It happened on a beautiful sunny afternoon right after work. I was helping my landlady plant some hydrangeas. She is by far the best landlady I’ve ever had – kind, thoughtful, generous, and of an age to be my grandma. She has often asked me in for coffee but there always seemed to be a reason to decline.
So on that day, being reasonably confident my apartment was clean and presentable, I invited her in to “see what I’d done with the place” (I moved in just a few months ago). She looked with interest through my open door, but said no, her husband was waiting for her so they could eat supper and there was not enough time.
Here comes the moment: my first thought was a dismissive, “He can wait” followed by a pitying sympathy for this poor woman who didn’t feel free to take ten moments for herself to do something she wanted to do, because her husband was waiting for his supper.
Darn it. I fell right into that trap and I thought I’d overcome its lures long ago.
I’ve seen this man and woman together. They’ve probably been married for 50 years and there is nothing demeaning or domineering in how they treat each other. I’ve seen her defer to him in some matters, while calling him forward in others. Likewise, he defers to her strengths, and steps in with his own as needed. He is certainly not a misogynist, nor is she timid or tepid. How could I have made such an unfair judgement of her?
It’s old Prince Liar-Liar-Pants-On-Fire up to his nasty old tricks again, twisting my perspective. One moment I was my usual not-perfect-but-trying self and the next a rabid, militant feminist overtook my mind. I scoffed at a woman wanting to care for her husband, belittled her impulse to put his needs before her own, disregarded this evidence of sacrifice, service, and consideration she gives to her marriage.
Rabid, militant feminists would be happy to point out to her the error of her ways, but as I type this, she is at home with her man of many years, by all the signs happy with her lot in life, while they, poor dears, are probably not happy with anything.
Following the wisdom of St. Teresa of Avila when she said, “There’s no such thing as a sour-faced saint”, I would say that my lovely landlady does a far better job of advocating for her approach to marriage than do the pinched and cranky feministas. There is truth in what our Church teaches us: blessed are the poor the meek the humble, the lowly. When we are able to give of ourselves to another, think of ourselves last, sacrifice without regret, our reward will be rich and lasting and fulfilling.
The very next day, both he and she were able to visit with me in my home, lingering, enjoying our time together; so much better than a hurried walk through with a thumbing-our-nose-at-the-man attitude would have allowed for.
That was a real teachable moment amidst the hydrangeas.