Home School Mothers: the Beatrice Brigade
John Mark ReynoldsEducation, Politics03.29.2007
Hilary Clinton is running for President and using her gender to raise money at every turn.
Recently, Geraldine Ferraro was brought back from the Land of Misfit Political Candidates to raise money for Hilary (!) by reminding us all that she was the first woman to run on a major party slate . . . if the Mondale candidacy sweeping its way through D.C. and Minnesota counts as major.
Hilary (!) is earnest as a tooth ache and determined to show all those smug boys from the fifties that she can win. She probably cannot, but it is depressing to watch her try. You have to pity Hilary (!) married to Bill and trying to look like she doesn’t mind . . . any of it. She wants to be a feminist icon, but if she gets some power in exchange for standing by her man she will be a story as old as Cleopatra.
When the women in the news are Anna Nicole Smith and Hilary (!) a traditional Christian can feel glum about the state of our culture. Both women have been exploited and both have tried to turn that exploitation to their own advantage. Both were obviously unhappy and now one is gone too soon . . . and the other has lonely eyes in a face with a jaw that seems hinged to pour forth platitudes like some sad muppet forced to repeat lines written by a handler.
Whenever I feel very bad, I make sure to speak to home school mothers. These women represent something new. They are not feminists, a phrase they most often reject with scorn. Most live in very traditional households where the husband is the head of the family. However, they are certainly not Donna Reed door mats waiting at home in pearls and high heels for their lord and master to arrive home. They are very strong and fiercely opinionated. They are incredibly well read, devouring more books a year, than most U.C. students read in four years. Book a talk with Plato scholar to hear about big ideas and they show up.
So what are they? They remind me most of the strong women of my great-grandmother’s generation in West Virginia, who could run a farm, fix the roof, write hymns for the church, and who had never heard of bulimia. They did not worry about their body image, because they were secure in the love of their strong men, none of whom would have been allowed a metrosexual makeover if they had wanted it. Those strong women could never have burned a bra, because they never bothered trying to wear pin up girl underwear. Ask those women what they thought and you heard more than you wanted to hear. I knew a few of these women, the last of the old pioneer stock, but only when they were old and tired.
The home school mothers of California are not old. Sometimes their brutal schedules may make them tired, but they are up for more in the morning. When I talk to them I quickly realize, they care more about idea than rhetoric. These women solve problems every day. They educated their children in highly creative ways, inventing curriculum, programs, and social events out of nothing but their talent. They are neither dowdy nor fashion conscience. Their dress is most often sensible, but feminine. They innovate, but within the bounds of tradition. What are they? God bless us, they are ladies, a group many thought had gone extinct around the time of the sinking of Titanic.
In one sense, their lives are a bloodless martyrdom. The media mostly forgets them except for the occasional condescending piece in the Times. They fit no stereotypes, being too numerous and too interesting, so they are ignored. They sacrifice for the well fare of their children.
Talents that could vitalize a corporate board room are turned to teaching children to read. Their children, of course, take such sacrifice for granted. Their mothers make it safe for them to be blissfully unaware of their blessings. So these strong women sacrifice everything our culture deems important. They have no resume inflating career. Yet they give new life and meaning to all the Victorian platitudes lodged, because they are true, in the back of all our minds. “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”
These are kitchen table Socrates. They don’t trust the government schools that spend billions to produce cookie cutter children. These women use cookie cutters on cookies not children. Like Socrates, they despise uniformity in education and people who teach for money and not love of students . There children are producing reems of stories, hours of music, original plays, and a whole new civilization. If our boys are overseas defending the West, these women are home renewing it.
Home school mothers are the heart of a traditionalist revolution that is driving life back into the homes. To these women, and the men blessed to be married to them, homes are no longer assets or places to share a microwave dinner at the end of an exhausting day of separation. Spreading like some beneficial virus, men and women are returning basic educational, economic, and social functions to home where they have always belonged.
A great poet was brought to see God through the example of one godly woman. Dante had his Beatrice and it was enough. It is harder for men in our materialistic age, so God has raised up thousands of such women. It is time to take a good hard look at what these heroes without epic poets are doing in quiet. I put very little trust in princes, whether elected or not. Rather, if the oldest stories are true the fate of the Republic rests more with these home school mothers.
There are now millions of these strong, independent, God fearing women in the United States. They ask nothing of government, but to be left alone.
These women are not impressed with stardom and glamor, many do not even own televisions. Their men work long hours in their own, often not very glamorous, businesses so that their wives can save the West. The men they admire get things done with decency and honor. They are often quiet men, but as sound as the state credit used to be. Their wives chose them for their virtues, not their muscles. Home school mothers are fiercely liberated and proudly traditional.
Seeing God in Beatrice allowed Dante to find his way back from darkness. Seeing God in these home school mothers could show any man the way back to decency and honor. I know, because I am married to a home school mother and she fires my imagination, gives me hope, and is educating the future of our line.
Mayhaps the West is in for difficult days . . . I could be wrong and Hilary (!) might win, but I would still bet the children of the Beatrice Brigade will prevail in the end. The sacrifice of such matrons cannot be for nothing . . . and there is more real life in one of their questions than I have ever heard in a Hilary (!) listening tour.
Take heart gentleman. They are out there, our Beatrice Brigade, doing the work of civilizing the next generation of culture warriors. My wife, I realized one day, was to me the Fairest Flower in all of Christendom . . . and so she is and so every Beatrice is to the one who sees her well. The land, every corner of it, are filled with such gentle souls . . fair flowers of Christ’s kingdom doing God’s work for God’s pay.
(Modified from an earlier piece.)