Living Stones Academy

Educating by atmosphere, discipline, and life

Mother growing

on July 29, 2014

I was reading Brandy  Vencel’s post over at her blog on “mother culture”, which led me to the Parent’s Review article on which she based it. (Briefly, the Parent’s Review were magazines that were edited by educator Charlotte Mason and full of articles by teachers and parents on education, children, parenting, etc). Something particular struck me that I suppose should have been obvious, but I think in all the posts I’ve read on mother culture, the phrase itself has been less defined than the purpose of it. Yet the phrase should be defined better because the word “culture” has new meaning now. Maybe this has been covered, maybe this has been explained, and I somehow missed it or didn’t read the particular blog. And also, maybe, I’ve got it wrong. But I think not.

When we speak of “culture”, we speak of education or experience or the experiences we have. Culture is arts, entertainment, surrounding atmosphere. But I think the way the term “mother culture” is used in this article, it means something different:

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!

I think the term “culture” is being used, not as a noun for “mother” to be the adjective for, but as a verb that is happening to mother as in biology, “maintain (tissue cells, bacteria, etc.) in conditions suitable for growth”. Possibly it could be a noun but again in the biological definition as in: “the cultivation of bacteria, tissue cells, etc., in an artificial medium containing nutrients.’the cells proliferate readily in culture’; a preparation of cells obtained from a culture, ‘the bacterium was isolated in two blood cultures’ ; the cultivation of plants, ‘this variety of lettuce is popular for its ease of culture”. But I definitely think, regardless of part of speech, it is being used in the biological sense. Although “growing” has been emphasized in other posts on this subject, I still was taking “culture” to be a noun meaning surrounding influences or atmosphere of the mother. I now think it is not that.

Mothers spend a lot of time educating themselves when they have children, but it is all to do with the children. How to raise them, discipline them, feed them, cloth them, even how to let them play. And even that has been robbed of strict “play” and now everything we allow our children to do or structure for them has to be of some educational or developmental value. It is apparently not good parenting to let our children enjoy play for it’s own sake, but the good mother makes everything a learning experience. I love this quote from Edith Nesbit’s Five Children and It about Uncle Richard being the “very best kind of uncle”:

He took them into a shop and let them all choose exactly what they wanted . . .and no nonsense about things being instructive. It is very wise to let children choose exactly what they like, because they are very foolish and inexperienced, and sometimes they will choose a really instructive thing without meaning to do so.

But I digress. I was talking about mothers.

While it is good to seek out advice about how best to raise our children, much of it would come naturally, and we’d learn to do more by instinct than instruction, if we would only cultivate ourselves:

She must see which is the most important–the time spent in luxuriously gloating over the charms of her fascinating baby, or what she may do with that time to keep herself “growing” for the sake of that baby “some day,” when it will want her even more than it does now.

It reminds me of the verse in the Bible that says, “Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” I have always taken that to mean, instead of reading book after book on how to live, simply seek first His kingdom and HIS righteousness in HIS book, and you’ll naturally do those things that please Him. It is the same with being a mother. If we would be more concerned with growing ourselves in areas other than simply parenting, cultivating our personal selves, and balance that with growing our children, we would find much of parenting to come naturally and more easily. We’d find the strength to get  to the end of the day, we’d find the balance between being a mommy and “me time” (which is thrown way out of whack one way or the other), and we’d find refreshment for our souls each night.

I don’t see the point in blogging about how to do that, Brandy does an amazing job, and of course Karen Andreola not only has a blog but a CD seminar on the topic. But I do see the point in clarifying the phrase. “Culture” doesn’t mean you have to learn to love classical music or art if you don’t already love them. It means grow yourself. Keep growing, and don’t ever stop growing, or one day you will be irrelevant to your children because they have grown past you.

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