Thanks to Melissa Wiley, I discovered Small Meadow Press awhile back.
It's a beautiful, peaceful website full of beautiful, peaceful things. Just clicking over there calms me down and makes me rethink my pace.
And, thanks to Lissa again, I recently found Lesley's blog, The Bower. Go ahead -- click over.
Are you back? Don't you feel peaceful? Don't you long for beauty? Don't you want to incorporate just a little bit of that detailed and deliberate strewing of all things lovely through your own home?
Now, click on this post and read the quote on the handmade piece shown there.
I'll repeat it for you here: "The mother's heart is the child's schoolroom."
I've loved this quote since I first heard it -- where? I'm sure it was through Real Learning and Catholic Charlotte Mason -- and I love it still. It summarizes the reason I homeschool.
I want to pass on to my children, to the best of my ability, all that I hold dear: my faith, the joy I find in family life, the profound responsibility and blessing of motherhood.
But, the quote acts as a wise warning as well. If what's in my heart is less than the true, the good and the beautiful ("Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." -- Philippians, 4:8) then what am I teaching my children?
Beecher's short quotation packs a powerful punch.
It reminds me that I want to embody the true, the good and the beautiful for my children. But I have to confess that some days I think, "Who am I kidding? I'm not the right type ... I'm not the teatime type, not the Ma Ingalls type, not the Marmee type ... I'm not gentle enough, not Victorian enough, not anything-enough to pull this off."
But then gently, always gently (through friends, books, the Bible, Mass, or through my own children's love) God reminds me that there is not simply one particular "type" of mother capable of passing on truth and beauty to her children. Because, you see, He fills in the spaces I leave blank. His truth, beauty and goodness are at work in me, helping me to become the vessel through which He will shine for my children.
I'm not there yet. This vessel still needs a lot of polishing. But I'm not giving up. This work-in-progress will continue to rely on the Source of All Things to bring all that is true, and good and beautiful into my children's lives. That includes indulging the part of me that is Ma Ingalls/Marmee/teatime/Victorian and many other things of beauty that I may not yet be, but admire and aspire to, the things that will help to make my heart the schoolroom I want it to be.
(above painting is Renoir's Girls at the Piano, 1892)