The Passing of the Family
THE PASSING OF THE FAMILY
By Ada May Krecker.
NOW it is spring, now summer, now harvest, now the great white sabbath day of winter. In springtime we speed the spring. And no struggle of . ours can revivify the dead winter. In summer we speed the summer. Springtime is gone past our recall.
So the changing world with its revolving institutions moves from one order to another. In days of empire we speed empire. In days of democracy we speed democracy. The philosopher lives with equal personal peace of mind in an empire or in a democracy. And finding himself in the one or the other sees it waxing or waning, rising or falling, solely as it harmonizes or jars with the tendencies of the times, as it is congenial or not with the Zeitgeist. He favors everything in its own season. He simply sees some things as coming, some as going, some as relics of the past, some as guerdons of the future.
To-day empire and group life belong to the past, and democracy and individualism to the present and future. And whatever impedes the perfect expression of the individual is doomed to depart. That is why caste and clan have gone. That is why the nation will go. That is why the family will go.
In group life differentiation comes in the groups. The individuals of any one group are alike. And until all the group lines vanish there is no individualization. Nor is there socialization. One group is pitted against the other. Nation against nation. Caste against caste. Family versus the cold outside world. Some time the blood bond of the family will seem primitive, materialistic, unsocial. And there will be no cold, hard outside world. Everything will be inside. And it will be warm and cosy.
The family has been dissolving at least ever since the old unskilled labors of the household have been passing from the fireside to become organized mammoth industries. Remain only cookery and child culture. And they are leaving the ancient moorings pari pasu with rising standards. Our magnifying demands upon our cuisine and all household comfort will soon dissatisfy us with the private dwelling, where, try as we may, with any amount of effort, we cannot arrive at the luxury and beauty of any good hotel, for example, without any trying at all from us. The time for housekeeping! the thought! the care! And in the end, slave as we will, spend as we will, the hotel wins out at every point! The( kst word of luxury is not in the multiplication of maids and footmen and mansions, but in the charms and convenience of our environment, the ease of our living, the relief from responsibility. You can dine twenty guests on a moment's notice at a hotel. And each guest can feast on just what he fancies. You can lodge all twenty for the night or for a hundred nights, and when they are gone your house is no bigger than before. It expands for twenty or contracts for one in the twinkling of an eye, perfectly plastic in housing, feeding, service, and better in all of them than with a whole retinue of private flunkeys, without your responsibility for one!
That is the reason the rich flock to the hotels. They are quick to see and to seize any advantage. Even the queenly reign over a magnificent menage is abandoned •as a burden so soon as the easier way shows. Bye and bye, we are all going to live in something which our current hotels picture more perfectly than anything else of the present. And that will do away with a good many customs of the private household for merely making the machinery run smoothly that tend to knit the family members together in a common life. At the hotel they can come and go, eat, sleep, rise, go to bed without referring to the programs of the other members of the group. With the private house a family sometimes clings together just in order to keep up a home for all. But at a hotel, no. If any can live away more agreeably he simply gives up his apartment, or when some one comes back another apartment is taken, and so on. Aside from the sheer relish of each other's society there will be little reason for any of the family to remain together.
No. Not even mother and young child. The ideal for child care and child culture will rise altogether out of reach of any one mother single-handed. We have our beginning of big common play grounds which will evolve to dimensions now undreamed, gorgeous parks with fairyland and story book delights, juvenile art, science, athletics. We have our public creches and nurseries. In due season they will distance far any private nursery, however palatial, now in existence. There will be kindergarten experts, athletic experts, art and music experts, story tellers, incomparable furnishings that fit baby bodies, toys, books, gymnastic and other fit appurtenances, juvenile dietaries, and the big priceless association with other children. There will be how much larger 'a viewpoint for the children, how much wider sympathies, how much more fun and knowledge and vigor than for the solitary home children of to-day under the' influence of one, two or three persons, mostly un-understanding adults, mama herself often unfitted by nature to entertain or to develop them. Mama, with a high temper or tense nerves, has her children at bay. And their temper and training simply suffer the consequences. But the public servant with like disqualifying traits cannot keep her position. She has to be fit or some one who is takes her place.
In New York is a baby's hospital, a paradise for infants with scientific paraphernalia, attendance and general baby luxuries that the private home cannot hope ever to rival. And when some such places and better abound, as they will abound, there will be more mothers who will place their babies in the hospital than there will be mothers to essay the concerns and the exertions, to the detriment of the children, of caring for their babies themselves. From the moment of borning they can be freed practically of every personal ministry to the little ones. And the very reason that now prompts them to keep their children to themselves will then prompt them to give their children largely or wholly into the keeping of others.
In the past the isolated home has proved the best place for the child, because we have lived isolatedly and put our best into the isolation. And the home with the capital H has been merely a makeshift for unfortunate other peoples' children who in our unsocial isolation have evoked only our left-over thought and planning. But in the future the opposite. The same forces that have built trusts to supersede with measureless superiority the myriad petty establishments which they have superseded, will build the big dwelling places and playgrounds and
nurseries for to-morrow's children and make them measurelessly better fitted to our socialized ideals of tomorrow than could possibly be the private little homes of to-day which they will supersede. The child will be just as delightfully cared for away from the mother as with the mother, so that just how much of the mother's society will be given to the child will depend mainly on personal tastes and mutual congeniality. There may be years when they will be together, years when they will be apart. They may always be under the same roof or .never under the same roof. Any way. Just as it suits. Mother, however, will have her basic contribution to baby. And it will come before baby is born. Nowadays much of the prospective mother's thought seems to have to go to every variety of sordid household service and into the bathing, buttoning and trundling of other little ones and into the preparing an outfit for the newcomer. Much goes into the consideration of bodily discomforts due to the newcomer's presence. Much goes into mortification over the disadvanges in the mother's appearance which leads her to spend more time than ever monotonously in the house without the bodily and mental sunlight that come from the outer world and that influence mightily the appearance and vitality of the looked-for little one. Much of her thought goes into dread of the supreme moment of birth. The whole period verily of child coming, child bearing, child rearing, as now experienced is fraught with such unpleasantness of sundry sorts that behold race suicide. And race suicide will proceed triumphantly until motherhood shall have become as supremely agreeable as are the other bodily functions. People eat themselves sick for the delight of the eating. They run to ruin, joy mad, over the heavenly felicities that attend everything pertaining to the conception of the child. Nature had to make the moment of conception pleasant in order to bring the child into existence. But the child once conceived, Nature was sure of herself. The mother might agonize through the pre-natal period. She might die in her travail and Nature's need for the perpetuation of the race would remain unfrustrated. So Nature let it go. And we have let it go until our standard for happiness has risen to such degree that women are declining to take the pain. And they are declining to perpetuate the race if it cannot be done with delight. And such will be their pressure on the race suicide idea that same way, somehow, some time, they are going to live, breathe, eat, dress, think, walk, talk after such a manner that child birth will prove a superb joy and prenatality will inspire magnificats. Here and there to-day are exceptional child comings which are prophetic of to-morrow's common experience.
Relieved of sordid care and untoward fear, the mother will lend her mind and her body to the things that will induce beauty and vigor of physique and mind in the little one. She will direct her thought toward that which she wishes her child to be and to have, toward the beautiful, the blissful, toward art, science, music, divine philosophy. It is material interest in these things and maternal attention focussed upon them rather than maternal achievement in them that develop faculty for them in the offspring, as numberless examples go to show. With a passive mother the father's influence is the stronger, but when the mother's mind becomes active, positive, she molds as she wills. And planets and ancestral and paternal influences are discounted.
The endowment from the mother of a delightful disposition, a beautiful mentality, a handsome, healthy body spell in themselves success and happiness, and give the little heir what all other after gifts together could not yield were this primal blessing lacking. By virtue of this endowment it is a foregone conclusion that the child will have love, friends, pleasures, opportunities, attainment. It will meet no strangers. For all will befriend it. It will find no cold, hard world, for the tenderness, the solicitude, the geniality that less favored people can look for only of the intimate home circle, come to this darling of the gods spontaneously from the many persons with whom it happens to be surrounded.
This is motherhood enough. This is the greater mother love and the larger mother responsibility and the more distinctive role of motherhood, the more peculiar, characteristic, incapable function of maternity, to mother the unborn babe, to give it before birth what mother would have it enjoy after birth, to tense the consciousness at concert pitch and to keep it at concert pitch, to express the mother love, the mother courage, the mother greatness, the maternal instinct, pre-natally. If the mother's mind be "a mansion for all sweet sounds and harmonies," the child's whole life and person will echo her music. If the mother mothers her child unborn, anybody can mother it afterward.
It is said that the pattern feminine figure provides beneath the beautiful Grecian bend ample spaces for the growing infant without disturbing the normal outer contours. And isolated examples give point to the saying. At all events, such a figure will be evolved for the future. Nothing less will be tolerated. And when that figure comes, maternity will lose its last disability. The women will be of such magnificent robustness that the presence of the unborn child will prove a negligible factor in their physical consciousness save as that presence confers extra benefit of body, as it will, and supremely gladdens the mind, proves an inspiration to the mother as sweethearts have proven inspirations to artists. Motherhood will impel to do more, to be better. And it will enable to do more and to be better, the child giving life to the mother as the mother gives life to the child, each feeding the other.
And the whole pre-natal period as its possibilities become appreciated and understood and developed, will prove to be an unrivalled tonic, a fountain of power and pleasure, a halcyon and heyday season fraught with distinguished victory and beautification. And so it will forward the progress of the mother's career instead of retarding it or preventing a career altogether.
For careers the mothers will have. Nothing can keep them out of careers. Even to-day women, married and single, from every walk of life, are going in for the arts and the professions and the trades. And to-day they do it despite all their family and physical disabilities and some strong vestige of the ancient suppressive public opinion, which has been so emphatic that Lester Ward wonders not why women have done no more, but rather why they have done no less. He is surprised at their doing anything at all! And as they are freed of their disabilities they will go in for careers all the more. And that for the very love of the career, for the sheer interest in the work. Those women who turn to housekeeping are going to be housekeepers. And those that relish cooking are going to be cooks. And those that enjoy playing with children are going to be players with children for such there will be, Froebel setting the great example long ago. And those who like to write, paint, sing, are going to write, paint, sing. And those who like the law, the lecture field, science, philantrophy, commerce, are going to elect these as vocations. No. Perhaps they will never become world luminaries. It is only within reason and in harmony with the development of all geniuses by the cooperation of a free and favorable environment to think that they may evolve geniuses as their practice makes them perfect. But even should they not, and even should they know they never will, women nevertheless will go out into the world and work anyhow. If every worker had to hope to become a leading light and star of the first magnitude in order to justify his toils, most workers would be idle. And through work women will be addedly individualized. They will discover that they are not only wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, sweethearts, but persons. They will believe that one generation of quality is worth four generations of mere quantity. They will consider one fine woman worth more than a brood of commonplace offspring. They will not be set apart as mothers by profession any more than men will be set apart as fathers by profession.
And just as they relations with their children will be relieved of kitchen and nursery service, so their relations with the fathers of their children will be relieved of housemaid and valet service on the part of the woman to the man, and of cheque book and police service on the part of the man to the woman. Sociologies show that women through all history have been a servant race, whether they have been farm hands, harnessed to peasant plows, or gorgeous show servants whose sumptuous liveries of satins and pearls and plumes lent luster to the establishment of their master. And they naturally have looked to their masters for their wages, be these often no more than scanty board and "keep." And because they have been deprived of schooling and deprived of experience in the outer world, naturally they have looked to those who had this experience and schooling for counsel. And because of their physical frailty they have looked to the huskier race for protection. Less than a hundred years ago Londoners, both men and women, never even ventured through the city park save in groups, and at nightfall they moved under government guards. But things are so different even to-day that much of the current feminine feeling for masculine protection is born of convention and etiquette rather than of personal instinct. And as civilization refines and as the women come universally into their careers and education and consequent self-dependence and self-respect, all the subserviencies and menialities of their position will vanish. And everything that is now done by servant, male or female, will then be achieved by machinery or by experts of rank. The nurse and the cook will have the same social standing as the teacher and the physician.
And the men will love their women and the women will love their men without reckoning with economics. The heart and the heart alone will bind and loose.
Perhaps some pair of lovers will find each other so totally harmonized that they will always bide together. Perhaps they will remain congenial together for a span of years, for a span of months, for a span of weeks. The representative type will never mate. They will live each in his or her own apartments, mingle among both men and women, dine with them, work with them, play with them, participate in the club life, the society life, the home life, the business life of both, extend their affections spontaneously, loving as love lists. The personal temperament, tastes, situations in life, and only these, will rule the expression of the affections and determine the particular sorts of associations that will come with one's several sundry companions. This companion will stimulate artistically, this one intellectually. One is the friend for a lark, one for confidences, one for a walk and a talk and religious reflection. With one world travels. With one business partnerships. With one golf. With one palette and violin. Each fellowship opens up a new individuality in one's own self or exposes a new facet of one's own personality. Some persons will be magnets for many other persons, some for few. Some will have one love. Some will have many loves. Some will have more loves and fewer friendships. Some vice versa. With some love will play a leading role and carve the career. With others it will be more or less evanescent and spasmodic and inconsequential. But for all it will become far more hospitable than now, more generalized, and perfectly purified of our primitively barbarous sense of proprietorship and jealousy. These will seem intolerably poor, petty, unsocial, altogether out of tune with the spirit of the times which will call for an expansion of the heart to embrace all the world. The socialization of the affections and the general camaraderie existing between men and women, the common and constant everydayness of their associations will tend inevitably, involuntarily, spontaneously, to emphasize their intellectual and spiritual communion to the neglect of the carnal and to afford forever larger bases of regard and common meeting grounds for an ever swelling number of kindred spirits.
We shall regard other people's children as we regard our own, other people's parents and other peoples' brothers and sisters as our own. "Home, sweet home" ties may appear beautiful to-day. But as our ideals socialize- they will seem narrow, crude, savagely isolated and cold and • confining. We shall have to leave the family group to get our breath. We shall need larger distributing centers for our bigger affections. We shall open up our hearts and entertain non-relatives with kinsmen, strangers with life-long intimates. We shall live easily, affectionately among whomsoever happens to be our neighbors. And we shall feel toward them as the people of old felt toward the clan, as we of to-day feel toward our next of kin. What is now provided us in the' lesser measure and the lower degree by the little loving home circle we shall then receive in the fuller measure and the loftier degree of the community many, the community any, of the large tenderness and opportunity of the wide, wide world. An expanded clan or family feeling if you will. But the old family group is gone. The representative types live as personal units. And they will thereby betoken the rise of the individual simultaneously with a more perfect socialization of the individual and a completer expression than ever of racial solidarity.