By: Judy Lyden
Who is the Renaissance Woman today? What does her persona teach young children? How does her expertise add to the household and draw the family together? Is that considered a woman's job today? When young children look for an example of "what to be" when they grow up, are they looking at the Renaissance Woman and is that you?
It's a good question even though it might be dangerous or scary.
My image of the Renaissance woman is someone who is comfortable in any arena. She dresses well and is poised and well spoken. She's up to date on the latest new trends in arts; includes a knowledge of literature, theatre, music and current events, and also has enough savvy to know how we got there. When she is asked to address any group in the city, she can AND she has the poise to invite the whole group to her house for a casual dinner. The house, of course, is clean and comfortable. It's nicely appointed and she's done the decorating herself and even some of the sewing. It's obviously her garden, and the meal, which she cooks right in front of them, is outstanding. She even has well behaved children under her feet and a homemade dessert.
"I hate her," you think, and yet for the sake of the next generation, isn't this what women should aspire to and have their own children aspire to? Isn't accomplishment what we all seek? Begrudgingly, we all have to agree that she is, but how did she get there?
The everything woman begins at the beginning with parents who show him or her "how to" and encourage them lovingly to try, to make mistakes and to learn. By learning to do the simple things like house keeping and cooking, we develop the discipline and stamina to do other things well too. I listen to a lot of gabble from young mothers who smilingly admit things like, "I don't cook." I suppose they attribute it to being a quasi feminist.
I often wonder if this kind of feminist stuff is really a good thing for families. Is this persona the kind of example a parent really wants to offer to their children? Is this the kind of person who really can keep a family together? Look at it this way and answer the question again. Aren't women who say, "I don't cook" really saying "I can't cook; I don't know how?"
"I don't sew; I wouldn't know where to begin, and besides everything needs a certain label." Homemade and remade somehow don't fit into the picture I have of myself. That's a high school image, by the way. Just remember the ability to work with an ageless commodity like fabric is an achievement for both a man and a woman. Aren't the couturiers high on the worship charts? Look at where we find fabric -- everywhere. A lack of knowledge is just that, a lack of knowledge; it's a lacking.
"I don't read. I don't have time." Isn't this the same as saying, "Hey, I went to school and it was dull; I'm too busy having fun." Since when was it dull to exercise your own brain? The idea of having a real conversation about something other than clothes or Hollywood brutes is refreshing especially to the man at home. If you have time to watch TV, you have time to read.
"I don't garden, clean, bake, embroider, paint, write... and the list goes on. The question is: what do you do? What CAN you do?
When women look at what men do, we're really outclassed. A man might not spend hours picking out flowers for the front of the house, but he probably plants them and he mows the lawn and can probably put the mower back together, not to mention the car, the dishwasher, the washing machine, the toilet, and he's probably not afraid to get dirty or break a fingernail.
When you watch a movie, do you rarely find yourself able to say more than "I liked it when?" That's what children do. They liked it when because they can't bring religion or philosophy or history or art or literature to the conversation. If you don't read books, maybe that's where you belong - talking with the kids.
Take a quick inventory: what DO you know how to do? Shocking isn't it. Now ask yourself about that "fun" personality. How much fun are you for your family?
Women especially should have an arsenal of "I cans" simply because these are the tools we hand down to our children and continue to attract our mates. It doesn't take much thought to see that a man can easily be bored with a woman who is boring. The more you can do, the more you know about, the more fun you really are.
Development does not end with the diploma. Accomplished does not begin with the school desk and end with a paycheck; it begins in the heart and the heart is in the home. Accomplished says, "I can do just about anything," and that begins in the home with teaching young children the basics, and guess what? If you don't know how now, it's never too late. Learn with your child; it will be the best time you ever invested.