This post may contain affiliate links, at not additional cost to you. Read more about affiliate links in my policies.The familiar Charlotte Mason principle, "Children are born persons" resonates so deeply with most of us homeschooling moms that we shape our curriculum choices, how we spend our time, and book selections around it. But how often does that principle shape OUR daily decisions for ourselves?
If children are born persons, then mothers are born persons, too. Yet it seems like most of our lives are built around our children's personhood, while trying to stuff ours down. What would it look like to honor our own personhood?
How We Deny That We Are Persons, Too
Acknowledging that our children are persons allows us to treat them as valuable human beings, not based on what they can do or what they will achieve in the future. Unfortunately, that is not how we treat ourselves. We tend to have a works-based acceptance of ourselves: did I finish the laundry? How many items did I check off of the to-do list? Am I qualified to homeschool, or even, in some cases, am I worthy of being this child's mother? It's possible that we're overvaluing our children while undervaluing ourselves. In my case, my personhood did not revolve around my ability to homeschool my son. It was so difficult, it was affecting my other children- I had to accept my limitations and make the choice that I thought was best for both of us.
Beyond achievement, this principle applies to physical needs, as well. We tend to take care of our children's physical needs while ignoring our own. I remember as a young mom with three kids under 5, I thought carefully about what my children would eat, cutting them little pieces of delicious fruit, but then failing to save any of it for myself. Fruit was expensive, but their growing bodies needed it more than I did, right?
But Self-Denial Is A Thing
Now this is the part where I start to feel a little uncomfortable and wonder if you think my view of motherhood involves little self-sacrifice, my small brood of children circling me, painting my nails, and bringing me drinks with little umbrellas in them. A funny thought, but that's a hard no.
In the age of the Internet, our opinions tend to swing from one extreme to another. In this case, a balanced view of our own personhood and our children's personhood is absolutely necessary.
What Would It Look Like To Recognize Moms Are Born Persons, Too?
The balance of this idea means that we don't cleave to one extreme or the other. We don't tend to our toddler's potty needs, but then deny ourselves a bathroom break until the very last minute (I can't be the only one who has done that, right?) If we choose to be concerned over our children's nutritional needs, then we should be concerned with our own.
I wonder if when we focus solely on our children's needs, going beyond meeting them to becoming extravagant about them, while simultaneously denying our own needs, we are teaching our children that they are the most important people on earth. Their needs are not just important, but MORE important than anyone else's in the family.
Of course, this balance doesn't just apply to basic needs, but to homeschooling as well. While we homeschool our children, we can think of what they need underneath the umbrella of what is practical and attainable for us. Pouring ourselves out to the point of exhaustion is not healthy for us, nor is it sustainable. Striking the balance of finding what works for our children AND what works for us is necessary.
The self-care trend has become a little "cringey" to many of us. Not that getting a pedicure is a bad thing, but putting it up there on the level of "basic need" is just not practical or logical. I don't NEED to get a pedicure, but I enjoy it. Make a list of the things that you NEED to do for yourself: feed yourself well, get outside, get four haircuts a year (or two, or however many fit into your basic needs) and then schedule those things for yourself. You don't have to get caught up in the salon and spa trips, solo vacations, and expensive clothes that are put in front of us constantly.
Recognizing you are inherently a person, too, means that you should always be challenged to find the balance between taking care of your children's needs, and yours.