Monday, June 9, 2008

Habits instead of "Holy Cow!"

I am very much enjoying my study of Education Is... and once I got past my initial emotional temper tantrum, I was able to indulge in some soul searching and self study that led me to some places I'd like to share with you. Let me just say that my first reaction was one that is very common for me and that nobody else should be afraid to pick up this (FREE!) resource. On a second, more in-depth reading, I recognized so many shadows of thoughts that have twirled around my brain a time or two. The idea of habits is one I have been struggling with for a few years now going by the aliases of "schedule" or "routine" and this time of introspection that Charlotte Mason's philosophies seem to inspire in so many, allowed me to spend some time trying to figure out where my road blocks were and how they got there.

By no means am I trying to lay the blame on anybody or anything, but for me, trying to figure out where my hurtles come from helps me to get over them.

When I think about my life growing up in your typical American nuclear family (2 kids, 2 cars, 2 working parents) so many of my life's habits were determined for me. I had to get up at a certain time in order to get dressed and out the door for the bus. My day's schedule was determined for me by the schools I went to and the activities I participated in. College afforded a little freedom to choose my circumstances, but ultimately, my habits were determined by my schedule and my schedule determined my routine. After college, work schedules mostly determined my habits and the fun of dating turned into the frustration of merging habits with this person who now shared my space. Aside...yes, it was MY space. It always had been before. With my only other sibling being a boy who was 5 years younger, I always had my own room and bathroom (mostly). Heck, when my parents traded in their old station wagon for a suburban (the official mini-van of Texas) I didn't even have to share the bench seat anymore. Needless to say, marriage was a big adjustment to the way I had been living my life and although I was happy to be embarking on the journey, there were some potholes to smooth out.

Then, The Professor was born. HOLY COW!!! That's all I remember from those days of new motherhood. Holy Cow, this kid requires a lot of time. Holy cow, this kid never sleeps. Holy cow, the day is gone. Nothing was planned, everything was triaged according to the criteria of "what needs to be done right now". Some days I felt like I accomplished so much with that tiny little love strapped to my body. Some days it felt like all I did was make milk. And then, within the next two years & 10 months, Sunshine and Shortcake arrived in quick succession. HOLY COW!!!

After Shortcake, life was a blur of diaper changes, potty training, play dates and no sleep. Throw a house move in there, a scary hospital stay for the littlest one, a miscarriage, homeschooling, a new Loverlove to cuddle, a year long case of mono for Husband and I, a job change and we arrive at today where I find myself complaining all the time "I need a better routine". Heck, a routine of any kind would be better than what I've got now.

I know there are many other moms out there like me who were probably raised in similar circumstances. We were totally untrained in the world of running a house and have been trying to learn "on the job" all the while feeling like we are flying by the seats of our pants. There must be others. How would places like FlyLady and Motivated Moms thrive without us? They are great resources and have been blessings to many people. I have tried them and felt overwhelmed. I thought I wanted someone to sit down and tell me exactly what to do so that I could follow it to the letter, but in reality what I needed was this kick in the backside. You mean, I can DECIDE FOR MYSELF??? Yes, I have been waiting around looking for the perfect answer to all of these questions in my head that usually start out with "what is the right way to..." or "when is the right time to..." or "how often should I..." and letting myself get sucked into that blasted sequential vortex time and time again and not once did it ever occur to me that I was waiting for a schedule to determine a routine that would force my habits to conform; a schedule that ultimately I had the power to create.

So when I read the section of Education Is... on habits, these two light bulb moments joined together in my brain to flood the recesses. There will always be a "holy cow!" to have to take care of. A new baby or a really rough cold and flu season followed by an even worse sinus and allergy season. Maybe it will be a job change or a house change or just a few developmental milestones that need trudging through, but good habits are like the pen that the farmer uses to keep that cow from doing serious damage. I have the power to determine what those posts are made of based on the strengths and weaknesses I see in myself and my children. And cow pies are always easier to get rid of when you know right where to find them.


  1. This clear post really has put into words things that I have been thinking for sometime now, as we are reaching the 1st birthday of baby #7. Now that my older kids are older, there is truly the possiblity of a real life of forming habits, a real need of scheduling those things that are important to both a virtuous and intellectual life. We are not in the "triage" or "reaction" stage anymore in our home - and I remember a conversation with you, Matilda, when we both had 3 three and under that gave me the hope that this day would come. After I complained that I never could get all the chores done, much less think about doing anything extra like homeschooling, you said something like "But they get older, Lisa! When I go to my MIL's house, the KIDS do all of the dishes AND clean the kitchen! They start doing their own laundry at the age of 7 (or something spectacular like that)!" Boy howdy, did my life change with that conversation - I just knew there would be another "life" with my family that was not the one where I was being scheduled by them (illness, nursing, sleep deprived nights, morning sickness, etc. and then the keeping/making of a home on top of all of that). There is a life where my children's good habits actually contribute to this happy home! I was grateful for that conversation then, and I am grateful for your post now, as it does clarify the thoughts I have been having and the observations I have been making! I love those babies, you know, but I am finding that I love a growing (in age) household, too!
    Lisa I.

  2. Wow! Well put! There is always going to be something that's for sure and I only have 2 boys! I needed to hear this today!

  3. Ditto. Especially the part about the two working parents and no life skills training for homekeeping and child raising. Sometimes I wonder, how is it that I decided I could homeschool too, in addition to having to learn all the other skills to keep the heart and soul of the family together?? GREAT POST!!!!

  4. Thanks for posting about this e-book, I will have to check it out and see if I can glean some wisdom!

  5. This is a terrific post, Matilda. So much wisdom here.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts and yourself!