Friday, December 14, 2012

Childcare Dreams and Why I blame 19th/early 20th Century Novels for My Unrealistic Expectations

I grew up on Lucy Maud Montgomery and her Anne of Green Gables. You know what happened to Anne after she and Gilbert got married and began to have their kids? *Spoiler Alert* They hired a housekeeper, who was always more than glad to take over the child-rearing and allow Anne the time to write.

In Dorothy L. Sayers's mystery novels, Harriet Vane seems to have an entire coterie of staff wandering about for the sole purpose of caring for her children and allowing her time to write.

I picture women in Edwardian dress - probably white linen - sitting in gardens, writing out their work, while nursemaids in wonderfully starched outfits bring their children by to say hello and, then, take them somewhere else while the mother gets her work done.

Depiction of the Mother Writing "The Railway Children" from the Movie

As a historian, I know that most women did not have this luxury. Heck, my great-grandmother was the nursemaid in the wonderfully starched outfit. And, yet, I have this dream that, maybe just for a month, I'll have this luxury as well. I do like being home with the girls and caring for them, but, wouldn't it be nice to have uninterrupted time to finish my work?

Darn you mystery novels of a by-gone era that revolved around the lives of upper class women who had the means to have this help. And looked stunning in white linen.

Edwardian Nursemaid with her Charge

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