I believe that question can be answered with many different outcomes, all of which are ultimately determined by me. I have diagnosed myself as a learning-by-example type. I see, and I can do. So I began searching for mother-models in books, to widen my pool of seeing how others mother. This is sort of a compilation of the sources I've gathered thus far.
I tried to think of books and other sources with a mother-figure that is positive. The first book I came up with was Ella Enchanted. There are only a few moments of wonderful memories with her mother at the beginning of the book, and of them this is my favorite:
- ...remembering the times mother and I slid down the banister. We didn't do it when people were around. "We have to be dignified," she would whisper then, stepping down the stairs in an especially stately way. And I would follow, mimicking her and fighting my natural clumsiness, pleased to be part of her game. But when we were alone, we preferred to slide and yell all the way down. And run back up for another ride, and a third, and a fourth. --Ella Enchanted, p 8-9
When reading the scriptures I often pause to think about the women behind the stories. While Helaman was out leading the 2,000 stripling warriors, his wife was at home raising Helaman II. While he responded to the call of duty, his wife was at home raising two future leaders: Nephi and Lehi, brothers. Later, while those brothers were off converting the Lamanites and preaching in the North countries (they were gone for many years), did their wives go with them? Or did they stay home with extended family raising the children? Either way, those women were amazing, and maybe one day I'll write "historical fiction" novels about them.
Hymn 336 reminds: Passion shatters reason's tower, condemnation never pass.
The mother in this book, Marmie, is an absolute angel. Too perfect for reality, she still gives some very good lessons and examples to follow. She is forward thinking, takes care of others, and is kind and understanding in her relationship with her daughters.
Little House on the Prarie Books
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Before writing this post I read through the ENTIRE Little House series, as well as the Rose Years books, the daughter of Laura. Each book is a quick read, but they are packed with information. You could learn how to survive in the wilderness from those books.
I read them with the intent to observe the parents, and it was fascinating-- It was like they were whole new books!! It helps that in the first few books, I am a similar age to the mother and father, and so I could imagine myself in their shoes-- living in the wilderness with two young daughters, and my husband always wanting to move away from civilization... I was touched by the type of discipline they used with their daughters, and noted that they tried to always be soft-spoken. Here are a few quotes I took from the books:
- "Least said, soonest mended."- as Ma would say. These Happy Golden Years, p52
- "A grown-up person must never let feelings be shown by voice or manner."
- "Wooden Swearing"= losing your temper and slamming things is as bad as saying the words.
If wisdom's ways you wisely seek,
Five things observe with care,
To whom you speak,
Of whom you speak,
And how, and when, and where.
- During the long winters the family would memorize scripture verses each Sunday- the mom too! They had recitation contests, to see who could remember the most scripture verses. I think that would be a fun game to play.
I want to: Love abundantly. Have music and singing everpresent. Have fun! Explore the world.
I want to let my children learn how to do things with me, but I also believe that I will need space to do things on my own. There must be a balance. Let the kids help, but not so much that they take over. That becomes overwhelming and disheartening. As the French do, I want to intsate "Adult time," perhaps in the evenings, or maybe just once in a while for my husband and I, or when friends come over.
I learned a lot from reflecting on the mothers and parenting styles in these sources, and I think that one of the most important aspects to me is to be gentle. Gentle with words and actions. Kindness and gentility are worthwhile attributes.