Lessons from Louisa May Alcott

My daughter and I selected Little Women by Louisa May Alcott as her ‘Summer Read’ for school. The idea was that we could get through the lengthy book together and have nice mother-daughter bonding time.

Time. Time is the issue here. I do not have 777 pages worth of time to read. I have about 250 to read, 300 for laundry, 150 for dishes and 77 for picking up after everyone else. Or something like that.

Tonight we took turns reading. Rhianna (sweet teen staying with us for the summer) read one chapter, Ruby the next, and then it was my turn. I didn’t listen to their reading because I was doing dishes, prepping dinner for tomorrow and shuffling loads of laundry. Serves me right. I got chapter eight. Jo Meets Apollyon.

Apollyon? Who is that? I don’t remember any characters by that name in this book! Oy, people. Apollyon is: the destroyer; the angel of the bottomless pit. Revelation 9:11. Yes. 9:11, that alone makes my bones cold.

If I had a clue that I was reading THAT chapter where Jo faces her inner demon I might have just yawned and said.. oh tomorrow.. everyone off to bed now. But I read. It was my turn.

I can really relate to Jo. She has a hot temper, a wicked tongue, can stay angry for an eternity, and knows she’s an ass. Me and Jo. So much. Especially lately. I’ve been fuming all summer about a certain situation in my community AND I’ve been pissed as hell at all the idiots around here acting like it is nothing. This is one angry story I will post at another time when I can link to a news article about the eventual arrest. I am hopeful. And without any compassion. Can you tell?

The point being…. I have anger issues. And a hate that wells up in me something fierce. A demon. Apollyon. Just like Jo.

In chapter 8, Jo blows off her little sister Amy for an outing. Amy gets her revenge by burning Jo’s manuscript of fairy tales she’s been working on for years. Un-freaking-forgivable. I could feel my face get red hot as I sympathized with the 18th century me. Jo loses her shit on Amy, naturally, and swears never to forgive. Few days later, Amy tags along on an ice skating date. Jo knows the danger, but out of spite says nada. Crack, splash, little sister goes through the ice and Jo and Laurie manage to save her.

If you are married, have children, have siblings, shoot people, unless you are a full on hermit you have heard this quote:

“My dear, don’t let the sun go down upon your anger; forgive each other, help each other, and begin again tomorrow.”

So says Jo’s mom. And Jo and I both know that we can be an ass. So we ask for help. Jo’s mom tells her that she too has had to struggle to control her temper for 40 years. Jo is begging to know the secret… and as her mom tells it, I am floored. I can’t swallow. Ruby can see my face change, my voice break as I am completely humbled.

“…..I must try to practice all the virtues I would have my little girls possess, for I was their example. It was easier to try for your sakes than for my own; a startled or surprised look from one of you, when I spoke sharply, rebuked me more than any words could have done; and the love, respect, and confidence of my children was the sweetest reward I could ever receive for my efforts to be the woman I would have them copy.”

BAM! I flash through all the ugly, hateful words, dirty looks and angry energy I have been carrying around lately, in front of my sweet children. What a horrible example I have been. Horrible. So every time I feel that anger start to take over because of this community issue, or ANY issue.. I will squelch it if I’m around my kids. It is going to take a lot of work. Tons.

But don’t think for one minute that I will show an ounce of compassion for the dirty creeps around. My kids will NOT see that from their mother. I want them to have good virtues, but not be fools.

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