This post is dedicated to my self-taught, creative mother who totally rocked the 31st Proverb! She taught us how to cook, clean, care for a family, shop frugally and show hospitality. I learned that hugs and smiles, tears and laughter are part of any good conversation. She instilled confidence in her children with oft used phrases like, “It’s better to act than react.” or, “That’s okay, just act like you know what you’re doing and we’ll believe you.” Kindness and persuasion go hand in hand, “You’ll get more flies with honey than you will with vinegar.” That timing is everything and therefore apologies are better given and received before the sun sets each day and that it’s best to forgive and forget, and to love myself and others unconditionally. I learned these priceless gems of wisdom through her beautiful example.
As the provider of a home education for her children she also taught me the three R’s. She showed me how to work with my hands like how to read a pattern then measure, alter and sew a garment. I had the memorable experience of learning how to sew on an old treadle sewing machine, you know, like the kind Laura Ingalls would have used. And no, it was not part of a Little House on the Prairie Unit Study. It was simply because the student to sewing machine ratio required somebody to use the old black Singer treadle machine during the co-op sewing class that she taught in exchange for knitting lessons.
I can’t even begin to enumerate my mother’s many, remarkable accomplishments as a home educator. She was implementing a Charlotte Mason style before the Original Homeschooling series was back in print, and likely not many Americans had even heard of her (I don’t think my mom knew who she was either). But I was free to roam the hills and fields by creek and pond near our home as soon as I had finished my studies in the morning… not because someone told her that she was allowed to do that, but because she just knew it was okay to let kids be kids.
On crisp autumn evenings I remember being given the opportunity to embroider, crochet, make doll clothes or mend real clothes and any number of other handicrafts as the family gathered together near the large stone fireplace in our living room to listen to classical music or a Prairie Home Companion on the radio. She hung art prints around our home; we read poetry and we wrote our own. We went to museums and galleries and national parks. We made candied apples and popcorn.
We read a plethora of worthy books, mostly Christian biographies, historical fiction and the revered Classics. Not because she had heard of a Classical education either, she hadn’t. She wanted us to read them because they were so very well written by some of the greatest artists, thinkers, poets, and authors to date.
Or maybe she had the discernment that someday, like today, they might actually take those beautiful masterpieces of inspired literature out of our local libraries; replacing them with abridged and revised versions that have removed all mention of God and any allusions to morality or Christ-like character. Instead substituting the original author’s creativity and intent with something that can be read at a third grade level (whatever that is). Regardless that some of it was originally written for royalty! Now, as long as it’s colorful enough to compete with Scooby Doo or SpongeBob Squarepants it goes on the shelf beside an array of other colorfully clad, graphically designed covers featuring something that is better watched as Saturday morning cartoons with a bowl of sugary cereal. So she gave us worthy books, and fed our curiosity and we grew in strength and conviction as we discovered our own creativity and imagination.
Dear reader, I tell you these things not to paint a rosy picture of my childhood, although admittedly it does seem to glow here. Know that we had plenty of challenges as well. But it is my hope that in sharing these stories with you as home educating parents, likely mostly mothers, you will be encouraged that even when you don’t see the immediate result because the fruit is still green and bitter, in due time you will reap a great reward for all the time, energy, passion, wisdom and effort you are planting in the soil of your children’s lives. There is a sweet harvest ahead. And at some point when that harvest is gathered your children too will rise up and call you blessed! And say “Thanks, Mom!” because they truly are grateful, as I am for a mother who taught them at home.
© Una-Melina // Worthy Books & Things, 2012.
“A woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised… her deeds publicly declare her praise.” Proverbs 31:30-31 NLT