Sunday, August 04, 2013

need for more 'Mother Culture'?

Believe it or not, I've not really had a vacation from home schooling this summer. I have spent time each day diligently and deliberately planning the upcoming school year for my three school-aged children. It is something that brings me delight and putting together a well-intentioned plan inspired by the educational philosophies of Charlotte Mason is something that I view as a privilege.

And while planing my children's education and choosing how I will nourish their minds and souls, I have not forgotten (the most important part of homeschooling and mothering) to nourish myself as well.

Part of the Charlotte Mason method is something she referred to as Mother Culture, which is simply a habit which the mother-teacher puts into practice to ensure that her own mind and soul are being well nourished and kept to the best of their abilities.

Now this is not what the 'modern woman' might perceive it to be. It is not simply indulging in time spent away from one's children and spouse to splurge on something that may add a moment of pleasure's to one's day nor is Mother Culture simply a 'night out' to temporarily strip away the responsibilities that being a wife and mother bring with it. No.

It is instead quite the opposite. It is an embracing of one's current reality, that of being a wife and mother and teacher, and relishing in the sheer delight that one is participating in the highest calling on earth. And yes, it truly is the highest calling!

And just how can one mother who is pressed for time, scant on physical energy and often sapped of mental powers by the end of the day carve out time to feed her mind and soul? Well, books of course! Anyone who knows Miss Mason's work knows how highly she regarded good books (living books, real books, quality literature). She referred to them as food for the mind and even extraviganly compared offering a wide variety of living books to one's child as 'spreading the feast' before them.

Here are Charlotte's own words on Mother Culture:

"There is no sadder sight in life than a mother, who has so used herself up in her children's childhood, that she has nothing to give them in their youth. When babyhood is over and school begins, how often children take to proving that their mother is wrong. Do you as often see a child proving to its father that he is wrong? I think not. For the father is growing far more often than the mother. He is gaining experience year by year, but she is standing still. Then, when her children come to that most difficult time between childhood and full development she is nonplussed; and, though she may do much for her children, she cannot do all she might, if she, as they, were growing!...
Is there not some need for 'mother culture'? But how is the state of things to be altered? 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.

Mother must have time to herself. And we must not say 'I cannot.' Can any of us say till we have tried, not for one week, but for one whole year, day after day, that we 'cannot' get one half-hour out of the twenty-four for 'Mother Culture?'--one half-hour in which we can read, think, or 'remember.'

The habit of reading is so easily lost; not so much, perhaps, the power of enjoying books as the actual power of reading at all. It is incredible how, after not being able to use the eyes for a time, the habit of reading fast has to be painfully regained...

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!' That is the secret; always have something 'going' to grow by. If we mothers were all 'growing' there would be less going astray among our boys, less separation in mind from our girls...

A brisk walk will help. But, if we would do our best for our children, grow we must; and on our power of growth surely depends, not only our future happiness, but our future usefulness.

Is there, then, not need for more 'Mother Culture'?"  Volume III, no. 2 The Parents' Review

1 comment:

Katy Lee said...

I would not be able to homeschool without reading for myself. It is a big part of my day. Everyday.