Thursday, May 20, 2010

Role Models

Ever since I watched Return of the Daughters, a documentary on the important role young women can play in their families and communities by staying home until marriage, I have been keenly aware of how desperately our girls need someone to look up to, someone who is enough like them that they see their future through them. My experience has been that there are extremely few, even among traditional Catholics, if the girl desires to stay under the protection of her father's roof until marriage and not attend college.

In Emma's case the closest role model she could find was a young lady in our protestant homeschool group. This young lady not only stayed home after high school, she helped with her father's home business and took on a volunteer teaching position within our Keepers at Home club, all while wearing the most fabulously feminine dresses. I can't tell you how much it meant to Emma just to see this young woman. She didn't even have to talk to her to be uplifted.

I've become aware over the last couple of years that Emma is now a role model for some girls. One mom told me recently that her daughters (about 8 and 10 years old) had specifically looked for Emma's dresses at our church garage sale. It amazes me how much attention they pay to what Emma is wearing. If she wears a hat and gloves, they zoom to her like bees to their hive.

Because Emma is done with high school, is not in college, and does not work outside the home, this week she has been able to spend about 6 hours every day helping a mother of a toddler and infant who just had a miscarriage and lost so much blood that she had to have a transfusion. The experience really made me stop and think what a loss it is for our communities that more young ladies don't have this kind of time and flexibility, especially when the stay-at-home mom is essentially isolated.

Emma looks up to this mom as a role model and is thrilled to have gotten to bathe the children, clean house, grocery shop, do laundry, sort baby clothes for the change in season, take the babies out in the stroller, etc. But the social aspect of this time is just as important--the time they have spent visiting in rocking chairs on the back porch while the babies napped has satisfied a deep need in Emma for womanly conversation--so much so that I would say Emma has gained more by helping than the mom has gained by being helped.

At home, Emma looks every day for inspiration in the blogosphere. She has been lucky to find Emily G. at My Song of Joy. Emily is a traditional Catholic who married at 19 and conceived Maria Antonia on her honeymoon. Emma followed the pregnancy eagerly and could hardly stand it when Emily did not post for a while after Maria's birth. Now 21, Emily is an incredible homemaker, wife, and mother. She is expecting again after miscarrying a second baby last year. Emma does not miss a My Song of Joy post. Thanks, Emily!

And then there is Grace Kelly. Today Tea at Trianon has a wonderful post on the Princess of Monaco's views on motherhood. I know Emma will savor every word.

Artwork: The First Born by Frederick William Elwell, via Victorian/Edwardian Paintings.


Emily G. said...

I am most embarrassed. I don't think I am much of a model wife or mother. I try my very best and I know I came far better prepared than some, but that doesn't make me perfect. I am very rarely satisfied with my performance. I know I'm a perfectionist and I just have to let some things go. Anyway, I am honoured to be considered a model to a lovely young lady like Emma. I hope she learns something from me-maybe it will just be that no matter how prepared you are, you will never be as perfect as you thought because we are all only human.

Wendy Haught said...

Dear Emily,

No one expects you to be perfect, and it would certainly make it discouraging for Emma if you were, because she is a real girl with her own faults and shortcomings.

Besides looking up to you, she gains invaluable insight into what her life will be like as a young wife and mother.

Thanks again for blogging!

Jenny said...

Thank you for such a counter-cultural post that is right on the mark. I was forced out after graduation and left on my own basically. Being an 18 year old in the world with an incomplete moral compass was not good. I was only a child and still needed fatherly protection (well, if I would have had it at home, I would not have been forced out). I believe a girl should be under the authority of her father until she comes under the authority of her husband. St Paul says we are the weaker sex, not to be demeaning, but as a word of caution. The serpent went to Eve, not Adam.

Wendy Haught said...

Dear Jenny,

My heart went out to you when I read that you were forced out of your childhood home. And now you have the faith, a husband, a home, and six children (I looked at your profile)! How wonderful! May God continue to bless you.