Books

4 Things Ma Ingalls Has Taught Me About Life

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This post is an edit of the original, written in 2017. 

Little House on the Prarie (and I know I’m not alone when I say this) is one of my most favorite series.

Sure, it’s a kid’s book and sure, the events took place a long time ago. But like all good books, there are parallels between daily life that transcend time.

Ma (or Caroline) Ingalls is something of a superhero. I have no doubt that she had her faults, as we all do. But in reading through the series, her character as told by her daughter Laura has helped me realize some things.

First of all, that my house is incredibly messy and could stand to be cleaned more often. But secondly, each of the following four themes gradually developed in my mind as I mulled over the series: words, bravery, creativity and self-care.

Join me as I take a look at a well-loved series and a character that has inspired me for quite some time.

 

4 Things Ma Ingalls Has Taught Me About Life

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Strong Women Speak Softly

All throughout the books, Ma almost never raised her voice. And her family heard her better that way. There was strength in her quiet word, although there were times when she did raise her voice and for a good reason.

(Such as in Little House on the Prarie, chapter 2…when the girls needed to be quiet and still when the family was crossing a rushing river in a covered wagon.)

I try to remember this when I struggle to keep my voice even out of frustration. Soft words will come through loudly because of their power. A person has power, or control over themselves when they speak softly. And those they are speaking to have to listen carefully.

 

Fear Nothing…Slap the Bear

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Ok so I’m not advocating for literally going out and pressing your luck by hitting a real live bear. However, if you happen to do so…you can pretty much declare that you have no fear in life.

“Ma was trembling, and she began to laugh a little. “To think,” she said, “I’ve slapped a bear!”.

-from Little House in the Big Woods, Chapter 6, Two Big Bears, by Laura Ingalls Wilder

 

Hard Work and Creativity Will Get You Far

One thing about Ma (or Caroline) that always inspired me was her incredible work ethic. She was such a hard worker. Most of this was probably due to the sink or swim mentality that pioneers by nature had to posess.

Pioneers had to constantly be thinking of ways to reuse things. Ways to get or make what they needed from raw materials. Trash was almost unheard of, because they used everything. Oh for simple days like those!

We have more options and resources at our disposal nowadays. But the fact remains the same: We can do little with much if we put on our thinking caps.

One example from Little House in the Big Woods is when Pa Ingalls makes a grater for Ma out of an old pie tin. She uses this to grate carrots, so she can add a bit of color to her homemade butter!

 

Be Pretty, Even When You Work

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Caroline is often decribed by Laura as wearing a pretty calico dress, which she never got messy thanks to her trusty apron.

“Then [Ma] rolled the sleeves of her flowered calico dress above her elbows, and she knelt by the tubs… Ma looked pretty…while she scrubbed and rubbed the corn in clear water. She never splashed one drop of water on her pretty dress.

-from Little House in the Big Woods, Chapter 12, The Wonderful Machine, by Laura Ingalls Wilder

And it makes me think. Isn’t life, even life spent within my own home just a whole lot better when I make the effort to look nice?

Please understand that I’m not against pajamas. Because life happens, and we sometimes need a break.

But I think self-esteem, and consequently what others think of us is tied to how prepared we are for the day. When I take just a little effort and get showered, dressed and fix my hair just a bit before the kids wake up…I feel so much better. A little bit of self-love goes a long way 😊

 

Just a little bit of Little House to brighten your day ☺ Stay warm out there!

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