One principled, compassionate, and down-to-earth homeschooling mom...
I am terribly sad to be writing this. Denny Mather, one of the first contributors to this site, passed away earlier this month after years of battling cancer. She initiated the Home Schooling blog on MoBB and opened the eyes of many readers to the everyday life of homeschoolers. She had an honest and insightful way of capturing the large and small but all-important experiences that go into deciding to homeschool and the ongoing challenges of pulling it off. She raised and educated one terrific young man whose loss is that much greater because of the kind of woman and mother Denny was. My love and deep condolences to her wonderful family.
I myself owe a huge debt of gratitude to Denny. When I started this site my son was in school and I had no vision, let alone intention, of homeschooling. In fact, my personal motive for creating MoBB was to help my son and myself survive school and make it as much of a positive experience as it can be. While I knew Denny and her family for many years I never thought I would have to rely on their experience to the extent that I ended up doing. As things got progressively worse for my son at school I turned more and more to Denny. Her advice was always down-to-earth and compassionate while deeply principled. I admired and trusted her views. And, frankly, without her support and the full-blown evidence of her success in raising an excellent and accomplished son, I would never have felt confident enough to attempt homeschooling myself.
The last time I saw Denny we had an episode with my son. We were at Denny’s house and she was weak and feeling badly from the drugs she was on. Jack was being rambunctious playing Wii and being loud and oblivious to everyone else. I tend to get particularly impatient when Jack gets all worked-up under the influence of electronic devices or TV. On that day I got so disgusted with Jack’s behavior that I left the room and went to chill out in the car. Before long Denny, bearing her pain and moving with difficulty, joined me in the car. We had such an intimate and heart-to-heart conversation about our boys that I will not repeat! It is the kind of thing that is only for the ears of mothers who know and trust each other.
The upshot? This: You must trust yourself and have confidence in your kid. Neither you nor your kid are/is or ever will be perfect. Some things are not worth stressing over. Don’t create pain. Things will be alright.
I think she knew what she was talking about. I’ll try to remember her advice – though it’s easy to forget when you don’t learn the hard way – but I certainly will always have vivid and fond memories of Denny. She had a resonating laughter and an uncompromising sense of right and wrong. She loved wild life and got a kick out of garage sales. She said that one of the first things she liked about her future husband was that he knew about books. I think she liked Harry Potter even more than her son. She beamed watching her tall and handsome son fencing. She never complained. She made great venison and home-grown apple jelly. Her loyalties were fierce.
Here’s looking at you Denny, and till we meet again…