Sunday, October 23, 2011
Our Little House
When Laura left home to take her first teaching assignment, she stayed with the Brewster family in a town 12 miles away. Every night of her stay was miserable, awkward, cold, and sometimes frightening. The Brewster family was very unhappy, their child neglected, their home a mess, and their words were always bitter and angry. Sometimes there was cold silence for evenings on end, broken only by loud arguments and hateful words screamed all night long.
Although Laura never told anyone about her miserable lodgings, Almanzo came to the little school every Friday to bring Laura home for the weekend. She realized, as she left one world and entered another, that her home was warm and safe because of the love and kindness that her family had for one another. There were no angry words, no selfish complaints, no sharp arguments. Everyone did a great deal of work to provide for one another. The chores were hard and never ending, but everyone helped each other willingly with love and gratitude.
I wonder how much, if any, of this story is fiction. It doesn't really matter. I still love the contrasting pictures of family life.
And I use the images of the two women, Mrs. Brewster and Ma Ingalls to remind myself of the kind of mother I want my girls to remember. The kind of home I want to build. The sort of memories I want my daughters to have of how they felt...when they were home.
I have to admit, I also use the story to teach my girls about the effects of their words too. When I hear them yelling, arguing, whining, I sometimes ask "What kind of words do we want to fill our home with?"
I'm just waiting for the day when they turn around and ask me that same question.