I felt rather like the Honorable (and sufficiently boring) Mr. Baggins yesterday as I sat outside my apartment door soaking up the sun. Barefoot and enjoying a cool drink in lieu of his impressive pipe, I sat and watched the kids play with toys and tubs of water. To continue the analogy, my husband soon returned from work like Gandalf, ready to send me on an unexpected adventure…er, or perhaps an entirely expected outing to the library to work on homework due today. And that paper I haven’t started.
As apt as this analogy might seem, it’s wrong.
You see, I’m not Bilbo, unwittingly conscripted into a bewildering flurry of adventures. I’m not even Frodo, bound by honor and duty to fulfill an impossible quest. I’m part of a far more prosaic tale, one which appeals to my taste for the classical.
This very nice painting is by Angelica Kauffman. It’s subject is the storied Cornelia, mother of the less-than-fortunate Gracchi of Rome. Lauded by Roman moralists as the epitome of motherhood, she was interested in life and learning, and was devoted to her sons’ ill-fated attempts to change Roman politics. She is mentioned by Plutarch numerous times and the painting above demonstrates an anecdote from Valerius Maximus. While of questionable validity, I rather like it.
Cornelia had a rather fancy friend drop in. She was a successful and wealthy woman, no doubt an equal to Cornelia’s own wealth and rank. She kept going on and on to her hostess about the fine things she had: beautiful clothes, a very handsome home, and exquisite jewels.
Knowing that her friend was quite able through her husband’s position and her own family connections to afford the same, her friend wondered aloud ‘But where do you keep your jewels, dear Cornelia?’
I imagine Cornelia had a gentle, if slightly wry, smile on her face as she turned to call her children to her. Presenting the children to her friend, surely as grubby and fidgety as children have been throughout history, she simply replied that these were her jewels.
Perhaps her friend was touched by her friend’s simple answer, perhaps she took her look of stunned incredulity home with her mind already satirizing the event for her friends. To be honest, the tale does not say.
I do believe that Cornelia watched her handsomely dressed friend go, put a hand to her hair (swept into a hasty updo) eyed her stola slightly stained from the baby’s spit-up, and then hugged her squirming children and sent them back out to play.
Now I wrote a whole paragraph waxing romantic and sentimental about my children and what jewels they would be. But, to be honest, I think it’s a little personal (and embarrassing) to post. Suffice to say that I envisioned Laura as a Tigerseye, Max as a sapphire, and Timmy as an aquamarine.
Some days I don’t get out of pajamas, some I don’t get a shower until my husband gets home. Many days pass by in an appropriately hobbit-like boredom. But I’m not waiting for a mysterious wizard to bring me an adventure. I’m in the middle of one of my own, cutting and polishing my jewels right in the middle of the dragon’s lair.
I’m boring like that. ;)