Today seems to be one of those days for taking refuge in G.K. Chesterton. I just finished an essay entitled: "Turning Inside Out. Fancies vs. Fads, 1923" (Chesterton, G.K. (2011-10-20). In Defense of Sanity (p. 159). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.). To my way of thinking, its 90+ years gives this reflection a certain freshness and perhaps keeps my contemporaries from feeling offended as they fancy female careerism in the 21st Century. As fun and mocking as Chesterton can be, he makes his point with heart, soul, mind and strength. In the case of this particular essay, that being: for a gillion reasons no mission can top that of the stay-at-home-mom for importance on behalf of the life of both the individual and therefore of society, of our world.
He concludes the essay as follows:
"But this is only one of many instances of the same truth: that what is called public life is not larger than private life, but smaller. What we call public life is a fragmentary affair of sections and seasons and impressions; it is only in private life that dwells the fullness of our life bodily." (p. 168).
Forgive me if I resist the temptation to quote some of the great lines he has in this essay and launch into a very brief reflection on home schooling and some of its equivalents, I am thinking of manifestations such as the "soccer mom". I wish to make the point, that even our most valiant have lost the point of just being for the sake of another. If blame were to be assigned, I would need someone else to help me point to the extra-curricular revolution which took place somewhere between 1970 and 1974. Maybe it had something to do with the expanded fare offered on TV, but in any case, I mean that thing, person or things, persons, which contributed among other things to doing away with the supper hour and long before the microwave oven came on the scene.
My Mother used to reminisce about a particular occasion when only she and I (Dad was also down sick) in our ten person household were spared a very virulent stomach flu. She spoke gratefully of the valiant assistance her oldest son provided in this great trial. My only recollection was of the bed sheets we had put down in the hallway to our one and only bathroom. Maybe it was then, but at some point in adolescence I can remember pondering Mom's self-sacrifice and around the clock with whiny babies and on and on (the stomach flu plague was perhaps an epic moment in an ongoing saga). She was herself very modest, paying a compliment to the only lady in the neighborhood at that time who knew how to drive a car, saying that she really admired her, as she could not imagine the added burden of chauffeuring.
Frequently, among home schooling or soccer moms you hear the explanation for their commitment to be in reaction to the failures of regular schools and school sport programs; these moms somehow label their efforts as a necessary choice by way of supplement or compensation, when not counter-cultural. The whole truth it seems to me has more to do with how God created things good and envisioned not only male-female complementarity, but the nurturing which is supposed to go on within the walls of the "little Church" which is the home.
I wish we could reclaim the wisdom of G.K. Chesterton, who let the schools run their negligent and chaotic course, insisting rather on the noble calling of the wife and mother, and with far more profundity than the old quote: "The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world" (from a poem by William Ross Wallace that praises motherhood as the preeminent force for change in the world. The poem was first published in 1865 under the title "What Rules the World" - Wikipedia).
My prayer is that the Mater et Magister, our Church will find ways to call women and men back from the brink to exercise their noble calling on behalf of the next generation.
PROPERANTES ADVENTUM DIEI DEI