The Old Ways of Traditional Womanhood

Virginiahousewife

Pigeon
Woman
The intention of this thread is to post rememberances, memories, things you’ve read/ seen/ heard of that women used to do to embrace their traditional womanhood.

Recently I have been thinking more about my Grandmother, my German Oma. She never sat down for typical at home family meals. She would serve everyone, then stand at the door to the kitchen taking part in the conversation and getting us anything we needed/ seconds. As a child I never really considered this strange, ok maybe as I became an Americanized kid I noticed it more, but I thought other Oma’s surely did the same thing. She took such pride in preparing for us and serving us. Pride her home, her garden, and her family. Serving us was what made her comfortable.

Only now do I realize how unusual this was. I am struck by the beauty of such submissive self sacrifice. Perhaps this came from living in a war torn country, serving your family first so you can make sure they have enough to eat. Has anyone else seen this before? Anyone else’s grandma do this?

My own mother was not a great example of traditional womanhood. Thinking more about the ways of the real women, the strong traditional women going back an extra generation seems like a good example to follow.

In what ways did your grandmother embrace her role as mother and caregiver? Please share here so that we may contemplate their wisdom. How did your Grandma care for you?
 

SlickyBoy

Hummingbird
It isn't recent, and it isn't specifically about grandmothers, but I was reading a bit about US President Grover Cleveland. Not a lot of people realize he was elected a bachelor, but soon married. He was not the only bachelor President (James Buchanan was another), nor the only to be married while president (again, James Buchanan), but Cleveland was the only one ever to be married in the White House, in the Blue Room.

The catch? His bride was only 21 years old - Garfield was 49. He contacted the woman's mother to ask permission before he began to court her. She approved. Of course, as President of the United States he was a very high value man, but even then one would think there would be scandals about such an enormous age difference, yet his bride, the youngest first lady ever, was generally well received by the public.

She bore him five children. I'm not sure how many were born while Garfield was President. What seems like an unrepeatable miracle by modern standards was really not all that unusual in the late 19th century. Nowadays, forget anyone ever electing a bachelor President, and if they ever did he would surely be expected to have an "age appropriate" bride or girlfriend. Modern "men" of wealth and power like Bezos and Musk are personal basket cases when it comes to mate selection compared to patriarchs like Cleveland.

Takeaways - things women used to do:

1) Value their fertility, youth and beauty
2) Get married, produce many children, and stay married.
3) When their children mature, have some role in their mate selection.
4) If in a public role, know how to behave in a manner suiting that role.
5) Impart all of that wisdom in their daughters and stress that they not make the mistake of the spinsters.

Try suggesting any of the above to a modern female audience under the age of 80 (outside of Saudi Arabia) and you'll be branded a misogynist, but this is how things should be. After a long enough period of substantial hardship, they will inevitably be that way again, one day.
 

stugatz

Pelican
It isn't recent, and it isn't specifically about grandmothers, but I was reading a bit about US President Grover Cleveland. Not a lot of people realize he was elected a bachelor, but soon married. He was not the only bachelor President (James Buchanan was another), nor the only to be married while president (again, James Buchanan), but Cleveland was the only one ever to be married in the White House, in the Blue Room.
Great post overall, but just chiming in by saying that Buchanan was never married and died a bachelor (his failed presidency couldn't have helped much). He's these days rumored to have been gay - I assume they've embellished that.
 

Luna Novem

Woodpecker
Woman
I had three grandmas. My biological maternal grandma died when I was a baby. She was a mother to five; a homemaker as far as I know.
My paternal grandma (Ouma) I don't remember too much since she lives in South Africa. I do remember her coming to visit and reading every night before bed. When I asked what she was reading, she said, "My Bible", in her Afrikaaner accent. She was a mother to six and a homemaker as well. She is a month away from her 98th birthday. She remained faithfully married to my Oupa until his death.
My maternal grandpa remarried, and that lady was who I grew up with as "Grandma" on my mom's side. She was a very kind lady who only had one child with her late husband; so when she married Grandpa, she gladly took on his family and all his grandkids. I remember staying the night at her house and her jigsaw puzzles that she kept for when grandkids came over. I thought that was fun. She sent me a birthday card with ten dollars every birthday... even after I became an adult... until she passed away.
 

SlickyBoy

Hummingbird
Great post overall, but just chiming in by saying that Buchanan was never married and died a bachelor (his failed presidency couldn't have helped much). He's these days rumored to have been gay - I assume they've embellished that.
Did not know that about him - thought he eventually married. But nowadays, yeah, he'd be labelled gay and it would probably advance his career, if he were in the "correct" party.
 

Kitty Tantrum

Woodpecker
Woman
She never sat down for typical at home family meals. She would serve everyone, then stand at the door to the kitchen taking part in the conversation and getting us anything we needed/ seconds.
This reminds me of me. It's not something I was taught - the ideal that was pushed on me, culturally, was for everyone to sit down and eat at the same time. I've always found it much more natural to stay in the role of "server" during meals. Especially since every place I've lived has an open kitchen/dining area - I'm often doing cleanup and waiting on the table while everyone else is eating. It also helps the waistline - because I simply don't need to sit down and eat an entire plate full of food like my hard-working husband and my growing boys.

I unfortunately didn't get to spend much time with my maternal grandmother beyond when I was very young, but I have some very fond memories of my paternal grandmother. She and my grandpa would come out to visit most summers during my childhood, and she's really the one who did a LOT to try to encourage me to be more ladylike. Femininity comes naturally to me in spite of my mother's feminist ways... but my grandma was the one who was there (starting when I was 8-ish) to take me out shopping for a pretty dress, and then we'd go to lunch or just spend time together, and she would give me little pointers on how to sit and how to carry myself and how to generally be more proper and polite. How to excuse myself to the bathroom if I had an itch in an awkward place. Just how egregious it was to pick my nose in public. Things like that. :squintlol:
 

stugatz

Pelican
Did not know that about him - thought he eventually married. But nowadays, yeah, he'd be labelled gay and it would probably advance his career, if he were in the "correct" party.
His sister actually served as First Lady, and apparently frequent jokes were made at his expense at how unusual his bachelorhood was.

That said, my useless history degree is derailing the thread - as you were, everyone. :oops:
 

Mrs.DanielH

Robin
Woman
My main influence for traditional femininity came from reading historical fiction like little house on the prairie. My paternal grandmother is not very warm and motherly. She very much pushed gender norms for us grandkids, and didn't like that I wasn't into shopping and clothes. My maternal grandmother is very warm and motherly, but she was not the "ideal" mother to her children. She is a better Grandmom than mother. Perhaps because she's had time to reflect on her mistakes and do things differently. My Ukrainian great grandma, Baba, was a strong, traditional woman. She upheld moral standards in her house and was loving. She cooked and served her family. Not that she wasn't a lady, but she worked hard on the family farm, so I see her as a very strong woman almost like the pioneers. My mother always looked up to her as a role model.
 

Starlight

Woodpecker
Woman
My main influence for traditional femininity came from reading historical fiction like little house on the prairie. My paternal grandmother is not very warm and motherly. She very much pushed gender norms for us grandkids, and didn't like that I wasn't into shopping and clothes. My maternal grandmother is very warm and motherly, but she was not the "ideal" mother to her children. She is a better Grandmom than mother. Perhaps because she's had time to reflect on her mistakes and do things differently. My Ukrainian great grandma, Baba, was a strong, traditional woman. She upheld moral standards in her house and was loving. She cooked and served her family. Not that she wasn't a lady, but she worked hard on the family farm, so I see her as a very strong woman almost like the pioneers. My mother always looked up to her as a role model.
My maternal grandmother was very similar, I think, to your baba. She wasn’t very “feminine” but she was born and raised on the very same homestead that our family had settled ~200 years ago. “Born in a barn” pretty literally lol. She was tough as nails and didn’t take guff from anyone, told it how it was, etc. Shoveled (with an actual shovel) her own driveway until she was 96.

But, she was also the sweetest and most caring person. She always tried to make sure people felt comfortable and were taken care of, to an extent lol. She didn’t tolerate people who were unreasonable. If you didn’t like what she cooked for dinner, she’d say, “That’s okay. You can have it for breakfast.” Lol :laughter:
 

Leeloo

Woodpecker
Woman
It isn't recent, and it isn't specifically about grandmothers, but I was reading a bit about US President Grover Cleveland. Not a lot of people realize he was elected a bachelor, but soon married. He was not the only bachelor President (James Buchanan was another), nor the only to be married while president (again, James Buchanan), but Cleveland was the only one ever to be married in the White House, in the Blue Room.

The catch? His bride was only 21 years old - Garfield was 49. He contacted the woman's mother to ask permission before he began to court her. She approved. Of course, as President of the United States he was a very high value man, but even then one would think there would be scandals about such an enormous age difference, yet his bride, the youngest first lady ever, was generally well received by the public.

She bore him five children. I'm not sure how many were born while Garfield was President. What seems like an unrepeatable miracle by modern standards was really not all that unusual in the late 19th century. Nowadays, forget anyone ever electing a bachelor President, and if they ever did he would surely be expected to have an "age appropriate" bride or girlfriend. Modern "men" of wealth and power like Bezos and Musk are personal basket cases when it comes to mate selection compared to patriarchs like Cleveland.

Takeaways - things women used to do:

1) Value their fertility, youth and beauty
2) Get married, produce many children, and stay married.
3) When their children mature, have some role in their mate selection.
4) If in a public role, know how to behave in a manner suiting that role.
5) Impart all of that wisdom in their daughters and stress that they not make the mistake of the spinsters.

Try suggesting any of the above to a modern female audience under the age of 80 (outside of Saudi Arabia) and you'll be branded a misogynist, but this is how things should be. After a long enough period of substantial hardship, they will inevitably be that way again, one day.

This was a very interesting read, but in the first paragraph you’re speaking about Grover Cleveland and in paragraph two, it seems we’re talking about James Garfield?
I’m reading this in the middle of the night exhausted, so maybe I’m reading this wrong?
 
My maternal grandmother was very similar, I think, to your baba. She wasn’t very “feminine” but she was born and raised on the very same homestead that our family had settled ~200 years ago. “Born in a barn” pretty literally lol. She was tough as nails and didn’t take guff from anyone, told it how it was, etc. Shoveled (with an actual shovel) her own driveway until she was 96.

But, she was also the sweetest and most caring person. She always tried to make sure people felt comfortable and were taken care of, to an extent lol. She didn’t tolerate people who were unreasonable. If you didn’t like what she cooked for dinner, she’d say, “That’s okay. You can have it for breakfast.” Lol :laughter:
Evidence that being Kind and Gentle isn't mutually exclusive with Competence and Mental Fortitude.

Her relatively hard life trained her to be tough.

Being Feminine on the other hand is similar to being like Water:

Tao Te Ching - Lao Tzu - chapter 78

Under heaven nothing is more soft and yielding than water.
Yet for attacking the solid and strong, nothing is better;
It has no equal.
The weak can overcome the strong;
The supple can overcome the stiff.
Under heaven everyone knows this,
Yet no one puts it into practice.
Therefore the sage says:
He who takes upon himself the humiliation of the people
is fit to rule them.
He who takes upon himself the country's disasters deserves
to be king of the universe.
The truth often seems paradoxical.



-Lao Tzu-
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 78)

Water is yielding in its courses yet it wears away rock. By its yielding it overcomes the unyielding. Softness overcomes Hardness.

By analogy showing the Gentleness is its own strength. Like a Scalpel cutting precisely and avoiding as much unnecessary damage as possible.

Also Lao Tzu seems to have some kind of Divine Inspiration that led to him foreshadowing the Passion of our LORD in the 6th Century BC:

This paradox built into nature itself tells of Christ and his manner of his ministry. The Tao is the closest thing to the Logos(Logic)/Word that was explained in the first chapter of the Gospel of John. And in the rest of the New Testament.
 
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SlickyBoy

Hummingbird
This was a very interesting read, but in the first paragraph you’re speaking about Grover Cleveland and in paragraph two, it seems we’re talking about James Garfield?
I’m reading this in the middle of the night exhausted, so maybe I’m reading this wrong?
Grover Cleveland - nice catch, I was half asleep when I wrote it!
 

Lamkins

Woodpecker
Woman
Let’s see.....my grandmother was a smoker, divorced, hated men, slept around when she was married with young kids, once married a man then immediately divorced him when he expected sex, and she loved to fish. I don’t think I have much to add to this thread, lol. She did spend a lot of time rocking on the porch reading and made a mean batch of buttermilk biscuits and loved to garden. Does that count??

Carry on! :D
 

debeguiled

Peacock
Gold Member
Let’s see.....my grandmother was a smoker, divorced, hated men, slept around when she was married with young kids, once married a man then immediately divorced him when he expected sex, and she loved to fish. I don’t think I have much to add to this thread, lol. She did spend a lot of time rocking on the porch reading and made a mean batch of buttermilk biscuits and loved to garden. Does that count??

Carry on! :D
She is valuable as an example of what not to do, and the biscuits would only count for someone who is very easy to bribe.
 

muhtea

Robin
Woman
Let’s see.....my grandmother was a smoker, divorced, hated men, slept around when she was married with young kids, once married a man then immediately divorced him when he expected sex, and she loved to fish. I don’t think I have much to add to this thread, lol. She did spend a lot of time rocking on the porch reading and made a mean batch of buttermilk biscuits and loved to garden. Does that count??

Carry on! :D
Yeah that's kind of why I don't have much to say lol. My paternal grandmother died before I was born and the other one was... a character.
 

stugatz

Pelican
This isn't much, but I do remember my grandmother once being aghast at how nonchalant my mother was at the idea of not having dinner ready for my father as soon as he got home. She'd get it ready when she got it ready. In comparison to my mother, my grandmother seemed to live to keep house.

Women in my family (both sides) were competent enough cooks but really weren't that good at it. My own interest in food & recipes mostly came from boredom and a desire to try dishes that we weren't well-off enough to buy at a nice restaurant.
 
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ball dont lie

Kingfisher
Gold Member
My Eastern European grandmother spoke the language because her grandmother came over from there. She often would cook and serve while everyone ate, stopping only for grace before the big meals. She would eat once everyone was served and seconds were under way, eating only a little and mostly talking and smiling. Then she would start the cleaning. As I got older I started to help her clean along with some of my cousins, instead of eating seconds. My parents generation didnt help very much and were completely spoiled - Boomers.

My other grandmother still makes dinner and cleans now in her 80s for my grandfather. They both have many health problems and yell at each other, but they are very grateful to have each other. Especially with covid, since my grandmother was terrified and wouldnt let either them see anyone or leave the house for a long time.

My Eastern European grandmother was always in her garden and loved to make life grow. Flowers and plants of every kind.

I should mention that she was raised correctly, but lived a life of many, many poor choices until she was middle aged and then settled into church and family. So she was a great influence on my generation, but my aunts and uncles and parent were not raised well by her.
 

Kitty Tantrum

Woodpecker
Woman
This isn't much, but I do remember my grandmother once being aghast at how nonchalant my mother was at the idea of not having dinner ready for my father as soon as he got home. She'd get it ready when she got it ready.
See, I had to give up on having dinner ready as soon as my husband gets home. Even (especially???) being his own boss, there's about a two-hour window during which I can typically expect him to arrive home most days. :squintlol:
 

honey flame

Pigeon
Woman
My grandmother taught us that whenever she left the house, she wore a nice dress, her cross necklace, bracelet, purse, day heels, did her hair, and put on nice makeup and lipstick. And she said that she would do all of this just to do something as simple as mailing a letter :squintlol:. Women going out in their pajamas or sans lipstick is just unfathomable to her!

My mother also taught me that girls should always wear something in their hair. Loose hair probably means she is an immodest woman. I think it looks very neat and classy when there is something in a woman's hair. This could be a clip, tie, headband, bobby pins, anything.
 
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