Mary Washington

August 18, 2007 at 10:17 am (Uncategorized)

I attribute my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education
which I received from my mother. 
–George Washington 1732-1799

In yesterdays post I ended with the above quote from George Washington about his Mother.  Last night after I went to bed I lay awake thinking about Mary Washington.  I vaugely remember reading the book George Washington’s Mother with my oldest son several years ago. (It was part of our Sonlight .) Off the top of my head the thing I remember about her from the book was that she was spunky and marched to the beat of her own drummer!  But what could I as a homeschool Mom like me learn from her? That quote from her son would be quite flattering of any mother, but considering who said it I was really intrigued.  So here are a few things I read about her online that I thought might help me to be a better homeschool Mom…

"Mary Ball Washington. Her rather unconventional and, at times, eccentric"

Whew, I found this one comforting! the Mother of the Father of our Country was an outside the box kind of person!  Now I can relate to that! I like her already!

"As Ms. Fritz puts it, Mary Washington had "a mind of her own" "

It is okay to have a mind of your own! Having a mind of your own is an essential element to being a homeschool mother! You need a mind of your own in order to follow a path that is quite different than the one most people follow. It is nice to know we are in good company with Mary Washington!

"– she liked the isolation of the family farm near Fredricksburg, hated getting dressed up, and preferred to spend her time fishing with her first and favorite son, George, or rocking on the porch, smoking her pipe, gardening, or baking batches of her famous gingerbread for George and his four siblings. "

As homeschool mother’s we are frequently home.  It is good to know that to raise a child for greatness you do not have to go out and conquer the world.  You can be home, dressed in what you are comfortable in, sharing who you are with your children.  Being available to them.  I would have loved to been a fly on the wall for some of the conversations that surely took place while she was rocking in her chair smoking her pipe!  (Now I don’t want to catch any of you smoking a pipe on your porch!  LOL)

She tried to keep George close to home, but he kept trying to leave — to become a sailor, which she forbid, and later, when he came of age, a soldier, which she was powerless to stop.

Here is a lesson for us Mom’s!  They are going to grow up and follow their own path!  Sending them out into the world should really be our ultimate goal for our children!  Imagine if George had obeyed his Mom and stayed home with her?  What would have happened to our Country?  Would we have won the Revolutionary War?  Who would have been our first President? Who’s face would be on our dollar bill?  The changes could have been quite dramatic!

And while he was away during the French and Indian Wars, she wrote George to complain about how she was fresh out of butter (and could he please send some), and during the Revolution, she requested that the government of Virigina provide her with an allowance, since she was, after all, the mother of the Commander-in-Chief.

I remember when we read this in the George Washington’s Mother book I just cracked up!  I can’t even imagine how hard it would be to be the Mom to such an important man.  He had doted on him Mother and now that attention was sorely missed!  What can we learn from this?  Even George’s Mother he thought so highly of probably drove him a little crazy at times!  LOL 

Even after George became President, little changed in the way Mary met the world:

She was who she was.  Her own woman!  I love this quote.  We are all going to be faced with the day when our children are gone from home and we have to figure out who we are again.  I hope I can be like Mary and not let whatever my children become change me.  Another quote I read said "she talked of George without the least bit of pride or vanity"  That would be an accomplishment for any mother, but for George Washington’s Mother…..Wow!  I can certainly learn from this one.

So far I have focused on how she interacted with her children as a Mother.  But what were her circumstances?  Was she wealthy, well educated, privledged?

Mary Ball Washington was an intrepid 18th century woman who raised five children alone. The oldest became the first President of the United States. Mary was widowed at age 35 when Augustine died in April of 1743.

A single mom! Now there is a tough job!  What can I learn from this?  In her day and age she would have been expected to re-marry.  A woman did not take on raising children alone!  But, she never remarried.  She found whatever it was she needed in herself to raise her family, including the first President of the United States!  She must have had a strength most of us cannot even imagine.  I think from this I can learn about determination! 

"She was a simply educated woman with no great social polish or breadth."

She took what she had and she used it to the best of her ability. She could have used her lack of higher education or social status as an excuse to give up, but instead she made the best of what she had.

"The family had the necessities of life but not much more." She also notes that Mary had an independence of spirit which may have helped her overcome some of the problems faced by an 18th century single mother.Mary energetically managed the 600-acre farm.

Wow, a single mom and an running a huge farm!  I feel overwhelmed when I have to mow the back yard!  LOL 

She was buried on the Lewis plantation a few steps from "Meditation Rock", which tradition says was her favorite retreat for reading, prayer, and meditation.

She prayed, she studied, she pondered things in her mind.  I could use a meditation rock!  I imagine this as a beautiful peaceful place where she could be with God and clear her mind from the overwhelming tasks she had to do everyday. 
Wow, what did I learn?

This was not a woman who had an easy life.  She did what she had to do!  She put one foot in front of the other and kept on going. She knew who she  was and what she needed to do in life.  She was not prideful or vain.  She was not afraid of hard work or stuck in self pity.  She took her responsibilities as Mom very seriously! I can see why her son penned such impressive words about her.  There is a lot I can learn from Mary Washington who was just a Mom, just like me!

Her children rise up and call her blessed…
Proverbs 31:28a

Quotes in the blog entry came from the following websites:



  1. writmm said,

    Excellent post! I had never thought about George's mother before, thanks for bringing her to my attention. It would be interesting to learn about other moms of famous children.

  2. Lizzie said,

    Thanks for this:)

    I would like to find more famous children of single moms.

    Dr Charles Stanley is one. I was excited to read this here! I even blogged about it;)

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