05 July 2010

I'm not the world's most feminine mom, but I know what I am, I'm a mom, I'm a mom

The Christian-women-with-their-heads-on-straight contingency strikes me as a nice bunch of Ladies. This is why I don't feel like I'm in it.

I don't feel like a Lady. I feel like a peasant. Ladies live in manors, and I'm just not running a tea-and-crumpets operation here. More like,
we're out of napkins; wipe it on your sock. Most days I hope to pass for "windblown" rather than "unwashed." If there's a Ladylike way to dig up turnips or deal with an abominable diaper, I haven't found it. There's nothing like childbirth (not to mention the bloated and undignified months on either side) to take the Lady out of any girl. And I know they're terribly unfeminine, but there's no way I'm giving up my YHS Marching Foxes sweatshirt and thrift store Silvertabs.

In the new creation, Ladies will sit on tuffets eating curds and whey while I teach hymns to spiders. All the talk about skirts and speaking in gentle voices and just what exactly it means to sell purple cloth exhausts me, and makes me wonder how much of this is really about where everyone is from (I'm guessing around 90%). Graceful movement; are you kidding me? After what just blasted out of that kid?

Ladies, like Attachment Parents, are people with a certain set of gifts. Just as
I wish my kids had Attachment Parents, I wish my husband were married to a Lady. But he's got something more like a chick, or a female earthling, or just a plain old wife (emphasis on the plain). I have no desire to give offense, but I'm also not going to pare myself down to the ideal Lady idealized by the most idealistical idealist. For one thing, no one has answered my lipstick question yet, and there are countless other similarly unclear matters. I'm confident that if the one dude whose opinion matters to me determines that my personal femininity needs some helpful guidance, he'll provide it. You'll note I haven't had a haircut in ten years even though I'd look much better with one. ;)

But not only have the Ladies given an important voice to women who don't want to be men, most of them also seem nice enough to realize that there are more alternatives to Lady than Tramp. I'm glad they're out there. Nice work, girls. Here, give me your cameras and get together over there for a picture. You all look lovely.


Josh Schroeder said...

Don't forget that "Ladies" had help. So the Lady in the manor had maids, kitchen staff, wet nurse, and whatnot. A Lady wasn't a sole-proprietor.

Sue said...

That brings back memories, and I can SO relate. Even this many years later (my "babies" are 28 and 31 and I'm about to become a grandma), I still feel this way. Lady? Don't think so, not by this definition. I think my kids turned out fine.

mz said...

>>And I know they're terribly unfeminine, but there's no way I'm giving up my YHS Marching Foxes sweatshirt and thrift store Silvertabs.<<

Hear, hear. As I comfortably recline in my RSHS t-shirt, replete with minute holes from countless washings. And I'm sure ladies don't do things like eat the random Cheerios dropped by the toddler because it's more expedient than finding the garbage can while said toddler tries to take a nosedive off the furniture. Mmm hmmm.

Anonymous said...

Reminded me of this from Fielding's Joseph Andrews

Be it known then, that the human species are divided into two sorts of people, to wit, high people and low people. As by high people I would not be understood to mean persons literally born higher in their dimensions than the rest of the species, nor metaphorically those of exalted characters or abilities; so by low people I cannot be construed to intend the reverse. High people signify no other than people of fashion, and low people those of no fashion. Now, this word fashion hath by long use lost its original meaning, from which at present it gives us a very different idea; for I am deceived if by persons of fashion we do not generally include a conception of birth and accomplishments superior to the herd of mankind; whereas, in reality, nothing more was originally meant by a person of fashion than a person who drest himself in the fashion of the times; and the word really and truly signifies no more at this day.

Cheryl said...

"I'm confident that if the one dude whose opinion matters to me determines that my personal femininity needs some helpful guidance, he'll provide it."

That's one brave dude you've got there, Rebekah. :-)

And since no one else has weighed in on the lipstick question, here's my strategy: don't wear it (except to church, and then wipe it off before you go to communion). Problem solved. Then you won't have to decide whether or not to retouch it before he gets home. Instead, keep a tube of chapstick in your pocket at all times and reapply frequently so as to make your lips perpetually kissable. That way you'll be ready should he surprise you at lunchtime.


And that is my big sister/mature older female wisdom for the day.

Leah said...

You've inspired the last post, well mostly one long quote, on my blog.

Although I admit I am a peasant too, I am a feminine peasant, or at least I try to be. I like wearing makeup and doing my hair nice every day. My dude whose opinion matters most likes it that way.

As for the organic thing, I've read many books on it, and I have adapted small touches of "natural living" to our lives (very small), but I have come to the conclusion, that 1.) for a household with five kids "all organic" is financially out of the question, and 2.) we all live in a toxic world, and we're all going to die, and I'm not going to waste the time I do have on this earth worrying about it. (I've done that enough already)

Katy said...

All the ladies I've met aren't conventionally beautiful or fashionable--they probably have some sort of good "breeding" or were raised well (or both). I go back and forth between wanting to be a lady and a peasant farm woman :) All the peasant farm women in literature (and in real life) are so jolly and sensible (and fat).

I told my husband when we were engaged, when he asked me how I wanted our children to remember me, that I wanted to be joyful and wise. You can be that and be either a lady or a peasant.

Untamed Shrew said...

I haven't had a hair cut in 10 years either. At least, I don't pay for them. I cut the family's hair and we've saved thousands. It started when we couldn't afford it and now that we can, I'm not willing to part with money so easily saved. Locks of Love is still happy to receive my home-harvested donations.

Melrose said...

How do you do that?! Its like you CSPPers have a camera in to my house. I guess it takes one to know one.

Im trying to decide which smells worse: the garbage can that hasnt been taken out yet, the pail of poop waiting to be washed in the bathroom, or me.

Cant remember the last time I had a haircut, my toenails look like they get chewed more than clipped/painted (no, I dont chew my toes), my hair seems to be stuck in a permanent ponytail, and if I could ever get out of my flannel pajamas, maybe I would actually put on a skirt.

sigh. My sister is so much more glamorous than me...she showers, curls her hair, AND puts on a full face of makeup EVERY day...and she has 7 more kids than are residing in my home. Im trying to remember if I even own a tube.

Gauntlets said...

Alright: Lipstick really doesn't look right on anyone under age 60. And it's a carcinogen. Like corduroy. ;)

One of my grandmothers was a Lady--ever gentle and soft and good. She always wore rouge and a pretty apron, and she always smelled really nice. :) But my other grandmas were not Ladies; they were farmers, bumpkins, too accustomed to muck and blood to wear dainty shoes or carry hankies.

Oh, my dear grandmas. They were not Ladies, but women none-the-less.

Cheryl said...

Gauntlets: corduroy is a carcinogen? Is there a joke here I'm missing? And I disagree. Lipstick can be very good. But it's all about the color. It shouldn't look like you have lipstick on. It should just give the lips a little more presence. But again, I only wear it when I go out on a date with the hubby or (if I remember/have time) for church, so I'm no expert.

I'm one of those who puts on make-up almost every day. I'm not blessed with the sort of complexion or coloring that can easily go without. I am pale and washed out with a redhead's complexion and some nasty acne scars to boot. When I don't wear make-up people ask me if I'm feeling all right. I prefer to let them know up front that I'm feeling all right. But I've got the make-up down to 5-6 minutes. I don't blow dry or curl the hair anymore (oh, how I used to to try to get it straight). I just wash and accept the curls, however they may fall.

Now, on the question of ladylikeness, I think you came up with the operative word. It's about gentleness. And you don't have to be beautiful or particularly feminine or wear make-up or dresses or have smooth heels and elbows and no dirt under your fingers to be gentle. What is it they say about gentleness? You can't really have it unless there is strength there--a strength that is being reined in so as not to cause harm. I think ladylikeness is about humility and grace and subtlety. A lady doesn't barge into a room; you just suddenly notice that she's there and you wonder where she came from. She doesn't call attention to herself by speaking loudly, but more often by speaking softly. She listens. She is not in too much of a hurry. She is kind and considerate of the feelings of others. She does not intentionally draw attention to herself.

You can do all of those things without smelling good or getting a salon haircut or having a clean house. I'm betting a lot of CSPP gals who pooh-pooh the lady title are really closet ladies and just don't want to admit it. Come on, girls, embrace your Inner Lady! She's nothing to be ashamed of!

Gauntlets said...

Oh, Cheryl, I respect YOUR lipstick. :D Too many years of being forced to endure Mary Kay meetings have really soured me on makeup for my own self.

And no, corduroy is not technically a carcinogen. That is a really old joke that only I might still find funny. ;)

Rebekah said...

Whoa. You're all blowing my mind.

But, Anon, about the fashion, which question is helpfully spoken to by everyone else. Totally agree that Christian Ladyness is to a large extent a fashion, and one I'm not really into for reasons of both personal inclination and practicality.

The question is always for Christians, does it matter? If so how much, and in what way? Am I giving better witness to Christ if I wear a skirt than if I wear sweatpants? Well, not directly maybe . . . but what about our androgynous and pornified and in all other ways worthless culture? Do they need me to wear long skirts and long hair, those poor worldlings? Do my children? Does my husband? Do I look fat in this?


Anyway, as Cheryl points out: "but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious."

lisa said...

Katy: "I go back and forth between wanting to be a lady and a peasant farm woman :) All the peasant farm women in literature (and in real life) are so jolly and sensible (and fat)."

I wholeheartedly agree! I find I am drawn to both - I admire the Camillas and hope I grow into a Mrs. Dimble! (That Hideous Strength, C. S. Lewis)

This brings me to the Capon quotes on Leah's blog.


I am no fan of Capon, but boy - I like some of these quotes. Leah, thank you for introducing me to them! (I read one of the last ones and it brought to mind the comfort of my grandmother's ample forearms and bosom lent to me in my childhood and young adulthood! I really got WAY over pregnancy weight gain when I realized it could render my body such a blessed joy to my children and grands!) It occurred to me that my nana is hardworking "peasant stock" if I ever saw it. But my grandfather knew she was a lady :)

Cheryl said...

"Am I giving better witness to Christ if I wear a skirt than if I wear sweatpants?"

No. Not if sweatpants is who you are. I think what the world needs to see is Christians being themselves, not trying to fit some cookie cutter image of who they think they ought to be. It's good when the world sees that Christians are all different sorts of people muddling through in all different sorts of ways according to the gifts, talents, and abilities God has provided them. If we all grow our hair long and wear denim skirts we send the message that we think that is necessary to being good little Christians. If we all do our own thing, whatever that is, and the world sees diversity among us, and sees us affirming one another's differences, then I think that sends the message that it is Christ, only Christ and nothing else, that saves.

So wear your sweat pants, Rebekah. You never know when those pants might be the thing God uses to reach one of His lost.

Rebekah said...

Everyone is saying such interesting things, but I'm in some kind of fog so I'm just going to think about it some more. Thanks.

(Too hot for sweatpants. Knee length denim skirt and ponytail. No lipstick, but I think the last time I wore lipstick was 4.5 years ago.)

HappyFox said...

I've been wearing skirts since DD2 was born in December - not to be a 'lady', but because they fit. Sweet, dear husband - now a staunch Lutheran, but once a Baptist - keeps talking about my wonderful "testimony" which comes from wearing skirts & I keep telling him, "Whatever - I wear them 'cause I'm 30lbs heavier than I'd like to be & they fit better than pants. Plus, it's fun to be different." Plus, it's 102 outside - too hot for sweatpants!

Lipstick? What's lipstick?

Untamed Shrew said...

"testimony" ::snort:: Yeah, because if you're wearing a skirt, then you could theoretically give birth without anyone having to see your coochie!

Rebekah said...

I'm never quite sure why dudes think skirts are a better idea. Seems to me they're not nearly as safe.

e&k said...

i watch too much tv and see too many shows and ads about jeans and how they make your bum look and how to make it look better and what pockets are better for what purpose and so on. so i decided that i really didn't want people looking at my bum. or worrying about it. so i usually wear skirts. but i have a couple pairs of jeans for around the house when i don't mind if my husband looks at my bum. maybe i'll get over it.

lipstick: i guess you should refresh it if you wear it unless you want to look like a fellini wife.

HappyFox said...

Rofl, Untamed, I loved the ::snort:: - that's what I do when he says that.

Anonymous said...

I will settle for just being a mother -

Recently we visited Williamsburg in Va. and I learned about LADY Dunmore (Charlotte Murray) the governors wife.
"In about a dozen years, Charlotte Murray produced eight children and gave birth to her ninth. [I read later she was preg. with her tenth child] She was among the most beautiful women of her day. Contemporaries spoke of her as quiet and charming; a prominent New Yorker described her as "very elegant."

We were told when visiting the governors house that usually LADY Dunmore only saw her children on Christmas Day - when she sent for them to come and see her for a FEW minutes - this was her mothering time. My heart breaks - I can't even imagine!

Now I ask you how many children really want a "lady for a mom" if it means she is too busy being a LADY to love, nurture and care for her children? This disturbing bit of information really bothered me - I thought of all this poor lady missed in her life because she was busy being a lady.
It is such a sad situation for those children to have had a mother and not know her, my heart weeps.

As for her husband and friends it doesn't sound like being a lady had much value "There were no women of her rank with whom Charlotte Murray might socialize. Her husband was absent for months, leading military expeditions into the Ohio valley to fight the Shawnee."

Just think she spent lots of time being a lady so we could read about her being Virginia's first and last countess.

Keep up the good work.
Our husbands love us for who we are and we have friends who are "our rank" we can socialize with. Our children love us even if we are fat, wear sweatpants and no lipstick. Having a wife and mother who had time to love and care for them is what they will remember.

I will take being a wife and mother any day and thank the Lord for my position in life. I'll let someone else reap the benefits of being a lady - being a lady isn't worth it. Debbie S.

Reb. Mary said...

Lady, esp. as described by Cheryl, sounds great. Lately I'd settle for Non-Zombie. Which is also why I have absolutely nothing more enlightening to say. :P

Cheryl said...

Debbie (Anonymous),

For what it's worth, I think we have different definitions of what a Lady is. I have had the pleasure of your company and you, my dear, are all Lady. That so-called Lady in your example is not. She sounds more like a spoiled brat to me. You are right: a real Lady does not have children and then hand them off to someone else to raise. In my dictionary Ladyness is not a title; it's an attitude. With all due respect to Sarah Palin, lipstick does not a Lady make. And to borrow a phrase from President Obama (I can't believe I'm doing this), you can put lipstick on a pig; it's still a pig). It's not about the lipstick.

HappyFox said...

I'm not sure if "Lady" and "Mother of Young Children" are two titles that should even be put together. Maybe we need to define our terms. But somehow, the idea of "Lady" reminds me of the "Begging the question" post - are you assuming I WANT to be a "Lady"? Like you said, I think there's something in between "Lady" and "Tramp", lol.

I'd have more to say, but we have a 2 & 1/2 year old & a 7 month old - it's pretty hard for me to string two or more thoughts together anymore. (That skill can be recultivated, right? Later, when they're a little more self-starting? Right? Right?)

Rebekah said...

HappyFox, that's how I feel about Proverbs 31 Chick. Proverbs 31 Chick and Mother of Young Children are mutually exclusive.

I think by the time I don't have kids screaming thoughts out of my head any more I'll be too old to remember anything anyway.

Melrose said...

skirts because im 30 lbs heavier, hilarious. That is one I have yet to share with anyone and thought I was the only one who thought that way...Im not wearing skirts now because im trying to be pious or lady like...I just dont want to see my rear defined in any way whatsoever. :)

Rebekah said...

The bum business never entered my mind. E&K, why didn't you tell me before?