Sunday, October 30, 2011

Feminism, unprofessional thoughts

"I have recently been debating feminism with a few women who claim that it has done great things for people, especially in protecting women from abuse. 

However, I am an anti-feminist, who does not see any good in the feminist movement. 

Do you have any insights? Perhaps you've read books by feminists or books on the feminist movement that would be helpful in exposing the real agenda and history behind the movement."

Thank you for your thought-provoking question!

Now, I'm not an expert on the origins of the feminist movement; I'm not a sociologist, I haven't read a whole lot of serious literature on the development of feminism. I'm just like you - gathering thoughts and insight simply from living in a world where feminism has already won its battle. 

So, what has the feminist movement done for us? How has it improved our lives? Has it, upon the whole, made women happier?

True, we now have more professional options open in front of us. We can choose to be anything we want to... or almost anything, except the obvious, natural, all common trait of women all over the globe: wives and mothers, which is more than a full-time job. Now that we can do "anything", being "just" a wife and mother somehow isn't a valid choice anymore.

The way I see it, the feminist movement wasn't started and promoted by the normal, busy, hard-working, sometimes frustrated but upon the whole pretty much satisfied family-centered women. Rather it was the movement of unmarried, childless, brilliantly educated, slightly rebellious and very well-off women who did not fit the mold and who felt frustrated because whenever they tried going somewhere in life that wasn't the traditional marriage-and-children route, their heads hit the infamous glass ceiling. 

Perhaps this sounds simplistic, but again, if you want to get a professional survey, you're asking the wrong person. It just seems to me that for a woman to have the possibility to lead a social movement such as feminism, she must have both freedom from family ties, and enough money so she can think about more than how to make ends meet. She must also be a bit of a snob, in order to be able to talk about "career", "fulfillment" and "self-growth", and gloss over the fact that most people, men included, work at simple jobs and are mostly concerned about putting bread on the table. My conclusion is that feminism is a movement of upper middle to high class women. 


So, in our days such women can be happier because if they aren't inclined to marry, well, they can do pretty much all they want, to general applause. The problem is, women in general are just as domestically inclined as they were 150 years ago, and in their heart of hearts what they truly want is to settle down with a husband and children in a nice home of their own. However, today's education practically robs them of the knowledge of how to do that, so many commit themselves to a demanding career without a second thought when they are young, and then feel lonely and miserable, and when they finally have a family of their own they are torn between the need to be with their children, and the pull to prove that they are "worthy", in the modern terms of feminine fulfillment. Which means having it "all", and that as a general rule means really having nothing because your resources are limited. 

I've heard so many women at work, or on the way to or from work, frantically trying to solve their children's problems over the phone, break up fights, tell how to re-heat a refrigerated meal... that's not "having it all". That's trying to sit on both chairs, and doing a very mediocre job of it. I'm sorry if I'm not being very coherent, but that is how I feel. There is blessed peace and true freedom in embracing the thought that it is alright, that it is even good and worthy to be "just" a wife and mother.

Bottom line, the way I see it, feminism has paved a road to career which is smooth for the few who do not have the urge to marry and settle down, and which feels rough and pebbled to the normal, mainstream woman who deep down yearns for a peaceful life with her husband and children, without juggling too many responsibilities in addition to those which naturally fall to her lot. The pebbles are those parts of womanly calling - pregnancy, nursing, caring for young children, domesticity - which make the career progress for family women slow and painful. So slow and painful that many stop to re-consider whether they truly want to continue going down that road.

Right now I'm not at leisure to even begin touching upon a vast number of other issues, such as the religious aspect of feminism and the different G-d-given roles of men and women, feminism and its correlation to the soaring divorce, promiscuity and abortion rate, feminism and the break-up of a family, feminism and fatherlessness, and many other matters which time simply does not allow me to cover right now. If any of you feels like adding your own thougts, it will be most welcome. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Your life in a day

You rise in the morning, full of expectations of the day ahead. Each day is a unique gift, a life in miniature, with its joys, sorrows, triumphs, disappointments, doubts, fears, laughter and tears.

Enjoy it to the fullest. You and I must have heard this so many times, in so many different ways, by so many different people, yet it doesn't cease to be true. If you have found time to hug your loved ones, laugh with them, put a smile on their faces; if you have made someone feel welcome, appreciated and loved; if you opened your heart to G-d's presence in your life, in the way of other people, nature, beautiful art or music; if you thought about what truly matters, then your day was not spent in vain.

There is so much work to do. There is, always. Don't fret about what you have not been able to accomplish today, because there will always be something. We, this life, this day's work - it's all meant to be something, not everything. There is only One who is Everything.

There are so many ways to spend a day. Perhaps you will be at home today, or driving out and about. Perhaps you are at work, on a trip, visiting family, or perhaps, like me, you spent the day in the kitchen among mountains of pots, pans and mixing bowls, with a huge clean-up in the end. Either way, the important thing is to stop, smile, and freely give our love to those who need it most - whether those are far-away dear ones, or people in your immediate vicinity.

I am so thankful for all those who touched my life, in countless ways, among them through this blog. I hope your day is beautiful. I hope that when you go to bed at night you can close your eyes and reflect upon it with satisfaction.

Warmly,

Anna

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Narnia - the adventurous and domestic

When I was a girl, I got as a gift a thick, very plain-looking book titled "Chronicles of Narnia". It didn't look very interesting, so I wasn't in any hurry to open it. Thankfully, I was (still am) a real bookworm who will eventually read any book that's lying around, so finally I cracked open the cover of this thick grey volume and... was lost. It was a strong lesson for me not to judge a book by its cover (literally).

I enjoyed Narnia as a girl, still enjoy it today as an adult (my husband loves it too), and look forward to passing the joy of this book to my daughters. As a child, I loved the adventures of course, but there is something else I adored while reading the book - the vivid descriptions of food and the amount of detail C.S. Lewis put into telling about each meal the heroes share.

You know what is one of my favorite scenes in Narnia? The one where the Pevensie children sit around the table with Mr. and Mrs. Beaver in their cozy home, and eat a good simple meal, reading about which I always find myself with my mouth watering. If you read the book and love it as I do, surely you know what I mean. For me, Mrs. Beaver is the image of such blissful domesticity I never cease to enjoy reading the lines talking about her.

"Well, I'm nearly ready now. I suppose the sewing machine's too heavy to bring?" — Mrs. Beaver (LWW, Ch. 10)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Holiday updates and lonely homemakers

Dear friends,

The holidays are over, and now we are going back to normal. Today is the first after-holiday day, and it's hard to believe how fast everything has gone by, how many wonderful memories were created, and how much what I see outside the window resembles autumn. Our sukkah, which hosted twenty people during one memorable evening in Sukkot, has already been folded to prevent it from flying away in the strong winds that have been blowing here these past days.

And oh, what a wonderful evening it was! There is really nothing more joyful than seeing the whole family gathered around the same table (two long tables, in our case), sharing stories and jokes. We put our cookfire to use and made roast chicken for the entire company - a very authentic cooking experience. In the evening, the little ones gathered around the fire, making roast marshmallows and burying potatoes in the hot ashes.

I have quite a few emails piled up, waiting to be answered, and I hope you will be understanding if you are one of those awaiting a reply. The holidays really left me hardly any computer time at all during the past two weeks.

Here is one question I received by email:

"Do you have any suggestions for dealing with the loneliness that can result from staying at home in a society where most women are away at work during the day? I find the isolation trying at times and am open to ideas for connecting with other young mothers who are staying home to care for their house and children."





It's true that sometimes it can get lonely, being the only stay-at-home wife and mother on your street, in your neighbourhood... or even the only stay-at-home wife you know. It's only natural to want to feel accepted, normal, part of a community. There isn't really a magical solution to the isolation stay-at-home wives often feel. 

If there is one piece of advice I can give, it is to be open to finding new friends in the most unexpected places, in most unexpected ways. If you have already been hurt by negative opinions, criticism, raised eyebrows, constant questioning and constant demands on you to "prove yourself" and "justify your existence" as a wife and mother at home, it can be hard to open your heart to someone you don't know.

But you know, not long ago, I made a conversation at the playground with a most wonderful, most delightful older woman - all I can say is that I wish I had an aunt or older friend like that while I was growing up. The subject of our conversation hovered awkwardly around "what do you do", when I said I'm staying home with my children "for now". Then I braced myself and said, "actually, I really love doing it and feel this is where I belong" - and then this other lady felt free to say she feels just the same! You see, the constant questioning made her shy of expressing her real thoughts - and if I hadn't been bold enough to say the truth of what I feel/think, we wouldn't have had the most inspiring conversation that followed. And there is hardly anything more supportive than talking to a fellow homemaker!

Of course, the internet opens many venues for us too - for meeting like-minded ladies in our area or even all over the world. Personally, I am so thankful for the opportunities blogging provides for me, for meeting new people. Some of them, I have been able to meet in real life, others not, but in many cases I was enriched by a flow of wonderful ideas and life stories people so generously shared. I only wish there was more time to expand on this.

And sometimes, we simply must make peace with the thought that we are going against the grain. That we are doing what we feel and believe is right and best for our families, rather than what everyone else is doing. So... perhaps I will always feel a bit out of place in most social circles, but I still believe it is worthwhile.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

On a cool autumn night

 My husband gathered some spare bricks from around the house, and built a small outside fireplace, which makes a rather interesting addition to our yard, I think. It was delightful for us to sit by it on one of the first cool autumn nights.
I don't know how clearly you can see this without enlarging the photo, but the fireplace was turned into a cookfire by the simple act of placing the front part of an old electric fan over protruding bricks. Over this, while keeping the fire very low, we baked pita bread and cooked eggplants for roast eggplant dip. Then, after extinguishing the fire, we placed some potatoes in the hot ashes, and they were just ready at breakfast - well-roast and warm. It was just the perfect feel of camping, only without the cost of travel! :o)

And of course, we were careful all the while about any sparks that might fly over to the front porch.

Monday, October 17, 2011

As the summer fades away...

I
It's time to take another stroll in the garden and feel the strengthening winds of autumn. Pick up some herbs for herb tea...
Look at some of the young trees hopefully awaiting the next season of life and warmth to bear fruit...

 And see how the grape vine is waving goodbye with its leaves that are falling one by one. 
 Just a little note to let you all know we are enjoying our holidays very much. A more detailed account hopefully coming soon.

Warmly,

Mrs. T

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Above and below

 Below: herds of cows, sheep and goats
 Above: birds gliding in the sky. 
It's the same bird, only captured at a different angle. A hawk? An eagle? I'm not sure, really. Perhaps one of you can tell. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Work during children's school hours

Here is a question I recently got by email:

"I am wondering what your thoughts are on women who work outside the home when their children are in school. In particular, women whose work hours do not interfere with their ability to be home when their children are home. Is this still a result of feminism?"

Thank you for taking the time to write! To say it simply, I don't think your question has a clear-cut answer. It's too complex, human lives and family relationships are comprised of too many elements, to make it possible to say "all women who work outside the home are like that" or "it's OK to work 20 hours a week, but not 40 hours a week". 

All I can do is try to put myself in the shoes of a woman who works a part-time job during the hours her children are at school. Suppose she is there in the morning to see her children off, and comes home before they do, which means that as far as the children are concerned, their mother is always home when they are. 

Of course working a part-time job that allows a wife and mother to spend more time with her family is better than working full-time. For some it might look like an ideal arrangement; however, time is a precious resource, and using it up always come with a price. It is not up to me to decide what price of her time each and every woman is able to pay. Only you can decide how much time you can spare, at this season of your life, for activities outside your duties at the home and within your family. Only you can be a judge of whether you are stretched too thin by social obligations, volunteer projects, relationships with various people, or workng outside the home. 

I know women who don't work outside the home, yet they are always out and about, and it shows in the hasty, haphazard style of living they set within their family. I know women who work outside the home, for various reasons which they can't always help, but do their best to spend the lion's share of their free time with their family, in their peaceful homes, and their loved ones feel their devotion. 

Personally, if I had children who were at school, say, from 8 AM to 2 PM, and someone told me, "hey, there's a great opportunity for you to work and earn some money while your children are gone!", I'd think twice about how badly I really want/need it. Because it would still come with a price.

First, my mornings would be much more hectic. I'd be in a hurry to get my children to leave home in the morning so I can get ready for work. In my pressure over time, I'd be prone to snap at them and be irritable and angry, and grumble without good reason. We all know it's not a good way to start a day.

Suppose I leave home soon after my children do. I hurry to work without having time to clear the breakfast mess (I do hope everyone at least had time to have breakfast), and my morning is spent away, and nothing is done at home. By lunch time, when I leave work to pick up my children or meet them at home, I'm fairly tired, and nothing is done. With good planning it might be that I have lunch ready to be re-heated and eaten, but the housework has accumulated and I must tackle it now. My children are at home, but I have no time to spare for them at the moment. I have no peace of mind in such a messy house. I must do the laundry, clean, perhaps cook tomorrow's meals or run some errands. 

Knowing myself, I'd be much happier to use the hours my children are away to clear off the housework, so that I don't have to worry about the bulk of it during the time the whole family is together. But again, I am not you and you are not me. We cannot sit in judgemmt; all we can do is look on, with interest and friendship, and challenge each other by presenting considerations we might not have thought of. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Animals

One of our neighbours keeps a small farm, which is a delight to all children around. Whenever I feel a hint of boredom or grumpiness floating around here at home, and time and weather permit, I take the girls outside and we go to feed the animals.
Here's a goat.
A donkey.
A group of chickens and ducks.
A rather annoyed-looking turkey.
One of the cutest chickens I have ever seen.

Internet connection has been patchy lately, so it's lucky that I have the opportunity to come online before Sukkot (which is tomorrow night) and wish a happy holiday time to all my Jewish readers.

Warmly,

Mrs. T

Thursday, October 6, 2011

From the garden

The man who built the house we live in right now is an avid gardener. I can't help but admire all the extensive work he did; he's one of those people who rear plants as if they were children. In the photos above, you see just a fraction of everything that was planted around the house - bell peppers, melons, beautiful water plants and various herbs which smell delightful (don't worry, I'm definitely going to find out exactly what is what before I attempt to incorporate any of them in my cooking!)

Monday, October 3, 2011

From our new home

I have many photos to post, but since the connection won't allow me to upload more at the moment, for now I will only share the beautiful view from our verandah. Being just above this valley gives us the amazing experience of watching the soaring birds from above. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A new friend

I found this kitty about three weeks ago, abandoned in a shoe box in a park. She was around 3 weeks old then, a lonely, helpless orphan that had to be fed around the clock at first. It sure was time consuming, especially during the move, but thankfully, kittens grow up fast and it isn't very long until they turn from helpless babies to playful, adventurous little explorers.

Some of my friends already know about this new addition, and are anxiously awaiting an update. So, here she is - the lucky survivor of most unfortunate circumstances.

She has no name yet. Any suggestions?