Sunday, May 07, 2006

GHMs and Conscience

Recently Cindy at Dominion Family posted on Gestapo Homeschooling Moms. Her thoughts have stuck in my mind.... why? Especially her last words:

She is headed for a fall.

Have you met her?

In the mirror?

Well, yes... and no.

We live in the independent California Sierra mountains where every man is his own John Wayne. There is a tendency to respect each others' territories and that seems to extend to life boundaries, and to the female of the species. I haven't met a GHM in real life. They don't exist here, really. If the "voice" of our community was put into words, it would be something like, "Don't mess with other peoples' space, and don't let other people mess with yours."

I'm not an obvious GHM, either. I don't feel temptation to tell people what they should put in their shopping carts or in their mouths or how they should bring up their boys. I have opinions and principles, no doubt, but the primary one is: "Everyone is given their own children by God for a reason; focus on your family and let others focus on theirs."

But I realize that I have kept a GHM in my conscience and that this is not a good thing. I've felt the GHM of my conscience looking over my shoulder: "Aren't you spoiling your babies by letting them fall asleep in your arms? You buy Froot Loops sometimes? not even real ones, but the cheap generic rip-off? You use workbooks? (or DON'T use them??) You put your kids in team sports? or DON'T put them in?? You start their academics at WHAT age? or leave them until what age??? " My inner GHM is unreasonable and scolds me for contradictory things. She is a sort of amalgam of all the conventional wisdom of all the things I've read and heard and internalized through the years.

It's probably the "dark side" of all my ideals, all the aspirations I have for myself and my kids. I am, I have to face it, thoroughly and irrationally invested in my kids. I want to be a good mom, so much that sometimes it becomes a priority for me above being a good wife, a good child of God. I know that this is the wrong order, and I have to stop and listen to what the inner GHM is saying and then politely walk away. It is a voice without boundaries. It doesn't come from my wonderful mother or my wonderful mother in law or from any Titus 2 mom I know. It is me-- my fear, my craving for "righteousness" that leads me to ignore everything else, that chides me for all I'm not doing and being.

This, I realize, is one of the reasons I have been "deschooling" this past year. I am trying to stop letting the inner GHM into my space. I think that she is indeed headed for a fall. If I listen to her too much, she will take me down with her. After my kids are grown up, I will be alone with her and she will be reflecting on my life. "If you had just done this, THAT would not have happened." "Your son or daughter is like THAT because you did THIS." Listen to that voice carefully -- it's a voice of overweening pride, making ME into into the vehicle of destiny, ignoring everything else. It's a voice that tells me:
"You certainly will not die!....your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad."
It is hungry, judgemental and perpetual. I need to let it go, and listen.... listen to God, listen to my husband, listen to what my children are telling me with the language of their actions. Seek wisdom, yes, but seek it diligently and not in fear or pride.

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load. Galatians 6:1-4


JoVE said...

I have observed similar types of behaviour in all kind of places. I have come to believe that it is a symptom of lack of confidence in ones' own decisions. The person acting in this way is seeking validation of her decisions in the decision of others. And believing that her decisions are right cannot see that the different decisions that others have made are not a criticism of her decisions. It takes a lot of confidence to realize that we make decisions if very complex circumstances and that even a small difference in circumstances might lead to a different (but not wrong) decision. We must have confidence in our own decisions as mothers and also accept that we are not perfect and will be forgiven our mistakes.

A colleague of mine once said, the only guarantee about parenting is that whatever you did, it was wrong (according to your kids).

Love2Learn Mom said...

When I was in high school, one of the leaders of our homeschool group was a GHM, I think. Maybe she earns a little leeway for being one of those old-time pioneer homeschool moms, I don't know.

I saw her a few years ago at a wedding and she hadn't changed a bit from what I could tell - she jumped immediately into grilling me on my family - How many children do you have? Do you homeschool? Do you breastfeed? Do you do natural child birth?

I wonder how many people have reduced family life/successful parenting with such a list - you use this program, you use this exact set of books, you never use a pacifier, "you do everything right" and your kids will turn out great, if not, watch out! - not to mention the gall to openly measure someone else with such a yardstick.