Life, Unschooling

When they mother us

You never quite know, when you kiss that soft baby, or hug that elusive, giggling toddler, or sneak a kiss from the independent ten year old, or oh-so-casually pat the arm of that teen as you walk by…you never know then that the time will come when that child, your child, your children, will return the favour.

Will mother you, even in a glimpse, as you mothered them. As you still mother them.

A mother is strong. She is strong for her kids, for her family.

But every now and then even mothers crumple. Just a little. And need a bit of mothering themselves.

Perhaps it is as a result of  years of homeschooling, I don’t know, but there are times when the people with whom you can be the most real are…your kids.

And in being real, you share. Even unknowingly. Good and bad. And those kids, whom you kissed and hugged and teased and patted,  whom you nurtured, now nurture you.

Our children learn from us and, trite but true, we learn from them. It comes full circle.

As John Holt wrote: “Children tend to be, among other things, healthy, energetic, quick, vital, vivacious, enthusiastic, resourceful, intelligent, intense, passionate, hopeful, trustful, and forgiving – they get very angry but do not, like us, bear grudges for long. Above all, they have a great capacity for delight, joy, and sorrow. But we should not think of these qualities or virtues as “childish,” the exclusive property of children. They are human qualities. We are wise to value them in people of all ages. When we think of these qualities as childish, belonging only to children, we invalidate them, make them seem things we should “outgrow” as we grow older. Thus we excuse ourselves for carelessly losing what we should have done our best to keep. Worse yet, we teach the children this lesson; most of the bright and successful ten-year-olds I have known, though they still kept the curiosity of their younger years, had learned to be ashamed of it and hide it. Only “little kids” went around all the time asking silly questions. To be grown-up was to be cool, impassive, unconcerned, untouched, invulnerable. ” On seeing children as cute

Except we are not invulnerable and our kids, they who spend day in and day out with us as we homeschool, know this. And this is a good thing. For sometimes, to love is to be vulnerable.

The art of mothering is to teach the art of living to children. Elaine Heffner


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