I was just a little woman myself when I first picked up this book. I was on the other side of the fence then. Meg, the eldest, caught my attention because she was the prettiest. I wanted to be pretty, like her. Writing was one of my pastimes after school, therefore, I had the tendency to admire also Jo for her imagination and her being a free spirit. I wanted to be a pretty tomboy. As I drew women and designed their clothes on red Chinese newspapers, and as I copied cartoon characters onto my drawing book, I related with Amy and her sketches. I wanted to be an artistic and pretty tomboy.
It seemed that I never got to finish Little Women or I had forgotten the ending.
Fast forward to the year 2015, my old familiar hand took the worn book out of the shelf and reread it with bleary but new eyes. Being a mom to two little girls, I processed the story with a different perspective. I saw Meg’s vanity, Jo’s tactless tongue and Amy’s pride, and their consequences, all from where their mother stood.
Marmee, as the girls call her, was loved and respected by her children. She projected warmth and strength and contentment. Hers is a wonderful place to be in! How she got there, I will never know, but I wish to remember words that display Marmee’s wisdom.
The equivalent of Facebook likes must be pickled limes in little Amy’s school, for these were given to her by classmates who like her. But limes, unlike likes, costed money and she borrowed from her sister to buy limes for friends. Now, their teacher banned pickled limes from class, Amy was caught breaking the rule and she was punished for it. At the end of the day, Marmee said that she was getting to be conceited and told her:
The great charm of all power is modesty.
When Amy wanted to tag along to the theater, but Jo did not allow her, Amy retaliated by burning Jo’s book. The book was a product of Jo’s hard work. Anger burned in Jo’s heart, as it had in mine. Amy was unreasonable and bratty. But, as a mother who wants her children to live in harmony with each other, I understood Marmee when she quoted the Bible:
My dear, don’t let the sun go down upon your anger. Forgive each other and begin again tomorrow.
Each mother has plans or aspirations for their children. My hope is that my kids will love and follow Jesus, be always healthy, do what they love, earn from their passions and contribute to good causes that help the needy. This was what Marmee wanted for her little women:
I want my daughters to be beautiful and good, to be admired, loved and respected, to have a happy youth, to be well and wisely married, and to lead useful, pleasant lives with as little care and sorrow to try them as God sees fit to send. But better be happy old maids than unhappy wives.
And, that is my hope, too! I agree with Mrs. March about being old maids. If each of my little ones should find someone who love and respect them forever and got married, I have to remember these words she said to Meg:
Watch yourself, be the first to ask pardon if you both err, and guard against the little piques, misunderstandings and hasty words that often pave the way for bitter sorrow and regret.
Wasn’t that so true? Keeping that in mind would result in a loving and strong marriage.
Marmee recognized and acknowledged that each mother’s way of raising their child is different. Ultimately, what matters is their happiness (and for me, their salvation and ministry).
Mothers may differ in their management but the hope is the same in all – the desire to see their children happy.
And joyful. And loving. And peaceful. And all the other fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Mrs. March admitted to Jo that she struggled with anger, too. This showed that she has her weaknesses and that she’s only human. She, too, needed grace. Like you and I do.
In my opinion, wisdom comes from the Lord through His Word, from experiences, and from listening to & reading about other people’s experiences.
Where do you think wisdom comes from? Do you agree with all?
P. S. Do you like my lime drawing? 😉