I don't suppose there's ever been a woman more plainspoken and down-to-earth than my mother. Not that she used rude or even rough language; indeed, she was one of the most tactful people I ever knew. (She always prefaced suspicions, but not facts, with "I've got a sneaking idea that . .
We did a lot of breathing through our teeth: “Hee, hee, hoo. Hee, hee, hoo. Hee, hee, hoo.” The instructor said this breathing would help mitigate the pain of labor, and it did, until we hit that thing called transition (the most intense phase of labor when even the strongest women momentarily lose faith in their ability to bring new life into the world).
In the absence of a real, live spiritual director, I often turn to the Desert Fathers for wisdom about living a holy life on earth. My farm is no desert, but enough happens here for me to understand St. Anthony’s reply to the philosopher who asked him how he could be happy without books.
Jean Bethke Elshtain began her career by challenging traditional gender roles—the assumption that the public realm is primary and belongs to men, and that the private realm is secondary and belongs to women. Characteristically, she applied her analysis in unpredictable ways, as indicated by the title of one of her early books, Women and War.