" '...I daresay she is too ill to move or speak, and to-morrow, perhaps, she'll be our jolly mother again...'
'That's because your dear mother has no self, Charlie, boy; no sooner does she feel a bit better than she does more than she can for us all,' " (Charlotte Mason, Formation of Character, p. 98).
Such were the whisperings in the home of Poor Mrs. Jumeau, the woman in CM's The Formation of Character, who constantly does herself in by doing too much. Mrs. Jumeau loved her family, she was smart and well organized but her strengths became her weakness. She failed to take for herself that necessary time of refreshing and revitalization often overlooked by mothers.
Having the privilege of sharing space at Educating Mother you would think I would know better than to become overdone as Mrs. Jumeau. Yet, with end-of-term exams, portfolios, chicken coop construction, spring cleaning, laundry and sundry that is right where I found myself or, to put it more aptly, lost myself.
The mudroom before. This is where I found my self. Amongst shoes, bb guns, recycle bins and all the mayhem of a family running in and out...and in and out...I heard the echo of a hope voiced three years ago when the realtor first showed us this house not yet our home. This could be my space to read, write and meditate.
I cleared an afternoon and cleared everything out, even washing the walls and ceiling in order to start my project with an entirely blank canvas to fill.
Mudroom after. An antique vanity functions as a desk, Hiroshige prints are from our Term 1 Picture Study and a slipper chair adds an additional touch of femininity. The room still welcomes everyone into the house so an indoor/outdoor rug was also added. Beginning each day here with cafe' au lait and a time of morning revival equips me to better attend to that which has been entrusted to my care.
Mudroom before - south view. Visible in the background is the first birdhouse our boys built.
After. A large drawer-style trunk which began life housing a wooden train set and most recently held blankets was repurposed for shoe storage. The bushel basket keeps work gloves and hats handy, while our nature journals and watercolors are stored in the hanging wire basket for easy access.
Outdoor treasures are on display, while insect repellant and sunscreens are tucked away in a tin.
And what of Poor Mrs. Jumeau whose illness gained her the attention she had hoped her self-sacrifice would? A wise doctor was summoned who revealed to her husband,
"She must, even the cherished wife and mother of a family, be in touch with the world's needs, and must minister of the gifts she has; and that, because it is no dream that we are all brethren, and must therefore suffer from any seclusion from the common life" (Charlotte Mason, Formation of Character, pp. 106-107).
Happily, Mrs. Jumeau, upon having the above words relayed to her, took measures for self-preservation and came away victorious.
p.s. In case any of my friends have missed it, Karen Andreola's Mother Culture talk is now available on CD through her blog.