Up until fairly recently, when we finally let go of tons of stuff, I needed constant ENCOURAGEMENT. I would get overwhelmed and discouraged easily. So I learned to surround myself with things that strengthen and inspire me, and get rid of what drains me. If I looked at an item and it reminded me of something I didn’t want to be reminded of every time I looked at it, out it went. Discarding really cleared up a lot of useless thoughts. Out went the Tigger sweatshirt because every time I looked at it, it reminded me of who gave it to me. A neutral memory, but annoying! So out it went. I didn’t want the constant reminder of that period in my life.
I love to read, and love to learn how others do things. I scoured the library system for homekeeping tips, and frankly, not much existed. So I decided to put together my own binder of encouragement for me. I filled it with pictures that inspired me on in clearing and cleaning my cluttered and very dirty house.
My mother and my grandmother were both great homemakers and taught me many things, but I needed daily encouragement. When I was on my own, the FlyLady system was enough – I loved those testimonials. But in my new home it wasn't working anymore. Did I fall off the wagon? Was my problem more serious than FlyLady could handle? Yes it was. I had my routines, but the house was overwhelming. I worked full-time, which meant I was gone ten hours a day or more. When the baby came, I was home, but who can get anything done with a baby?
The first thing I did was learn how to mother. I took advice from everyone. I read every book I could. But I still needed daily encouragement, and that is when I found AboveRubies.org. I listened to Nancy Campbell's daughter, Evangeline Johnson, speak on a CD entitled "Freedom Mothering" and she revealed that the secret of mothering is to get REALLY INTO IT. Stop trying to get out of mothering! Get into it! Get really into it! Be a story-book mother! She said that if your baby needs to be held for five hours straight and you can't do anything else, so be it!
That was just what I needed to hear. My four-month old was cutting his first tooth (but I didn't know it) and he was sooo cranky. I looked at the clock. Noon. I listened to those 3 CDs and walked him around the house, never once putting him down. For FIVE hours. And at 5:00 p.m. he looked up at me and squirmed, "Please put me down now."
I put him on a blanket on the floor. He was happy. I was happy. That day was the turning point for me and my baby. He now totally, implicitly trusted me. It was amazing. From that day on I got into mothering. I listened to many of Nancy's CD's as I cleaned, decluttered and learned how to cook.
Later, when my son was about two years old, I began listening to Homeschool & Domestic How-To Tips on CD (homeschoolhowtos.com) for even more encouragement and some great advice. I still bought books, such as "Keeping House" by Margaret Kim Peterson. Her book is not a how-to book, it is a reflection of what it means to keep house and how it benefits our family. I read a little of that each night before bed.
I think my own mother was a wonderful example and I am so grateful to her for her caring and patient ways. I want to be just like her. Friends have told me that my mother was the inspiration for them to stay at home with their children, since their moms worked and didn't provide them with a good at-home example. But while we are growing, we typically do not notice what exactly it is that our mom does, though we FEEL it. That is where reading discarded library books have come in. They beautifully illustrate an almost lost art of tender mothering (I rarely see mom’s holding hands with toddlers – usually they are behind or ahead). I would read and remember, "Yes, my mom did that!" Later, in talking with my mom, I discovered that she learned a lot about mothering from her step-grandmother, a godly woman, as her own mother worked, and her mom’s mother abandoned the family when her mom was only seven.
By the way, I noticed that in all my reading the best books with great examples of mothering were often pre-1962. Libraries and schools are discarding them, I guess because the values are too old-fashioned (ha!).
One of my favorite examples of how typical moms used to act came from "Snowbound with Betsy" by Carolyn Haywood (1962). As the children watch at the window for their father to come home as a blizzard begins, mother browns cubes of beef, peels potatoes, scrapes carrots, and peels onions to make a stew (enough to last a week if necessary!). She also makes rice pudding, gravy and dumplings. When dad doesn't show up for dinner, mom feeds the kids then puts the baking dish back into the oven to keep it warm, preferring to eat with father.