I wrote about handmaidens a couple of years ago, and my thoughts have not changed since then, so I will share them once more for they resonate well with the March block in our Virtuous Wife BOM.
In some versions of the bible, Proverbs 31:15 refers to our lady of the house as caring for her maidens, and in other versions, handmaidens. These handmaidens were women who did much of the homemaking duties, though we are quite aware in reading Proverbs 31:10-31 that the wife herself was not idle, but proficient in working within the home and prospering her family by wise purchasing and decision making (as described in verse 16).
I often hear women say "Well, she had maidservants, I don't!"...but let's look at this again, because it always astounds me how they have completely overlooked the handmaidens in their own homes today. I think Mrs Proverbs 31 would have loved some of the ones that work in my own home.
Growing up I saw my Nana work hard each day, never begrudgingly, and for us not having a fridge or washing machine or vacuum cleaner or hot water in the home was quite normal. I did not realise that some people around us had a real refrigerator, a twin tub washer, or that they could turn on a hot or cold tap right inside their own house. My little world revolved around the home Nana and Pop made for us, and in comparison to many of their peers, it could even be called primitive by 1960's to early 70's standards. In fact I was thirteen when Nana and Pop moved into a different flat, one which had hot and cold running water at the kitchen sink (though we had to light the gas for hot water). Up until then Nana boiled water in the old copper (which doubled as her washday tub as it had a detachable wringer) and every few days she'd carry bucket loads of hot water from the copper, up the back yard to the bathhouse and pour them in to the old bathtub for us to take turns bathing in.
Now you know, I love the old days, the old ways, and enjoy learning the skills of those times, and there was a time where I expounded over and over how if it was good enough for Nana then we should all aim to step back and do things the way they used to be done. But things change. A child, which is still what I call myself before God, grows up and the Lord instils a bit more wisdom and common sense along the way.
When Nana finally got a twin tub washing machine in 1972 it was a gamechanger for her. She was getting older, around the same age I am now, and she did not have the strength of her younger years, so for the next ten years she delighted in her new handmaiden until she passed away in 1982.
And one day this came home to me as I studied Proverbs 31:10-31...the fact that if Nana were alive today she would love a front loader like mine. She would have thoroughly enjoyed using my vacuum cleaner and steam mop. She would definitely find my two refrigerators quite a step above the small second hand Kelvinator she eventually got around the time we moved in 1972.