CM Monday – Mother Culture

If mothers could learn to do for themselves what they do for their children when these are overdone, we should have happier households. Let the mother go out to play! If she would only have courage to let everything go when life becomes too tense, and just take a day, or half a day, out in the fields, or with a favourite book, or in a picture gallery looking long and well at just two or three pictures, or in bed, without the children, life would go on far more happily for both children and parents.  – Charlotte Mason (Vol. 3, ch. 3, pg. 33-4)

I have said on several occasions that if my children treat themselves (as adults) as poorly as I treat myself, I would cry for them.  I certainly play the role of suffering martyr with “Academy Award” winning gusto!

The truth is that nobody expects me to “suffer” as a parent and sacrifice all of my time or the things I enjoy, but there is a pervasive idea in society that mothers must sacrifice in order to be a good mother.  While it’s true that there are many things parents do sacrifice, in order to be parents (and good parents at that), we don’t have to give up the things we love, and the things that make us…”us.”

So many mothers say, “I simply have no time for myself!” “I never read a book!” Or else, “I don’t think it is right to think of myself!” They not only starve their minds, but they do it deliberately, and with a sense of self-sacrifice which seems to supply ample justification. There are, moreover, unfortunately, only too many people who think that sort of thing so lovely that public opinion appears to justify it. But does public opinion justify anything?  (The Parent’s Review, Vol. 3, No. 2, pgs. 92-5)

While I won’t be hiking Mt. Everest any time soon, I can take time out for myself, to grow as a human being.  I need to keep stretching and becoming, otherwise there will come a point when my children no longer respect my views and opinions on things.  Why would they?  If I have stayed exactly the same – emotionally, spiritually, mentally – for a decade or more, I would be stagnant and lifeless.  While they are growing and thriving and becoming, I need to be doing the same.  We should never stop learning and stretching and evolving as human beings.

We mothers need to seek out opportunities for “mother culture.”  We need to read good books, look at good art, listen to good music, nap/relax, and expand our own horizons.  By “good” books, I don’t mean books on parenting, marriage, or any other kind of self-help.  Those are fine and they have a place, but what about good literature for yourself?  We spend so much time as CM mamas worrying about living books for our children, but what about us?

The wisest woman I ever knew–the best wife, the best mother, the best mistress, the best friend–told me once, when I asked her how, with her weak health and many calls upon her time, she managed to read so much, “I always keep three books going–a stiff book, a moderately easy book, and a novel, and I always take up the one I feel fit for!” (The Parent’s Review, Vol. 3, No. 2, pgs. 92-5)

How many of us spend even 15 minutes a day doing something we truly enjoy, or reading even a page or two of a good book?  Do you like to sew, knit, crochet, scrapbook?  Do you read or keep up with news & current events?  Can your children see you as a person, and not “just mother.”

So much of my “down” time seems wasted – especially online.  Hello, facebook addict right here!  I am committing to spending my time on worthwhile pursuits.  Who’s with me?

What we need is a habit of taking our minds out of what one is tempted to call “the domestic rag-bag” of perplexities, and giving it a good airing in something which keeps it “growing.”  (The Parent’s Review, Vol. 3, No. 2, pgs. 92-5)

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