As a mom, I tend to be part of the guilt brigade. Been there? I should have done . . . I should be doing . . . oh, this book recommends this . . . have I ruined my children’s chances in life??
So, the very few things that I feel halfway good about I tend to clasp tightly to me; they bring me comfort that maybe all is not lost.
One thing I have tried to pass on to my kids is a love for the library. Now, let me rephrase that — I love the library; they are hopefully learning to love the library. Often, they protest going, but inevitably, once we get there, they get engrossed in pulling out interesting books. I hope that the regular exposure will create in them a fever for good words.
My father introduced me to books and the thrill of a good story. My folks were evangelists and many weeks of the year, we lived in a camper trailer at one church or another for special services. And, after the service, before bedtime, my father would pull out the current book he was reading to my brothers and I and fill our little space with the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, Joy Spartan of Parsonage Hill, Little Pilgrim’s Progress. the Bears of Blue River, the Enormous Egg, Escape from the Shawnees, River of Fire, Alexi’s Secret Mission, and many others. We would usually beg for another chapter; you know how frustrating it is to try to sleep when the hero is in a crisis moment? Those wonderful hours developed in me a love for books which I carry with me until this day.
Then, my father took us to the library. The smell of books is still one of my favorites. It is the smell of a new journey. I love to dig on the shelves and find a treasure I haven’t seen before. My first library card was in Shelbyville, Tennessee at the Argie Cooper Public Library. It was a vintage red brick building with high shelves and artwork of flowers in vases and similar subjects. The card was white plastic with raised letters. The librarian would take the card and put it in a little machine; then she took the cards out of the back of the books I was getting and punched them down in the machine which would stamp my card number on them. Then she would put cards with the return date in the pocket in the back of the books and hand the stack to me. (remember this old process– the digital system is better, but I spent many an hour “playing library” with my own homemade cards and everything!)
I have carried on the tradition–reading continued stories to my kids (though to be honest, it’s been a while since I’ve done it now!) And they seemed to enjoy it as much as I did as a kid. I hope that means I’m doing something right there.
And we have a weekly “library day.” It used to be Thursday, but now it’s Wednesday. Things change, depending on what our present schdule is–just now, homeschooling and my grocery shopping day have dictated a change. And, oops, I forgot about a couple items due yesterday and now owe a fine! Maybe some feel that a library fine is the height of irresponsibility. To me, it’s a sign that I use that place a whole lot (okay, that’s justifying myself, but hey, it’s my blog and my fine, right?) And, as my friend Leah says, when you pay a fine, you’re supporting the library! Like that!
So, today, my troops and I will march into our little library and make our selections. And mom will feel that maybe she is winning part of this parenting battle after all. And, as a writer myself, the fact that they are getting up close and personal with words makes me feel good too. (by the way, I’d love to hear about your mom guilt and triumphs–we all have them, you know–and your kids need what you bring to their lives–they were custom designed for you!)