Monday, April 7, 2014

{My CM Journal} Encouragement for Mothers of Preschoolers

"It is a great thing to be a parent: there is no promotion, no dignity, to compare with it."

I have a good mother. I grew up believing in the value of my mother's work, as she stayed home and raised us and educated us. When I had children, there was never a question in my mind as to what I would do once the maternity benefits ran out. How could I, in Charlotte Mason's words, "make over [my] gravest duty to indifferent persons"? I believe to the depths of my being that what I'm doing as a mother is the best and most important career I could possibly undertake.

I know not everyone is like me. For many women, coming home is a great sacrifice, and the decision is made through a painful struggle. And even for me (and probably every other mother of preschoolers) the daily round of diapers, dishes, laundry, and child training can occasionally feel like an endless cycle of futility. We can all benefit from a little bit of encouragement once in a while.

One of the joys of reading Charlotte Mason as a mother of preschoolers has been her affirmation of the value of motherhood. She doesn't stop with affirmation, but also challenges mothers to think, to learn, and to dedicate themselves wholly to be the best mothers and educators they can be.
"Mothers owe 'a thinking love' to their Children.--'The mother is qualified,' says Pestalozzi, 'and qualified by the Creator Himself, to become the principal agent in the develpment of her child;...and what is demanded of her is--a thinking love. ...God has given to thy child all the faculties of our nature, but the grand point remains undecided--how shall this heart, this head, these hands, be employed? to whose service shall they be dedicated?'" ... "'Maternal love is the first agent in education.'" (Vol. 1: Home Education, p. 2)
"We are waking up to our duties, and in proportion as mothers become more highly educated and efficient, they will doubtless feel the more strongly that the education of their children during the first six years of life is an undertaking hardly to be entrusted to any hands but their own. And they will take it up as their profession--that is, with the diligence, regularity, and punctuality which men bestow on their professional labours." (Vol. 1: Home Education, p. 2-3)
One thing I don't quite agree with Charlotte Mason on is her elevation of the mother's role above the father's role in the young child's life, though I do agree that mothers usually have the most active role in the daily routines. The consequences of the growing fatherlessness of our culture today are making me more aware of the value of faithful fathers, however hands-on they may or may not be in day-to-day parenting of young children.

I could share more, but since my aim is to inspire you to take up Charlotte Mason's works yourselves, I will leave it at that. You can actually read her works online for free at Ambleside Online, and they have a modern English version as well if you find Victorian English a bit challenging.