This chapter argues that the construction of womanhood in this family was something quite different from the western “separate spheres“ model of a nurturing, home-based mother (whose principal job was childrearing). Natalia’s role was estate manager and material provider. Natalia’s sphere was “within the home”—but, by “home“ they meant not only their residence and the demesne lands surrounding it, but the entire estate, including the serf villages and the lands which peasants farmed for their own profit, and even the peasants who were sent off to work in towns. Natalia’s role was thus defined within the family as nurturer, but as nurturer to all the larger “family” including serfs and other dependents, and her most important responsibility to “nurture” this family was to ensure their material and financial wellbeing. It examines how Natalia defined her duty in life and role in her marriage as khoziaika (estate manager), based on her diaries, and discusses both the toll this work took on her physically, and the rewards it gave her.
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