I grew up in a house full of love, peace (on most days), comfort and contentment. While we weren’t wealthy by any means, I don’t remember going without. We shopped at the discount stores, ate meals at home around the dinner table–only going out for special occasions, and worked for our play money (allowances, what are those?). Only now, as I’m paying for things on my own and realizing just how much things cost (and only imagining how much four kids cost), my appreciation for my parents and my upbringing grows.
You may ask where this is coming from. Well, not only is it the truth, but my nose has been in a classic novel that actually reminds me a bit of my own childhood. Little Women follows the March girls (okay, so they had no brother and there were four girls instead of three, but work with me here) and how they survived on little, were generous with what they had and loved, leaned on and learned from each other.
They created plays and programs (reminding me of our summer days playing in the church nursery, where our husbands were “all in the military,” thus absent and our ever so embarrassing Christmas programs), earned their own money (we were the sought after VP girls for our church babysitting chain), had their arguments (too many doors were slammed in our house to even remember) and they were each different and individual in their own way.
Since this is the first time I’ve read this novel (the movie version with Winona Ryder doesn’t count–even though it is a fantastic movie that I’m learning as I’m reading, was cast perfectly), I was surprised to read the following as it so closely matched my own parents’ sentiments.
(from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women)
I want my daughters to be beautiful, accomplished and good; to be admired, loved and respected, to have a happy youth, to be well and wisely married, and to lead useful, pleasant lives with as little care and sorrow to try them as God sees fit to send. To be loved and chosen by a good man is the best and sweetest thing which can happen to a woman, and I sincerely hope my girls may know this experience. It is natural to think of it, right to hope and wait for it, and wise to prepare for it, so that when the happy time comes, you may feel ready for the duties and worthy of the joy. My dear girls, I am ambitious for you, but not to have you make a dash in the world–marry rich men merely because they are rich, or have splendid houses, which are not homes because love is wanting. Money is a needful and precious thing–and when well used, a noble thing–but I never want you to think of it as the first or only prize to strive for. I’d rather see you as poor men’s wives, if you were happy, beloved, contented, than queens on thrones, without self respect and peace.
While neither my mom nor dad ever said these exact words (or had probably even read them before), they raised us in a way that taught us to hold our heads high but not our noses, to love who we want but to be mindful and careful, to be proud without being prideful, to be beautiful without touting it, to be frugal but generous, to enjoy where you are but to never settle for second best.
They were teaching us the above words in their own way; in a way that made us into strong, independent and loving women. Women that would make them proud.
They were laying a foundation in our lives that we are sure to pass on to our own daughters, Lord willing.