Charlotte Mason believed that the secret of motherhood was making time to keep growing and exploring. In Volume III, no. 2 1892-93 of The Parents' Review, Pages 92-95, the writer does not accept the excuse of having no time:
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.Do you feel overworked and overwrought some days? Charlotte Mason recommended that mothers give themselves permission to play. Do you understand? YES, YOU HAVE PERMISSION TO GO OUT AND PLAY! Those messy days when everything falls apart are often the perfect times for mother culture! What happens to me is that I come home refreshed and ready to face a new day after a good dose of 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. The mother would be able to hold herself in 'wise passiveness,' and would not fret her children by continual interference, even of hand or eye––she would let them be. (Pages 33-34)Here are seven things that I do for mother culture:
Living Books - Because I have a high schooler, I am forced to read high level living books and I am enjoying every single minute of it. David and I have some wonderful "grand conversations" flowing from the books we are reading. Beyond that, I do keep other books going for my own sake, falling back upon the wisdom of a mother quoted in the article on mother culture: "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!" I am starting my moderately easy book, Home Education, with a group of mothers on my email list CMinSC this week while I am still plowing through my stiff book, Awakening Children's Minds, and my novel, Green Dolphin Street.
Singing - One of the gifts God has given me is a singing voice. There is nothing I love more than to immerse myself in a new song, hone and mold the dynamics and style until it is uniquely my own, and share it with others. Singing along with Handel's Messiah while I do the dishes or practicing a new piece with an accompaniment track or rehearsing with my church trio almost always makes my heart sing with joy. I sing in the shower, in the car, in the church choir, at the kitchen sink, whenever the mood strikes.
Blogging - Blogging forces me to think deeply about whatever topics come to mind. I dig more deeply into the lessons God is trying to teach me about parenting, education, autism, and life when I try to explain it to someone else. The camaraderie between fellow bloggers is wonderful when we try to raise each other up as we share glimpses of daily life. I have met some ladies who truly live Paul's advice to the Thessalonians, "Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing."
Bible Study - Right now, I am doing my fifth Beth Moore Bible study, Daniel. We are doing Session 4 tomorrow, and, as always, I learn so much about God's Word. I also find resources like Crosswalk and OnePlace helpful when not in the middle of a formal Bible study. David and I are working our way through Desiring God, another great living book recommended by Ambleside Online!
Kindred Spirits - I do not have many kindred spirits in my town where behaviorism rules supreme. As far as I know, I may be the only Charlotte Mason homeschooler in the county. Every year, I attend the Charlotte Mason conference put on by ChildLightUSA, where I can talk to people about Charlotte Mason without seeing that glazed over look in people's eyes. I have met fellow bloggers like Bonnie, Amber, Dawn, and Leslie and non-bloggers like my roomie from last year (Jeannette) and fellow special needs mom Cheri. Yesterday, CMinSC held its first ever monthly meeting, so I will be enjoying fellowship on a more regular basis until the June conference. One of these years, I hope to meet fellow CM_RDI moms like Queen Mum, Sonya, Jen, the King's wife, and non-blogger moms at the CM conference.
Movies - I love watching inspirational movies that make me think, laugh, cry, or all of the above: I Am David, End of the Spear, Amazing Grace, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Pride and Prejudice, Bleak House, Miss Potter, and The Lord of the Rings.
Nature Study - When I first started homeschooling, I knew next to nothing about nature and all I could draw was stick figures. Before I got into Charlotte Mason, the kids and I started taking baby steps in the world of drawing. Books like Drawing with Children and Draw Squad helped me get over my fear of drawing. When we moved to Colorado, we lived in a nature study paradise with birds, critters, wildflowers, and other neat stuff. For three years, I lacked the courage to draw anything from nature. For the past five years, the kids and I have been keeping nature notebooks rather sporadically. We get inspired and then slack off when we get busy with other things. I have my first efforts buried in some boxes somewhere in the homeschooling room. Even though I will never be talented in art like my siblings, I am slowly improving. I can see progress from one year to the next and I think you may see it too:
Are you starving your mind?
If you cannot name seven things you are doing for mother culture, how about three?
It is okay if you do nothing. You have to start somewhere!
What are you waiting for?
Go out and play . . .