Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Whatever Happened to the Hope Chest?

Do you even know what a hope chest is? I haven't heard anything about them in years! I had one when we were engaged. One Christmas my husband and I (then my boyfriend) had a "Little House" Christmas. I sewed him a shirt with my mom's help, and he built me a wooden chest. That chest sat in my room and for several Christmas' before our wedding, I got things to put in the hope chest. Let's see...I had dishtowels, pot holders, a nice knife set, silverware, an iron, etc. My understanding of a hope chest at that time was a place you put things you will need when you are married.

I've been thinking more about hope chests lately. Having two daughters really has made me consider the effect of feminism on our society and on their futures. If they had been born in a different time, they probably would have finished school and possibly worked a year or so until they were married when they would have quit to become "Mrs. Whoever." Then they would have been a homemaker and later a mother. If they had been born further back than that, they would have spent years filling their hope chests with quilts, linens, cookbooks, sewing items, and possibly a wedding gown. They would have spent years learning from their mother how to cook, sew, clean, manage a house, shop frugally, and please their future husbands. Mothers passed this information on back then, or so I hear.

I was born in the 70's and I grew up hearing "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Career choices were considered from Kindergarten on! I mean, I always expected I would get married and have babies, but that was hardly even talked about! When I was a teacher in the late 90's, we had 3rd grade girls who would say they wanted to be a mom when they grew up. Teachers would click their tongues and shake their heads. (Can you believe that's their greatest ambition? What will become of them?) They were asked to consider a career choice as well.

Many people would agree that a mother staying at home is a good thing. At least when the children are little, anyway. Some people expect that all women should work and leave the child care to "professionals." When the children are in school, most people assume the mother will get at least a part-time job. I mean, after all, what would she DO all day? And it is almost unheard of for a wife to stay home before she has children. These are the times my girls are being raised in.

But I have dreams of them having hope chests. Of them filling their hope chests with items for their future home, but also with dreams. I want them to dream of the day they are wives and mothers. I want them prepared to run their household, both in skills and attitude. I'm not concerned with career choices. If they work a few years before they are married--great. I hope they choose something they enjoy and could possibly help earn money from home if it's ever needed. I don't want them to wonder what they are going to be when they grow up. I want them to be quite sure--they will be a godly wife one day. God willing, they will also be godly mothers.

It will take a lot of extra effort for their mother to learn how to prepare them in this way. It will feel like we are stepping back in time. I may have to do some research! But the hope chest, and all that it symbolizes, will not go away in this family. At least not if I have anything to do with it.


  1. Did I mention to you about quilts?

  2. I enjoyed reading this post. What do you do when this mindset is the same that boys are growing up in. They are my girls future husbands. My husband(love him dearly), thought I was crazy to think I didn't have to work before I had children. He even took me to my first job interview in the city(lol). Over the years we accumulated debt so that when we did have children, I still had to work to make ends meet(on paper). My husband does remember fondly the times when I was jobless, how great it was to always have the house clean and food on the table early. this was not enough to counter the concept of "never just being home". If this was my husband's mindset(everybody has to get a job) growing up, then I wonder about the men 20+ years from now.

  3. We can only pray for godly men to marry our daughters! It's true that MOST boys will not be raised this way, but I personally want to teach my girls to look for this quality in a future mate!

  4. Well, Brenda, we will be teaching our son to value wives and moms, so there will be at least one man out there! Great post! I have never even given thought to a hope chest! And I have one from my mom! You can be sure I will be passing it down to my daughter!


I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)