Friday, June 3, 2016

What I've Learned from Ma, Mary Poppins, and Marmee

Reading aloud with my girls is probably one of my favorite aspects of homeschooling.  Over the last several months, we have been reading Little Women (very slowly... it's deep!), Mary Poppins, Paddington Bear, listening to the Little House series in the car, with a sprinkling of poetry in the midst of all that.  Within these books are lessons galore!  But this post is focused on the three main women in these books and what I've learned from Ma, Mary Poppins, and Marmee.  

In boarding school, we were only allowed to watch one hour of television a week and that usually consisted of an episode of Little House on the Prairie.  It was during this weekly hour that my admiration for Ma began.  She reminded me so much of my own mother.  Ma always seemed so patient, desiring the best for her girls, rarely raising her voice, fully supportive of Pa and affirming him as the head of the family.  She was resourceful, knowing how to make or use items found with the little they had, always willing to learn new things, and thoughtful of family and neighbors.  I honestly can’t remember if I ever read the books as a child.  But when my girls were really little we read through the series in the evenings and I think I loved the books more than they did.  Now as we listen to them in the car, the wisdom and courage that flows from Caroline Ingalls amazes me! 

Mary Poppins… It’s a name that has always brought a smile to my face, not sure if it was the British accent or the disciplined way of doing things.  But I realized this year that it stems from my view of the movie and not from the book.  I have always thought that the book is better than the movie, except in this case.  I read Mary Poppins (for the first time) to my girls last month and was truly disappointed.  I hope this is not a spoiler for others, but Mary Poppins taught me all the things that I desire not to be:  prideful, quick tempered, arrogant, distant, and unapproachable.  She would care for the children only as a job, not with a sincere desire for them to grow.  There was very little grace within her.  I find myself often acting a lot like Mary Poppins: always wanting to be right in the eyes of my children, impatient, and unkind.  Oh, how I wish to be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger... 

Marmee...  Once again, I realized that I had never read the entire unabridged version of Little Women.  I have always loved the movie, but in this case, the book is even better!  We are still not finished with the book, mainly because it is 777 pages long (seriously!) and is not an easy read.  The tears that have been shed (from an unnamed mother) from reading the wisdom of Marmee who was such a strong and independent woman.  She learned the gift of having an even stronger husband, one who could be her team mate, friend, and protector.  She was honest, yet kind to her little women.  She gave correction, but not without examples and transparency of her own previous struggles.

This is such a short summary of my opinion of these women. Others may view them differently.  So often I feel that I have to read the self-help books to challenge myself, but there is so much to learn through the classics, children's literature, and even poetry. But none of this can happen unless we read.  Read aloud with delicious food near by, read in different places, read books that inspire and encourage, and try to focus on quality literature.  

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