Jamie Martin, of Steady Mom and Simple Homeschool, wrote an insightful article about Marmee from Little Women. Marmee, you probably remember now, is mom to Meg, Beth, Amy, and Jo, the March sisters.
Jamie Martin fondly remembers her childhood impressions of the March sisters, but rereading the book now, as a 36-year-old, 21st-century mother, she was most inspired and impressed by Marmee.
I loved the article.
Jamie explains 3 ways Marmee inspires:
1. Nuture by nature, seeing each child as an individual.
2. Allow the gift of childhood, avoiding overscheduling.
3. Model the qualities we hope to cultivate.
The following is an excerpt from Jamie's article. I encourage you to go here to read her whole lovely piece
Begin Martin Excerpt:
Even as teenagers Marmee encouraged their play. There was no shuffling them out to lessons multiple times a week, no hyperscheduling involved.
How can we translate this into our modern lives? We apply it to the boundaries we develop–around screen time, extracurriculars, and our general pace as a family.
“I am angry nearly every day of my life, Jo; but I have learned not to show it; and I still hope to learn not to feel it, though it may take me another forty years to do so.”
Marmee refrained from too much lecturing. She chose her words and her timing well, and she modeled how she wanted her girls to live. Though their own family struggled financially, Marmee served her community and provided opportunities for her daughters to do the same.
She shared her flaws–confiding in impetuous Jo about her own flares of temper that she’d learned to control through discipline, help from her husband, and prayer.
To encourage their love for and study of Scripture, Marmee inspired her girls with the gift of a beautiful Bible on their pillows Christmas morning. Love, not fear, made her daughters want to follow in their mother’s footsteps.
The March household centered around the relationships within it, tight-knit bonds woven by a woman constantly checking the pulse of the atmosphere within her home. She began this culture when they were little, and her girls enjoyed it enough to keep it as they got older.
Marmee reaped exactly what she sowed, and so will we.
The question we need to ask ourselves is this: Are we planting and nurturing the seeds that will lead to the harvest we hope for?
End Martin excerpt“Touched to the heart, Mrs. March could only stretch out her arms, as if to gather children and grandchildren to herself, and say, with face and voice full of motherly love, gratitude, and humility, – ‘O, my girls, however long you may live, I never can wish you a greater happiness than this!’”
Around here we spend a lot of time at home. The longer I parent, the more I realize the blessedness of home. Nothing is more important than cultivating relationships within our walls, and with the Lord.
The confines of home are a gift, not a hindrance. A safe haven, not a prison. A place to become selfless, not self-indulgent. Even for the adventurer and the dreamer, the home can be a haven; boredom is a precursor to creativity.
The nuclear family fits together like pieces of a puzzle...a puzzle designed by God. We polish and sharpen each others' hearts for Him, in stunningly relevant ways.
When we run to multiple optional activities, trying to "please" all our children in the same season, we weaken the family dynamics. The more we're away from each other, the less our nuclear family strengthens us. We can't possibly fill our family members' love cups, and hold them accountable, for just a few hours a day.
It's important to relish home when we can. A time may come (dare I say will come?), such as a crises, that finds us running to the hospital often and breaking up the family frequently. It will be a stretch but our previous praying together, worshiping together, and knitting ourselves together at home will carry us through till life slows once again.
Each day has enough trouble of its own, yes? Let's relish each other at home, bonding, blessing, bracing each other for life.
When it's time for our little birds to fly away, their fondest memories will be of home. I doubt their soccer friends or their chess-club buddies, or the leotard-clad girls from gymnastics, will rank up there at all. We can make new experiences our goal, or homespun loveliness our goal, but not both.
The buddies we encounter here and there are more an avenue to shine His Light, than an avenue for entertainment or enrichment.
Like Jamie, I think this quote is a worthy ending to the sentiment of home:
“Touched to the heart, Mrs. March could only stretch out her arms, as if to gather children and grandchildren to herself, and say, with face and voice full of motherly love, gratitude, and humility, – ‘O, my girls, however long you may live, I never can wish you a greater happiness than this!’”
Something tells me our little birds are more likely to come back often, if home was the centerpiece of their growing-up years?
Forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive - Colossians 3:13
And you shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. - Deuteronomy 11:19
Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. - Exodus 20:12
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. - Romans 12:10
My son, keep your father's commands and do not forsake your mother's teaching. - Proverbs 6:20
A wise child accepts a parent's discipline; a mocker refuses to listen to correction. - Proverbs 13:1
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. - Thessalonians 5:11
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching. - Hebrews 10:24-25