Mother Culture Matters
“Is there not some need for ‘mother culture’?... So many mothers say, ‘I simply have no time for myself!’ ‘I never read a book!’ Or else, ‘I don't think it is right to think of myself!’ They not only starve their minds, but they do it deliberately, and with a sense of self-sacrifice which seems to supply ample justification.”
- The Parents’ Review, 1892
Mother Culture is a buzzword that gets thrown around in Charlotte Mason circles. You won’t find the term Mother Culture mentioned in any of CM’s volumes. The term was initially introduced in an article of the Parents’ National Education Union (PNEU) and popularized by Karen Andreola.
Andreola defines Mother Culture as, “...the skillful art with which a mother looks after the ways of her household and herself. In her home she creates a culture all her own with a mingling of love and responsibility. A mother does a lot of taking care, so she also takes care of herself. So much depends on how she manages her life.”¹ Andreola exhorts mothers not to put their own spiritual and intellectual life on hold during the child rearing phase because our children, “...notice how much or how little she [the mother] enjoys all the true, just, pure, lovely, praise-worthy, and excellent things to think about.”²
We teach our children what to love by how we choose to spend our time, energy, creativity, and effort! Indeed, Mother Culture is a lifestyle - how we steward our time, how we temper the busyness of life with the beauty of being present, and so on. Investing in Mother Culture enables us to have more to pour into our families. “The mother who cultivates her soul can say, ‘My cup runneth over.’ It runs over into the family circle. The benefits of Mother Culture do not end with her [the mother]. They spill over and spiral outward.”³
Mother Culture will look different for everyone. How are you growing, challenging yourself and modeling worthy endeavors? Charlotte Mason points out that, “...a stream can rise no higher than its source, so it is probable that no educational effort can rise above the whole scheme of thought which gives it birth.”⁴ Lord willing, our children will stand on our shoulders and our ceiling will indeed be their floor. One way to ensure that this comes to fruition is to invest time into your own Mother Culture.
What kinds of things could you see yourself trying to help foster Mother Culture in your own home?
¹ Karen Andreola, Mother Culture, p. 1.
² Karen Andreola, Mother Culture, p. 3.
³ Karen Andreola, Mother Culture, p. 5.
⁴ Charlotte Mason, Preface to the Home Education Series, p. VII