This is a gentle reminder to all mothers to make sure we are teaching our girls the basics of domesticity. It is also a nudge to young, single women, to roll up their sleeves and do what it takes to learn the basics of homemaking so they can step into marriage with somewhat of a knowledge of how a house is run, etc.
From Courtship and Marriage and the Gentle Art of Homemaking by Annie S. Swan, 1894
Making the home and keeping the house are two different things, though closely allied. Having considered the graces of mind and heart which so largely contribute to the successful art of home-making, it is not less necessary that we now devote our attention to the more practical, and certainly not less important, quality of housekeeping.
Ignorance of the prosaic details of housekeeping is the primary cause of much of the domestic worry and discomfort that exist, to say nothing of the more serious discords that may arise from such a defect in the fitness of the woman supposed to be the homemaker.
For such ignorance, or lack of fitness, to use a milder term, there does not appear to me to be any excuse; it is so needless, so often willful.
Some blame careless, indifferent mothers, who do not seem to have profited by their own experience, but allow their daughters to grow up in idleness, and launch them on the sea of matrimony with a very faint idea of what is required of them in their new sphere.
It is very reprehensible conduct on the part of such mothers, and if in a short time the bright sky of their daughters’ happiness begins to cloud a little, they need not wonder or feel aggrieved.
A man is quite justified in expecting and exacting a moderate degree of comfort at least in his own house, and if it is not forthcoming may be forgiven a complaint.
He is to be pitied, but his unhappy wife much more deserves our pity, since she finds herself amid a sea of troubles, at the mercy of her servants, if she possesses them; and if moderate circumstances necessitate the performance of the bulk of household duties, then her predicament is melancholy indeed.
To revert again to our Angelina and Edwin of the comic papers, we have the threadbare jokes at the expense of the new husband subjected to the ordeal of Angelina’s awful cooking.
At first he is forbearing and encouraging; but in the end, when no improvement is visible, the honeymoon begins to wane much more rapidly than either anticipated.
Edwin becomes sulky, discontented, and complaining; Angelina tearful or indignant, as her temperament dictates, but equally and miserably helpless. The chances are that time will not improve but rather aggravate her troubles, especially if the cares of motherhood be added to those of wifehood, which she finds quite enough for her capacities.
True, some women have a clever knack of adapting themselves readily to every circumstance, and pick up knowledge with amazing rapidity.
If they are by nature housewifely women, they will triumph over the faults of their early training, and after sundry mistakes and a good deal of unnecessary expenditure may develop into fairly competent housewives.
But it is a dangerous and trying experiment, which ought not to be made, because there is absolutely no need for it.
It is the duty of every mother who has daughters entrusted to her care to begin early to train them in domestic work. A Wise woman will take care to show her young daughters, as time and opportunity offer, every secret contained in the domestic répertoire.
“When the results of life are all gathered up—it will probably be seen that the things in us which have made the deepest and most lasting impressions in our homes and upon our children—have not been the things we did with purpose and intention, planning to produce a certain effect—but the things we did when we were not thinking of training or influencing or affecting any other life!” -J.R. Miller
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