24 Jan 2014

A long way to fall

One of my friends has put Jemimah and me on a pedestal, and it is not a very comfortable place to be, since, as the saying goes, it is a long, long way to fall from that iddy biddy perch.  I'm suspecting that a lot of the reason that my friend has put me there - and she may well be you - I don't know - is because of this blog.

Take a look at the pictures above.  They're pictures - not very good ones, but pictures all the same, of our Melbourne home, taken in the last couple of days.  In them you'll find books, lots of books; nice scented candles and perfumes; Jemimah's baking; botanical drawings and even a bottle of The Green Fairy and its accompanying accoutrements - glasses and an absinthe spoon -  if you look hard enough.

My life looks pretty good in these photos, doesn't it?  It probably even looks fairly familiar, since these are the sorts of photos of our days that I post on A Peaceful Day all the time.  You may even have seen some of the very same photos on FB if you follow us there.

But now take a look at the following photos.

These are photos of our Melbourne home too, taken this afternoon.  Top to bottom - dining room, hall, playroom.  My home doesn't look nearly good in these photographs, does it?

I started writing A Peaceful Day to encourage Australian mums to use Ambleside Online in their homeschools, and to show them what a Charlotte Mason lifestyle looks like. My blog is supposed to encourage and help and explain.  I don't know how well I've done in my endeavours.  There are some Aussie mums still reading along and still using AO, but there are an awful lot who have fallen by the wayside, as well.  Still the purpose of my writing remains the same, even if nowadays I write for a more international audience.  I still love you Aussies the bestest, though.

Anyway, I digress.  As usual.

Because I set out to encourage and build up and to promote CM as an educational philosophy and as a liberal lifestyle, the vast majority of my posts are going to tell you about the good parts of Jemimah's and my educational journey and life.  She's a really bright kid, so that hasn't been hard.  I can tell you all about the erudite books she's read, and the deep philosophical concepts she has grasped.  I can explain how far ahead of grade level she is in maths.  I can boast that we're just starting our third language.  I can tell you about the romantic trips we've been on and the countries we've visited and the things that Jemimah has seen at 11 that many of you haven't seen at 40 and possibly may never see.  I can encourage you to see Shakespeare performed and to give Plutarch a go and to attempt all the difficult books in the AO line-up because we can do them and so you can too.

I can write about all of these things, and I do.  And now I've ended up on that pedestal.  I don't deserve to be in that very high place.  My life is like our Melbourne home.  I love it. It is incredibly comfortable, and I wouldn't change it.  I love my life.  But it is flawed, and it has its rough patches.  And it does have areas that we need to work on.  Just in the same way as we need to do something about the playroom ceiling before it all collapses down on somebody's head.  Maybe even mine.

Moaning to you about Jemimah's struggles would not be respectful to my daughter.  It would be an extreme breach of her privacy, and I suspect that she would not be willing to have me talk to you about her ever again if I were to do so.  I do not tell you about the days that I threaten to send her to school, and there may or may not have been one of those last week.  I don't talk much about her struggle with spelling.  I don't tell you all of her bad habits, nor about what character issues we are working on.  I don't tell you when she's sad.  I don't tell you when I'm sad either.  I don't tell you when I've had an disagreement with my best friend, or a bad day at work, and I certainly do not tell you when I've had an argument with my husband.  I don't tell you this stuff because it is personal and private and it is not what A Peaceful Day is about.  I can assure you right now, though, that like the photos I've shown you above, they do happen.  There are days that go badly for all of us.

Sometimes I read articles warning against whitewashing your life online.  I hope you don't think I do that.  No matter what method you choose to educate your children, even if that's the local State school, there are sure to be days when you wonder whether you've done the right thing.  There are days when little Arthur answers you in a most disrespectful way; when Flora kicks the little girl next door and when George can't do a single problem on his maths sheet.  There will be the day that you realise that you've studied German or French of Spanish for four years and that little Samuel still can't say hello.  Things like this, only not exactly the same, happen to me all the time.  I hope you know that, even if I don't tell you so.

Most days, I love the AO/CM path that I have chosen for Jemimah.  I love the way she is growing and developing.  I love seeing the connections she is making in her brain.  I love the delightful young lady she is becoming.  Most days are full of Kodak moments - the nature ramble, the pile of delicious books, the chockie chip bikkies she is baking right now.  Those moments are the ones that I am going to post on this blog.  They're the things that I hope will encourage you to try this gentle, rigorous, crazy method of teaching with your sons and daughters.

When you read about our days, though, please do not be tempted to place us high on a pedestal above you.  When you are tempted, just remember that just outside of the camera shots are cracks, and flaking wallpaper and crumbling walls.  We belong right down there on solid ground with you, and we would love to be walking the path right by your side.


  1. Now of course, we are all wondering if we are that friend! LOL! It's Ok not to be perfect - and I suspected those cracks behind all those cookies! And you know, even though I'm not a Charlotte Mason-er, I still love your blog and your Facebook Page, because there are enough similarities between us that I get value from what you do post :-)

  2. Well I entered a long comment just to have it disappear from the www. I hink we all can suffer from this in both ways. As a reader, I can look at your small snippet and feel like a total failure because she and Jemimah have such a perfect house and life, they never fight or scream at each other, or I can say, this is a small snippet and doesn't really give me a full picture of what is happening in their lives.

  3. What you've highlighted is very common in the blogosphere. Most bloggers set out to encourage others and share good ideas, but after a while readers might forget that there is a big part of the blogger's private life offline that is meant to be kept private. Thank you for your honesty. I enjoy reading your blog very much, even though I'm not a CMer. Good, encouraging homeschoolers are always a source of inspiration to others. Keep up the good work! :-)

  4. I have read blogs and wondered how perfect their lives must be, perfect marriage, perfect children, perfect home. You are so right and very honest, people don't always tell the entire story for a variety of reasons. We shouldn't look at what we see and think our own lives are less than others.

    Have a lovely weekend

  5. Good honest post. I love reading your blog.

  6. Well I just assumed your cracks were there as I do with all bloggers lives. Really maturity teaches us this, that everybody has their ups and downs. Online is not the place to focus on our cracks anyhow, we can only do so ambiguously and we must respect our children/spouses/friends privacy. Some things are not our story to share, at least not all of ours. So my dear you're down on the ground with the rest of us plebs{{}} we're great company;) {{{}}

  7. lol I am lucky my daughter shares my warped sense of humour! ☺ No~one gets to only have the peaches & cream but it's good to be reminded of that now & again. And I'm pretty sure I'm not the relevant friend. I have this thing for tweaking pedestals......bwhahaha

  8. I so agree, Jeanne. I too choose to focus my blog mostly on the loveliness of our days and the joys of homeschooling--partly for the sake of my children's privacy and partly because that's just my personality. I find it helpful to see my own days in a positive light, and that's the type of blogs I usually enjoy reading too. I always assume that, like in my own home, there are plenty of less-wonderful moments that those blog authors don't share. (Luckily, my blog is so little that I don't think I run the risk of anyone putting *me* on a pedastal! LOL) I love seeing the peeks into your homeschooling days. Thank you for sharing them!

  9. I've never felt anything but tremendously encouraged by your blog to pursue this CM lifestyle of learning... I think it depends on the person, how THEY perceive another's life or blog, really. I do understand. People are inclined to think I am either Superwoman or NUTS to have 10 children...but I got too busy to worry about that 5 or 6 kids ago. Anyway, please keep on, keeping on! I love visiting here... I always delight when you put up a new post & come back to read with my coffee in the afternoon. :)

  10. Absolutely brilliant, Jeanne. While I have not yet fallen into the trap of believing that someone's life is what they post on a blog I can understand when that might become a temptation - and then a reality - and then I would be knee deep in despair. Thank you for this honest appraisal. It is refreshing.

  11. Jeanne, you are just lovely, and not in a pedestal-y kind of way. I have a blog, too, and I find it hard to write things sometimes, because I do not have a shiny happy homeschool, and I don't want to give people the wrong impression. :-) I appreciate your honesty, and love reading your blog every time.

  12. You know what's awesome about you Jeanne...You are real, transparent, and genuine! I have been reading your blog for years, and I have reached out for help from you and you warmly give it. Each time. You do it to others as well. I love your home, cracks, crevices, and all. Our hearts have those deep cracks, and God makes His way into all of them! You seem to do that via helping others, and blessing them with your friendship!
    Thanks, as always, for sharing.

  13. Perfectly imperfect. How fitting that it was you that introduced me to Wabi Sabi.

  14. If I had even one corner of my home that looked as inviting as those earlier pics, I'd feel that I deserve a pedestal... I really appreciate nice looking spaces but I don't seem to have a knack for anything more than functional (and that only on occasion)... maybe when my youngest is 9 or so... Meanwhile, thank you for reminding us that your life is not perfect, either... <3

  15. Great post...I totally understand what you are saying...just so you know, even though I'm more of a lurker at your blog ;), I've never felt that you've made yourself out to be something your not. Thanks for continuing to share your journey and wisdom with us! :)

  16. I think you share what needs to be shared. It is a blog--not a reality show. You ARE an encouragement! And, I don't even homeschool any more (for radically different reason). I love reading about what you and Jemimah are doing. Having mothered a daughter thru that age and your just-past year of AO I know that every day brings challenges. You've had some rocking big things happen and yet you've kept at it. That's what makes you inspirational. Not on a pedestal, just that Mom who keeps at it!


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