Domestic Bliss Report

Motherhood is hard work. If we don't stick together, we'll all fall apart.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Poverty, chastity, and... what?

During one of those endless tedious chores that occupies a minimal part of the active brain, I found myself thinking about those three virtues espoused, to a greater or lesser degree, by vowed religious. I'm trying to work out a Rule of Life for myself; yeah, I know, there's the one by a more famous Catholic homeschooling moms but... I'm not there. I heard her speak at a conference and I don't recall her having much more advice for those with littles than "Try to teach while they're napping." The reviews for her book weren't inspiring enough for me to actually purchase it, so I'm working it out on my own.

Back when we started homeschooling, I went with "Reading, Writing, 'Rithmetic, and Religion." That was our framework as we tried it on. Pretty basic and it worked for kindergarten. It's expanded since then, but on a gradual basis that I could follow.

So, I'm going pretty basic on my Rule: Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience. Okay, then. That's the easy part. What do each of these mean in my vocation?

Poverty I think I get. For me, it doesn't mean starve yourself and let your clothes have holes until you may as well be wrapped in newspaper. I have children to consider, one of whom is an 11-year-old daughter who would be mortified if I wore ill-fitting or obviously well-worn items in public with her. So it means keep costs and value in perspective, and remember what's truly valuable. Don't purchase Every New Novel Item advertised for homeschooling; consider whether you'll actually use the item (do I really need more math manipulatives for the little ones to scatter on the floor and feel like LEGOs when stepped on? Can't I use the Little People animals in discussing classifying instead of ordering fancy-schmancy photo cards, guaranteed to get destroyed by the toddler before the second use?). I have tried to spend my life in that mindset, so it's not difficult.

Chastity. It's not the same thing as abstinence, people. I'm a happily married woman and I aim to stay that way. I did my share of romance-novel (and worse) reading long ago, and frankly, I'd rather live the tale than read it. That's all I'm going to discuss the topic outside of a Tim Horton's after 11 PM, and if you don't get that reference I'm not explaining it.

Obedience is the hardest one I've got. Whom do I obey? I'm the mother, the matriarch of my household, queen of the castle. I don't have a "mother superior" to obey; I didn't say "obey" in my wedding vows. If I start "obeying" my children, we'll eat nothing more than macaroni and cheese or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on a table littered with Play-doh and paper towels, left behind after yet another milk spill with a medley of Spongebob, Phineas & Ferb, and Dora the Explorer blaring in the background. Down that road lay madness.

If I just follow chores and do what needs doing from minute to minute, I'll run from one metaphorical fire to the next, washing dishes minutes before I need to start dinner and hoping everyone will be able to find clean underwear in the morning. Exactly the opposite of what I'm hoping a Rule will bring about, which is order from chaos.

Not the kids and not the chores, then. My husband isn't one of those knuckle-dragging types I hear so much about; many's the time I bring an idea to him about the kids, the home, or the like and I get a "That sounds good. Okay, go for it." He'd probably say something about a dog needing to be obedient, not his wife. Not exactly a big help.

 If Poverty is a correct ordering of material goods, and Chastity is a correct ordering of *myself* (ahem), it follows that Obedience is a correct ordering of Time and Effort. More reflection on this next time I'm pairing socks, washing dishes, scrubbing floors...

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