Thursday, May 11, 2006

Christianity and Capitalism...

There's a homeschool book fair coming up this summer in Des Moines, the Three Sisters Curriculum Fair. I'm planning on going, and this will be the first curriculum fair I've ever attended. I'm not sure what to expect, but I'm hoping it will be an opportunity to examine some books and learning materials closely. The problem I have with buying curriculum is I can't afford to buy it without knowing if it's something I want. I've already bought several books only to be disappointed with their content, and if I'm going to skip paying the water bill for my kids' education, I'd rather know it was worth it.

So I was thinking about the kinds of curriculum out there, wondering what books would be available at this curriculum fair, and Christian curriculum crossed my mind. Of course they'll have Son Light. Of course they'll have A Beka. These names are so prominent among homeschoolers that I've heard them frequently and have never actually laid eyes on a single book from either group. As clear as I've attempted to be with my portfolio evaluator about my secular preferences, she's even suggested a few, saying, "I know you don't prefer Christian curriculum, but.."

I don't understand the need to implement God into Every. Single. Activity of your kids' day. I have an aunt and uncle who are very religious Lutherans and managed to raise three children to be the same, and their kids were public schooled. They're the type to walk outside on a sunny morning and announce, "What a beautiful day that God has made." Isn't that kind of thing enough? Can't you expose your kids to your beliefs and give them glimpses into your mind and heart through regular converstation? My mother never once lectured me on anything, yet I'm fully aware of her viewpoint on most subjects and have carried most of that into my own adulthood. The idea of following math, science, language, spelling, and history lessons with a bible verse is just silly to me. Creepy even. And if regular (every half hour regular enough?) mention of God and the bible are what you're going for, can't you express that on your own? i.e. "We use math to make huge skyscrapers, build bridges, maintain all forms of electronic communication, and visit the moon. What a wonderful brain God has given us to manipulate some numbers and accomplish so much!"

So why the need for texts with bible verses? The answer is capitalism. Someone noticed they were using bible verses with their homeschool lessons, and their friends were too. They had a market, and making those textbooks was a way to make a lot of money. Whether it was for themselves or for a church organization, it was about money. It's funny to me how many people think they are doing something to strengthen or display their beliefs, when they're really throwing those beliefs to the wind. Living simply? Money is evil? Support small, God-fearing companies? I don't think capitalism supports any of those things.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

What a Mom is worth...

There's been a lot of talk about what this article addresses: the value of the average mother. The idea is, if you add up the average yearly salary of every worker you would have to hire to fill Mom's shoes, it turns out Mom is worth a lot of dough. The average stay at home mom is a cook, laundry service, maid, counselor, nutritionist, nurse, daycare provider, accountant, and whatever you call somebody you hire to buy all the food, clothing, and toiletries for your home. Some moms are also a baker, seamstress, teacher, or coach. You can either look at these numbers as the lowly little housewife's value, or as how much money she's saving your "hardworking" butt by doing all that she does. I'm sure moms all over the country are relieved to finally be recognized as worth something. I'll admit the idea of being seen as something other than "just a mom" is very nice. It's also nice ammunition in arguments about money, or how little got done today. I just think the assessment is a little unfair and misleading.

I'm not a daycare provider, I'm a mother. I gave birth to children, so I care for them. I didn't go through hell to bring them into the world, permanently changing my body in the process, just to hand them over for someone else to raise. If they were just for showing off, I'd rather have a Mercedes. Buying things to fill the needs my children have (shampoo, clothing, healthy foods) is part of that. I counsel them on their fears and heal their hurts because I care about them and their emotional stability. I'm my kids' teacher, but this is also just part of being a mother, since I chose to homeschool based on what I thought was best for my children. What good parent doesn't make sacrifices to do what's best for their kids? It's not a job. It's a responsibility, an honorable duty. For some, it's even a joy.

Some of the "jobs" on the list are done because the mom enjoys them. Nobody spends all day baking cookies when they don't like baking. If you don't like to sew, not only are you not going to try to fix a rip in your son's shirt, you probably don't even own a sewing machine. Moms are softball coaches and Girl Scout leaders because they think it's fun. None of those "jobs" are obligatory. If you stop enjoying them, you stop doing them. And nobody suffers from it, financially or otherwise.

The only real "jobs" as far as I'm concerned are cooking, cleaning, and laundry, and anyone who can afford to pay someone to do those jobs, does. Since I can't afford a maid, I vacuum. Since I can't hire out the laundry, I wash it. Hard work? Absolutely. Mom-specific? Not at all. I happen to do all the yucky jobs around here, but I know many families where Dad is at least partly involved, if not equally so. If I were to get hit by a Mack truck tomorrow, my husband would do them. Maybe not as well at first, but I'm sure he'd get the hang of it after a while. And while we're on the subject of Dad, I wonder what his little individual jobs are worth. He's a mechanic, lawn-care specialist, plumber, electrician, carpenter, and all-around fix-it guy (at least in my house). Sometimes he's also a coach or scout leader. In this male-dominated world where men make more money than women, I'm betting his "jobs" would probably add up to more money than Mom's.

This kind of assessment isn't thought up by some man who appreciates what his wife does. It isn't thought up by the rest of the world because they're tired of housewives being overlooked. This kind of thing is thought up by the housewives, who feel burnt out and underapreciated, in order to feel better about the role they've chosen. Personally, I don't need $134k a year to prove I'm worth something to this family. My kids are healthy, my house is clean (well, sort of), and my family is happy. Sure it would be nice if they told me once in a while how much they appreciate me, but when you do something out of love, you can't expect anything but love in return. And I get lots of that.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Obsession Train: Gardening...

Yep, it's that time of year again. I just put in my order to High Mowing Seeds (a bit late, but we'll manage). This year I'm not planning on planting squash of any kind. Last year, the pumpkins took over the whole garden and the zucchini produced so much I couldn't give it away, much less eat it. This year, I'm planting tomatoes, corn, and a salad lettuce mix. I've also ordered some holy basil for the front of my house since last years small medicinal plants smelled soooo nice! I ordered some jalapeno and cherry tomatoes for my son to grow this year. I'm hoping he takes an interest in gardening, mostly so I don't have to do all the weeding myself.

Now, if I can just figure out a good place to put my garden and motivate myself to till...