“A man works from sun to sun, but a woman's work is never done.”
I don't know who came up with that catchy quote, but I heard it often throughout my formative years. It made me angry when I understood what it meant. It meant that men had less work than women. It meant that as a future woman, my lot in life was already settled. It meant that a boy could grow up to be a wide variety of things, but I had no options. I hated being female.
When I turned thirteen and was old enough to dance at church parties, I was often disappointed that the boys didn't choose to dance with me. The girls had to stand in our corner and wait for boys to walk over and tap us on the shoulder, signifying that he wanted to dance. We stood in circles so that the boys could tap us from behind. But I was rarely chosen for dances, except with my brothers who chose me out of sympathy.
Mom had a lot of advice for me on the subject of how to attract a boy. “You have to smile a lot,” she advised, “and wear red. Boys like red.” I remember one Sunday night, wearing my red dress and smiling the entire two hours. It didn't work.
Another thing my mom often told me was to act dumb around boys. That men and boys didn't like girls and women who were smarter than them. What a terribly defeating piece of advice. Didn't it matter what the girls and women wanted out of a man? I would be lucky for anyone to dance with me or date me. I didn't have a choice. I had to be dumber than all the boys so I wouldn't intimidate them.
I hated that my brothers worked outside and I was stuck with housework. I wanted to mow the lawn, and help Dad in the garage. But, I had three older brothers, and wasn't needed. I wanted to go on hikes and to go hunting, but I wasn't invited because Dad had his boys.
After school, my mom would tell my brother that he and I had to get the house cleaned up. He always chose to clean the living room. It was his choice. I got stuck with kitchen duty, while my brother was in the other room watching television. He'd wait until the last moment, then rush around and clean up some clutter in the living room.
That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
I didn't want to be stuck with no choices. I hated the lack of options when it came to potential dates. That we weren't allowed to date outsiders, so the boys had a monopoly and called all the shots. No competition for them.
I hated the thought of being a subservient woman. Of having to serve a man and, worse than anything, obey him! But, I did want to be married. There just weren't any other choices to be made. If I didn't marry, I was expected to live with my parents. I wanted freedom.
But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
When I was a teenager, I got so frustrated at one of the dances that I complained to my friend, “Boys act like they're better than us.”
She looked at me and with a completely straight face said, “They are better.”
What the heck? She really believed that.
But then I found some comfort in the above and below quotes from the book of Matthew. I even brought it up with some of my friends and family members. But they acted horrified that I would suggest that women would someday be rewarded for their lack of status here on Earth. How could I suggest that women would be first in Heaven? Women would never be put before men.
But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.
And that's true. I don't believe either gender will be put before the other in the end. As the below quote from Galatians explains, there will be no gender in heaven. That's something to be thankful for!
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
But as I've matured, I've had a lot of opportunities and options. But one option I never got was to be a keeper of the home. My not working outside the home just wasn't possible, for reasons that I cannot explain here. I had to work. Some would say that since I had to work, I shouldn't have brought children into this world to be raised by others. For the most part, though, my children were watched by my parents when I have had to work.
This school year is the first in my children's lives when, in essence, I am a keeper of the home. I have a teaching schedule that allows me to drop my kids off at school and drive to work, teach my classes, and then leaves time for me to pick the kids up after school. The timing couldn't be any better for my folks; they are ready to be just grandparents.
And something else I've learned by experience and getting to know a variety of people and their lifestyles is that being a homemaker is noble career choice. There are many happy, intelligent, educated women who choose to stay home and create a beautiful home for their families. They put their creative energy into making the best of what they have materially, making good food, and nurturing their children. The care, education, and guidance of my children is the accomplishment I am most proud of. It is the most difficult job I've ever had. It is worth every tear, frustration, worry, stress, and more to be the person God entrusts with such an important vocation.
So, do I think a woman's place is in the home? Ideally, yes. I admire women who do the job and make a beautiful art of their work. And, I admire men who treat their wives as equals, who respect the opinions and desires of their wives. A man who would put the happiness of his wife and family before his own happiness. A good and humble man makes a woman want to be his help-mate.