Thursday, September 1, 2016

Review: Mere Motherhood by Cindy Rollins have often thought that if I could have one wish, I would wish to have wisdom without having to live through difficult and painful experience. I think it would be nice to have this wisdom now, while my children are young, rather than waiting until we have been through many dangers, toils, and snares together. This wish comes out of an earnest desire to get mothering and homeschooling right. I like doing things right the first time, as my mother could tell you.

Of course, that's not how it works. And even if I was perfectly wise and had all the experience in the world, my children would still be themselves, and it would still take the amazing grace of God to save them from their sin and the Holy Spirit to guide them into all truth.

Cindy Rollins' new memoir Mere Motherhood spoke to me. It told me hard and overwhelming things. It told me that even when a young Christian mother is earnest and intentional and hard-working, she is not exempt from potentially costly blind spots and mistakes. It told me that the results are not guaranteed. My boys will grow up and make their own choices, and their choices might not look like my hopes and dreams for them.
"Perhaps our roles as caretakers just give the Holy Spirit ample scope to humble us and remind us how little we know and how very little we control... Maybe the greater part of our sanctification comes as we remember  that those around us were not born as appendages to us; they are unique individuals made in the image of God." (p. 6)
This book also gave me hope. It taught me that I will never regret anchoring myself and my children in the Word of God and in prayer. It told me that I will never be sorry for "tethering" them to a heritage of all that is good, and true, and beautiful. These little things that I keep doing faithfully every day matter, even though I cannot control what fruit they will bear in my children's lives.
"Mama, you are the first pillar of education. You are a vital part of the infrastructure of culture, family, and even the body of Christ. This is not about having the perfect family or the perfect school. Your success or failure doesn't rest on your perfection, just your faithfulness." (p. 160)
Lest you think this book is all earnestness, I must tell you that it has some great laugh-out-loud moments. Cindy weaves in an abundance of understated humour and, happily for me, literary and biblical references that I actually 'got.' For example:
"Jayber Crow had a barber shop in town, and Barney Fife was our one policeman."
Isn't that a delightfully quick way to give a person an accurate view of what the town in question was like?

Before I began to read this book, I intended to pass it on to my sister after I was finished with it. Once I read it, though, I handed it to my mother first. As a homeschooler of the same generation as Cindy Rollins, there were parts of it she could have written.

There is something for every homeschooler in this book. Young, newly minted homeschoolers will be encouraged to faithfully weave what is good, true, and beautiful into their daily lives. Some may be disturbed at the idea that they are not in control of the outcome, and yet the warning is necessary and the hope Cindy points to is rock solid. Christ is the one who covers all our sins as mothers. Homeschoolers in their middle years will find this a book for the journey when things are hard and perhaps not turning out the way they expected. Even mothers who have finished their homeschooling journey may find encouragement to trust and not be afraid.
"I am less tempted to fear for my children these days. I still worry, but not as much as I used to. I know bad things can happen, but I also know that God is up to the challenge. He is trustworthy and I can give my precious family to him. I do not have to clasp them tightly in my hands. As Corrie Ten Boom said, 'Hold everything in your hands lightly, Otherwise, it hurts when God pries your fingers open.'" (p.4)
I commend Mere Motherhood to all homeschooling mothers, not just those of the Charlotte Mason persuasion. Cindy Rollins reminds us of what is really important in this journey we're on.