Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Motherhood Musings from Sally Clarkson

In May of 2012, I was delighted to hear Sally Clarkson speak in person at our area homeschool bookfair.  Let me encourage you: if you are ever able to read her books or hear her speak, you will almost immediately notice that she fills your mind with words of challenge and vision in your role as mother.

In my experiences with her (hearing her speak, briefly speaking one-on-one with her, listening to talks she's given, and now reading her books) I continue to find her perfectly challenging, but delightfully willing to share her imperfections.

There are plenty of women to be found (particularly in Christian homeschool circles) who (intentionally or unintentionally) position themselves as perfectly coifed and poised in every way, but while Sally Clarkson freely shares her strengths & accomplishments, she strikes me as very balanced in the way she shares those things.  Her goal seems to be to encourage and build up the Body of Christ... not to position herself as the end-all, be-all expert on and example for everything in life.

Here are a few of the more challenging and encouraging quotes I've read so far in her book, The Mission of Motherhood:

"As I look to the needs of the children of today, I am convinced they need the same things from their mothers that I needed-- and received-- from mine.  They need... the gentle touch of a mother's hands, her focus and attention on a daily basis, a champion & a cheerleader, someone who has the time and energy to give encouragement along life's way and comfort in dark times.  They need a directive voice to show them how to live.  ...Meeting these needs is not an option or a sideline for mothers, but part of [God's] design."

To answer the modern view that motherhood is optional, or that mothers and fathers are interchangeable, she writes:
 "God equipped a woman from the very beginning to bring life into the world from her own body and to nurture growing families.  How wonderful that He gave her a womb to bear a child, breasts to feed it, a more padded physique suited for cradling babies, and the emotional makeup, with all the right hormones, to be able to nurture and care for her children and to maintain relational connections in her family.  According to recent research, He even structured our brains to make it easier for us to handle several tasks at once-- as the tasks of caring for a household and small children demand.  From the very beginning, then, God equipped women for a specific role in the family-- that of bringing life into the world and nurturing it."

And finally, on the issue of how modern women respond to what our culture says about motherhood, she wrote THIS gem:
"Often, women feel confused and torn between the cultural messages they hear about what is important for them to do and the eternal message God has written on their hearts.   
If they absorb the cultural message, they may avoid having children at all or radically limit the number of children in order to leave enough time and energy for their "real" work.  They may consciously or unconsciously resent the children who keep them from being "productive."  Or, more commonly, they will exhaust themselves trying to have it all-- a successful career and a vibrant home life.  They try to fit too many activities into their days and end up feeling that they are not successful at anything they do.  
A whole generation of children, as a result, ends up feeling rushed and pushed, with little or no sense of the comfort and stability of a satisfying home life.  ... When the biblical mission of motherhood is devalued and disappears from culture, the whole next generation suffers morally, emotionally, and spiritually.  

In this day and age, it is seen as intolerant to present the view that there is a "best" way of doing anything.  The modern values of tolerance and open-mindedness lead to absurdity when it becomes offensive to say, for example, that breastmilk is the best option.

The unquestioned, meteoric rise of feminism brought with it the view that career, money, personal acclaim and power are what give value to a woman.  This perspective virtually prohibits the speaking out loud of the view that mothers staying home and caring for their children on a daily basis is the best option.  But study after study after study shows that it truly is best.  Not only is it best for the child, but studies show that up to 70% of women (and these are modern women being surveyed, not the Betty Crockers of the 1950s that feminist authors love to revile) say they would prefer to stay home with their preschool aged children if they truly felt it was a viable option.

I hope to continue to share other valuable encouragements from her book and others as time permits, but hopefully these snippets have been an encouragement to you today as you go about "making home".


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