Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Real Simple, indeed

My brother-in-law over there at Godsbody keeps claiming that his blog is woefully behind the times. Well, I am going to do him one better. Tonight I am going to comment on an issue of REAL SIMPLE magazine from December 2004.

A thrifty mother can’t pass up a yard sale and that’s where I got nine issues of REAL SIMPLE for $1. Somebody (Aunt Cheryl??) had been singing its praises and I thought I should check it out. As I am reading through the issues, I find myself simultaneously engrossed and disgusted. Take December 2004. There are these great articles on winter skin care (yes, I have dishpan hands), how to find that elusive little black jacket (I yearn for the simplicity of it) and secrets for beautiful hair (I am open to putting a cup of mayonnaise on my head). But what sends me over the edge are the articles that are REAL SIMPLE’s trademark: things that your mother should have taught you if only she were acting like your mother….like how to hand wash sweaters, or how to pair a necklace with a ballgown, or, get this, how to have a life-long happy marriage. The latter article is a retrospective on a 35-year marriage between Diane and Bernie Bletterman. They survived hard times, two affairs and financial woes. And they stuck together and raised their boys with love.

It amazes me in that a story that is so ordinary is now extraordinary enough to rate a magazine article. It also fills me with what I hope is righteous anger. We are a generation that has not been mothered…and so we have to learn it from a magazine. Listen my child and learn the things that your mother never told you …because she was too busy actualizing herself, finding her inner child, getting a promotion, divorcing your dad.

And this brings me back to the mother’s role to foster the child’s contemplative relation to God. It is not a matter of being a domestic goddess a la Martha. It is a matter of preserving the sphere of love, of building it up through submission and suffering. I mean submission to the will of God, submission to the reality of marital union. So, concretely, it may (or may not) mean staying home, suffering a difficult marriage, living through financial difficulty or extramarital affairs. It is only possible in and through the Cross.

It’s news, folks: love and marriage are possible.


Blogger Matthew Lickona said...

Hey, welcome to the behind-the-times bandwagon! Excellent post.

10:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the post - I came over from Amy Welborn...
A friend gets Real Simple and I read it at her house. To me the magazine seems centered around "Products you need to buy in order to simplify your life". No thanks.

8:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too came over from Amy Wellborn's site. I thought of Fran Leibowitz when I read your blog. She once said that ghetto children grow up without fathers and middle class children grow up without mothers.

10:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Me, three, who found you via Amy. And I would've come sooner had I known you were writing about my mother...

10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dang, you could have been writing about my own mother. Seemed to have started in the early 70s. Boy was it hard being the children of divorced parents (talk about a stigma before divorce was ever heard of) and being raised by your father. OTOH, we learned a lot of the mother stuff from my sainted grandmothers and we can also kill bats, change the oil in any car, wire electric anything and clean those old asbestos furnaces! Plus my sister and I have never fallen prey to PC stuff and we have both refused to attend those dopey sexism classes pushed for by the feminists in places of employment. Any guy ever gave us a hard time and we slugged them! I think the reason is is because being raised by a dad you tend to see the sexes as equal - we all worked to keep ourselves together (including my brother who can wash, dry and fold, cook, clean and food shop) and everyone was loved and contributed something of value, didn't matter what the chore was. All of us stayed married despite some bad times and we are all happy in our 40s, thank God.

You can't but wonder how things would have turned out with a maternal, normal mother, but God has given us much love and graces and we weathered the sorrows just fine.

Those moms who 'had to be me' most likely had normal, maternal mothers, so one wonders if it isn't just the usual 'you always [think you] want what you don't have' human condition that plagues us mortals.

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Blogger Jeff Tan said...

Dang these spammers. Great post, Lisa!

8:16 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

OK, folks, I think that I took care of the spammers... changed the settings. Thanks for all your kind words!

6:21 PM  

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