Book Title: The Real Home
The young woman of this age is ambitious. She ought to be. No age in history has ever presented such opportunities for women as the present. College doors have opened to them. Various professions demanding skill and brains invite them to compete with men. A new era has dawned for womanhood.
Sensible young women are not slow to accept positions of trust and responsibility offered them. They are unwilling to live as their grandmothers lived. They are no longer dependent on men financially. They find they can earn their own money, spend it as they please, and be independent. They decide to be clerks, workers in homes and factories, teachers, nurses, physicians, stenographers, and business managers. They want to lead instead of being led.
But while the liberties granted women are a blessing if rightly used, they may become a curse if they cause her to look with scorn on her mission in the home. God created the woman to be a helper for man – his counterpart, each to supplement the other.
The highest and most worthy calling of woman is in the home, as a wife and mother. Circumstances may prevent one from sharing this honor; but she must not therefore conclude that in being useful and making her way in the world alone, she occupies a higher, more exalted position than the home toiler.
There are unmarried women such as Whittier describes in his “Snowbound,”
“Who, lonely, homeless, not the less
Found peace in love’s unselfishness,
And welcome whereso’er she went,
A calm and gracious element,
Whose presence seemed the sweet income,
And womanly atmosphere of home.”
But the lonely, homeless life is not ideal. To be the queen of a home, to be the companion and helper of a noble, kingly man, is the highest gift within woman’s reach.
Every young woman recognizes that marriage is a possibility, and therefore it is right for her to prepare for this relationship. This preparation will not make her less acceptable as a worker in different lines of industry. It will not detract from her charm and womanliness. No young woman can foretell what the future may hold for her. While she may not determine that she will marry at all hazards, yet it is proper to cherish the instincts that are the basis of every true woman’s life.
One young woman in Los Angeles, California, decided she would rather be useful than to shine in society. She folded her party gowns, tucked her curls under a nurse’s cap, and went to work in a maternity hospital. This is what she said after she had proved to be so efficient she was placed in charge of night nursing in the institution:
“It is fascinating work,” she said as she trotted a whimpering baby on her knee.
“I’m a hundred times happier than I was before I knew what work meant. I feel like a real person, doing my share of the world’s work. I especially like this hospital, because it takes us into the neighborhood so much, and we have a chance to bring help and a little sunshine into the lives of the poor.
“I work all night now – the hardest kind of work. And I enjoy it.
“Before I came here, I used to dance all night. And I was getting bored. All I did when I danced was to get cross and cranky. Now, when daylight comes I can go to sleep, with a clear mind and the satisfying feeling that I’ve done something for others who needed me….
“It’s work that keeps people young and happy. I wish every girl I know could find something to do and go at it seriously.”
Girlhood and early womanhood is the time of preparation for the life to follow. The forward-looking girl will fit herself for the duties that await her. Our sensible young woman will guard her health of mind and body. Her hands will be trained to work, - to cook, to sew, to do general housework. She can be her mother’s and father’s efficient assistant. There would be fewer divorces if so many girls did not marry quite unprepared for the obligations that supplement the wedding day.
But whether in a home of her own or in that of another, the girl who would win success and admiration, - above all, the one who would be useful, - is the one that “can do things.”
A young woman may be a graduate from college, she may be proficient in music and art, but a time will come when she will wish she knew how to do the common work of common life and do it well. …
This is not saying that a young woman should do without an education, without music or art; but, rather, that the sensible girl will put “first things first.” While still at home, she will learn the art of homemaking, how to be useful, how to care for others.
Her mother will be the wisest and kindest teacher in the world, and working together creates a bond of fellowship between mother and daughter which is both enjoyable and lasting.
But if there is not mother, or if, unfortunately, her education as a homemaker has been neglected, daughter may learn from books, by experience, and from other sources, the proper methods in home-craft. If there is not other way, she can go to some wise woman and ask to be taught. …
Boys are usually trained for practical life. Dudley plans to be a farmer, a blacksmith, a mechanic, or a teacher. Why should not Gladys and Beulah plan for the work of their choice, keeping in mind, however, the possible husband and children? There is no business under the sun that a woman of the right sort will not forsake for a loving home and wifely cares. Her first thought, therefore, will be to qualify thoroughly as a good wife and mother; then she will add other graces and accomplishments according to taste, means, and opportunity….
DUTY TO PARENTS
Sometimes a girl’s mother is her biggest problem. Likewise the daughter is a problem to the mother. They look at matters from different viewpoints. Some one has said:
“When a baseball team isn’t playing a good game, when a quartet isn’t singing well, when a parade isn’t moving smoothly, some one from the crowd is likely to call out, ‘Get together, there; get together!’ It’s slangy, but it has the right meaning. And when I see a mother who isn’t interested, or is too busy, or can’t understand; when I see a daughter who is pretty, and headstrong, and full of wild youth; when I see them playing the game unskillfully, or getting the music wrong, I want to call out, loud enough for them to hear, ‘Get together!’”
It is a human tragedy when mother and daughter living under one roof, find themselves in different worlds.
A girl once said to Marion Harland, “When I am in doubt as to the right or wrong of any course, I ask myself, ‘Can I tell mother what I mean to do?’ If I am not willing to talk it over with her, I know there is something wrong about it.”
There is an old statute on the Law Book which still stand: “Honor thy father and thy mother.” And this obligation is binding in youth as in childhood. Daughters are in debt to their parents. They have no right to rule the house, to laugh at father and mother as old-fashioned, and to pay no respect to their wishes or counsel. …
It has been truly said: “Insolence is always ugly, and disrespect to parents is always wrong. No one can be more cruel than a full-grown girl.” …
“I never expect to eat cookies as good as your, mother,” said a middle-aged woman; and she was shocked when she saw mother’s delight at her words, for she remembered she had not spoken in years of the comfort and skill which had filled her girlhood with pleasure.
“How pretty you look in that dress, mother!” coming from daughter, will thrill the mother heart with you.
In one family (Can you give the name?), it was mother who went without a new dress when it was sadly needed, that daughter might have a new suit. It was mother who stayed at home to look after the house while the young folks went to the lecture or concert. Somebody found her, after hunting a long time, on the attic stairs, having a lonesome cry all by herself. In this family, a council was called, and a law was made that whenever it was possible for mother to have a good time, she was to “run away” and have it, and the family would abide the consequences. …
And father – what of him? He may not say much, but some daughters fail to treat him and his opinions with the respect that is his due.
It is father who carried daughter on his shoulder, told her stories, and bought her toys, in her early childhood. It was he who wore the threadbare suit or went without an overcoat, that she might have clothes, and pleasures, and schooling.
It is father who feels for his wayward child; and in secret, the tears course down his cheeks, as he thinks of his daughter’s waywardness. What reward does he receive for all his sacrifice and toil? How it would cheer his heart to hear a few words of appreciation, to feel a pair of soft arms round his neck, and an occasional kiss on his cheek, when daughter does not wish to ask for some favor she fears he will think he cannot provide.
There are times when daughters are away from home. How greatly they are missed they cannot know. Then is the time to write the long, newsy letters which will bring such delight to the parents. …
A mother was waiting for a letter. She felt sure it would come, for Dorothy was faithful in writing every week. Nor was she disappointed. She found a long and loving missive, which read:
“‘Mother o’ mine’: Only one more month, and I shall be with you again. I can just imagine myself watching for you to come up the path at night. But until then, mother dear, the best I can so is to send you a letter. I wish I could meet the man who invented letter writing. Just think of all the pleasure we have had these three years in writing and receiving letters! …
“Now for the big news: All arrangements are completed for me to teach school at home next year! Can you imagine all that means? I shall be at home with you all the year, and you will not need to work so hard. I did not dare tell you all this till it was definitely settled. Isn’t it wonderful?
“I am so glad I have been in a school the past three years where high ideals are held before us. Last night our preceptress gave us a little talk on ‘Look up, not down; look forward, not backward; and you shall find that which you see – happiness.’ That must account for your happiness, mother; for I could not help thinking that you have always done just that.
“God bless you, and repay you for all your love to me.
“Lovingly, as ever,
“THAT GOOD PART”
The young women of to-day will be the wives and mothers of to-morrow. While they are qualifying themselves for any position to which they may be called, one very important preparation is sometimes not taken into account.
Rosalie’s experience as a Christian had been unsatisfactory. She confided to Aunt Millie the story of her failure:
“You see, my religion disappoints me. I joined the church, and thought I had given my heart to Christ, but I never understood what that meant. I go to church, I try to do right, but I can’t see that religion makes things different. I suppose I don’t go at it right.”
“There’s but one way to do it, dear. Were you sincere in your wish to belong to the Lord and willing to surrender all to Him?” Aunt Millie spoke very tenderly.
“Oh, yes! At least, I thought I was, auntie. I suppose it was because I didn’t know how to give myself that it has been such a failure.” Rosalie looked downcast, but her aunt picked up her sewing and asked briskly, “How did your rehearsal go last night?”
“Lovely,” the girl responded. “This recital is going to be the best we’ve ever given.”
“That’s encouraging,” and Aunt Millie nodded approvingly. “It must make you musicians happy to accomplish so much with so little effort.”
Her niece stared with wide eyes. “How can you say that, auntie? We work almost all the time. I’ve practiced hours daily, and have given up almost every sort of good time this term. Not that I mind,” she added hastily. “The music is worth it; and the knowledge that I’m acquiring will be a joy to me after all the parties and festivals are long forgotten.”
“Why should you work so hard over your music, girlie? You don’t expect to teach; your father is amply able to care for you. It seems too much for your parents to expect you to endure such drudgery.”
“If anybody but you said that, auntie, I’d scold.” Even as it was, Rosalie’s eyes snapped. “I love music too well to trifle with it; and if you want to succeed, you simply have to give yourself to it will all your heart. You don’t call it drudgery when you love it.”
“But, Rosalie dear, I understood you to say that you didn’t know how to give yourself; that you had tried, and failed to understand the way this was accomplished.”
The girl caught her breath; then she asked suddenly, “Is it the same, auntie?”
“The very same, my child. ‘Give yourself to it will all your heart.’ You couldn’t have described it better.”
“But, auntie, I love music so!”
“And not your Saviour?”
“Oh, I do, indeed I do! But somehow I feel so far away from Him – as if I were not acquainted.”
“Child, do you ever get acquainted by keeping your distance? Did you and Dellice, whom you so dearly love, know each other at first as you do now? Did your affection develop through silence and absence, or through daily companionship?”
“The latter, of course, auntie.”
“Then can’t you draw the comparison?”…
The girl fixed her eyes on the work done by the slender fingers of her aunt, but she did not see it. Her thoughts were busy elsewhere, and auntie prayed that the puzzling problem might be solved. Rosalie sat up straight at last. “Aunt Millie, I see it. I was foolish not to know before. I just have to live it out, don’t I?”
“Yes, dear, Just live it out. Show your love for your Saviour as you show your love for music, by being willing to make sacrifices for it, by letting it dominate your work and pursuits. Take my word of it, Rosalie, it is never our Lord who is ‘far away’ from us. We are the wanderers from Him, and the best way to lessen the dreary distance is to give ourselves unreservedly to Him.” …
“The girl bestowed on her aunt a clinging kiss. “I’m going to begin at once,” she said with determination. “I’ve got a glimpse of possibilities and needs. O Aunt Millie, I feel as if I’d lost a heavy burden since talking with you.”
Auntie smiled. “It won’t be altogether easy, dear child,” she warned her; “but it is worth the struggle, and there is always the ‘armor of God’ for soldiers of the cross.”
“I’ll remember, and thank you!” exclaimed Rosalie.
Two months later there was another visit. “I’m glad to be back,” she declared. “I’ve missed you greatly, auntie. Did you have a good time?”
“Lovely, dear. Did you?”
Rosalie slowly nodded assent. “Yes, I did, auntie. It hasn’t always been easy, as you said, but it has already paid for what it cost – the effort, I mean.”
“Of course, my child. Tell me all about it.”
“It began the evening you went away,” said Rosalie. “We had a rehearsal that night. I’d no idea my new discovery would be needed there, because you know if there is anything I try to be faithful about, it is my music. Ella Carey was there. She’d been absent three weeks, and anybody know that no player in an amateur orchestra can miss that many rehearsals and then perform soon after in an important recital. I certainly was angry when I saw her. We all were. We knew her mother had been very sick, but that didn’t make Ella play any better. Excuses can never take the place of hard work, Aunt Millie.”
“True enough. Always remember that,” smiled the listener.
“I will,” Rosalie agreed. “Anyway, I realized it hard and fast enough that night, and was so provoked at Ella’s presumption that it would have done me good had Professor Chambers flung his baton at her when she made a dreadful break right in the middle of our gorgeous overture. He was angry, too; his eyes snapped as he rapped for order and made us start all over. If you’ll believe it, she did the same things again in the same place. Her violin fairly howled in discord.
“I won’t bother you with all the harrowing details, but it finally occurred to me that I was not giving myself to the Lord while feeling so unkindly to one of His children. That sobered me, I tell you, after all my good resolutions. Early next morning, I went to Ella’s; and I stayed with her all forenoon. We practiced together, and smoothed everything out straight and fine, and mastered all the catchy places. She declares she will never forget it – that I saved her from being dropped and disappointing her father and mother. They are so ambitious for her, and she hasn’t had a fair show. Anyway, she has played beautifully ever since, and Professor Chambers beams instead of glowers.
“That’s the way I learned that giving ourselves to God means giving ourselves to His creatures who need us. I’ve found lots of ways to do it since.
“The next day, it was Brother Ted. He’s been such a trial to me, auntie, with his teasing and his loud voice. His songs were regular thorns in my flesh – not one thorn, but heaps, like pins in a dressmaker’s cushion. I’ve snubbed him unmercifully most of his life. I did it conscientiously, because I thought it was the only way to keep him even as moderate as he was. But one day when I heard him picking out his dreadful ragtime on the piano, with one finger, it occurred to me to wonder how I’d feel if I didn’t know how and nobody took any interest in me. Surely if I was giving myself to Christ, Ted ought to get a little benefit of it.
“Ant Millie, maybe you think ragtime never did any good; but I believe it may, sometimes. I just swept that boy off the stool, and played his rollicking tangle as if I loved every horrid note. Then I played it again, and half a dozen others. You can’t guess the reward I’ve had. We’re good comrades already, and Ted acts as though he really loves his crosspatch sister.
“Yes, indeed. I’m playing ragtime regularly; but he asked for one of my sonatas last night, and listened as though he loved it all the way through. ‘It’s different, isn’t it, sis – and better?’ he said after I had finished. ‘Could I ever learn?’ So there’s no telling but he may be a Paderewski himself some day. Stranger things have happened.
“Then there’s mother, bless her, and dear old dad. I’ve imposed on them all sorts of ways – taking everything and giving nothing. But I shan’t any more. Mother and I hobnob cozily over the mending basket, or dad rests his tired eyes while I read aloud, and improve my own mind with his favorite Emerson and Ruskin. I’m afraid I’d never have read them for myself under the shining sun; but I’m catching some sparks of wisdom, which I hope will stick fast.
“Next my girl chums – every one has some need I can help to meet; and our boy friends, who are a great responsibility. Auntie, the chances are everywhere. I wouldn’t stop living for anything now. Life is more interesting than I ever dreamed it could be, though I have always had a pretty good time.
“I’m not boasting. I haven’t done half what I ought; but I’m seeing the glimmer of sunrise, and I hope to see high noon some day.”
“You think you are really His, my child?” Aunt Millie’s question was solemnly put, but the girlish face glowed happily.
“I don’t think, auntie; I know it. I’m giving my life anew to Him every day; and there isn’t any doubt about His having accepted me, unworthy as I am.”
“Then you’ve made His acquaintance? You know Him as your friend?”
Rosalie bowed her head reverently. “Yes, auntie, I know Him – my best and dearest Friend.”
Every young woman may have Rosalie’s experience in finding the joy and satisfaction of true living. To each the Savior will be the personal, ever-present, loving Friend.