As mothers we live a life of giving to our children and husbands, which is good. Christ has called us to live sacrificial lives and lives of service and as mothers a majority of this energy flows out unto our children. I think what we can often forget though is that taking time to invest in our own intellectual and spiritual life is a gift to our children. If we are not allowing the Holy Spirit time to pour into our lives through prayer, the reading of scripture, and even the reading of good books, we will have nothing to pour out or give to our children. We may have physical acts of service, but we will spiritually and intellectually dry up. It is a gift to our husbands, children, and friends, to have something worthwhile, fresh, and interesting to converse about and pour out.
In Charlotte Mason’s third Volume she writes,
“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!…
Mother must have time to herself. And we must not say ‘I cannot.’ Can any of us say till we have tried, not for one week, but for one whole year, day after day, that we ‘cannot’ get one half-hour out of the twenty-four for ‘Mother Culture?’–one half-hour in which we can read, think, or ‘remember.’
The habit of reading is so easily lost; not so much, perhaps, the power of enjoying books as the actual power of reading at all. It is incredible how, after not being able to use the eyes for a time, the habit of reading fast has to be painfully regained…
The wisest woman I ever knew–the best wife, the best mother, the best mistress, the best friend–told me once, when I asked her how, with her weak health and many calls upon her time, she managed to read so much, ‘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!’ That is the secret; always have something ‘going’ to grow by. If we mothers were all ‘growing’ there would be less going astray among our boys, less separation in mind from our girls…
A brisk walk will help. But, if we would do our best for our children, grow we must; and on our power of growth surely depends, not only our future happiness, but our future usefulness.
Is there, then, not need for more ‘Mother Culture’?” Volume III, no. 2 The Parents’ Review
As I plan this upcoming school year for my children, I also want to take time to plan my self-education. My biggest hurdle is actually sticking with the books I start and not continually being changed on a whim as to what I will read. I also could be tempted to devour novels and neglect what are referred to as the stiff books. My goal is to have four books going at a time and not pick up a new one until I have finished one. So here is my mother culture list for this upcoming school year. I would love for you to share yours!
- String, Straight-Edge, and Shadow: The Story of Geometry
- Mathematics: An Instrument for Living Teaching
- The Story of Mankind
- The Witness of Early Christian Women: Mothers of the Church
- Overcoming Dyslexia
- Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys
- Simply Clean: The Proven Method of Keeping Your Home Organized, Clean, and Beautiful in Just Ten Minutes a Day
- A Nature Study Guide
- Anne of Avonlea
- The Spy
- Aenas: Virgil’s Epic Retold