UPDATE: I just realized an entire paragraph was missing from my post. I have no idea how this happened; it was showing up in my draft but not on the “live” post. When I tried to edit the post in Blogger this afternoon, it wouldn’t let me even open the post until I finally made some HTML tweaks on my iPhone App (I could open the post on it but not on my laptop). But I am a happy mom blogger, so I won’t let this little setback and the fact that my post on intellect and culture and motherhood came off as a bit bird-witted (the irony is not lost on me) get me down! Anyway, it’s fixed now and hopefully makes a bit more sense.
I get wanting to be brainy, but I don’t get the hoards of thinking women who argue that women ought to completely avoid talking about motherhood when we’re not actively engaged in it in order to give us a break. Or, similarly, the arguments that those moms who do talk about mom stuff aren’t as smart as women who discuss more erudite topics.
Moms have a great opportunity to bring culture into their homes, to show their children beautiful pieces of art, to listen to the likes of Mozart (rather than sing-songy kids songs all day), and to read good literature aloud to their children (simple board books are good for babies to chew on, but there are so many great words to feed our own and our children’s mind with).
Karen Andreola, a homeschooling mom, writer, and proponent of Charlotte Mason and her gentle way of learning, coined a phrase “Mother Culture.” She writes in her Pocketful of Pinecones: Nature Study with the Gentle Art of Learning,
“To take part in Mother Culture is to take a little time to keep growing. In as little as fifteen minutes a day, a mother can strengthen her spirit, expand her mind, exercise her creativity, or ponder ideas that will help her in her arduous task as homemaker/home teacher.”
Even when not actively pursuing culture, what some people seem to overlook is that women writers can be intellectual without turning their nose at all things maternal. Raising children is an intellectual pursuit if I step away from myself and what I’m yearning to know long enough and think of all that I must teach my children. (Plus, homeschooling has made me realize how much I’ve forgotten, especially now that we’re studying the ancient world.) Perhaps more importantly, being a parent is a spiritual pursuit. It grows the soul even when my brain feels more like sludge than a hotbed for brilliant ideas. (And, yes, motherhood is Natalie Portman’s most important role.)
Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote that “human reason is very deficient in things concerning God.” Motherhood is from God and this vocation is about bringing forth new life, nurturing that life, and raising children who have eternal value is the greatest of all human accomplishments.
We’re here to serve God and our families and as Betty Duffy so eloquently recently put it,
“Nothing releases you like motherhood, which is why, if my singular long-range goal is to go to Heaven, staying home with these babies has been the best path for me. I could put all my resources towards achieving one big dream or I could be expunged of a thousand little dreams each day and be emptied and ready, even if it feels like I’m treading water and waiting for whatever comes next.
It’s such a beautiful and rare thing to approach someone you love, and find them ready and waiting for you.”
Stay tuned for Part III. It might be awhile though. I’m planning on kicking off Lent with an Internet/blog fast.