I have written about my children’s babysitter before, a very wise and sensible girl of a local religious sect with Scandinavian origins. It’s similar to Amish but with electricity and automobiles, but not music, television or pop culture.
It has been fascinating to get to know her and learn about her world because as an “outsider” to their rather closed off community I have had a rare chance to see inside a world untouched by feminism and modern life up close.
One thing that struck me about Samantha was that unlike most 16-year-old girls these days, she was embracing the seasons of a woman’s life as traditionally lived.
Girlhood: Largely carefree and as part of a large family there are always others to play games with. Without television and other media distraction, these girls play house, tag, build forts, and explore the great outdoors. Children do not expect to be entertained by their parents, but to make their own fun. Children are still raised to be seen and not heard, and are expected to honor their mother and father. Education is central, as girls are expected to master a basic education, along with helping mom at home with housekeeping, cooking, and tending to other siblings. Even as a young child, these girls are learning skills to help prepare them to be good wives and mothers.
Young woman: As she enters the teen years, education continues to be a focus, as these girls aim to complete their education in preparation to marry. My babysitter, for example, participated in a program where she attended community college her last two years of high school, earning her high school diploma and two year degree the same week! She then transferred to a local commuter college and completed her BA in early childhood education by age 20. Dating is not allowed during the teen years. These girls socialize at family gatherings and church functions. As they approach 18, they begin formal courtship in search of a husband, all well supervised and approved by both families first. The goal of courtship is to find a spouse, not to date for fun. Most girls marry by 18 or 19. My babysitter married at 19 and continued her education that first year while preparing for her next life season.
Marriage and motherhood: Birth control is not practiced by this group, and in fact the goal is to have a first child before the first wedding anniversary. From there these women will have another child every year or two throughout her reproductive years. Children are seen as a blessing, not a burden. Families of ten or more are not uncommon. Once mothers, these women do not work outside the home but often supplement the family income by babysitting, refurbishing and reselling antiques and home decor items, or managing the administrative tasks for her husband’s or family’s business. Otherwise life is one big play date, with these moms getting together with their kiddos to socialize after her house chores are done. Home and hearth are top priority, her own ambitions are secondary to her primary jobs as wife and mom.
Late adulthood: By age 40 or so, the childbearing years are complete and as children grow up there is more time for personal ambitions and many of these women will start some sort of work from home enterprise during these years. Still her focus is her growing brood and preparing them for marriage and adulthood but life is fun and she enjoys the company of her young teen and young adult children, who unlike most teens and young adults, honor and adore their mother.
Golden years: After her children are grown, a woman might devote her time to volunteering or supporting a charitable cause or church endeavor. Many spend time mentoring young women or new moms. Grandchildren start arriving and her home is always full of family and company. She and her husband have lived carefully and have built a solid financial foundation for themselves free of debt so life is good and relatively worry free. Surrounded by her brood and the life she has built, she now enjoys the fruits of her life well lived and is honored and revered by her community.
It’s certainly very different than the life path of a typical girl and woman in our modern world, but having seen it up close I truly question if we wouldn’t be better off as individuals and as a society by taking some lessons from this path less travelled. Rather than the oppressive gloom and doom I expected to see thanks to my own rather feminist indoctrinated upbringing, I have seen great happiness and contentment in the women within this community. They have a happiness and sense of purpose often lacking in today’s modern woman. Imagine that!
What season of life are you on as a woman? How does it compare the the path above? What do you find appealing, or not, about this concept of a woman’s life seasons?
Let those who have ears hear.