I know the exasperation of wanting to know how other stay-at-home mothers *do it* while they’re raising their children. How does she write those books, sell handmade goodies online, sew up cute everythings, and then take all those amazing photos to blog about it all? Well, more than once I’ve had the poignant aha moment of “oh, she sends her kids off on the bus every morning…” But, I also know homeschooling mamas who are running businesses and training for marathons. Far more often, though, I hear about “the wrong season” to do anything outside of homemaking and homeschooling and methinks that’s no good! “Dying to self” does not mean stifling your own interests anymore than “doing your own passion” means spending every waking moment on everything but homemaking and homeschooling.
Do homeschooling mothers need to put aside all of their own interests so that they can more *fully engage* in educating their children? What does that mean, anyway? That instead of reading a nonfiction book on a topic of interest, we ought to spend that time preparing more flashcards? One of the definitions of education in the 1828 Websters says it is discipline intended to “form the manners and habits of youth”. Well, if one of those intentions is to raise lifelong learners, then we must also pay heed to Luke 6:40 The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.
It is good for children to know and see that their mama is always learning new things, that she borrows arms-full of books from the library (and reads them). I think it’s all right for a mama to have some of her own homework or crafting time and to know that she may be subject to goals and deadlines just like they are. How can it be bad to see her try new things in the kitchen or garden or classroom or sporting arena? For a mother to have her own interests and to see her cultivate her own hobbies: is this selfishness?
All I know is that keeping at least a little toe in the genre of where you think your gifts are will help keep you sane, and who doesn’t want a sane mother?
As for me, one of my loves has been (and is) learning about God’s healing herbs. It began as a child, loving to sit in fields watching and listening to grass rustling and birds chittering. In college one of my most favorite classes ever was a botany course on spring wildflowers, complete with hunting them down and keying them out. Once the children came along I learned how to make teas, tinctures, salves, and so forth. I took online classes and earned two degrees (BS and MS) in Holistic Nutrition, figuring out how to cook those amazing foods that came from the ground and not from a box. Later I took a class on botanical illustration. Today I’m learning through both Vintage Remedies and the American Herbalists Guild.
It was quite a hurdle for me to get there, mentally. There was/is always something else I could be doing, for the “good of my family”. What I’ve learned, however, is that spending some time cultivating my own interests ultimately does my family good. If you’re struggling with taking the time for your own learning, you might want to listen to this podcast I did on that very topic, Room for You. You also might like listening to an interview I did with an author about how she wrote a book (and a good one at that!) while raising small children, Pursuing Your Talents in the Season of Motherhood.
At the risk of turning this place into an art blog, here is something I did today between family responsibilities. Ongoing learning as a mom is like that, here a little, there a little. I decided I wanted to learn about burdock more, and so googled pictures and then drew and watercolored. Then I incorporated words to remind me how this beautiful plant is used. It’s not a large thing I did. But it’s something.
Are you taking any time at all for your own interests? I remember my mother doing much needlework throughout my growing up years, and what a treasure all of that handwork is now, especially because her hands have betrayed her as she has aged. Don’t wait until your children are grown, until you think a “better season” comes along. Snatch the time here and there. Learn and live alongside your babies, and enrich all of your lives in the process.