Obviously, my life is crazy busy right now, and honestly most nights I'm just too tired to make any sense of a blog...but it's past time and I have several ideas and drafts started, so prepare yourself for updates and picture overload coming soon...but tonight, this...
Interestingly, I had this idea for this post yesterday, and coincidentally, this morning on the way to work, there was a news interview regarding chivalry and whether it was dead and why. The word chivalrous originally described valor, honor, and courtesy, associated with the medieval code of knighthood. Medieval knights are no longer with us, but chivalrous has survived in modern usage to describe a man — or a behavior — showing courtesy or attentiveness toward women. On this particular interview, a letter was read that was written more than 50 years ago. It was from a man to his fiance the day before their wedding day...it was endearing...it was written with words that would make any woman feel like she was on a pedestal...a queen...very loved. I've seen those same kind of letters written to my paternal grandmother from my grandfather when he was away at war...it was evident in his words that he loved her so, and held her in high esteem. (Photos and my best interpretations of the two letters I have copies of are below.)
One of the women was arguing this morning that women have been a part of disassembling the idea of chivalry in modern times, with many men now being confused as to what they are to do for the women they love or want to date or marry for that matter. The other woman argued, that she could open her own doors, and she was her own person and she was strong and independent...she didn't believe that any women had contributed to the idea that there is a demise of chivalrous men.
I can't say I completely agree or disagree with either of these women. First, I'm gonna say, I am independent, I am strong, I have always wanted to be successful remote from what my husband does...but I am happy to have my husband open a door for me...I am happy to read some endearing words from my husband...I am happy to have my husband wash a sink full of dishes for me, or help fold those clothes that continue to stare me in the face at night when I'm all out of "mommy juice" (and, no I'm not talking about wine..although that has it's place...I'm talking about energy). Being strong and independent doesn't make me not want...and need...those things from my husband. Together we are stronger, and that fulfills something in me I never knew was missing until I met him. My husband's doing anything for me doesn't demote me, or make me feel less than I am.
As far as the first woman, I do agree that to some extent, there are women who have pushed back on the chilvalrous acts of men so much that it has led to those things being more "dead". However, I think teaching boys to be men starts in the home. Many mothers and fathers today are just not teaching their boys to do these things. Both are at fault. Many fathers are absent, promiscuity is alive and well -- that sets a precedent. Divorce statistics are at an all time high, and may be considered more of the "norm" in today's society. Does this contribute to this trend of many men not demonstrating those chivalrous traits...or is it the reverse? Does the lack of chivalrous acts eventually get tiring for women and for men, the spark fade, and throughout the years, that love just fade away? Chicken or the egg?
A few weeks ago, I was home after baseball practice and music lessons on a Friday night. Matt was away coaching a ballgame, the two youngest were all tucked in, the oldest, Carson, had showered and asked to stay up so he "could spend time with me". Awe...so sweet! I showered, grabbed another load of clean clothes and carried them to the living room and started talking with Carson. He grabbed a book and sat down in the recliner and started doing some sort of word puzzle...WHILE I WAS FOLDING CLOTHES. Uh....no sir. I work all week...and even for those mamas that are stay at home mothers, you work...and work HARD...I quickly told Carson..."you can stay up and talk to me and hang out, but you will help with these clothes. You absolutely will not sit in that chair and watch me work." It was a trade off...I love hanging out with him, but sometimes that includes working together. It's life...REAL life. I told him one day...a long time from now;)...when he's married, I hope he doesn't sit in that chair while his wife starts on the mountain of clothes that needs tackling after a long week. He may have rolled his eyes for a quick second when I wasn't looking, but he did get up and help and do a great job. We worked together until everything was done. I hope it was a lesson to be remembered. I'm a hard mama. I expect a lot...maybe too much at times...but there is a reason for the madness. I know that my time with these people is limited, and it's my job to make them productive members of society, and good partners to their wife/husband one day.
They all have chores...a good many too. I tell them all the time, it takes all of us to make this house and farm work, and they will participate. There are grumblings at times, but because we've made it a part of their life, and still make time for fun, the grumblings are less and less. Some of their chores include making their bed every day, cleaning bathrooms, they cook certain things, they unload the dishwasher, fold and put away all the towels, gather hangers, put away their clothes, take out trash...you name it, they probably have helped. I don't ask them to do anything I'm not willing to do myself. I have moms tell me all the time, "my kids wouldn't do it". In our house, you're not allowed to tell us what you're not going to do. Too harsh for you? I promise, with as much as we all provide to our kids, there are things that would disappear or be turned down if one of them refused to do something I asked. But, I understand, every family is different. This is what works for us. I know that Carson will be going to college in just about six years (sniff, sniff)...I need him to be able to be self-sufficient and not a dang slob at college...I need him to make good respectful choices and know that bad choices will have consequences. That is my goal. I'm praying it works.
The story from yesterday that made me start this post was some (from what I understand is normal) smartass 12-year-old (sorry...but true) comment from Carson to Effie while she was trying to get dressed for track practice. She's not fast in those things, but she was making progress, and we were doing fine with time. The tone of his voice and his comments hurt her feelings and she responded by declaring what she thought about it...he barked back more smart comments, and by the time I walked in, she was in tears and had told him she wished he wasn't her brother. Now, I know that isn't true...Carson knows that isn't true. Truth is, when Effie was in the hospital at Scottish Rite, Carson was about the only person she asked for other than me and Matt...she adores him. He smarted back, but then walked out and grabbed a basketball like it never happened. Meanwhile, when I went to Effie's room to see if she was done, she was tidying up and crying...tears running down her sweet face. I hugged her, but reminded her that we shouldn't say things we don't mean. Words hurt. She's not appreciating this preteen stage either though, and it's hard for her to process. We all got into the car and headed out, but Effie was more withdrawn and quiet. I nudged Carson and encouraged him to tell her he was sorry...he whispered that she should too...I gave him THAT look...you know the one. He turned around and apologized...her response (as always) was "it's ok". She shifted a little more forward in her chair. I then whispered to Carson that he should reach for her hand...he reached around and she gladly reached for his...all was well in the world again, and singing quickly commenced again from the backseat.
We dropped her off at track practice for her daddy to pick her up while I ushered boys to ballgames...as we pulled away, I asked Carson to turn the radio down and listen to me for a moment. I told him about Effie crying when I went to get her before we left. I told him what I told her, but I reminded him that while she was crying, he had forgotten it and was outside playing basketball. I also reminded him of her needing to hear HIS voice and see HIS face while she faced one of the hardest times in her little life last November...recovering from a sudden brain surgery, and our worrying about her recovery and future. His face grew quiet. I told him that women feel things much more deeply than guys do. I told him that no matter the woman in his life...whether it be Effie, me, a girlfriend or wife in the future, grandmothers...women are to be respected by men and he really needed to work on how he talked to her. I hope he got it...I'm sure there'll be times he forgets...but my hope is that he carries it with him for the rest of his life on some level.
Is chivalry dead? I don't know the real answer to that, but I do know that it's not as prevalent as it used to be. I also know that I don't want it to be dead in our house or in my boys. I also teach Effie to be independent and encourage her to further her education after high school, earning a degree that allows her to support herself...but I pray for a man to sweep her off of her feet and treat her like the princess she is...forever. That wouldn't make her any less independent, but I know she deserves the kind of love that loves hard and deep. She really does feel so very deeply...she closes her eyes and makes hand motions when she's singing at the top of her lungs...she responds better to talking and explanation than yelling...she gives the best hugs, and I swear she smells like an angel! (Not that that has anything to do with anything, but if you're near her sometime, just hug and smell her...it's heavenly! haha)
And for both of my boys...I'm raising them to respect women, to hold open doors, to try and watch their words (although I may not be the best example), to be faithful to the woman they love...if they fall in love with someone who doesn't want those things, my heart will hurt for those young women who don't know what they're missing. Chivalry versus female independence...having one does not make the other disappear.
My Papa was born June 1, 1922 - his letters to my Granny tell me that he held her in high esteem, and I know that most men don't write sweet words to the woman they love. Got these out tonight after writing this blog...some of his words I can't read...some made me cry.
Just thought I would drop you a few lines to let you know I am still thinking of you sweet darling. I hope this few lines finds you sweet and getting along fine these lonesome days....(some words I can't completely make out). Just lonesome and blue for you darling. Honey, how is my sweet boy getting along these days?"
It's followed by more words I haven't been able to completely make out...I do see where he tells her he is sad and blue, but assures her they will be together soon. He tells her "I had better close my letter tonight and go to bed with you in my heart."...
From what I understand, their oldest son was born while he was in training, and he was able to come home to see him then, but then after he left again during the war, he didn't see his son again until he was about 3 years old. I've certainly got to gather more information! He was 22 when he wrote this letter.
July 12, 1944
Again, there are some words I can't read, but then he tells her "as for myself I am ok. Hope you the same. Honey, how is my sweet boy getting along, still sweet as he can be? I just will be glad when I can see him. Honey, have some pictures of you and the baby together and send one to me."
We just lost our grandmother. She was strong and so very hard working...her husband, as evidenced by these letters was chivalrous...she had both...and my heart is so full tonight having gotten these back out:)