Monday, February 25, 2008

Mother Culture

One of my favorite educational philosophers, (okay, I know I'm a nerd.) Charlotte Mason, writes about the importance of what she terms, "Mother Culture". I wish I could reference where I read about this recently, but I've forgotten. She says that mothers must have a vibrant inner life, with an inner life, passions, interests and pleasures outside of the children. To me, it means cultivating my mind, spirit, and body, nourishing (and luxuriating in!) relationships outside of the filial ones, and making sure I have the time to engage in life-giving pursuits. I think we can all agree about this. The difficulty for so many parents, especially, it seems, with small children, in making it happen.

I beg, beg, borrow, and steal time away from the children. We oughtn't be ashamed to ask for help so that we can be healthy. Family, friends at church, co-workers, close neighbors, other parents, and people without children yet or ever, or with grown kids are prime suspects for childcare requests. For the kids' sake, we never leave them alone with anyone unless we know them very well, we have every reason to trust them, and the kids are entirely comfortable with them. When they were very small, we were always near, but would ask for help anyway, and just have time to ourselves in the other room.
So, when I do get some time away, I make the most of it! No running errands for me! I go to a favorite coffee or tea shop, pray, read, draw, I sing, I write, I walk in the woods, I swim, I seek out the beautiful. I find that after time away from my dear children, I come back to them with a renewed store of love, appreciation, patience, and energy. This is my time to fill up. If I'm having difficulties, I bring them to God, and ask for help. If I'm lonely I find a friend or unburden my heart to my unseen Father. I turn up the music loud or listen to stillness.

Still, I need all this stuff even on days full of children. That's when it's time to steal time away. I made a little pocked notebook just for this purpose. It's constructed almost just like Paul's bible cover, and is durable enough for hard daily wear in a back pocket. I almost always have it on me, and keep a small pen stached inside. It's good for taking notes, writing down books I want to check out, recipes, sketches, poems. If I don't get my ideas out immediately, I find they float into the ether. I use it to pray. In the midst of a family, when uninteruppted time is not an option, I find I sometimes can't concentrate enough to pray at all. Writing it out makes it happen. I also make lots of lists that I never look at again.

I made the cover out of more of my garage sale leather, and designed it to hold Moleskin notebooks. That didn't last too long, when it came to buy refills and I remembered how expensive they are. Now I make my own refills. Custom convenience, I enjoy the flexibility of making them just how I want them.
*By the way, did you notice what operating system Paul put on our laptop? He's very happy with it, and hopefully will post on it soon!*

***Also: still taking comers for the conference on sustainable communities I posted about a few days ago. I think it will be a lot of fun!***

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