Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Words on my heart

I’m taking a few minutes to say something that has been on my mind and heart for awhile.

When I was young the only ambition I had was to be a wife and mother. At age fifteen I was reading child psychology books in order to prepare myself. I could sew, knit and clean house. I couldn’t cook (and still can’t) because my own mother claimed she couldn’t cook and she didn’t attempt to pass on any wisdom in that area that she might have had.



During the first half of the 1970s my dreams started to come true. We had three children in four years. I rarely do anything without gusto.


Unfortunately, the 1970’s were hostile years for stay-at-home mothers while women were being encouraged to fulfill their potential, find their satisfaction and actualization outside of their homes and families. The underlying message (whether on purpose or accidentally) was if you chose to stay home it was because you were too lazy or too stupid to find yourself. The cultural climate coupled with the fact that I was living in an area where I did not have any close friends or family lead to my feeling of great isolation.
It was the exchanging of letters with two of my fellow stay-at-home friends, living miles away, which helped to keep me grounded and encouraged.

In the late 1970s I read, Never Done: A History of American Housework by Susan Strasser. She wrote describing the work typically done by women over the last 200 years in North America. While there was often isolation in the work her research revealed that women socialized with other women while doing the work. She tells how women did their work in communities whenever possible. Sewing bees, canning projects, etc. While reading Ms Strasser’s book I felt a sisterhood with thousands of unseen and unknown women who had lived before me with the same values, concerns, and dreams that I had. I never felt quite so isolated again. I was still alone physically but not spiritually.

“Never Done” points out that after World War II, it became every housewife’s dream to own appliances that while work saving on one hand, they created an isolated life within the home. No longer did women gather on their porches to visit while scrubbing clothes on a washboard or visited across the back fence while hanging out laundry. No longer did they gather together while making the necessary food or clothing for their families.
The refrigerator eliminated the need for the ice man to stop by the back door to chat. The large grocery stores eliminated the groceries being delivered to the house where news could be exchanged. The social structure for women changed isolating them from each other.

Women in North America went approximately 30 years in this cultural isolation. But now we have the Internet and blogging to change the way we socialize.
Now we can communicate daily (or more often if we wish) with friends all over the world. We can find other women who share our values and interests even though our living situations differ in so many ways. The women whose blogs I enjoy reading often mention how much they appreciate the comments and the friendship offered from women who otherwise would be strangers. We connect emotionally with one another.

If we aren’t afraid to be open and vulnerable with our writing, risking criticism, we develop deep and meaningful relationships with one another. Technology has given us community again and all without a postage stamp.

Mrs.RGS

6 comments:

Llyn M said...

Your post really made my heart lurch for all of the women out there who will never know community. I am very fortunate to have a network of close friends with whom to share just being a woman, and I find myself blessed to be adding to that network through blogging.

Melissa said...

Rita,

That was an excellent, excellent written post.

You are a very talented writer and blogger.

Melissa

Liz said...

Wow, I'd never thought of things this way! What an excellent piece of writing... it belongs in a magazine!

Mrs. Darling said...

Excellent post. I am belssed with great networks of friends both on and off the internet. I loved how you wove this post together!

Melissa said...

Rita,

I know your grandchildren will love spaghetti eis.

I only wish I had the machine that they have in Germany that makes it come out looking like spaghetti.

Enjoy!

Suzanne said...

Wow! Well said! I was born in the late 60's and my goal of being a wife and mother was a bit odd to my friends. They all wanted great careers. I've never had the desire to do great things, and unfortunately I've never had children. I've worked various jobs, some I enjoyed more than others, but now I'm at home recovering from a head injury. Without the internet and wonderful blogs, I would truly be isolated. I'm so glad you stopped by my blog, which led me to your blog. I look forward to reading more and getting to know you better!