Saturday, February 7, 2015

Back to Basics--Revisiting the Concept of Organic Mothering

Organic Mothering is both a parenting style and a philosophy of natural family living. It encompasses the tenets of attachment parenting, eating organic and locally grown food and other practices of sustainability, and homeschooling or other, alternative education choices that offer trust and freedom for children.

OM is a spiritual practice focusing on mindfulness and awakening to the authentic self. It honors nature and flows with the rhythm of the seasons. It embraces the wabi sabi elements of simplicity, imperfect beauty, and paring down life to what is essential.

OM creates space for a woman--and her husband and children--to breathe, to be present in the moment. It brings a sense of purpose and meaning to the activities of each day, facilitating in the creation and appreciation of Beauty and the fulfillment of the poetry that is Life. 

If you go back to the very first post on this blog, these are the words you will find. I had a vision for Organic Mothering, and as far as I am aware, I coined the term. It is used by others now, but when I initially searched to make sure I wasn't stealing anyone else's blog title or idea, I didn't find it anywhere. I'm pleased that it's a concept that has caught on and inspired many.

It's hard to believe that this blog has been going since 2011! Much has changed in my life since then, most notably that I am now Catholic. The sentence, OM is a spiritual practice focusing on mindfulness and awakening to the authentic self, strikes me as a bit New Age today. That isn't surprising, though. It reflects all of the self help study I did in my 20s, and that's okay. I still need to grow in the area of mindfulness, of being keenly aware of my words and actions. But increasingly that awareness is centered on the tenets of the Catholic Faith and the Church that Jesus founded. How well, or how poorly, I see Christ in each person is the ultimate litmus test of mindfulness.

What about the "authentic self"? In Simple Abundance, Sarah Ban Breathnach wrote that the authentic Self is "the soul made visible". The question currently is, is it well with my soul? Is the Holy Spirit living visibly in the depths of my heart? I read once in Carol Houselander's The Reed of God that as we grow in becoming more like Christ, our rough spots may actually appear worse, as they are juxtaposed against the blinding light of the life of God within us.  That's my paraphrase of what she wrote.

Since I joined the Catholic Church, my "cradle Catholic" husband has reverted to the Faith, a great miracle if ever there was one. Now we are a Catholic household, each of us working out our salvation, individually and together. My vocation as a wife is to get my husband to heaven; his is to get me to heaven; and ours is to get our child to heaven. Any notion of "organic mothering" now pivots around being Catholic.

Home-centered learning is about being Catholic. When my home education efforts revolve around teaching and experiencing the Faith, all goes well. When they don't, it doesn't. I am currently reading The Joyful Home Schooler by Mary Hood, Ph.D.  She points out that in the Bible, God admonishes parents to teach their children in the ways of the Lord and his Word. Nothing else. Hood is Christian but not Catholic, so of course she doesn't talk about the Magisterium of the Church. Religious differences aside, I love what she wrote. God has not directed us to focus on lesson plans or grade levels or to create a mini educational institution that mirrors the public schools. Though she doesn't use the term, what she is talking about is establishing in one's home a domestic church.

We do have a responsibility to equip our children with the knowledge and skills that they will need to make their own way in this world. However, academics must always be secondary. As we read stories from the Bible, study the Catechism, and learn about the saints; as we pray together and talk about our Faith; as my child is mindfully lead to become the person that God has created her to be; the reading, the math, and the writing will follow. Trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit is paramount to anything that can rightly be called an education. There is no education without Jesus and his Church. It follows, then, that there is no real education in the public schools. Even if there is no choice but to send one's children to a public school, parents are still required to be their primary educators.

Getting back to the basics of organic mothering means going higher up and further into the Catholic Faith. It means that there is no separation between life, learning, and religion. As Charlotte Mason said, education is the handmaid of Religion. Along with flowing with the rhythm of the seasons, we follow the liturgical year. We gratefully care for all we have in stewardship to God. We behold the Incarnation and the image of Madonna and Child, of God become man, nurtured at the breast of Mary. What greater symbol of organic mothering could there be? What greater Beauty?

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