Invite Yourself to the Table

“We spread an abundant and delicate feast in the programs and each small guest assimilates what he can.”

Charlotte Mason

Glancing back a bit at this term, my heart swells at the baby rhythms that have transitioned to well worn tracks of mental habits. We have 1 Corinthians stored in our head and hearts, genuinely enjoy reciting poetry for each other at breakfast and have grown an appetite for more of Longfellow’s works. Role play (unbeknownst to them) is subconsciously infused with tall tale exaggerations and historical elements. Our eyes are being trained to notice the landscape/portraits of Thomas Gainsborough and the virtue in our read aloud characters have lifted their eyes to higher attitudes and behaviors. I have watched their eyes light up as they spin the globe talking about day turning to night, the poles and axis, and how the tilt causes the seasons. And I have even had completely unexpected moments like hearing “I just love Proverbs” after reading through a chapter that I assumed they wouldn’t understand. To which she followed up with “I don’t understand most of it now, but I will.” They may not remember every detail of information in this term, but a reverence for knowledge and a storehouse of beautiful words is assuredly laying a foundation.

One tradition we just started this year was welcoming family into that space with us as a celebration to close out our first 12 weeks. All gathered around the table, throughout the course of dinner we passed around a bowl with child-scribed prompts to keep the flow of the night. Sometimes it was a collective hymn sung. Or a poem that we would take turns passing around to recite, a historical or nature study fact of information shared, or an opinion on the artist hanging on the wall. It was a joy in the sense of watching their beaming pride before their “audience”, but also in my delight in seeing my entire family singing together or my brother and Dad reading bits of Longfellow and Stevenson. Oftentimes participating alongside a child in any good work nudges adults to move beyond themselves and into new places, yes?

There has been a quiet strengthening going on in my heart these last 12 weeks. It is the silent assurance that in my efforts of forming their characters, mine is being formed too. As I lay a mental feast for them, I am equally at the table learning and growing with them. As we all dash outside to flee the stale air of our home and sour attitudes, I too am filling my lungs with air and feeling the sun on my face.

Yes, motherhood can be characterized as being absolutely suffocating.

But it can also be an awakening of all the stale and sleeping places of our hearts. In our leading them to the beautiful things, the warm rays of those beautiful things touch us. Whether or not we want to acknowledge it. Whether or not we fight daily to cease thinking of all the things we must tend to so we can be in the present. With children, you have a chance at a rebirth to all the wonder in this world and the things you never once cared to know.

So read the poem, sing the song, sketch the flower. If you want your little ones to taste these things, invite yourself to the table too. You might as well for their sake and yours. In doing so, a flourishing domino chain will likely begin to fall. The eyes will see again, the breathing will deepen, the smile will come back, the laugh will burst out, the mind will awaken, and the joy will be felt.

“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 favorite 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. The mother would be able to hold herself in ‘wise passiveness,’ and would not fret her children by continual interference, even of hand or eye — she would let them be.”

Charlotte Mason – Vol, 3, pg. 33

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