Manners, Civility and the like

Years ago, I read Sixpence in her Shoe and Sixpence in her Pocket by Phyllis McGinley.  My friend Lauren from Chicago, by way of New Jersey where the Women’s Movement was beginning to boil, scoffed when I mentioned a line from the book which stated “manners are morals.”

McGinley, from Ontario, trained as a teacher, but became a “stay at home mom and homemaker” after she married. She also wrote books and won the Pulitzer Prize. Her argument that homemaking was the oldest and time honored profession resonated with me.

Although I had been somewhat content to stay home with my kids (as long as I could get out and do volunteer things), the marriage was a disaster. Thus we divorced and I was plunged into a different “career” path.

I always snort derisively when people, usually other women, say “you wanted a career.” Well, no I didn’t.  I liked being a stay at home mom.  When I suffered a post partum depression, my shrink encouraged me to get out more and interact with other adults. He suggested a part-time job, which I acquired as a bookkeeper in a retail furniture store in Tampa FL where I lived ( I was always good with figures).

After we transferred back to VA, my new shrink suggested I go back to school.

Vietnam was hot and the hub, a US Marine, had been transferred to Asia, so I decided to take a few courses at the local Community College.  I began with English and math.  I told myself if I could read and write, I could proceed.

One day, while I was backing out of the driveway, I experienced real joy for the first time in my life. I had a part-time job with a research firm, I was in school part time and my kids were all in school.

The hub was displeased when he came home, however, I managed to say “NO” when he suggested we have more children. I suppose reading all that literature by female authors had given me some backbone.

The truth is, I never hated being a homemaker, which is why I am so content with retirement I suppose.

                                                 ***

McGinley’s book made some valid points.  One of the purposes of the Liberal Arts education was to refine people, to educate them. McGinley argued that educated mothers will instill certain values in their children that encourage civility.

Civility is what we need today.  I don’t disagree that “political correctness” may have gotten out of hand in some places, however, manners are missing.  Sensitivity to others is required in the just society. I for one don’t want to return to the days when women were called all sorts of names.  On the other hand, I don’t think most of us want abandonment of all those mores we know held society together for millenia.

                                                 ***

An old man came up to David at Trader Joe’s and helped him load his car.

“Do you mind if I ask your age,” he said to David.

“I’m 87 my next birthday,” David replied.

“Well, I’m 91,” said the man.

“Where’s your cane?”

“In the car,” the man replied. “You think I came over here to help you, but I really only want your cart.  I use it to lean on.”

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Christopher, two weeks old now

 

 

 

23 thoughts on “Manners, Civility and the like

  1. A darling photo — that infant time can seem long but goes so fast! Interesting commentary on manners, morals, civility and political correctness — can agree with your observations.
    My understanding of feminism always included having the option of being a homemaker (housewife!) and/or working and having a family, too. Critical is a home environment where both parents embrace that concept and share homemaking responsibilities in which even the children participate on their appropriate level. I did stay home after my children were born which happened to coincide with my husband’s job relocation, but did return to building a career when my youngest was a preschool year before kindergarten — earlier than I preferred, but I thought circumstances were such I should start then — plus, I did welcome having more mental stimulation from the couple of university courses I began.

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    • I took a very similar path. My shrink said I needed to be away from the kids a few hours every week,, and then the next shrink (we moved, the Ex was military) said school would stimulate me intellectually. I never set out to have a career, only to get well from a severe depression. Years later, I realized the Ex’s philandering and alcholism did not help. I was glad I had become educated because it led to a good job.

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  2. That is such a precious photo of Christopher. My son sent me a short video of my 9 month old grandson laughing and I must have played it over a dozen times already. Sigh… Babies go straight to the heart.
    I stayed home for twelve years before taking some courses and going back into the classroom. Before I did that, I was always worried that if something happened to my husband, we’d be in trouble. Once I had my own income I felt 100% better that we could survive. It made me feel more confident and happy to have friends at work who felt like family too.
    As for civility, we definitely need more of it these days.

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  3. I loved working and I don’t think my kids suffered from it as much as they would have if I’d stayed home and driven us all nuts! (I was a stay-at-home mom, pretty much, until they were in school). I do think young women should have career plans the same as young men. I do wish the US had paid parental leave. (But I wish that everybody wanted to be good and that the streets were paved with gold too ;>)).

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  4. When our son was born, beautiful wife Sandy and I decided she should leave the workforce and stay at home to see he was raised properly. That caused us to struggle financially for some years, but we still think it was the right decision. Sandy was proud to be a homemaker, and was good at it. Years later, she started a business she enjoyed and was successful. I feel sorry for so many of today’s women who must work, thus foreclosing one of the satisfying avenues they formerly could take.

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  5. That is a real sweet picture of Christopher. He is such a sweet baby. I was once told by someone who had overheard a conversation I was having on the phone, that I was WAY too polite, and it wasn’t meant as a compliment. Good manners are noticeable and I thought was a dying art at one time, until I noticed that young people around here are generally very polite. It has given me hope that a new trend is beginning. I was a stay-at-home mom for many years and it didn’t happen often, but there were those who would look down their noses at me for not having a ‘career’, and actually rolled their eyes when I told them. I often wondered about these attitudes. I am sure a lot of mothers would enjoy being stay at home moms, but out of necessity there has to be two incomes coming in to put food on the table, and for single moms it is even harder. I admire these moms even more.

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    • Thank you Denise. I have advised my granddaughters they should follow their hearts as best they can. Some of them may never marry. Some may have children. Whatever each decides is her own decision. If that isn’t what advances women’s rights, I don’t know what is.

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    • True most moms cannot afford to stay home without family help. Of course this was never much of a choice for women in the working class. However, my paternal grandfather was a railroad engineer, which made him a member of the upper lower class and he took the far western routes for the CNWRR so as to build up his seniority and therefore retain his job during the Depression. This insured his wife could remain a stay-at-home mom for their six kids.

      The women’s movement was by and for Middle class women and if current statistics are correct, these women are disappearing.

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    • Ps in Scandinavian countries, the government provides mothers an allowance so they can remain at home with their children. Do you think the welfare to work scheme benefitted kids in the US or hurt them?

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  6. Such a sweetie you have there.

    I am content in retirement after a career I wanted and enjoyed. I have never looked back. Volunteer work and living near family keep me busy.

    I too would want the cart from David so I had something to lean on and I am 62. Knee and hip are my problems. Well done, David.

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    • I’m glad you enjoyed your career Marie. I had many ups and downs in mine, probably because I am an introvert and my bosses made me a manager. I prefer solitary work…reading statistics, computers, etc. to managing people with all their issues and drama. The stories I could tell. I was happier after I got out of management and went to work for the Census Bureau. Mostly wonderful bosses with a few duds thrown in.

      As for volunteer work, no more for me, but then I am a bit older than you. Happy you are enjoying your retirement. Keep on keeping on!

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  7. I’m a big believer in manners. Taught them the whole time I was at that inner city high school. Manners is about making people feel comfortable. And then there is just plain kindness. I’ve gotten much kinder as I’ve gotten older.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I can relate to being contented in retirement and recognise what a gift that is. As for little Christopher – he is amazing. Blessings on you and yours.

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