Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Mother's Advice

--- by Elizabeth Allen from Twenty Three and Soaring

I've grown up reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books. Honestly, I cannot remember when I first read Little House in the Big Woods... oh, yes, I just did! I remember reading it for the first time when I was seven years old. But I definitely don't remember seeing it on my parents' bookshelf for the first time! It's always been there .. part of my life... for all of my life. I'd read all the books by the time I was ten years old, on which birthday my family gave me a complete set of the books, all inscribed with loving birthday messages in the front covers. Needless to say, I still have the Little House books on my bookshelf!

I was fourteen years old, and I re-read the 'Little House' books for the hundredth time and - for the first time - really noticed Laura's Ma, Caroline Ingalls. As I read the books, I looked at her and her life and thought, "That's what I want to be like when grown-up - especially when I'm a wife and a mother!" If you have not have read the Little House books, believe me when I say that Laura's Ma is amazing... she's quite young and very pretty (according to Laura), but brave and courageous; she's calm and capable; she's gentle and firm. Although she wants to settle down in one place, she follows Laura's Pa - Charles Ingalls - across America, making a home for her family, being a wife, a mother, a lady and being the refuge for her husband and children on the Western Frontier. She is amazing and although I haven't read the Little House books for a while, I still remember Laura's Ma and think, "That's what I want to be like!"

So... when I discovered that someone has written a series of books about Caroline Ingalls, of course I had to read them! It's been so much fun getting to know Laura's Ma before she was Laura's Ma, when she was Caroline Quiner... a serious, thoughtful, steady little girl, like Laura's Ma in so many ways... but younger, softer, freer. My favourite bit of all the Caroline books is at the end of the last book in the series, A Little House of Their Own, when Charles Ingalls has asked Caroline Quiner to marry him and go West with him. She loves him, but she's afraid of going West. While working in the garden, Caroline and her Ma have a heart-to-heart talk:

"Caroline, we cannot live out lives worrying about 'what if'!" Mother said emphatically. "Grandma Tucker would never have had the courage to leave Scotland and make the perilous voyage to this country if she had worried about what might happen. And I would never have journeyed west myself. Then I would never have had the joy of raising eight wonderful children."

"There has been a great deal of sorrow with the joy," Caroline said in a quiet voice.

"Yes," Mother said, sighing. "But perhaps the joy would not seem so sweet without the sorrow." Mother's gaze focused intently on Caroline again. "Sorrow and joy are both a part of life, Caroline. And life is what we choose to make of it."

--- from "A Little House of Their Own" by Celia Wilkins

Reading aloud was a big part of our home schooling. We always had a "good read" going in the afternoon and evenings. Mom and Dad would take turns reading aloud. The Caroline Series is my Mom's and my favorite series of all of The Little House Books. I can remember when the Caroline Series first came out. We could hardly wait for the next book to be released... ~ Erin