When I was single and living on my own, I was a fairly ambitious person. I used to want to live in D.C. and work in government or public policy. One of the young women in this book reminded me of that old Amy.I know that feeling, all too well. I used to be good at things. I used to have grand ideas. I used to be ready to change the world! I used to have unique and valuable skills. Nowadays, I can't even get the dishes washed. (I can hardly even reach the faucet.)
It just so happened that, on the day I was reading about her life, my life was SOOO stay-at-home-momish. It was one of those days where I felt like I had been doing laundry non-stop for three days. What happened to that young woman I used to be, so full of life and energy?
However, I was also re-reading A History of the American People while waiting to be poked all morning. (Fortunately no one else was in the waiting room for long, so I turned the TV off.) It struck me again, with more force this time, that the key to successful new grand ventures is not the bright and energetic visionaries who get them started. Nor is it how many young, strong men (or, in these more egalitarian times, independent, energetic women) you have around to carry out your plans.
No, what a new colony or novel idea needs to make it a success is a bunch of pregnant mamas waddling around, trying to get supper on the table. That's where permanent colonies come from; that's where lasting social change sets in. Somewhere in the middle of all those diaper changes, a new world is born.
In the book A Lantern in her Hand, an elderly pioneer woman attends the "old settlers" picnic.
And then it was time for the speech of the day. The young county attorney made it, from the airy heights of the band stand, at his side a glass of water on Abbie Deal's marble-topped table.
It was a good speech. It flapped its wings and soared over the oaks and elms, and eventually came home to roost with: "You . . . you were the intrepid people! You, my friends, were the sturdy ones. Your days have been magnificent poems of labor. Your years have been as heroic stories as the sagas. Your lives have been dauntless, courageous, sweeping epics."
"'Sweeping' is the word, Sarah!" Abbie said when the applause had faded away into the grove. "I wish I had a dollar for every broom I've worn out."
Sarah Lutz's little black eyes twinkled.
"How about it, Abbie, do you feel like a poem?"
"No, Sarah, I was always too busy filling up the youngsters and getting the patches on the overalls to notice that I was part of an epic."