for the love and tender care of women

The other night I was reading an old book when a pressed flower fell from its pages. My heart leapt a little at the loveliness of it. I'd forgotten there were flowers in that particular book.

The thing is, I hadn't left the pressed flower for my own sake. I'd never expected to read that book again; it was for future children to find. I am not often tender in such a way with myself.

So many women seem to have inherited the memory of a million mothers saying down the ages, "be a good servant and always put others first." We have an instinct to deny our own hunger when there's only one piece of pie remaining and someone else is sitting at the table. This is really a beautiful thing, and I for one honour that women have taken on the burden and the blessing of ensuring that other people get care and loving consideration.

But of course you know what follows. We must care for ourselves also. Not just so we remain strong and nourished in order to keep on serving others, but simply because we too deserve loving consideration for our own sakes. We tell each other this all the time. But I've been thinking, why do women find it so hard to follow that advice? Is it because they have so few examples to follow? I know there are plenty of women in the media who are infamous for taking very lavish care of themselves. But in real life, how many women do you know who feel no guilt at sitting with a novel even if their children are bored, or staying in bed when sick but there's work to be done, or who spend money on perfume to make themselves happy?

And do you have other women in your lifes who care for you gently, with wholehearted service? Sisters, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, neighbours, friends?

For that matter, how well do the men in your lives serve you? I don't mean husbands so much as men in general. It used to be that a gentleman would be thoughtful of the different ways he might smooth the edges of a woman's life - opening a door for her, walking on the outside edge of the footpath, all those small, old-fashioned gestures which were about honouring another person rather than suggesting she is weak and incapable.

If other people do not show a woman tenderness, how will she come to believe that she deserves it? And how will she learn the many little ways she can be kind and loving to herself?



sharing with the wise women linkup

12 comments:

  1. Well said Sarah! Half the battle is recognising what we deserve and giving ourselves permission to do what the soul needs. Our needs are not a luxury, they are a right and a necessity.

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  2. Elizabeth WaggonerAugust 27, 2015 at 6:44 AM

    I'm hard pressed to find gentlemen. More often than not I see men who think they are doing the right thing by "allowing" women to take care of themselves - but I'm not so sure that at least half the time it's just laziness on their part. And women are so hard pressed to get everything done that "needs" to be done on any given day, that they are starting to not have time to help one another either. Or so it seems. But recently, as I was going through a health crisis with my grown daughter, I found both of us blessed by generosity and prayer and kindnesses both great and small from men and women alike. True friends and good people. All is not lost. And on the regular day to days? I think we SHOULD light the candles, buy the flowers and have tea from the good china and honor the good within ourselves, especially when it's so, so much easier to claim the bad instead.

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  3. These are words fitly spoken.

    I had an elderly man lift his hat to me - 15 years ago. No one has since.

    I remember watching an early episode of Little House on the Prairie.( I like how Pa protects and provides for Ma and his girls in this series.) Anyway, blue fabric at the general store catches Ma's eye. She has enough money from her egg sales to buy it to make a much needed dress for herself. She ends up making two dresses out of it for Laura and Mary to wear for a school recital. At the recital Laura (in her new blue dress) pretending to read what she wrote (she can't write well yet.) speaks a tribute to her Ma's love and care. Ma (in her everyday brown dress) smiles with watery eyes. Her joy is seeing her girls in their dresses and hearing Laura's gratitude. It is touching. I only surmise (or hope) that eventually she sells eggs enough in future to make herself a pretty new dress, too. One day.

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  4. we do so much every day to ensure that our loved ones have all they need not just to survive, but to thrive. many of us also work in a world that rewards behavior traditionally called masculine, while denigrating behavior seen as feminine; yet simultaneously expecting us to behave in specifically traditional feminine ways for approval. it's very easy to get burned out...and yet with all the nurturing we give others, it's somehow counter to programming to nurture ourselves, as you observed.

    so i celebrate daily life with all the little comforts and treats i can muster. and i try to encourage other women to treat themselves well. souls get tired like bodies do, and need regular knitting up to keep ourselves and others warm...

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  5. Lovely post. I'm an only child, but if I should have had a sister, I would want her to think as you do Sarah. :D I do see glimpses of this tenderness and deep love between my two daughters (and their brother), and that's so wonderful. There is a 19C book I once bought, a real Victorian relic of art and poetry, and when I leafed thru it for the first time, a pressed corsage of carnations tied with a blue ribbon fell out. I wonder what colour those carnations were when it was sent and I wonder what the message to the girl was.

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  6. Thank you everyone for your lovely comments. I wish I had time today to answer each of you personally.

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  7. I really liked this post, the image, and the gentle way you shared your thoughts.

    I especially liked this: "all those small, old-fashioned gestures which were about honouring another person rather than suggesting she is weak and incapable."

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  8. I love this so much, Sarah, and have many thoughts on the matter... but seem to be lacking in words today. :)
    Anyways, I agree with what you've written. Beautiful, as always. <3

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  9. lovely.
    today i disappeared.
    i picked a cluster of barely-ripened grapes from the arbor, walked across the field and sat down on the bridge dipping my toes into the creek.
    i sat there watching the sun through the clouds back lighting the trees across the creek and the long grasses on the water's edge.
    i breathed slow and deep and emptied my mind for a few minutes.
    it was some much needed solitude and though short-lived, i'll take what i can get.

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  10. For that matter, how well do the women in our lives serve us too? for it's not enough to speak simply of the dichotomy of men and women, but how we treat each other.

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