"'I'll ask my mother about it,' she said. 'She's one o' them that nearly always sees a way to do things. It's my day out today and' I'm goin' home. Eh! I am glad. Mrs. Medlock thinks a lot o' mother. Perhaps she could talk to her.'
'I like your mother,' said Mary
'I should think tha' did,' agreed Martha, polishing away.
'I've never seen her,' said Mary
'No, tha' hasn't,' replied Martha.
She sat up on her heels again and rubbed the end of her nose with the back of her hand as if puzzled for a moment, but she ended quite positively.
'Well, she's that sensible an' hard workin' an' good natured an' clean that no one could help likin' her whether they'd seen her or not. When I'm goin' home to her on my day out I just jump for joy when I'm crossin' the moor.'"
We've been reading The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett as our lunch time read aloud. I don't know how many times I've read it before, but I love it just as much every time I do. A sure sign of a really good book. Every time I read it, I'm reminded that someday it would be interesting to write an essay about parenting using fictional parents from children's literature as good examples. I think this, because Dickon's and Martha's mother, would be my very first, and best, example.
Though she has a very small role in the actual plot of the book, and is usually only talked about by other people, she loom large over the whole story. It is her influence which helped make Dickon and Martha into the people they are. It is her concern for Mary, though she had never met her, through buying her the jump rope (which was also an act of great sacrifice), that starts Mary on her trajectory of healing. She is the good mother, the one that Mary and Colin never had, whose influence and care acts as a counterbalance to the absent mothers in the book.
And I want to be like her.
Sensible, hard working, good natured, whom everyone likes, and who makes a real difference in the lives of the people who surround her. Who wouldn't?
If you haven't read The Secrect Garden, you really need to. So, the next thing I want you to do is go straight to your library's web page and reserve a copy for yourself. Or even better, get one and read it out loud to your children. You may also want to lay in a supply of jump ropes and garden spades to hand to them when you're done.