A Quote

I read this quote in GTD for Homemakers by Mystie Winckler this morning:

“We are waking up to our duties and in proportion as mothers become more highly educated and efficient, they will doubtless feel the more strongly that the education of their children during the first six years of life is an undertaking hardly to be entrusted to any hands but their own. And they will take it up as their profession–– that is, with the diligence, regularity, and punctuality which men bestow on their professional labours.”— Charlotte Mason

It has been my experience that most homeschooling mothers are highly intelligent and well-educated individuals, be it via a formal time spent in university, or passionate and constant autodidactism. I enjoy my time with the fellow home educating parents I know here on PEI, regardless of their educating methods or personal backgrounds. They are interesting, and enjoy learning alongside their children. When I think of them, I tend to think that Charlotte Mason’s prediction was an accurate one.

But there is, as always, the other side. The side that blows a hole in her theory. Which is what I see when I look around at most of my generation. Women have never been so well-educated, and yet we have never been so quick to choose career over raising our families and being present with our young ones during the first years of their lives. Yes, I am aware that there are single mothers out there who MUST work outside of the home full time to make ends meet. But most full time working mothers I know do so out of preference, or to support a lifestyle that while seeming normal to us, would have fallen under the category of luxurious—and absolutely chaotic— to previous generations . Quite frankly, had I finished my studies in nursing and initially pursued a career before having a family, I may have found myself making that choice as well. There is the fear of “wasting” one’s degree or education that comes with putting career aside to raise children, from what I have been told. So while we are more capable and educated than ever before, we are also more likely to hand off our babies and children day after day to be cared for by others. It’s a bit sad when you think about it…

I don’t think Charlotte Mason saw that one coming.

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4 thoughts on “A Quote

  1. It really is sad that the culture in general doesn’t seem to see the fulfillment mothers could experience in the extremely valuable role of raising and educating our children. I think there is something else at work here as well (besides the high value that women are giving their careers). I think even highly educated women feel inadequate to the task. People do value education very highly, but somehow they have come to the conclusion that it is best left to the professionals. The value of free play in an atmosphere of family love is exchanged for the value of a host of preschool “skills”, to be taught by professionals in the socializing company of their peers. So I do agree that too many women are valuing their careers over motherhood, but I also think that many genuinely do not feel up to the job because they have a wrong idea of what is really necessary when it comes to raising preschoolers. I find Charlotte Mason’s “atmosphere, discipline, life” really clarifies my thinking when I start to worry about my three-year-old’s pencil skills or the fact that my children usually only have each other to play with.

    1. I completely agree with you, Nelleke. It would be interesting to hear the male perspective on this. I recently read a survey taken by something like 550 fathers which indicated very clearly that while they respected their spouse’s choice to remain home or work while their children were young, they felt the benefits of their wives remaining home with their children far exceeded the extra income they brought in. I will have to search my history and see if I can find it.

      I can’t stop thinking about the Earwig Exploration this past summer at King’s Castle (ask Denise & Laura LOL). I think one thing that has encouraged me to become more involved with other homeschooling mothers and put effort into developing friendships with them is their zest for learning and how they seem to notice all of these things. I think it is because they are not completely exhausted from trying to find the work/life balance and can truly enjoy these times with their kids. The initial baby years can be hard and at times isolating, but what I have enjoyed since leaving work this past September (and I enjoyed work—it felt like bit like a family) is that I have been able to immerse my energy into savouring the days and opportunities with my children. I often felt tired and stressed before because we would be somewhere and at the back of my mid I would be thinking that I had to work in a couple of hours, or if I had worked that morning I was too drained to truly enjoy time at the beach with them afterwards. I don’t think that is fair to them, to my husband, or to me. They are only young once… I have experienced the inner battle of not feeling “good enough” while living the life of a SAHM and it took going back to work to settle that one for me once and for all. Quite simply, they are far more deserving of my intelligence, creativity, energy, good moods, attention, and resourcefulness than any job is.

  2. I have been thinking a lot lately that perhaps women working and getting all these ‘equal’ rights might have been a disservice to our children and family life. I know I would get a lot of flack from a lot of people in saying that…but I do believe that’s where the downfall of our society lies…. in taking God out of the schools and mothers out of their homes. It is sad. I was one of those mothers for the first few years of my children’s lives. I’m glad I changed that and I’m glad my youngest has me at home full time!

    1. I don’t believe that going about achieving equality by invalidating what was being done by women as far as caring for their families, homes and communities was a wise course of action for feminism to have taken. I agree with you that it has been a disservice in many respects.
      I know all nine of us have been much happier since I have been home again…

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