Autumn has been busier than I had expected. I have gotten barely any book work done in the past two weeks. Between household duties and the kids’ schedules, I sometimes feel like trying to start and run an antiquarian book business (albeit a small one) is fruitless.
Another soccer practice? Music lessons for Tom? Art class for Huck? More laundry? Plan, prepare for, and cook three meals a day? The teacher wants parent help in the classroom? I say yes, yes, yes, and yes to all of these sorts of things, and I am generally glad that I do so.
Dante catalogue? Another book fair? Fix up the website? I want to say yes, yes, and yes to all of these, but lately I find myself saying, “Yes — as soon as I can get to it, I will.” And when I can get to it, I haven’t nearly enough time to complete anything.
I know these dueling priorities are a part of life for many parents, and I know I will ultimately complete my work at home and on the books in the way that works best for our family and for me. Though it’s (for me anyway) an unrealistic expectation, it’s still frustrating when I can’t “do it all” in one day. I enjoy both the work and home parts of my life so much that I don’t want to miss or delay any of it. It’s times like these that I find a little bit of Laura Ingalls Wilder is just the remedy for my impatience.
Laura Ingalls Wilder on “Women’s Work” at Home:
…Doing up cut fingers, kissing hurt places, and singing bedtime songs are small things by themselves; but they will inculcate a love for home and family that will last through life and help to keep America a land of homes. Putting up the school lunch for the children or cooking a good meal for the family may seem very insignificant tasks as compared with giving a lecture, writing a book, or doing other things that have a larger audience; but I doubt very much if, in the ultimate reckoning, they will count for as much. …And just as a little thread of gold, running through a fabric, brightens the whole garment, so women’s work at home, while only the doing of little things, is like the golden gleam of sunlight that runs through and brightens all the fabric of civilization.
— Laura Ingalls Wilder
I couldn’t agree more, and I say this quote applies to stay-at-home dads, too, because I know a few of them myself. I bought the box pictured below as a souvenir from our trip to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Homestead in De Smet, South Dakota this past summer. The artist who made it printed words from Laura’s handwriting on the back and a picture of Laura after she published her first few books on the front. Inside is a small twig from the cottonwood trees on the homestead that Pa planted for each of his daughters.
I remind myself that Wilder did not come into success as a writer until after her own daughter was grown, until she was well into middle age, the age she appears to be in the picture above. Certainly I can take time to build my business. I can only give the business my extra time until my children are grown and that will have to be enough. In the meantime, I remind myself to be patient. And my souvenir box reminds me not only of my bookish goals, but also of all the fun I had at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Homestead with my family.
See you in the stacks!