The chief thing is to get women to take part in socially productive labor, to liberate them from ‘domestic slavery,’ to free them from their stupefying [idiotic] and humiliating subjugation to the eternal drudgery of the kitchen and the nursery. This struggle will be a long one, and it demands a radical reconstruction, both of social technique and of morale. But it will end in the complete triumph of Communism.
– V L A D I M I R L E N I N , 1 9 2 0
Do you know what? Exactly ten years from today, it will be mid-morning on Wednesday, December 15th, 2027, in the third week of Advent.
What makes this entirely random fact so interesting? A question I came across yesterday.
Where do you see yourself in ten years? And do you like what you see?
Upon first glance, I didn’t give the question much pause for thought. But I did release an involuntary smile over the possibility of where I could be in ten years: a wife, mother, and keeper of the hearth! What more could I want on earth?
Yes, I like what I see.
And I moved on from the question. But this morning, it’s circled back around to me as an interesting muse for a post. (And I’m rather shocked that it’s already Friday and I haven’t written a thing here since Monday, so I feel the need to make up a little.)
Exactly ten years from today, I’ll be 31 years old. And that in itself sounds delightful. In my mind, the words “31 years old” brim with possibilities and future graces. And probably a little weight gain. But that’s okay. I’m not afraid of growing older.
Ten years! God-willing, I could be married and have several children by the time I’m 31! (My youngest sister and I have sometimes played a mental game, in which we tried to calculate the most children we could feasibly have in a given time frame. It’s a step up from making a list of names. But I won’t frighten readers.) I can only imagine the stories I might be able to tell in ten years’ time. What will I be like? What will I look like, sound like? I think it’s tempting to imagine the manifold ways I’ll have grown, matured and advanced in virtue . . . while slightly less tempting, though probably far more accurate, to acknowledge the ways I will have probably remained the same me, in spite of ten years.
Mary’s guardian angel: “What? Ten years, and she’s only done this?!”
* * *
Ten years from today, it will be mid-morning, and just ten days before Christmas. My children will probably be romping around in cardboard and duck tape (excuse me, armor), and I probably will not have showered yet because, while I naturally appreciate and seek after a wholesome kind of order and schedule in the home, I am not militaristically organized and today will, most likely, be one of those Flexible Days of Survival.
My beloved small castle, (not yet decorated for Christmas, but with an Advent wreath on the table surrounded by workbooks and Saint Lucy coloring sheets) will probably be somewhat tidy, somewhat cluttered (though I’ll already be mentally planning the time to go and clean up those Vital Areas before my husband gets home, since I would really love for him to not experience the feeling of coming home to an absolute zoo . . . no, wait, to tell the children to do the cleaning up! I forgot about them).
The front room will need to be vacuumed (I will be in the process of getting to that), but the throw-pillows are straight and the blankets folded up from the evening before, because I’m still a determined surface preserver.
Although outside will most likely be gray, brown and wet, inside I will have the stimulating sensation of shoveling in a blizzard. Propping the Current Baby of the family (the Current Baby shall not be left out of this post) on my hip, I’ll be alternately wiping sticky crumbs off the counter from breakfast, unloading the next plate from the dishwasher, and recalling what meat is left in the freezer for later on that night. Then comes a hot flow of spit-up down my shirt. I handle it with professional calm and proceed to unload the spoons.
On the kitchen fridge, there’ll be a family photo (rumpled because the toddler found it one day), a grocery list, eighty-five filthy finger smudges I need to wipe off, an invitation to a Christmas party I’m fervently hoping to get to with my husband so I can savor a little time with him, regale my close friends with my daily domestic antics and drink a little wine . . . there will be some alphabet magnets (most, however, will be on the floor), a dry-erase calendar in a constant state of change . . . and, high-up so as to preserve it from disaster, a lovely hand-drawn picture of the Holy Family that Sr. Alphonsus of the Merciful Gaze of Mary (my imaginary invention for Lena’s future professed name . . . perhaps my kids will call her “Aunt Alphy” 😀 ) mailed to the children from the convent.
(You notice that I carefully avoid the topic inside the fridge. I don’t have enough courage to peer that far yet.)
I’ll be hearing shrieks, giggles, and arguments over swords and forts coming from the den (the throw pillows and blankets will be back on the floor again) . . . or is it the stairs? They had better not be hanging off the rails. “Mamaaaa! Mamaaaa!” I’ll know the indignant screams aren’t coming from one seriously injured or seriously wronged, and I’ll begin sticking glasses into the dishwasher, left-handed.
I’ll have a tomboy girl who will be constantly causing me exasperated curiosity as to how to (one day) impart all my high, lovely thoughts about authentic femininity to her. This lass will currently have the shield and sword and will be whacking her brother across the rear.
The Current Baby will then begin wailing from a sudden onset of ravenous hunger, though surely it’s only been five minutes since I nursed last . . . ?
Most likely, I will have a well-meaning and responsible oldest child who will be at the table, working at spelling words and trying to teach the toddler not to color St. Lucy’s skin purple, but who rises at the sound of the Current Baby wailing, comes over to where I am (convinced that all the baby needs is Oldest Sib) and starts plucking at the wet, stinking onesie. “Can I hold him?” the oldest child asks plaintively.
“Actually, I need you to finish loading the dishwasher for me, dear.” (See how calm I’ll be?)
My oldest’s eyes fill with distaste. An exaggerated sigh. Haven’t I raised my children virtuously? I panic interiorly. Why aren’t they cheerfully obeying right away? I lift my eyebrow and give a proper attitude correction. The child humbly complies with a, “Yes, ma’am,” and my spirits lift.
But then the phone will begin ringing, and the oldest will scamper away. (My children will invariably know where the phone is, even if I do not.)
My oldest grins delightedly at the caller ID and pounces on the phone. “Hi Daddy!”
“I want to talk to him!!!!!!!!!” I call (with interior desperation) at the retreating figure, over the poor screaming Current Baby. However, in that moment I will need to snatch survival, and so I’ll retreat to the quiet master bedroom, shut the door, and nurse the baby to sleep, meditating on what colorful extracts from the day I’ll weave into a cheerful narrative for my husband that night.
I will be so lulled by the quiet and serene beauty of my Current Baby that with great suddenness my maternal instincts will start blaring. I will have learned by then that quietness is the sound of doom.
I’ll leave the baby asleep and emerge to find a messy mini-disaster that will involve discipline and half an hour of supervised cleaning up . . .
And on the day will go: December 15th, 2027, with me being 31 years old.
* * *
Why did I quote Lenin at the beginning of this post? Because his words are the antithesis of my dreams for the future. What he perceived as slavery, I know to be freedom and fulfillment. The very things he speaks of with detestation, I look at with both realism and reverence. This post was, in part, inspired by a video I watched this morning from Mary’s Secretary.
I’m a cheerful and optimistic person by nature, so perhaps it seems that I’m sometimes over-idealizing a futuristic day in which I will be a stay-at-home mother. My vocation, whatever its twists and turns, will be my crucible for holiness; I know it will be difficult; I anticipate crosses, because it comes straight from the loving hands of the King of the Cross. I’m flawed and I will fail often. Some nights, I expect I’ll cry myself to sleep. Some days, I’m sure I’ll look at Our Lord and tell Him I can’t do it anymore . . . and then move on and do it.
But that doesn’t exclude the real beauty, wonder and loveliness of the life I anticipate. It doesn’t mean the little, chaotic details aren’t charming and funny in their innocence and normalcy. It doesn’t mean I won’t find utter delight and deep peace in fulfilling my role as a woman, in living out my vocation as a creature of God, in loving and serving my future family.
If “drudgery” only means “very hard work” I admit the woman drudges in the home . . . but if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colorless and of small import to the soul, then as I say, I give it up. I do not know what the words mean.
-G. K. Chesterton
So here’s to the next ten years!