You ever read something that you just know you’re going to fall in love within within the first five pages?! By the time I’d finished two or three chapters, I was ordering a copy to send to a friend, knowing the whole thing was going to be awesome. Women, Words, and Wisdom by Solange Hertz blew me away. And it doesn’t look like the kind of book I usually read - the title, cover, and back cover information lead me initially to wonder just how well this would fit on the “Christian devotional” shelf at the local big box bookstore.
However, this book was from Tumblar House, and I’ve been impressed with everything else I’ve ever read from them. The author has other books as well, many of them much more doctrinal in nature, so I figured this wasn’t going to be overly simplistic or sappy.
I found this book incredibly relatable. For the first time ever, I found a book “for wives and mothers” written by someone I can really look up to. She describes herself as an “egghead housewife”. She talks about studying Latin, apologetics, the Church Fathers, etc. She writes intelligent Catholic books. And she’s a housewife and a mother, who doesn’t minimize the importance of her vocation and the simple tasks that go with it. Truly, I needed a book like this, and I suspect a lot of my friends on here do too. Especially the women, but honestly, I think husbands would appreciate their wives all the more after buying her a copy and giving it a read themselves.
I’ve struggled with my identity and the woman God is calling me to be. I’m a woman who believes firmly that a wife and mothers first job is to BE a wife and mother, and that no work a woman does voluntarily (i.e. barring true financial need/single moms/etc) should interfere with the primary duties of her state in life. This is an unpopular opinion as it is, so just try finding books in print today (or even blog posts) that affirm this view AND offer more than practical tips on crafts, cooking, children, housekeeping, caring for one’s husband, etc.
Don’t get me wrong. These things are well and good, and vitally important, and I’m sad that I grew up in a world where these things were not emphasized and taught to little girls (admittedly, my mother did a lot of gardening and sewing!) as essential future skills they would need as wives and mothers. It’s harder, learning these things now, cut off from our traditional past and gender sanity, but that’s another post!
These things are important. And this book makes that vitally clear. I know I will be thumbing through these essays for years to come when I need the spiritual motivation to clean up poopy shorts yet again or cook a meal my son will inevitably refuse to eat. This is a very inspirational book, and it’s a very convicting book particularly about my little daily sins of pride and sloth.
But this book is more than that. This book tackles our attitudes about the normal stuff of our vocation in a way that gives it - and us - intellectual weight and seriousness. Solange Hertz is clearly a brilliant woman. She is content to be a wife and mother, to scrub dishes and sweep dirt, but she also finds her place in thinking deeply and learning deeply. I felt like tearing up in certain parts of this book, just realizing that there is a balance, and this author totally understands the internal monologue I hear half the time:
“Will I be a good wife if I’m more into reading about Marian apparitions than quilting for fun?”
“What if my intellectual interests are making me too proud?”
“What if one day I snap just trying to be this perfect Christian Wife And Mother™ and I feel an actual temptation to be independent so I can use my brain?”
“Will my future husband think I’m too pushy and want to be the leader if I know more than him about some things?”
Somewhat silly thoughts, yes, but real thoughts. Solange Hertz has reminded me that the dichotomy between “loving, submissive, skilled at parenting and homemaking wife” and “bold, smart, writer and bookworm independent woman / modern empowered wife” is not a creation of the Catholic Church. It’s a creation of feminism.
We all know this stuff on a basic level. I know we do. We know you can be a nerd and a good, gentle, humble woman. But I’ll be shocked if I ever find a book that explains it better or offers more practical and challenging spiritual advice. Also, the 1950’s “sexist” gender attitudes are awesome to witness 😉
You can get this book with my affiliate link at Tumblar House, if you want a bit of the sale to go to me. Goodness, I loved this book.