There is a store in Kansas City that I greatly enjoy walking around in while looking at everything they sell. I don’t go there unless I have a “need” because it is forty-five minutes from home. In addition, when I’m in that store I think I like looking around too much. Frankly, I know I’m not alone, in that most men reading this Corner would also want to spend time in my favorite tool store.
It is amazing how men love tools. There is good reason for this too because the right tool can save enormous amounts of time and effort on a project plus improving the quality of the outcome. Perhaps every man’s appetite for tools begins when, as a child, he falls in love with his first hammer. A little boy sees strong Daddy pounding away with a hammer, and of course, he wants to be just like his Daddy.
If men are quick to appreciate and value their tools, are they as quick to recognize their wives’ need of domestic tools? Homeschooling moms have a tremendous amount of work to do in a given day, and having the right tools may mean the difference between success or failure in keeping up. “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered” (1 Peter 3:7). Am I honoring my wife as the weaker vessel and seeing that she has the tools to do the jobs that she needs to do?
There will be different seasons for a family when one tool is far more important than another tool. A family with four children under the age of six years old may have an indispensable need for a quality dishwasher compared to a family with two children ages ten and twelve. Not that a family with older children can’t use a dishwasher, but I expect it would be more critical for that young mommy trying to maintain a home with very young ones and no help. We visited a family last week with older daughters in the home. My children were amazed when three dish dryers had a difficult time keeping up with one daughter who was a lightning-fast dish washer. Cleanup was completed in record time, and the girls had wonderful fellowship in the process. An automatic dishwasher would be far less important to that family as compared to other kitchen appliances such as are used for canning and making bread. Each family is different and will have various needs.
Teri received her first clothes washer and dryer as a college graduation present from her parents. That set lasted for almost twenty years, and as our family has grown those appliances have become even more important since they process several loads of clothes every day. After that original set, the next washer and dryer, although purchased new, gave us nothing but headaches. Just a couple of years later, I was faced with a difficult decision. Teri’s need for reliable clothes washing won out over my desire not to get rid of a significant financial investment that should have lasted many years longer. We vote by our decisions. If I say I value all my wife does and want to help her in keeping up, I must demonstrate that by spending money for tools to help her.
Our family has been making fresh whole-wheat bread for over sixteen years. We knew it could be a difficult transition from soft, store-bought white bread to whole wheat bread because of the finicky palettes of our children. Therefore, I wanted to make it as easy as possible by having whole-wheat bread that was not heavy. That meant a mill that would grind the wheat berries very fine and a mixer that was capable of kneading the bread well. Teri was busy enough with homeschooling and one new little one, and I didn’t want to add that to her plate so I researched the mill and mixer to purchase plus taking on the bread baking responsibility until Sarah was old enough to make bread. I know some valiant souls who hand grind the flour and knead the bread, but I didn’t want to invest the time to do that so we purchased the mill and the mixer. I have not regretted for a minute what we spent on those tools. I’m pleased to report that my children’s finicky palettes have also learned to appreciate the taste of Sarah’s wonderful bread.
As our family grew, it became necessary to cook in increasing quantities. One does not have to spend a fortune on cookware to enable Mama to make larger batches to meet the current demand plus more that can be frozen and reheated later. We cook the filling for burritos every three or four months and freeze it so it is available for our Sunday noon meal. (This is the link to our family recipe.) Over time we have purchased increasingly bigger pots in which to make our burrito filling.
Dirt-cheap, eclectic kitchen knives were what we got by using for the first thirty years of our marriage. Only recently when we began eating lots of vegetables did I give Teri a nicer set of knives for Mother’s Day. They have been an appreciated improvement but nothing we absolutely required like some of the other tools I feel Teri has needed. Again, this will vary from family to family.
Our family has always struggled with vacuum cleaners. It isn’t that we are hard on them, but we do use them frequently. I have had to adjust my expectations to the fact that a vacuum just never seems to last very long and that there is no one perfect vacuum that does bare floors and carpet well. The other problem we encountered almost yearly is what do you do when the vacuum is in the shop being repaired? We finally settled on having two vacuums, a canister for bare floors and an upright for carpet.