Who shall find a valiant (brave-hearted) woman? The heart of her husband trusteth in her. . . She hath sought wool and flax, and hath wrought by the counsel of her hands. . . She hath tasted and seen that her traffic is good: her lamp shall not be put out in the night. . . She hath opened her hand to the needy, and stretched out her hands to the poor. She shall not fear for her house in the cold of snow. — Proverbs xxxi.
Nothing so animates the head of a family to honorable exertion as the certainty, that his wife bestows her utmost care in providing for the comfort of his home, in dispensing wisely the store which he places at her disposal; making it her rule to be just to him by never exceeding his means when she cannot increase them by her industry, in being just to her children by supplying them with becoming raiment, food, and instruction, just to her servants, whom she treats with a motherly tenderness which never condescends to familiarity; — and just to God’s poor, whose claims she holds to be most sacred.
But let us proceed understandingly. The first care of the wife is to establish discipline and order; — discipline, without which there may be much noise and agitation, but no work done; — and order, because where there is confusion everything is out of place, or done out of its proper time.
To have discipline, — where there are children and servants, — the mistress must have authority, and she must assert and establish her authority by being both firm and calm, and giving everyone to understand that she means what she says, and that what she says must be done.
Order means that every work must be done in its proper time, and everything in the house be put in its proper place.
Order means economy both of time and of labor. For where every occupation has its own appointed time, the household duties are sure to be attended to and to be fulfilled with singular ease and pleasure.
If this order and economy of time are necessary in large households, it is still more so in the home of the poor man, where everything has to be done single-handed by the wife. There are poor households,—those of the daily laborer, the poor tradesman,—where the wife, with a large family of children to care for, will quietly get through an amount of work of different kinds that would seem to require the joint energy of several persons.
Go into these bright and orderly homes, where the housewife rests not from early dawn till long after sunset of the longest day, and see the cleanliness, the tidiness, the calm and the contentment that fill the place like an atmosphere!
Of course there will be comfort for all where there is such order. For there can be comfort with poverty, or at least with little, though never with want.
There will be comfort for the husband when he returns to that bright, warm, pleasant hearth, where the deep love of his companion fills the house with a spiritual fragrance more pleasant than all the flowers of spring; there will be comfort at the simple meal set on the board shining with cleanliness; and there will be comfort in the sweet conversation in which the outside world is forgotten, in the joy of being all in all to each other; and there will be bliss in the night’s rest won by hard and hearty toil, and undisturbed by peevish ambition or by the dreams of a spirit at war with God or the neighbor.
There will be loveliness, too, in the home where true love causes order and comfort to reign. For the poorest room can be made lovely by a woman’s cunning hand.
She can have flowers at her window, and flowers on her mantel and her table. And the curtains of windows and beds may be beautified by some simple ornament devised by a woman’s taste and executed in spare moments by the hand of even the busiest.
There is not one among the readers of this book but has seen such homes—albeit lowly, narrow, and poor in the literal sense—in which this order, comfort, and loveliness gave the beholder the evidence of a womanly spirit that might have graced a palace.
Mary Reed Newland, How to Raise Good Catholic Children, 1954 http://amzn.to/2qCq6Md (afflink)
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