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The Spiritual Tasks of the Homemaker, part 1

I’m fascinated by this book’s title… allow me to share some of it’s ideas with you!

With the birth of human individuality, our previous assumptions – based on old cultural traditions – increasingly needs revising. All tasks and roles need to be redefined and reinterpreted. This little book is the result of a conference, led by the author, which considered how the modern homemaker is to find strength and insight to deal with their responsibilities. How can one cope at all today with home and family?

I still find some aspects of ‘homemaking’ so challenging albeit having come to terms with a lot. Is this because of my own predisposition and biases, or that of the wider community’s? It is hard to be a slow mover and groover in parenthood living in the bustle of contemporary city life… finding the spaces in between to just be and indeed to have others in the zone with you when you feel like it… community is so important… to find your reflection in your community, I am learning how that is essential…

Schmidt-Brabant takes the point of view that the old understanding of the homemaker’s roles needs to be enlivened with spiritual knowledge. We can discover, for example, how to work with the non-physical aspects of the household – its etheric and astral natures – and with different spiritual beings connected to the home. He offers much in the way of advice and ideas, providing help for those who find it in their destiny to develop their career as a carer for home and family.

In my destiny – yes I have found this in my destiny to develop this career as a carer for home and family. Everything points to this, my astrology, my personality, my interests, my sensibilities… not exclusively of course, but for now. I’ve learned, with the challenges come the rewards. What are these ‘spiritual beings connected with the home’? If they exist, what is their purpose and how can they help us? What is the etheric and astral nature of the home? How can these beings be invited in a conscious way to provide vital, vibrant and living influences within our household?

Upon our meeting, my husband (clearer than me at the time!) and I, instinctively knew we would be family together. The clarity of this future was apparent, really only one of two major signposts life has forwarded me. I feel there is a distinctness to this task in my biographical story, I don’t know why but it is a chapter in life I must put my full attention to. You can see why this book intrigues me!

I like to keep these ideas in the back of my mind… Life goes on and we meet it headlong day by day but these provide a sort of broader backdrop to what is actually going on. There is no incessant naval-gazing here, more a gentle reminder now and then when the microscopic details begin to overwhelm. And sometimes when the mood strikes (like now) I like to remind myself of our story, it brings warmth, love and a sense of mission and purpose to this way of life we are living.

What is to become of the family?
Will it disintegrate or can it be taken hold of in a new way?
What are the secrets of this special task found all over the world?
What is its significance today?
What influence does it have on society?
What are the conditions involved?

Will the individual with her right to self-determination, her right to form her own life, be able to assert herself, or will the old role expectations remain and overwhelm her?

Wow, so other people are asking these questions too?


Usually the homemaker will start out with naive ideals, ones that she has built up herself or which approach her as role expectations from outside – described by the words a ‘good mother’ , a ‘good homemaker’. Where does this ideal come from?

Cultural role expectations are powerful… I am reminded of this send-up, which went round social media this week, (in time for Mothers’ Day):

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What was the ideal for an aristocratic woman in the 19th century? She was supposed to be a lady of society, to be able to ride, to be accomplished in the arts. Servants were responsible for the household and children. This was thus an ideal that does not correspond to the current one. (!!) Country women had other ideals. Their role expectations came from the village community.  

The ideal of a ‘good wife and mother’ comes from middle-class society of the 19th century in Middle Europe. It stems from a time in which the housewife did not have to care for the household by herself. Cooks took care of the meals, nursemaids looked after the children. Such conditions continued until about the beginning of last century. However, today’s role expectations are still based on those past social conditions even though they have since changed. Today the household rests with the homemaker alone.

While there seems to be no (?) definite modern ideal of a mother in the 21st century, (unless we take the above joke seriously) have we instead internalised the concept of the ‘good mother’ and still measure ourselves up to it? If I try to analyse the contemporary situation for the homemaker, I inevitably have to ask myself, What does it mean that I wish to care for and raise my own children? Why do I consider this so important, when in different cultural times and places, the raising of children seemed more arbitrary?

~

Let us take our starting-point from today’s over taxed homemaker. She neither lives up to her ideals nor does she fulfil the expectations of her family. This is at the root of her great frustration. Overstrain is always at the bottom of things. The homemaker has a significant amount of work to do which she can hardly manage physically. A deep hopelessness arises, leading to loneliness. Children, kitchen and expectations; she feels isolated with these tasks. In addition there is the lack of inner stimulation; while she is doing (apparently) boring things, the rest of the world remains closed to her. Furthermore her bad conscience plagues her, for her ideal is unachievable. A feeling of meaningless takes hold. This is paired with the longing deep in her soul for meaning in her everyday work, for freedom – also a longing for love, which raises life onto a higher plane.

Allow me to annotate:

Let us take our starting-point from today’s over taxed homemaker. She neither lives up to her ideals agreed – my ideals seem limitless, where does this incessant need for constant improvement come from? In no other sphere of life do I pursue perfection so earnestly nor does she fulfil the expectations of her family actually thankfully I don’t feel pressure from anyone else. This is at the root of her great frustration. Overstrain is always at the bottom of things. The homemaker has a significant amount of work to do which she can hardly manage physically. This is true, when you take it all on, the laundry, the cooking, the cleaning, there is scant time for much else. Something always needs doing and you realise this will never change, you just have to get on with it, adapt and make it as enjoyable as possible. A deep hopelessness arises, leading to loneliness. Check. Children, kitchen and expectations; she feels isolated with these tasks. In addition there is the lack of inner stimulation; ha! while she is doing (apparently) boring things, the rest of the world remains closed to her. ie. severe FOMO. Furthermore her bad conscience plagues her, for her ideal is unachievable. Ever striving… A feeling of meaningless takes hold. I can admit that at times, yes this has happened. This is paired with the longing deep in her soul for meaning in her everyday work, I probably overthink, but maybe I’m not alone for freedom social media allows some mental flight to take place, yes – also a longing for love, which raises life onto a higher plane. I hadn’t thought of this, I love my son, without this love where would I be?

Did the aristocratic women of the 19th century long to be able to raise their own children, meal to meal, moment to moment? Did they find freedom and joy in their separation from the banality of the household and rearing of the chiblets, or did they feel the anxieties of being ‘forcefully’ separated from them (through what their culture dictated)? Was their lifestyle of galloping off on horses to picnic and plein air paint, their actual ideal? Maybe it was!

Is my contemporary desire to be a “stay-at-home-mum” or “lead-parent” simply in-line with the cultural norm or does my soul desire it for a deeper reason? Because the “juggle is real” and that paragraph above, deflating as it sounds, has at times been my stark reality and I am sure any woman who raises her children in today’s cultural norm will relate to it. Why do I nonetheless pursue it, ‘stay-at-home-parenting’? There is a flipside which parents will relate to also, all kicked off through the power of love.

The day-to-day is one thing, and there are a myriad of ways available to us to alleviate the ‘boringness’ and convert it into something lively and meaningful, but I’m not so interested in that right now… what intrigues me, are the forces which are available to emancipate ourselves from the ordinary and lift ourselves up to the extraordinary:

“Just as little as seed forces teach the plant to grow, but rather appear as living beings within it, so our ideas don’t teach: they pour themselves, igniting life – giving life – into our being.

Everything that makes life seem meaningful to me I owe to them, not only the courage but also the insight and the strength that let me hope to make my children into people who are not only industrious and fit for outward life in the usual sense but who will carry inner peace and satisfaction in their souls.Ӡ

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To be continued…

The Portal of Initiation; R. Steiner
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