Dancing Mænads on the Mountain, Or, I am a Happy Despot, Or, Rounded and Complete Like a Cosmos

And we even go further, and question whether it is more human to make the whole of a pinafore than to look after the whole of a child. The point about the “half-time job” of motherhood is that it is at least one of the jobs that can be regarded as a whole, and almost as an end in itself. A human being is in some sense an end in himself. Anything that makes him happy or high-minded is, under God, a thing directed to an ultimate end. It is not, like nearly all the trades and professions, merely a machinery and a means to an end. And it is a thing which can, by the constitution of human nature, be pursued with positive and unpurchased enthusiasm. Whether or no it is a half-time job, it need not be a half-hearted job...
There have been household gods and household saints and household fairies. I am not sure that there have yet been any factory gods or factory saints or factory fairies. I may be wrong, as I am no commercial expert, but I have not heard of them as yet. And we think that the reason lies in the distinction which I made at the beginning of these remarks. The imagination and the religious instinct and the human sense of humour have free play when people are dealing with something which, however small, is rounded and complete like a cosmos. The place where babies are born, where men die, where the drama of mortal life is acted, is not an office or a shop or a bureau. It is something much smaller in size and much larger in scope. And while nobody would be such a fool as to pretend that it is the only place where people should work, or even the only place where women should work, it has a character of unity and universality that is not found in any of the fragmentary experiences of the division of labour.
-G.K. Chesterton

I have not been sleeping well lately, we arrived home to a couple of annoying household problems (Not the boiler, Teman! Not the boiler!), and I woke up this morning with symptoms of the nasty cold I thought I had shaken for good. If anyone felt like doing a half-hearted job of things, it would be me, this morning, and all day today, which means that I should certainly post these quotes for myself. This little cosmos is too dear to give only half to, especially when it gives me much more in return.


Chieftain of Seir said...

I am glad you clarified that it was not the boiler. I am sorry to hear that the flu/cold/onestepawayfromtheplague has not been kind to you. Everyone else has been having the same experience but it seems like mothers of small children should be exempt.

Abigail said...

After spending this weekend's nighttime hours up with a feverish baby, let's extend the sentiment to babies. While I'm at it, I think it'd be good to include older people and everyone in between. I'm waiting for the curse of sin to be lifted early, I guess.

I recently read this book about the yellow fever epidemic. Nothing like a bonafide plague to make one feel grateful for onestepawayfromtheplague!

Molly said...

Texas citrus will be delivered the week of Feb. 5 - 10th. Your Mom will receive a box at her home, too. Hopefully it will bring sweet "sunshine" from our home to yours!

Much love!

Rebecca said...

"smaller in size and larger in scope."

"rounded and complete, like a cosmos"

I appreciated reading these quotes- thanks for sharing! Although in the first one, I sheepishly admit that sometimes to me this'half-time job' of motherhood feels even more wholly big than a even a 'whole'. More like a cluster of 'wholes' which hang suspended over head just waiting for a click of the fingers to unfreeze them, thus raining them down on this poor clown who can't juggle. ;-)

So sorry the sickies have a hung and clung to your family for such a long time. Feeling unwell is a hard thing for a Mama to bear- and to watch. If you weren't so hospitable a host... ;-)

Praying that you all feel better than 'better' and soon feel GREAT.

Abigail said...

Email sent!


I should have linked-- and intended to link-- to the essay from which I snagged those quotes. As you know, Chesterton certainly does not think motherhood a "half-time" job even as he addresses those who think it is. Here you go!

Also, you've probably already read this one, but The Emancipation of Domesticity is another encouraging essay. How lucky we are to have such a cheerleader!

Lastly, if you haven't already read that collection, go ahead and read some more of his essays from What's Wrong with the World from that first link. The whole section preceding and following the article addresses the topic of people like us who waste their talents at home. Just don't forget to feed the children. I may or may not have gotten distracted from meal-making. ;)

p.s. Failed juggler. Yup, that's me.

Abigail said...

Oops. The first link is wrong. The quotes came from this essay: http://gkcdaily.blogspot.com/2012/11/women-in-workplace-and-at-home.html