Family life, parenting

While you’re busy making other plans

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“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

I was recently reminded of this old John Lennon quote, but it had never struck me as so true as it does here and now in my life as a parent.

There are so many schedules, plans, activities, theories, ideas, dreams, and narratives that my adult mind so easily gets tangled up in that I can miss what’s happening right here, right now: life.

I might over-schedule a series of “festive activities” and feel disappointed that my family doesn’t appreciate how hard I’m working or resentful that my kids are too strung. I can fall into visions of perfection, diving deep into homeschooling resources, sure that the doldrums or challenges we’re encountering could be solved if I bought just the right curriculum. In the past I could tell myself a story of frustration about why the baby is waking in the night, or why the toddler is melting down. I’ve become envious or suddenly bitten by perfectionism after seeing someone else’s child achieving something on Instagram.

Meanwhile, in this season the evenings are dark and the mornings are long, and my children come into the kitchen each morning with sleepy smiles. We have spent many hours this week cozied on the couch, reading aloud to each other. I’ve had spontaneous cups of tea with loved ones and watched my kids fling fistfuls of freshly fallen snow into the air. I’ve received gifts so precious, so commonplace, that I stop seeing them as gifts at all.

Meanwhile, life is happening.

It can be useful and energizing to find inspiration and education, and it’s important to keep visioning and wondering, but I’m going to set an intention to try to catch myself at the moment where my mind tips into expectation, anxiety, or daydreams of perfection.

I’m aiming to keep my feet on the ground, noticing not the plans I have, but the life I’m living. Right here, right now.

It turns out that great John Lennon quote is from his song, “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy),” a song of love, devotion, and presence recorded for Lennon’s son Sean in the summer just before he turned five years old. The song was released in November 1980, and today is the anniversary of John Lennon’s death in that same year. 

 

 

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Family life, Montessori philosophy, Peace education

On a bad day

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Recently, I had a bad day.

A late-for-everything, take-out for supper, yelled at my kids, fat lip of the heart kind of day.

The kind of day where it feels like no matter what I got right, forget how many books I read or the art-making or cooking, it still doesn’t feel like I’m really connecting with my kids. The kind where it feels like every time I sat down to eat, or text a friend, or take a shower, it got interrupted.

The frustration and the guilt turned into a vicious cycle.

At some point on this terrible, no-good day, I realized: respectful parenting and Montessori ideas are a useful guide for our home not because I’ve got it all together as parent, but because I don’t. The philosophy offers tools and support when my own go-tos fail.

I’ve written before about creating space for children to experience error in order to learn, and it occurred to me that I rarely hold that kind of space for my self. It seems silly really — after all, it’s not as though I have nothing left to learn.

This week I’m trying to be more gracious with myself, as I aim to be with my children, in order to foster learning and growth.

That same frustrating, messy, human day, I read these words in the beloved book The Tao of Montessori by Catherine McTamaney, and felt both seen and buoyed:

“Abandon fault. Leave behind the blame placing. Even the best teaching is messy.”

May your messy days be days of learning too.

 

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