of the play, Our Town, by Thornton Wilder, a young woman who died in childbirth decides to go back and “relive” a normal day in her life. In the film version, she chooses her 16th birthday (in the stage play, she actually chooses her 12th birthday). She goes back as an observer, and can see herself and her loved ones. She becomes grief-stricken over all the little things in her life that she didn’t appreciate, like coffee, her neighbor and future husband; George, the milkman’s morning arrival, and her parents.
Although this last part of the story is the strongest, the other parts are powerful as well. In the beginning of the movie, the viewer is shown (there’s a guy that plays the stage director, or narrator) two houses, side by side, in the town of Grover’s Corners. It’s 7 am on a school day in 1901. Emily’s mom comes down the stairs, wearing a dress with puffy sleeves (like Ann of Green Gables) and upswept hair. She immediately puts on an apron, and cooks breakfast for her family. The children all talk at the same time, quickly eat their breakfast, then hurry off to school. The interesting thing about this scene to me, is that even in 1940 (when the film was made), and especially in 1901, this was the norm. The narrator mentions that these women cooked thousands of meals, and raised children, all without a nervous breakdown (quoted by the narrator).
Next door, the Dr.’s wife (George’s mom) comes down the stairs. She also dons her apron, puts the coffee pot on the wood stove, and starts breakfast for her family. Her husband comes in after staying up all night while delivering a baby. After the kids and husbands leave, the two women meet in the yard, and proceed to shell (or maybe they’re snapping them) beans. The Dr.’s wife mentions how she would love to sell her mother’s cabinet for $350 to visit Paris, while George’s mom says that she plans to put up 40 quarts of beans that year.
In the scene where Emily lies in bed after childbirth, she’s in her home, surrounded by her loved ones. Her husband’s dad, the Dr., is there taking care of her as well. Most of the scenes in this movie are filmed in the kitchen, bedrooms, or on the front sidewalks of the houses. You’re never really shown (the parts they show are hazy, like a dream) Emily and George’s farm, or the other parts of their childhood homes. In the stage version, very few props are used at all. As a side note, thank goodness for modern medicine, and the fact that so few of die during childbirth these days! My first pregnancy was high-risk, so I was never allowed to have a midwife, or give birth at home. However, I hope my daughters have opportunities to have their babies at home, if they so desire, surrounded by the ones that love them.
The Dr.’s wife never visits Paris. She does sell the cabinet, but we find out later that she left the legacy to her son, George, so he and Emily could improve their farm. The author’s implication is that helping her son and his wife start their home is more important than a trip to Paris. How many of us today would say instead, “I’ve raised my kids, now it’s my turn to do what I want.” My husband and I did go on a really fun work trip to Chicago last fall, so I would never say that it isn’t ok to go somewhere nice without the children. I just don’t think “getting away from it all” should be the focus of our lives, or the thing we’re living for, at any age.
Are you a homemaker right now? As housewives, we’re often made to feel as though we’re liabilities, rather than assets. Just remember, that’s only true in the material sense. Yes, you could have a bigger home, better vacations, or nicer cars if you worked full time. But, you would also have bigger bills, and many hours away from your husband, children, and homes. I know if I’d been teaching school all these years, I would not have been able to have 5 children. Breast feeding would have been shortened, crafts and project times would have been limited (God forbid!) with them, and I would not have the full, happy, grateful heart I have today, 23 years after coming home.
Also, don’t forget what God’s word says about the matter:
14 Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach; 1 Timothy 5:14 NASB
See, every day, you are giving the enemy “no occasion for reproach.” If you need some homemaking inspiration try reading (or watching) Mama’s Bank Account. The film version is titled, I Remember Mama. I admire the lead actress (Irene Dunn) in that movie! The book was written by Kathryn Forbes. I’ve attached pictures of my copies of the suggested books/movies below, and also included links for purchasing those items at the end of this post.
Although I haven’t read the book, I love Mrs. Brown (Anne Revere) in the movie National Velvet. Notice how all the Brown daughters share one attic room together, and how wisely Mrs. Brown deals with her family as she helps her husband in his butcher’s business. Edith Schaeffer’s book, The Hidden Art of Homemaking, is another favorite of mine. It touches on the artistic side of Homemaking. It’s an oldie, but a goodie. I wouldn’t consider that book unless you enjoy being creative (it also includes musical suggestions) in the home.
For all you homesteaders and farmer’s wives out there, read The Egg & I, by Betty MacDonald. It’s the hilarious true story of a young wife who marries an urban WWII veteran who whisks her off to a chicken farm in Washington State. I loved the movie, featuring Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurray. This movie marks the first time the characters Pa and Ma Kettle appear on film. I love old movies, but if you don’t like black and white movies, read the book instead.
My last book suggestion is How to Thrive on One Income by fellow blogger, Janine L. Sevy. Being home is great, but there is a financial side to consider. If you want to read how my husband and I did things the dumbest way possible, read my post, Becoming a Stay-at-Home-Mom, the Hard Way. Janine is not dumb. She came home the smart way. She has great tips on everything. One of my favorite things was the idea that you can tithe faithfully, beginning with 1% of your income, then increase it incrementally as you pay off debt and adjust to life on a single income.
I hope you enjoyed Do You Appreciate Your Life As A Homemaker!
This post was featured on: Farm Fresh Tuesdays
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