Thursday, July 7, 2011

American Housewives are Lazy Squaws

Housewife Keeping Her Eyes Glued on the T.V. While Doing Her Ironing

I remember browsing through the historic section of my local library, something like 15 years ago. I came across a passage in a Massachusetts book which described life in early America.

Forgive me for not citing the exact source, but it may have been written by Alice Morse Earle in the 1800's.  Something from the book really struck me.

An Indian described the pilgrim women as "Lazy Squaws." They could not comprehend why they spent so much time indoors or near the property. I had to chuckle when I read that. To this day, I still smile when I think of it.

Lately, I have been wondering: Are today's American Housewives lazy? I mean . . . are we, as a general rule, less productive than women in other cultures? Do we do less work than American women in history?

To fight this mentality, I have been trying to build up my endurance. I don't want to be sick, or frail. I want to accomplish the tasks that have been given to me. But I need to build up my strength. If we could just realize the short time we have here in this life, would it make us work harder and more efficiently to finish our work?

When my life has ended, I don't want to be remembered as being a lazy squaw. I want to be remembered for being a hard working, dedicated wife and mother who labored for the Lord, until her very last breath.

I want to work hard at my daily chores of feeding my family, teaching my children and caring for those in need. I want to be known as someone who can be counted on to keep my word.

 But I cannot do any of this if I remain in a constant state of illness. I need to run the race with endurance. I must be in a continual state of training in this life. I am to be an althlete in homemaking. This is the sport of my life.

Mrs. White

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I am blessed! said...

I agree most of us are pretty lazy compared to history. I think competitive swimming helped me make a habit of waking up early and starting my day with hard work. It doesnt' seem "strange" or unusual. I do collapse into bed exhausted each night.

However, concerning the book you read, Native Americans have never struck me as particularly hard working. I do think the squaws worked a lot harder than their male counterparts did. I think pioneer men and women worked the hardest still.

We were in Kazakhstan a few years ago. Most of the young people we met with (in a home church) had to work multiple jobs, most spoke at least three languages (Russian, Kazakh, and English)and most of them lived in very modest flats and took public transportation. Humbling.

Thanks for your thoughts. I better get off the computer and get something accomplished : ).


Kim said...

Thank you for this post! I have been thinking about how precious time is & not to waste this gift from God! I have been eating healthier to be fit for the Lords work, namely taking better care of my family first & then others. God has so much more for all of us to do! And it's not so we can sit & watch television. I seek to leave a legacy too! May the Lord give us wisdom to be wise women!

Heather @ Marine Corps Nomads said...

I think it's difficult to compare things from one time period and/or culture to the next.

We need to remember that many times in days gone by that all the woman and children would be doing the housework, so it wouldn't fall on just the mom.

We need to be careful that we're not heaping more on ourselves because we want to live up to an ideal in our head. More than likely, that particular ideal never really did exist in the past.

Obviously, that's not to say that we shouldn't work hard, but we also shouldn't beat ourselves up when our health does not allow things to get done. Often, we are our own worst critics. ;)

Julianne said...

I think in general, we Americans have more conveniences than that of 50 years ago, which can lead to laziness if we're not careful.
I am pregnant with my 5th and because of a minor complication I was told not to overexert myself. So I do feel a lot more lazy than usual, it's hard for me to lay down when I see things that need to be done around the house. So I've realized what an opportunity this is to teach my children to help out more around the house, to teach them to to chip in when they see something that needs to be done. They have an opportunity to experience being a blessing to others by not being lazy themselves. :)

TenderHeartMom said...

I think many housewives are lazy, but not all. Getting take-out, dropping kids of in daycare or early schooling to get alone time, hiring maids all are things many housewives do. How are they a homemaker when they do not make their own home?
I love how many homemakers are going back to the roots of it, cooking from scratch, sewing, gardening, schooling. Someone who does all of that can not be lazy

Marianne said...

Mrs. White,
I love your optimism and how you said you are an "athelete in training". How true! I must say, since moving to a different country last November, I do work harder as a housewife as I don't have all the conveniences of the home that I had in the U.S. I never thought of myself as lazy in the U.S. but compared to now, I wonder. Thankyou for your blog, you write very eloquently & I always look forward to your posts.

Taryn said...

That would be an interesting study-the work of Pioneer women and the work of American Indian women. I tell my children they are native New Yorkers and Native Americans-we were all born here. My children and husband do have American Indian in them. My husband's grandmother was Irish and American Indian-I met her. The homeschool textbooks we use say "American Indians". I would guess that the Pioneer women did different types of work than the American Indian women and they were not lazy at all. Maybe they worked less in the winter. All I know is that I raised 6 children(4 sons,2 daughters with medical problems-Type I diabetes and autism),home educated and watch my grandchildren. Since I was married at 18 I have gone to bed exhausted every night.

Taryn said...

Of Plymouth Plantation would be a good book to read about the Pilgrims(Puritans,etc.). It's sold at Vision Forum. There must be many other books about this in the library. I think the Pilgrim women(and children) couldn't be outside as long as the American Indian women could because they had less melanin in their skin. The Pilgrim women were also inside teaching their children how to read(and write) so they could read their Bibles.

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