Saturday, March 9, 2019

A Walk Down "Mother Culture" Lane by Karen Andreola

A Walk Down Mother Culture® Lane

Early Days of Speaking
Whenever I come across a mom who is ministering the ideas of Mother Culture online, my heart is warmed. I’m happy to see the ideas welcomed.

We home teachers have weighty cares. Endurance is needed for our long hours of service. But moments of Mother Culture are refreshment along the way. A glass of ice tea, ten minutes with an embroidery needle or paint brush, a few lines written in a journal, a stroll in the garden, a prayer while folding the towels or making a bed, are calming interludes.

Every once in a while, I’m sent a link to the rumor: “Mother Culture" was a term coined and popularized by Charlotte Mason . . . ” I say “rumor” because the term Mother Culture hasn’t been spotted in any of Miss Mason’s writings, to date. Yet, this misunderstanding has been circulating for years. Therefore, the Man-of-the-House said, “You should tell your origin-story.”

Early Days of Writing

The Mother Culture Origin-Story   
Mother Culture bubbled over in my magazine 1993.
An obscure article lay dormant in a hardbound Parents’ Review. One day, while my children were having a quiet time, I was slowly turning the pages of this hardbound volume (one of 77 on special loan from England.)

“Hmmm, this looks interesting,” I thought. It was the article “Mother Culture,” an article that had been buried in the archives for a century, used for the first and last time in 1892 in reference to parenting . . . until the day it caught my eye. It gives me goosebumps to think of it.

I remember how little my children were.

I remember which house we were renting.

I remember how impressed I was by this anonymously written article. Even the title struck a chord in my heart.

While standing at the sink washing dishes, I began considering how its message might be relevant to my own life and to my fellow home teachers. Consequently, my thoughts on Mother Culture bubbled-over onto the back cover of my homespun magazine in 1993 (pictured in purple, above.)
Nigel, the baby of the family, turns age 30 this April. Oh, my.
Over the next 26 years I would continue to revive, expand, and introduce Mother Culture to a new generation.
Dean spoke on Charlotte Mason as early as 1993,.

Greatly sympathizing with my fellow home teachers, I put effort into promoting Mother Culture wherever I was asked to speak. I was a nervous and shy speaker. (I still am.) My soft voice doesn’t project well or record well. But because I sensed Providence had given me something important to say, I rose to the challenge.
I spoke at retreats, to small groups at public libraries, in churches, private homes, my own living room, even on the radio, gladly, without honorarium.

Eventually, Dean and I were invited to introduce the ideas of Charlotte Mason across America as professional keynote speakers.
We have fond memories of sharing supper with Chris Klicka several times.
When we did, I also gave a talk on Mother Culture. Audiences at these state conferences grew bigger and bigger.

Really a homebody, I remember telling Dean, in Florida, when I peeked into an auditorium filled with thousands of people, “Where am I? What am I doing here?” With trembling fingers, I held tightly onto my notes.

1998 was a busy year. Our children enjoyed the Sandy Cove family conference at they did other family HS retreats.
Mary Pride, editor of Practical Homeschooling Magazine, invited me to be a columnist. My column was dedicated to the Charlotte Mason Method. (We advertised and sold Miss Mason’s “pink” books through the magazine). Here you see the first page of one of two articles I wrote on the advantages of Mother Culture.

The time was ripe for a book. Endeavoring to paint a picture of what home education can look like, A Charlotte Mason Companion was born (1998). I found Mother Culture a good remedy for preventing burn-out so I decided to turn it into a chapter, too. Blogs, websites, podcasts and tutorials were not widely in use, so a book was still the best way to share a collection of ideas.

Chapter 46 of A Charlotte Mason Companion, 1998.
In 1999 Dean and I were contacted by CBD to write freelance reviews for their printed catalog.

That year I suggested a special feature devoted to Mother Culture. CBD liked the idea. I set to work arranging it, picking out books and writing up the reviews for what I had found helpful in keeping up my own Mother Culture. The catalog was read far and wide. It would reach more readers than A Charlotte Mason Companion.

Years later, my son would do the graphics for my CD. This live conference talk on Mother Culture® (2004) is now accessible FREE on YouTube.

So you can see, for quite some time, I’ve been busy popularizing Mother Culture publicly through: articles, books, speaking engagements, catalog product reviews, 10 years of blogging - and lately - mini-articles on Facebook. Phew.

Privately, I’ve answered hundreds of letters over the years from moms who have questions or wish to connect with a kindred spirit.

Here’s a flash back. I remember sitting in a lounge chair, on green grass, under a shade tree, while my little ones were splashing in the puddle pool and digging in the sandbox. On such a summer afternoon, I might have a large plastic zip-lock bag of letters to answer. (I had learned from experience the necessity of a zip-lock bag during outdoor playtime, he, he.) With pen in my hand, a prayer on my heart, I attempted to confide and encourage.

In time, paper letters dwindled. Emails took their place. Today questions mostly come through Facebook messenger. I wish I could have a chat in person with these conscientious mothers.  Understanding their apprehension and stress, I pray the Lord uses what little I am able to convey by FB messenger. It can only be a small help in light of the weighty cares that are carried on feminine shoulders. If I link to an applicable article, I make sure to link just one. I discern internet-information-overload and the “not-enough syndrome.” These steal away peace. With carefully chosen words, I address apprehensions in my new book, Mother Culture. 

At Dean's suggestion to write, “A Walk Down Mother Culture® Lane,” he rummaged through his big metal filing cabinet in the office. Then, he brought up a dusty box from the basement. (The office is across the hall from the sunny parlor where I receive guests, photograph books, and do my needlework.)

Stuff was piled on the parlor sofa, floor, and chairs. To my chagrin the little room took on the clutter of catalogs (Dean saved at least one of each issue that featured our reviews), old brochures, and paper correspondence.

He has kept all this paper not because he is a pack-rat (although he does tend to collect) but moreover because in business you are required to show evidence of your brand.

Mother Culture® became so entwined with my work and ministry that I filed for the trademark in the year 2000. That’s why you see the “R” next to it – like so many items at the grocery store. This does not prohibit people from using the term Mother Culture in conversation. We hope it sparks enthusiastic discussion within lively forums, study groups, and blogs. The business trademark simply reserves Mother Culture® as a title and exclusive brand-name for goods, books, services, websites, ebooks, lectures, etc.

My writing represents my life. It is part of our livelihood and pays my high medical insurance/expenses, tax, food, etc. Thank you for your patronage. It’s been an honor to serve you.

Dean says:

The original Mother Culture article (1892 Parents’ Review) is commonly linked by bloggers as an online reference without mention or knowledge of Karen’s origin-story. Yet, had it not been for Karen Andreola - Mother Culture as we know it today - might have gone undiscovered for perhaps another 100 years.

Thank you, Dean.

Pears ripening in the sun. Getting the parlor tidy again.
Amazon placed an order for Mother Culture.® Therefore, it is in stock. It is also sold at ChristianBook (CBD), Simply Charlotte Mason, Grace & Truth Books. In Canada: Maple Tree Publications, The Learning House, and Heritage Resources. In South Africa: Cubits Kids Edu.

I wish you well-being and well-doing,
Karen Andreola