“If mothers could learn to do for themselves what they do for their children when these are overdone, we should have happier households. Let the mother go out to play! If she would only have courage to let everything go when life becomes too tense, and just take a day, or half a day, out in the fields, or with a favourite book, or in a picture gallery looking long and well at just two or three pictures, or in bed, without the children, life would go on far more happily for both children and parents.” – Charlotte Mason, Vol. 3, pg. 34
The idea of Mother Culture extends beyond reading. We are created to be not only minds hungry for knowledge, but bodies needing fresh air, movement, and proper nutrition and we are souls craving God. Something that encompasses body, mind, and soul is the fact that we are made in the image of the Creator – as such, we are creators ourselves. While our God is able to create ex nihilo, or out of nothing, we must use the materials he has given us. The command written on our bodies, minds, and souls is inescapable, we are made to create.
All too often, those who are not naturally “crafty” start to recoil a bit here and the excuses begin… “But I can’t sew a straight line!” or “I only draw stick figures!” Hear me out. Creativity extends far beyond what many of us term handicrafts. While those skills are often outlets for creativity, they are also skills for everyday life. We should expose our children to them as well as ourselves, but we don’t have to adopt any handicraft as our personal hobby.
Our ability to create expands far beyond handicrafts – It is what makes us come alive. It makes us more fully human. Our creative talents and drive are as individual as each soul on earth, so it is imperative that you find that thing that stirs your imagination and creative drive. I invite you to think about something that a) you have done in the past or currently do that you really enjoy or b) something you have a strong desire to learn to do.
Searching for ideas? Let me attempt to jog your thoughts.
First, the usual suspects… the Handicrafts. Sewing, knitting, embroidery, needle felting, basketry, spinning, weaving, etc.
What about the fine arts… Painting, drawing, charcoals, pastels, sculpting…
Domestic arts might be right up your alley – perhaps something others consider a chore is instead an enjoyable outlet for creativity for you… Cooking, home decorating, mixed drink making, entertaining guests, baking, home organization, etc.
Are the outdoors your cup of tea? Perhaps a vegetable garden or flower garden is for you. Pressing flowers, collecting nature specimens, growing interesting plants, tending to a pond, bird watching…
What about creativity with language – perhaps you are a writer, a poet, a blogger, or an avid journal keeper?
Are you the person friends go to when in need of fashion advice? It could be that your ability to balance fashion trends and modesty is exactly the art that you not only love, but that could be a gift to those around you. Accessorizing, hair styling, applying make-up beautifully, and other arts of beautifying a person’s outward appearance are so important and yet often overlooked.
The dramatic arts may be where you shine. Not only acting on stage should come to mind – no stage is necessary for you to use your gift. If you take special delight in singing your babies to sleep to show tunes that stir your heart, that is beautiful. Singing, playing an instrument, creating costumes, memorizing monologues and speeches of the great plays, or dancing may be the thing that brings you joy.
I’m sure I’ve forgotten some category or so many ways to create. It’s very possible and quite likely I’ve forgotten to mention yours. That’s ok. What matters is that you’ve found that thing and next… that you DO IT.
Yes. DO IT. Schedule time to create. This is not selfish. This is not what the popular culture would call “Me Time” wherein you retreat from responsibilities to do something fun and frivolous. This is the time you need to be the person you are in the fullest way possible. This is the time you will use to show your daughters and sons that parents aren’t just people who sign permission slips and cook meals and earn money and send them to their room. Parents are human beings who have interests. Mothers have interests beyond their children and beyond their spouses and those interests might have been around before either of the latter two came along. Parenting can be grueling and difficult, but showing your children that it extends beyond cleaning up spills and scrubbing bathtubs is how you create an atmosphere in your home that will encourage your children to become parents someday rather than buying into the cultural idea that children should be put off until we have done all the fun stuff. Show them that parents do fun stuff.
Lastly, do what you love simply because you love it. If you are cooking because people need to eat, that isn’t necessarily using your creative gift. If you make a meal simply because the recipe looked exciting and you remember that you can give it to the woman down the street who just had a baby because your dinner is already made… that’s using your gift.