This is something I've been contending with for a while, now.
One of my mother's favorites has always been the above saying, something like "We never had much money, but you were always tidy and had clean faces!", and something akin to (while wallking to church when we were kids) "Together! Get up here! We are not a bunch of heathens!"
Actually, (grin) as it turns out... I am!
This is absolutely NOT an Anti-My-Mother post. Just - 'yet another observation'.
On the one hand, I'm anti-appearances. I have a slight or heavy disdain for society's opinion, depending on the moment. On the other, I often think "what would the Mama's (that I look up to and respect) do?"
In my defense to that extremely telling confession... it's not as if I am trying to be something that I don't believe in, or somthing that I'm not. It's that my desire To Be an ideal way for me has led me to an outstanding group of examples, and I take their counsel and example to heart. (shrug) Quite simply, I look up to them.
amusing-only-to-me sidenote: been back and forth in the kitchen to here for the last half hour or so, for some reason "How well do you know me?" came up, and I quizzed dh on my two favorite songs in succession as a child. "Delta Dawn" was one of his answers (indeed, my favorite with tamborine at age 2+) and then "Crocodile Rock" from about 6+. Woohoo Babe! Wow. Way to go! I can still sing both of these songs verbatum to this day. 'Course, most songs I can, I have a knack for song memorization! (a quirk of mine.) Anyway, back to the subject....
Where I had intended to go with this post, and have yet to do so, is that I cannot claim the same. As admitted (a little shame-facedly) in my last post, though while they bathe -they thoroughly enjoy baths almost every day- often times my children are sporting terribly dirty faces. In fact, a friend said something at our last Art & Craft Circle about "seems like Maddie always has a Dirty Face." sigh. "Well, Yes." It's true. She wasn't meaning to be unkind. She was just observing that she (Maddie) is forever eating markers, paints, mud, or freshly dyed easter eggs. But it reminded me that I had been thinking on this particular judgment for a while.
Love and devotion (excellent Mamahood) are judged by certain factors. Cleanliness, manners - quietness in church and sit-still ability in restaurants are all Tell Tale signs of a Good Mother. Tis a hard thing to admit -in vulnerable moments- that (sigh) mine probably don't have it. I can only imagine what would happen if I took them to a church (expecting them to sit still for two or three hours) or even in school, for that matter, and expected them to sit still for seven! Had I been planning all this time for them to be put into such a situtation, our lives would be very different, and no doubt they'd be prepared. BUT, the point is that I had not, as we do not, and therefore they are not! It's just not necessary. It doesn't register on our radar, it's not a part of who we are.
Just as some children in my community do not have a respect for earthworms or other living things, and smash bugs, (an atrocity to me) and think that animals have no feelings or spirit, and are raised to value obedience and rote learning above all else. It's just not the case with us.
I value listening to my child in a time of crisis above his quiet obedience in front of my neighbors. I value his explorations in my front yard in his underwear above his being out there (later, when the moment of magic has passed) only if he's fully presentable wearing non-holey jeans and matching socks. I value their inquiries. I value their irreverence. I value my toddling daughter's outrage and sass, and my son's shouts of "You're not treating me respectfully!" when he feels that his mother is not giving him his due to which he is absolutely entitled.
I suppose in some worlds things are valued diferently than in mine.
But that doesn't really matter to me. This is the world I choose, and I honestly believe the one that my children choose, also. I see it is my duty to follow my child's (individual) lead, and to give each the resources, love, and attention that they require.
(shrug) I love them. I want what's best for them. I'm willing to follow their lead. I trust that they are spiritually sound individuals, and indeed, it is already evident to me that they know what they are about. It's my job to cherish them, and use my greater experience to aid them when I see them faltering.
Having a dirty face just doesn't seem all that important.