The Maintenance Mom

Since becoming a mother, almost eighteen years ago, I’ve often thought about how to describe what I do all day. Lots of words come up, but the word I always come back to is maintenance.

The apartment  building I grew up in had a maintenance man; I’m a maintenance mom. Around the house, I take responsibility for the care and upkeep of clothes, carpets, cupboards, cleaning supplies, and an ever-changing variety of household accessories.

Around the heart, I care for sensitive tummies and bad moods,  infected sinuses and anxious minds.

I never wanted to send my child to school. Was it because I found school restrictive and boring and much less interesting than what was happening inside my head? I think so. Was it because I didn’t like what I saw as school’s not-so-hidden agenda to turn my child into the kind of citizen society thought she should be? I think so again. A recent quotation printed in The New York Times  says it for me:

I remember quite clearly one of my middle-school teachers telling me that I was a stone with sharp, jagged edges, but that I would turn into a smooth river stone as I grew older. During the years while I was making this film, I felt like I was getting sharper and sharper instead.        —Zhao Liang, a filmmaker, on “Petition,” a documentary that angered the Chinese government.

I always wanted to raise a sharp stone.

So, with regard to education, I became a maintenance mom, too. For, as Sandra Dodd states,

Unschooling is a form of homeschooling; it’s a way to homeschool. The method is to create and maintain a full-time learning environment in which learning happens at home and away, from as many sources as the family comes across.

I maintain that learning environment. Over the past eighteen years, when people ask me what I “do” (which really means, “What do you do for money?”) my answer has been “I homeschool my daughter.” (The paycheck comes in a different currency.)

I maintain a physical space that is full of books and posters and charts and magazines and pictures and DVDs and CDs and catalogs and games and art supplies. And I maintain a mental space that is full of questions and facts and observations and jokes and opinions. Answers are welcome, but they aren’t required.

The maintenance man at my old apartment building was a respected and beloved figure. He ensured that we had heat and hot water and freshly painted walls. I seek to ensure that we (our family and our country) have  a clear-minded member who exhibits good sense and honorable values.  I feel respected and beloved, too.  Gosh, I really have it all.

About these ads

5 Responses so far »

  1. 2

    Cristina said,

    I really love this, and I’m glad I waited to read it when I could really concentrate on it. The image of raising a sharp stone…fantastic. I hope I’m helping my kids to keep their sharp edges too. :-)

    Peace and Laughter!

  2. 3

    Thank you so much, Cristina. You’ve got me thinking about a bunch of pointy-headed kids, saving the world . . . here’s to the sharp stones among us. : )

  3. 4

    This IS just what mothering and teaching children is—maintenance of the most loving, willing, and eager kind. You have described this choice, this job, so beautifully here. ~heather

  4. 5

    sgaissert said,

    Thank you so much, Heather. I’m glad you found the post. Best wishes.


Comment RSS · TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  • Follow

    Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

    %d bloggers like this: