The occasion was the 80th birthday party for my Aunt Carolyn. She's the one in the black & white photo. My Aunt Louise is the one laughing, and my own mama is the middle lady in the other photo. A small get-together to celebrate the life of one of my aunts.
I grew up down the road from Aunt Carolyn's family where three of my first cousins lived. Another set of first cousins lived between us. Mama's parents lived across the road from us, so I really had four mamas within half a mile. Sometimes I found that oppressive. Especially when I was up to mischief, which was often.
I remember one conversation with my Aunt Louise (who lived in Atlanta and was therefore much more knowledgeable about life) when I was in college and knew everything. It went something like this: Aunt: What are you going to do when you get out of college?
Me: I'm not sure yet. I don't want to be a housewife.
Aunt: Why not? (laughing)
Me: I wouldn't have anything to do. Don't you get bored?
Aunt: (Really laughing now) I don't have time to be bored.
I went away from that conversation a little shaken, partly because she was laughing at me, or so I thought at the time, and partly because I was afraid she might be right. I wanted a career. I didn't want to be 'stuck' at home.
I think that conversation was pivotal for me in opening up an avenue I had never before considered; that of a stay-at-home wife and mother. For the next few years, God brought different people into my life to show me what that would look like. They were also grace-filled women who were well-educated, created peaceful homes of beauty, and stayed home full time. My eyes were opened to the realities of this most important calling.
I saw that women could be appreciated and loved within the context of their homes. That children could be well-behaved and not little monsters, and that disciplined children were happy children. Thank God for these examples in my life. I think things would be much different if I hadn't known them.
This quote by George Elliot is what got me thinking about women in the shadows. It's from Middlemarch and is speaking of Dorothea: Her full nature, like that river of which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name on the earth. But the effect of her being on these around her was incalculably diffusive; for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half doing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life and rest in unvisited tombs.
So this post is for the aunts in my life, and I have many more than the two pictured. You helped my parents raise me when I was a hateful, mischievous little girl. You loved and guided me into young womanhood, and you are still leading me into the unknown paths of middle and old age.
And when this world plays its siren song of You Can Be and Do Anything, you help give me strength to say back, "It's enough to be a stay-at-home mom. I do have it all. It's enough."