I collect old books. Or, I should be more honest and say that I hoard old books. One of my favorite pastimes is waffling through old, dusty, second-hand book stores (the more stacks piled up to the ceiling, the better), searching for those perfect hardback editions of my all-time favorite stories. I have dreamy visions of a home library that contains beautiful copies of any classic that my sons would ever need (or want) to read over the course of their school years. I work to fill our home with books that I believe will help strengthen my boys minds and nourish their souls. My husband teases me mercilessly because whenever I go anywhere, I usually come home with a trunk load of heavy, tattered, cheap, but gorgeous old books to add to our buckling shelves, and I say I am building our sons' inheritance. So, of course, when it comes to gifts, I can think of nothing I could ever want more than a beautiful, old, beloved book.
Two years ago, for Mother's Day, my husband and boys surprised me with just that. It was a first edition, signed copy of Kate Douglas Wiggin's book, Mother Carey's Chickens. I had been familiar with Wiggin's classic Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, but it had only been in the previous year that I had discovered this lesser-known gem, and it had quickly become one of my all-time favorites. I opened the spine and discovered that on the front flyleaf, yellowed with age, Wiggin had inscribed a quote from the book: "I'm just a mother, that's all," said Mrs. Carey with a smile." As I read those hundred-year-old words, written in faded ink above her signature, I blinked back tears. I was overwhelmed that my husband had tracked down such a valuable copy of one of my very favorite books and had given it to me on such a special day. But the tears were induced by more than gratitude over such a priceless gift. It was Wiggin's words in beautiful script that moved me: I'm just a mother, that's all.
"A mother, living well in her God-ordained role, is of great beauty and inestimable value to the future history of any generation." -Sally Clarkson, Desperate: Hope For The Mom Who Needs To Breathe
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