The Benedictine Melk Library in Austria, courtesy of Emgonzalez
I successfully navigated my way around the gardening and cooking books. But then I came to the 600s and gaped. There's a difference between knitting and crocheting? Needlepoint and embroidery? Does anybody hand quilt? I realized in that moment how little I know about homemaking arts, and how their decline is probably the number one reason why people ask me, "what do you do all day if you don't work and don't have kids!?!" Women back in the day were probably quite busy, but now, if you buy everything, what DO you do? My mom has also pointed out that it used to be cheaper to make your own clothes, but that it's not true anymore. You can get kids dresses on clearance at target for $5, but you can't make one for that amount. Granted, it probably balances out if you're making in bulk and of course the quality is probably better if you make it yourself, but strict financials might go to the side of buying clothes at least.
Girls used to learn these things from their mothers, I suppose. I just never did. Now, my mother was excellent at most of these things: cooking, keeping a beautiful home (decorating AND cleaning), sewing, quilting, and gardening. Kim enjoyed needlepoint, I seem to remember, and I think my mom has a framed sampler of hers. I just never learned anything but cooking and keeping house (although I seem to have really been failing at that last part lately...). And I realize now that I want to. There is little I love more than when I get things done around the house, and I get so excited for Tom to come home and see what I've done. I love having others over and opening our home to them. I don't care if it's dated or that some people think it's silly.
Can anyone tell me where this picture came from? I found it online only after MUCH searching, since I've seen it in stores before, but couldn't find the title or artist.
The truth is that I am proud of working in the home, more proud than anything I have ever done as a student or professionally. I receive greater peace working at home, helping others, gardening, cooking, learning to serve, than I have in my studies of history, politics or the law. I cannot express how ashamed I am that it took me 8 years, several degrees, and thousands of dollars to learn this. I wish I had known sooner! But at least I am doing his will now, and if I am called outside the home, I am sure I will follow. But for now, I want to learn more - I want to learn knitting, crocheting, quilting, needlepoint, and sewing...I want to be a woman who can do things with her hands, not just think of great -ologies and -isms. I got a book on knitting at the library, so maybe I'll start there. My neighbor can sew, and Cam can do anything, so I'm sure I can ask for help as I learn...!
I hope you all are finding some activity that lights up your mind and heart to learn this New Year. Even if you think it's too late to acquire a skill, remember it's never too late to be what you might have been (George Eliot, aka Mary Ann Evans). And on a light-hearted note, remember we women can always find one way to make our husbands happy:
This is Tom's favorite sexist 1950s add. We spent a little bit this morning looking up some of them and dying laughing. This one he seemed to take quite seriously.