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Measuring Tiny Victories

The following is taken from this month's Mere Motherhood newsletter, the email companion to the Mason Jar Podcast.

It is jolly good fun to always be talking about truth, goodness, and beauty. In fact, the more we talk about it–the more metaphors we use–the more romantic it becomes. Warm blackberries, babies’ breath, raindrops on roses, and all that. This is fine and dandy on the Internet, but when you sit down with young moms in your own home you begin to blush.

I recently invited a group of local Charlotte Mason moms over for snacks and discussion. We had a delightful evening, but as they talked I began to see that they were all feeling very badly about how very badly they achieved truth, goodness, and beauty in their homes (not to mention narration). The realities of life often seemed far afield from their ideals.

This is because, of course, they are.

These young moms often imagine that I, or my older friends, have found some magic elixir that did not include whining children, ruined carpets, or fingerprinted walls. This is why I refuse to hide my own failings as a mother and as a teacher, at least not all of them. For every good homeschooling day worthy of an Instagram post, how many bad ones are there? Let me tell you: a whole lot. This is why I am all about measuring tiny victories rather than grand schemes. Truth, goodness, and beauty are hardly ever pretty.

Interestingly, I found in my homeschool that when life got easier, it didn’t necessarily follow that the children learned more than the children learned during the hard years. In fact, I would be willing to bet they learned less. It’s not all about being able to use the right curriculum, the right way.

A few years ago a man wrote an article claiming that homeschooling moms always looked so haggard. Apparently, we were not living up to the male dream of the smokin’ hot Christian wife. While being haggard should not be our goal, there are going to be those haggard days. To lay down your life for other people is tiring. Toddlers make us all look bad. Should I decide to have another baby based the number of hours of beauty sleep I will lose? What about those of us caring for handicapped children or aging parents? Can a haggard wife actually be beautiful, at least some of the time?

In John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, at the home of the Interpreter, Christian sees a painting of a man mucking about for treasure in the mud while all the while the treasure is just above his head. All he had to do was look up. You may be muddy and haggard and tired but if you want to find truth, goodness, and beauty, you have to look up.

The magic elixir is this: Be faithful.

Do your part knowing it is God who gives the increase. It may not look like a pretty picture today but someday the real beauty will be revealed. Someday all of our metaphors will be inhabited.

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