Honestly speaking…I don’t like Meg. I love Alcott’s Little Women. But I’ve always had a fondness for Jo. She seems more likeable for her blunders and awkwardness. Meg is kindof…prim, proud and careful about everything. Perhaps being the eldest such things were ingrained in her mind.
But even though Meg is not my favorite I was in for a shock when I began part 2. When I read chapters 28 and 38 I thought, “My goodness. Our stories are remarkably alike.”
Join me as I thumbed through these much loved pages to find 5 common, yet unique pieces of advice that Louisa May Alcott has hidden within this most beloved novel.
5 Things Meg (March) Brooke Taught Me About Being a Wife and Mother
Cook What They Love
At the beginning of her marriage, Meg struggled with cooking. She made too much, or made too little and didn’t know quite what to make.
“She was too tired, sometimes even to smile, John grew dyspeptic after a course of dainty dishes and ungratefully demanded plain fare.”
–Little Women, Chapter 28
It took Meg awhile to find what worked for her family and how much was just enough. She had to budget wisely.
On Saying “I’m sorry”.
One of my most favorite parts of Little Women is when Meg decides to can currants. She attempts to make currant jelly (with currants harvested from her own garden no less!) with disastrous results.
Meg is distraught. And even more so when her husband comes home from work with a friend to stay to supper! Everything is a mess. Meg can’t understand why her husband John could think she could make supper in her sorry state. John doesn’t understand why his wife can’t just put forth a bit of effort and make them a small supper.
And then he appears to laugh at Meg for getting caught up in her failed jelly. This proves more than she can take and she declines to make supper.
Long story short, she remembers her mother’s words of advice and everything is made right when she makes up her mind that
“(She) will be the first to say, ‘Forgive me, John’.”
How To Live Within Your Means
It was Meg’s job to “keep the books”. She dutifully kept track of every penny she spent. Meg could be frugal when she had mind to be. But sometimes it got to her.
Meg was often in the company of Sallie Moffat. She was a good friend but a rich one. Meg on the other hand was not rich and felt it. She was not envious but merely hated being pitied.
Because of this she bought “trifles” here and there until the trifles increased to the point of a length of not-so-trifling silk fabric.
It was $50 then. Hard to figure what that translates to today with inflation and whatnot. But apparently it was worth as much as a man’s new winter coat.
Because that’s exactly what her husband denied himself because of Meg’s frivolous purchase. In the end, Meg sets all things right. Sells the silk to Sallie, buys her man his coat. Peace restored and wisdom gleaned.
The Babies and the Beloved
The question of affection is a common issue. One I have struggled with many a time. It can be so hard making sure everyone gets your time, your love.
Meg found this out too.
She made her twins, Demi and Daisy, her world. She didn’t cook (they hired an Irish lady for that) and she was always in the nursery. When the babies stopped teething, stopped needing her so much, then she turned to her husband.
But he was not there. He was at a friend’s house. An environment that was welcoming, friendly and most importantly not lonely.
John had not given up on his wife, he had waited 6 months for things to change. But because of Meg’s decision be a solo parent, she and John were drifting apart.
The solution? With Marmee’s advice, Meg was determined to 1) ask for her husband’s help with the kids 2) make time for John in the evenings and chat about his interests and 3) start going out more with John on dates!
On Taking Care of Yourself & Accepting Help
How easy it is to not do these things. And how quickly it can destroy you. Self-care and the occasional help are vitally important as a mother. All people need this. We are not solo beings but creatures who need people. Need community, support and advice. We need each other.
Meg here relies a lot on her mother. She gives advice and is a seemingly bottomless pit of motherly wisdom. She reminds Meg that Hannah is ready and waiting to be a help with the kids.
I want to say, “Duh Meg of course you need help girl! You’ve got twin babies!” But I know it takes a lot of reminders for me to get it too.
Pockets of alone time, girl time, excercise time even grocery shopping time (haha); these are all times that are necessary for a good mom to become a healthier, stronger and even better one.
Meg is a good girl, really. She’s smart and gentle and giving. She still seems a bit too perfect to me but I loved looking at all the issues we have in common. I wonder if Alcott knew that 149 years later, people would still identify with and greatly adore her little book?