This book is my memoir—a memoir that for several years now, I have known I would one day write. But let’s set the record straight right here. Part, but only part, of the impetus for writing my memoir at this time, is the publishing of our daughter’s [Tara Westover’s] book, Educated.
I want to tell the story of my life as I really lived it. I want my grandchildren to know who their grandmother is and was, and I want to be a force for good in their lives. Also, I feel a compelling desire to shine a light of accuracy on homeschooling, herbal medicine, and the living of a conservative and Christian way of life.
There are few books that underline the services of mothers as well as Educating by LaRee Westover. To evaluate anyone’s life decisions without knowing their story is a faulty act of foolishness, at best, or hate at the worst. Everyone wishes to be seen for their whole self in thoughts, feelings, and reflective experiences. I wish we could all see the beauty inherent in each heart. This memoir gives us that small glimpse into the life of a unique woman.
Remember that no one is perfect! Of the many mothers who have ever lived, I doubt any have been perfect. I have thought about how my children will speak of and remember me one day. I hope it is with kindness remembering the times I really showed them love instead of my tired or troubled times.
I wish I had done a better job of teaching my own children to work. It can be tiring and children seem to intuitively know how to wear parents down with complaints or other behavior to get out of the maximum amount of work. But I keep on trying as I learn to parent better. I want my children to learn self-reliance so that they can be competent adults. LaRee and Val’s experiences teaching their children to work inspires me.
I like that she shows us teaching children is the responsibility of parents first, whether they are in the public school system, where LaRee was educated, or in a homeschool. Interestingly it was the possibilities for a different way to learn that inspired us to homeschool as well. Like LaRee and Val, my husband and I reflected on our education and felt we wanted to inspire our children to enjoy learning. The Westovers had more interesting and valid reasons for homeschooling that were moving. One thing they chose to do was encourage their children to always do their best and help make decisions about their education. This pursuit of excellence likely is the reason all of their children, except one, went to college and got several degrees.
I found her experience with children having different personalities from the rest very relatable. Tara’s resentment of being homeschooled is not common but does occur occasionally with some homeschooled children. I had a child who had always dreamed of riding the yellow school bus to school from watching The Magic School Bus. We had hoped his experience would be enjoyable when I put him in a local school for a year but it was very unpleasant. He chose to return to homeschool the next year.
Like most homeschooling families I know, it sounds like the Westovers had an overabundance of books. It was great to see I may not be the only one who hopes my children will choose to read because of the love of learning we try to instill in their hearts. But like any family, some children are harder to motivate to read or do school work than others. I’m sure all you mothers out there know what I’m talking about! The good thing is even the hardest children learn while the rest of the family discusses interesting topics or works on projects.
As I mentioned in the previous post, I was excited to read about LaRee’s introduction to herbalism and midwifery. She explains in this book religious and natural health terms simply as she tells her story so readers will be able to keep in touch with what is happening.
I know it must seem odd that I could read this book before it was published! I count it a miracle too! There was a health conference I attended last year where Laree Westover was a vendor. I had been a Butterfly Express customer for several years and so was excited for a chance to speak with LaRee. In our conversation, I found out she was planning on writing her memoir. I asked if I could review it on my blog.
I learned in Educating that LaRee’s introduction to herbs began after Val’s leg broke because they wanted to try the recent therapy used by football players. They were impressed by how quickly and completely the herbs combined with the therapy healed his leg. I think that is similar to how most of us who use herbs; after seeing the great results the first time, you fall in love and keep using them. Perhaps there are more possibilities in healing the body than most of us have realized. As I read, I could sympathize with their desire to not go to the hospital any more than needed. I was relieved to try herbs myself for a small cut after a traumatic experience at the emergency room.
For those readers who have not experienced herbs for themselves, these stories may seem incredible. To me, the thought of using essential oils and herbs was strange at first until I finally tried them and saw how quickly they can heal the body. I believe God created plants to benefit humans in multiple ways including healing from illnesses or wounds. You may have noticed the excitement in science over the possibility of undiscovered plants in the Amazon that could inspire new heath care drugs. Yes, these things are truly marvelous in my opinion!
This first time she had a baby born at the hospital was traumatic. The results were that she found a midwife to work with and eventually trained to become a midwife too. I loved the story of one birth in particular! Her midwifery resulted in her not only helping her family financially, it also inspired them to continue learning and believe that they could do hard things too!
Stories from LaRee’s growing up years helped give context to her children’s life experiences. Most were funny. A few were sad. I can do it myself is what nearly every child says at some point as they begin to learn. I had one child who learned to read, like LaRee did, from watching a sibling learning to read. Children aren’t limited to their own subject matter and on grade curriculum. They can learn from and be inspired by each other.
“There are significant differences between self-publishing a book and submitting a manuscript to a publisher. One important difference is that when an author signs with a publisher, the author may be relinquishing at least some control over the content of their book. Final editorial decisions often rest with the publisher, even if those decisions are contrary to the author’s wishes. The motivations of author and publisher may not always be aligned.”
This is true from all I’ve read about traditional publishing. It makes me wonder how much of her daughter’s book was changed by her editor and publishing team. It also makes sense why LaRee Westover chose to self-publish instead of seeking a publisher.
Reading about Tara’s experience with a therapist and her subsequent blame of her parents reminded me of someone I know. She also blamed her parents for her lack of opportunities, her memories of events differed from mine, and she split between family members. I felt sad for both women. Growing up and taking responsibility for one’s own emotions is hard sometimes. It takes a lot of courage to delve into self-reflection and forgive others for minor and major offenses. LaRee humbly admits she has more growing to do as most people have. I was impressed by the way she spoke of her daughter with kindness and love.
We may not be perfect but I believe all real mothers want their children to succeed. This mother, LaRee Westover, chose to follow the beat of her own drum just trying to do the best she could raising her children to be caring responsible adults. In doing so, she gave her children the gift of being able to truly follow their desired path whether in hobnobing with the elite at Cambridge and Harvard, serving in the voluntariness of their family business, or beyond.
If you have read Educated by Tara Westover, I challenge you to receive the rest of the story and see the rest of the family’s perspective in LaRee’s book Educating. You may find yourself laughing and crying your way through as I did! The beautiful language makes it an excellent read with fascinating stories. It will have you believing in the reality of God’s modern day miracles! If you like inspirational memoirs, I also recommend reading The Memory Catcher: When Angels Speak, Who Will Listen? by Sarah Hinze!
I received a free copy of this book. All opinions are completely my own.
The Indiegogo campaign for Educating is now over
This link (below) is my Butterfly Express affiliate link. This is the first affiliate link ever on this blog! If you prefer, you can also search for the book from Butterfly Express and bypass the affiliate link! I will add links to retail store pages when I see it available in stores!