My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

WASHINGTON, Tuesday—At the last of the two teas yesterday afternoon, the couple who came through last paused a minute and the lady said: "Wouldn't it be very pleasant, Mrs. Roosevelt, to have a day without any hours in which you had to do prearranged things?" At the moment I was thinking how grateful I was that I had shaken hands with about five hundred-odd people and really didn't feel very tired, but the question started me thinking.

Of course, we all of us want days when we can wake up in the morning and say: "I can do just as I like this whole day through." There are, however, comparatively few people in the world who have the chance to do this except for short snatches of time, part of a day here and there. Men have been able to do it more often than women because when they cast off business cares they may perhaps also cast off family cares, but women, many of them at least, when they have families dependent upon them, whether they are the daughters or the mothers, can very rarely lay aside their business cares and not be confronted with a constant succession of adjustments to the wants and pleasures of others.

Of course, there are families in which the father takes as much responsibility as the mother but the fact remains that if he must have a rest, or feels that he must, the family won't fall to pieces as long as the mother or the responsible daughter is still on the spot. So as so many of us seem to worry through life, at least a great many years of it, without having many of these "do as we please" days, perhaps the lesson to learn therefrom is that you would really miss not having the responsibilities; that having them you can look with longing at the days of freedom, and if you get one now and then, you enjoy it because of its contrast, but without a contrast it would really have no value.

A press conference this morning, and a delightful lunch with Mrs. Garner and the ladies of the Senate. It is always a pleasure to see them all together again when they first return.

I think all of us were grieved and shocked this morning to find that human beings can sink so low as the kidnappers of the little Mattson boy. To treat a child so cruelly is inconceivable even if it is done because of panic and fear. One hates to acknowledge that human nature, no matter what it has gone through, can so degenerate that it does not even respond to the helplessness of a child. There is nothing that can ever be done to alleviate the suffering of the parents when children are taken from them in this cruel way, but something can and should be done I believe, to wipe this crime out of our country and I hope that the agents of justice will be given full cooperation in every possible way.

E.R.
TMsd 12 January 1937, AERP, FDRL