Well, in my lying-around-ness ala mono, I watched "Little Women" again. (I'm dying for some more chic flicks to watch. Anyone?) Even though I think it was thoroughly mis-cast and I can't stand Wynona Ryder OR Susan Sarandon, I still had a good cry. (Note: I HATE crying in movies. It wasn't so bad, though, being sick and all.)
But it got me thinking about transcendentalism and parenting. Now, you may have noticed that Marmie (mother) is not all that present in the girls' lives in the movie, or in the book. And Papa is downright absent almost entirely. That's because the book is autobiographical to a large extent, and Louisa May's parents were transcendentalists. If you missed the very tiny references to that and don't remember from school, that means that they believed that the best pathway to truth for each soul was within their own soul. Through their own individual "light of Christ," if you will. You can see that in how Marmie teaches the girls—letting them pretty much govern themselves wherever possible, and trusting that they would learn through introspection and experience much better than through lectures from her.
I remember when I read "Little Women" last, and also when I studied transcendentalism, that it all sounds good on paper, and also it sounds easy enough when you are the absent Papa or when your kids are older. But what I've always wondered is how they carried out such ideas with a bunch of little kids running around? You know, during the age when if there were no old fashioned, non-transcendental TRAINING (different from education, which comes later) to the contrary, kids will climb on the table, throw food, and use their fists and teeth? How come the movie didn't show that stage, huh? Huh? You show me how that poor mother kept her patience in those early days with old Bronson always off with his hippie friends!
So I've decided to believe that there really is something special about age 8. And the good thing is that some of my kids have moved into this older age group, and are ready to be educated instead of trained. (Thank goodness they were trained first, I must say.) So I think it's time I revisited transcendentalism as it pertains to parenting. I like the idea of refraining from lecturing, of leaving them alone to feel and learn, and then, possibly, getting involved by simply asking good questions. "Did that feel good? Did it work? What does the Spirit tell you about that?" I think that's the kind of parent I would like to be. It requires an awful lot of faith, though. Faith that somehow, over time, if they are left alone to feel it (instead of being manipulated/lectured into it) the light of Christ in them will guide them right. Faith that God is active with them, is already working with them.
In the end, that's the only kind of parenting that will truly educate, isn't it? All else is training.
I want to be a good mother. I have this picture of "Darlene, the Good Mother" in my head that I want to measure up with. Problem is, it changes with every parenting book I read. I think I need to switch my focus away from being a good mother to just being Good. The natural consequence of that would be better parenting, wouldn't it?
And, taking it a step further, I wonder sometimes if it would be even better if I quit focusing on Being Good so much and instead focused on just Being. Because isn't that what transcendentalism is all about? That I have so much faith in the light of Christ in me, and in my innate goodness because I am a child of God, that the purer I can live in the moment, without fear of WHAT I am, the better I will be. Because what I am in the most present moment, without self-consciousness or striving, is Good. And living true to myself and each individual moment (without fear, the cause of most non-good behavior on my part, and which usually has something to do with focusing on future or past) is living true to my divine nature.
I think I need to read "The Bonds That Make Us Free" again. As I recall, that was its thesis: that the truer we are to ourselves, the better we are.
So, my new goal: not to be a better mom, not even to be better, but just to Be. Me Zen Mama.