Reading goodies

  • I know I said I wanted to read A Thomas Jefferson Education, and now I can say that I did read it. I love how simple this model is! Early in the book, the author describes different phases of education. I found the description of each of the phases to be completely in line with my experience with my own kids so far. The book gave me some good ideas about working with my 12 year old, as it is clear to me that he is entering a new phase of learning. I am excited about the long list of recommended classics for different age groups! There is also a “Getting Started” section at the very end which recommends that the grown up pick a classic, read it, take notes, write about it, etc. And so…….
  • I am currently reading Wuthering Heights. I got out my notebook to take notes as I went along. I found it completely distracting to try to take notes and read. I guess my mind needs a single focus. The experience reminds me once again that I can get a lot of great ideas from books, but I have to always take into account that we are all individuals and different things work for different people. So I will take what works for me and leave the rest!
  • Enjoyed this excerpt from another book I would like to read. More on learning–of course!
  • I am really lovin’ Zen Pencils! Check this one out!
  • And, wow, THIS! I have had very similar thoughts.

A vacation

Everyone knows there are no vacation days for the stay-at-home-mom. But every now and then I take some time off anyway. I don’t actually go anywhere. I don’t send my family away. I’m not off duty. However, I just put aside anything that can be put aside. I let the house go more than usual. I let the laundry pile up more than usual. I serve simpler meals. I pick up a good book and step into a different life for a little while.

Harry Potter had been calling my name for some time. I don’t typically read a book more than once. I had read this series twice already. However, I was seriously feeling a PULL to read those books again. I tried for a while to fight it, and then I decided to read the first book. When I set out, I didn’t really intend to completely check out for a week and read the whole series, but I’ll have to say, I have never been able to put those books down once I get started.

It was a perfectly delicious week for me. Absolute indulgence. To devour those books, to NOT put the book down when I just couldn’t put the book down, to stay up too late, to wake up too early, to live and breathe an incredible story for a week…….even though I didn’t physically go anywhere, it was a true escape, a real vacation.

Stepping into Harry Potter’s life for a week was a really intense experience. What real human life could compete with Harry’s? I am raising four kids and he is saving the world. It’s all important stuff, just very different. After my little reading vacation, I experienced a real re-entry (complete with turbulence) back to my life when it was over, just like the few times I have been physically away from my family for a few days. Re-entries are difficult partly because the house is messier than usual and the laundry pile is a bit higher than usual and partly because my mind is still a little bit on vacation, still processing the experience.

Now I am mostly back from my vacation. I have caught up with the laundry and chores. I’ve called my mother and reconnected with friends. I once again feel fully present when I am spending time with the people I love. Re-entry is now complete.

 

Mothering: an important job

I am a homemaker, a housewife, a stay-at-home mother. Sometimes I forget that my job is important. Sometimes I even neglect to think of it as a job. Certainly there are many messages out in the world that it isn’t really a job if you’re working in your home or your work doesn’t result in monetary gain. But even though I know that I work, that my work ain’t easy, sometimes I just forget that my job is important, that what I do really matters.

I usually remember that my job is important when the quality of my work suffers for whatever reason: when I am spread too thin because of some big life event, when I have had to be away for appointments, when I have been sick or injured, when I just feel like checking out for a day. These are all times when I have been made aware of my contribution to family life and how it all just breaks down when I’m not doing my job. None of us feel good, the kids are whiny, the house is cluttered, our brains are cluttered…..no one is their best self.

Though my house could always stand to be cleaner, if I am not available to do the work of cleaning it, then it becomes obvious how much cleaning I really do. Even if I have talked with everyone before I leave about what needs to be done during the time I am gone, whether it be chores, learning or breakfast, if I am not there to set the rhythm of the day, those things often don’t happen. If I don’t feel like thinking about meal preparation, we don’t eat well and we all suffer for it. And let’s not forget cuddles. If I am not around to provide cuddles, just good ol’ mama love, I have some seriously fragile children.

It’s not JUST when things fall apart that I am reminded my job is important. There are sweet reminders too. Seeing their faces light up when they see me, getting tackled with hugs and kisses after I’ve been on an errand, and knowing that NO ONE on earth can comfort my kids the way I can, these are all the most touching reminders that my work is important.

Most of my job, the things on my to-do list, look so ordinary, nothing I would put on a resume, nothing that would be impressive to most people. It often feels to me, when I look at the details, like it is just doing dishes or just reading a bedtime story or just picking up dirty socks off the bathroom floor. Or sometimes it’s even just being there, holding someone’s hand through a difficult time or just being available to answer all the hundreds of questions a little person has in a day. I can tell you that I do not feel the least bit important or glamorous as I am doing my life’s work. It is a beautiful surprise every time I get a glimpse of how my job touches the lives of the people I live with. Those are the moments that push me to do my best work. They help me to remember that what I do is a real job and the quality of my work does matter. My work is everything to the people I live with.

On Mother’s Day and everyday, I am thankful for my own mother who has always seen me and appreciated me just as I am, who has been there with me through the fun and difficult times.

I am also thankful for my grandmothers, for all the “other mothers” I have learned from over the years, and for my mama friends who inspire me.

Love to all the mothers!