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    Charlotte Mason on Working Mothers

    June 3, 2006 by Brandy Vencel

    Joan: It was my choice… not to go. He would have supported it.
    Katherine: But you don’t have to choose.
    Joan: No, I have to. I want a home; I want a family, that’s not something I’ll sacrifice.
    Katherine: No-one’s asking you to sacrifice that, Joan, I just want you to understand you can do both.
    Joan: Do you think I’ll wake up one morning and regret not being a lawyer?
    Katherine: Yes, I’m afraid that you will.
    Joan: Not as much as I’ll regret not having a family, not being there to raise them. I know exactly what I’m doing and it doesn’t make me any less smart. (Mona Lisa Smile)


    It is always interesting to me that I can read Something Old and still have it reveal Nothing New. An instance of this is something I read the other day in Volume One of my new Charlotte Mason books. I won’t quote it all, because it would get rather lengthy, but she starts out the work discussing the rise of working women. there is a growing desire among women to use their education in the workforce, and the world desires to benefit from the contributions of these women. She explained the trend: women would have fixed hours, definite tasks, and an income — “the pleasure and honour of doing useful work if they are under no necessity to earn money.”

    This was written a little over 100 years ago.

    What I love is Mason’s response to such a situation (few speak so boldly anymore):

    The parents of but one child may be cherishing what shall prove a blessing to the world. But then, entrusted with such a charge, they are not free to say, “I may do as I will with mine own.” The children are, in truth, to be regarded less as personal property than as public trusts, put into the hands of parents that they may make the very most of them for the good of society. And this responsibility is not equally divided between the parents: it is upon the mothers of the present that the future of the world depends, in even a greater degree than upon the fathers, because it is the mothers who have the sole direction of the children’s early, most impressible years. That is why we hear so frequently of great men who have had good mothers — that is, mothers who brought up their children themselves, and did not make over their gravest duty to indifferent persons (emphasis mine).

    Now, I do not know that mothers should be more influential than fathers. But I do believe a mother’s influence is different than a father’s, and equally important. After all, God gave to each their own role to play in the family. And the idea of “making over one’s gravest duty to indifferent persons” (aka daycare?) is perhaps the same as a king abdicating his throne, a turning of one’s back upon one’s God-given duty.

    Si and I spent time discussing the concept of duty a bit on Sunday. He is of a “feeling follows action” sort of mindset, and believes in doing the right thing when he doesn’t feel like it. I completely admire this about him, and seek to emulate him when I can. There have been days when the only reason I don’t go out and get a job is because I believe being home with my children is the right thing to do. And really, this is nothing more than resisting temptation, the natural outcome of which is that temptation will flee and stop bothering me, at least for a time.

    But I think that duty doesn’t necessarily have to be stale and emotionless. After all, the Bible says I was created for good works when I was created in Christ. These good works were ordained for me before I had lived even a day of my life. This isn’t duty as a form of obligation, but duty as a form of realizing my purpose, of knowing who God created me to be, what He created me to do, and then being blessed by the Holy Spirit enabling me to actually do it. This is not a grim, cheerless life, as some feminists would have a woman believe. This is life abundant.

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