Sunday, July 7, 2013

Doing More Good

I apologize for my long absence.  After having my daughter, I've been struggling with the adjustment to six kids, especially with one of them being a baby who constantly needs to be held. 

I've been thinking a lot lately about my life and my contribution to the world.  Certainly my six children are a contribution and I'm trying my best to raise them well. But I don't think I am doing all the good that I can do.  I have too  many distractions that keep me from fully being the person that I want to be.

I recently read several biographies of women from the mid-1800's.  They were mothers of many children; one had sixteen!  In addition to being mothers, they were involved in their communities.  One of them opened her home to travelers; another helped with feeding and clothing the poor and needy.  The reason I read these biographies was because they were posted as notable people of history for the city in which I live.  Of the sixteen people that were honored on a wall at the city offices, three of them were women from that time period. 

I have read much about women in history and how women were oppressed and not valued, etc.  Today's women celebrate how much has changed for us--how we are able to do so many things that women in earlier times were not allowed to do.  Almost all of these changes have been positive, but some of the fallout effects of these changes have not been.

Women in earlier times were typically "confined" to the home.  They weren't allowed to work outside the home or vote or be public figures.  Yet these women that were honored on this wall still did much good even without these opportunities.  In fact, I'd like to argue that they did more good than most women who are in high career positions and in the public eye do today. 

As I was reading these biographies, I was thinking about how I have all these freedoms and opportunities, yet I waste much time doing things that are not productive nor contribute much to my community or society.  Yes, I am raising my kids, but I also waste a lot of time watching TV, puttering around on the Internet (reading articles, posting comments, connecting through Facebook).  I think that these women had to work so hard just to keep their tables from being bare and their homes clean and kept up that they didn't have time for all the nonsense we have time for today. 

This got  me thinking about how I need to improve.  We have so many modern conveniences that make our lives easier.  We also invest our time in so many busy activities (carting kids around is something women then did not do--the kids worked alongside them and also had time to run free and play without supervision--another thing I could talk a whole lot more about another time).  These activities aren't inherently bad, but are they really making our lives better? 

After reading these biographies, I really felt like I needed to focus more on teaching my kids worthwhile things--like cooking skills and learning how to garden (I really don't know how) with them by my side.  I need to write that book I've been wanting to write for a couple of decades now.  I need to put more time and work into my community, most likely through PTA because helping at school is something I'm comfortable with and know how to do.  I need to spend less time puttering around and more time serving and helping others and teaching my kids to do the same. 

I need to do more good.  I see many women doing good, but I wonder, with all the progress we've made, are women doing more good today than they were when their opportunities were more limited?  In some ways, it doesn't seem like we are.  I want to be a woman who really makes a contribution to the world.


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