Monday, June 15, 2009

Remembering 2 fine women and "The Art of Domesticity"

Today I had a very grey nothing-going-right kind of day. I was already worrying about my Grandfather (in hospital with scepticemia) and feeling like the rain would never stop and my life was one long drudge of sorting out squabbles and picking up after others when I broke a vase. It was a seemingly insignificant, small, lead crystal bud vase but breaking it made me cry (spot the hormonal pregnant woman!) I cried because it was a beautiful gift given to me by two remarkable women who changed the course of my life.

When I was studying Arts at uni I went along with a friend as a volunteer at St David's Limited Hours Children's Centre. It was run out of an old church hall by two women in their 60s. Whole families of children could spend a morning in their care for the pricely sum of $6 while their harassed mums went shopping or got their hair done. Barbara and Linda had an ethos of "giving back" to their community. They adored those children and they carefully and considerately helped their parents (many of whom came from a socio-disadvantaged background)
Barbara and Linda taught me more about working with young children than any textbook or university lecturer ever could. They taught me that quality care isn't about having all the bells and whistles, but about caring, loving, respectful relationships with children and their families. My short volunteer stint turned into a part time job which helped me through uni for the next five years, and led to a career working with young children. When I left they gave me the vase "to remember them by." Since then it has been in constant use; just the right size for a single bloom, something to add a bright and cheery note even in mid winter, and when I look at it I do remember them and silently thank Barbara and Linda for all they have given me.

After my very sad, grey day I was reminded of the delicious prospect of "new" library books and went hunting through the library bag to unearth this treasure.
By page 11 i knew that I had to have this book for my very own. I haven't felt that renewed or validated since discovering Edna Walling (who gave me the confidence to have pride in my higgeldy-piggeldy, favourite-flowers-everywhere, eclectic little garden) If you haven't read it yet, go find a copy NOW. Tonight this book was a feast for a sad soul. I had to read it in the bath until the water got cold (shhh - don't tell the library police!) As someone who comes from a non-crafting family, but has always unashamedly crafted this book held so many "you too?!?" moments. It brought back memories of knitting at my father's football games (to my brother's disgust) and of teaching non-crafting flatmates the basics of crochet.

Jane Brocket says in her introduction: "It took me many years to realise that I was thoroughly domestic, and only grudgingly domesticated. I accept that chores must be accomplished in order to maintain a clean and manageable living environment, but that is where it stops....when there are so many more satisfying domestic arts I can practise"

Here's to creative dreaming and domesticity as opposed to the boringly domestic!

Keep smiling,

p.s. Hannah came looking for me when I was upset and she said "Mummy, I know what would cheer you up....a cup of tea!" (how very British of her!) so we had a tea-party on the kitchen floor!

p.s.s. Jane Brocket has a blog at

No comments: