Happy Birthday Uncle Matt!
Now this made me smile ...

On Mothers, Writers and Girl Scouts

On my honor I will try, to be true to God and my country. To help others at all times. To obey the Scout Laws.

Some readers may recognize these words as the Girl Scout Promise. Although my own trefoil pin was retired long ago, I remember them well along with my own scouting years.

I was very fortunate to have my mother as troop leader (or sometimes co-leader) each one of those years, and we made it just short of Scouting_for_girls_1 Cadet. And though now I'm the proud mother of all boys, when I found a copy of the book pictured at right recently, I could not help but buy it for myself. A small unassuming book, its pages are thick with tidy black type and tips on good wholesome living. Most would call it old-fashioned, some might call it ridiculous and a few might even dismiss it as sexist. Bearing in mind it was written for young girls of the 1920s, I (a child of the 70s) found it perfectly lovely and even comforting in a way.

Right now I am just picking through the pages, enjoying it in small bits and pieces. But its simple style and charming tone has me tripping down memory lane ...

When I was a young girl, and enamored of all things Louisa May Alcott, of two things I was certain: someday I would work as a writer, but only until I was blessed to become a wife and mother. Combining the two, in some family-friendly way, would be an ideal situation, but what the future held, I could only guess. In the meantime, I was quite happy to be a journal-keeping, baby-sitting Girl Scout. :)

Growing up, I remember how the kids all gathered at our house and in our yard, because my mom was one of the few who stayed home. I remember the way all my friends wanted to get close to my mom ~ buzzing around her like little bees, asking endless questions, offering to help with this or that. And all the while my mom took it in stride, always patient and kind, and available to someone who needed that extra minute of her attention. Often my friends would remark how much they wished their mom was more like mine. Well, no higher compliment could I have been paid.

My mother showed me a woman never happier than when surrounded by and caring for those she loved, in the place we all loved and called home. She impressed upon me all the years I was growing and watching, the dignity and joy of motherhood, the importance of tending our home. She revealed this to me every day and in every little way, and in the process revealed to me the way of my own heart.

So, with my thoughts today resting on my own blessed vocation, the following is an excerpt that brought a smile to my face. I hope you enjoy it too!

The Homemaker

"In 1832, not so many years after the famous Lewis and Clark expedition, there was born a little New England girl who would very early in life have become a First Class Scout if she had had the opportunity. Her name was Louisa Alcott, and she made that name famous all the world over for the book by which the world's girls know her - "Little Women." Her father, though a brilliant man, was a very impractical one, and from her first little story to her last popular book, all her work was done for the purpose of keeping her mother and sisters in comfort. While she was waiting for the money from her stories, she turned carpets, trimmed hats, papered the rooms, made party dresses for her sisters, nursed anyone who was sick (at which she was particularly good) - all the homely, helpful things that neighbors and families did for each other in New England towns.

In those days mothers of families could not telephone specialists to help them out in little emergencies: there were neither telephones nor specialists! But there were always emergencies, and the Alcott girls had to know what to put on a black-and-blue spot, and why the jelly failed to "jell" and how to hang a skirt, and bake a cake and iron a table cloth. Louisa had to entertain family guests and darn the family stockings. Her home had not every comfort and convenience, even as people counted those things then, and without a brisk clever woman full of what New Englanders called "faculty," her family would have been a very unhappy one. With all our modern inventions nobody has yet invented a substitute for a good all-around woman in a family, and until someone can invent one, we must continue to take our hats off to girls like Louisa Alcott. Imagine what her feelings would have been if someone had told her that she had earned half a dozen merit badges by her knowledge of home economics and clever writing!

And let every Scout who finds housework dull, and feels that she is capable of bigger things, remember this: the woman whose books for girls are more widely known than any such books ever written in Ameirca, had to drop the pen, often and often, for the needle, the dishcloth and the broom.

To direct her household has always been a woman's job in every century, and girls were learning to do it before Columbus ever discovered Sacajawea's great country. To be sure, they had no such jolly way of working at it together, as Scouts have, nor did they have the opportunity the girl of today has to learn all about these things in a scientific, business-like way, in order to get it done with the quickest, most efficient methods, just as any clever business manages his business.

We no longer believe that housekeeping should take up all a woman's time; and many an older woman envies the little badges on a Scout's sleeve that show the world she has learned how to manage her cleaning and cooking and household routine so that she has plenty of time to spend on other things that interest her."

(from: Scouting for Girls: The Original 1920 Girl Scout Handbook)

Comments