Why Chesterton?

Our little blog would not be complete without an explanation of the quote that we have chosen to grace our front banner. It comes from Gilbert Keith Chesterton’s essay, “The Emancipation of Domesticity,” originally published in 1910. While the entire essay is worth quoting, I will only quote a small chunk here:

But when people begin to talk about this domestic duty as not merely difficult but trivial and dreary, I simply give up the question. For I cannot with the utmost energy of imagination conceive what they mean. When domesticity, for instance, is called drudgery, all the difficulty arises from a double meaning in the word. If drudgery only means dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home, as a man might drudge at the Cathedral of Amiens or drudge behind a gun at Trafalgar. But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colorless and of small import to the soul, then as I say, I give it up; I do not know what the words mean. To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labors and holidays; to be Whiteley within a certain area, providing toys, boots, sheets, cakes and books, to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.

In our culture, feminism rules the day. Girls are taught from an early age that they should pursue an exciting career and enter the workforce. We are told that our grandfathers relegated our grandmothers to the menial tasks of housekeeping and child-rearing.  We are told such housework is drudgery, and we can achieve far greater things. If we choose to stay home with children, we are clearly indicating that we are not smart enough or hard working enough to make a genuine contribution to society. We are wasting our potential.

We here at e2s believe far differently. We see our children as precious souls who will grow up to be the foundation of the next generation’s society. What Chesterton says is true—we have the opportunity to teach our children EVERYTHING, choosing not to be a specialist in one area in order to “contribute to society,” but instead to teach, entertain, admonish, and excite the minds of the next generation. And not just any members of that next generation, but our own flesh and blood. What an overwhelming privilege! What an exhausting honor! How can anyone say that we are not contributing to society? We are not only contributing, we are forming!

This task is not insignificant. It is absolutely essential. If we choose not to do it, somebody else will. The schoolteacher who does not share our Christian beliefs, the soccer coach who teaches our child to pride himself only on his physical abilities, the doctor who diagnoses our merely active son with ADHD. What about the latch-key kid whose teachers are the television when he gets home, or the neighborhood boys discussing the birds and the bees? Do we really want the worldview of our children shaped by these people? We have the opportunity to “tell our own children about the universe,” as Chesterton says. Why would we pass that by?

We want to embrace the calling of motherhood, in the face of a world that views motherhood as a sideline to real life. Chesterton reminds us of the greatness and beauty of our task. We are Queen Elizabeth, Whiteley (whoever he was!), and Aristotle to our children. We have the awesome task of being the ultimate generalist—teaching them the foundations of life.

This is why we have let Chesterton name our blog for us. With wit and grace, he pinpoints the exact reasons stay-at-home-moms are essential for society. We are the culture makers, and will only embrace our task when viewing it aright.


Posted in Philosophy of Motherhood. Bookmark the permalink. RSS feed for this post. Leave a trackback.

2 Responses to Why Chesterton?

  1. Becky says:

    Great quote! Thanks for starting this blog. I appreciate being encouraged this way as I am starting on my motherhood journey with my 7 month old. 🙂

  2. Love the quote and the heart behind this blog…

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