Christmas, Solstice & Hannukah, parenting

Five links to slow you down this season

the snow lady shirley hughes

“The Snow Lady” by Shirley Hughes

Montessori wrote a lot about inner preparation of the adult, meant to culture the sensitivity, peace, and curiosity that is best suited to meeting each child. Whether you are motivated to prepare for the children in your life, or to cultivate a bit of space in your own heart this season, you deserve to move at your own pace, even in December.

Pour a cup of tea and read an article; fill the sink with warm soapy water and hit play. Here are a few bits of space and wonder I’ve gleaned on the web lately:

Shirley Hughes’ BBC Woman’s Hour Takeover  I have such a fondness for the author of Alfie and Doggo (our favourite is her seasonal collection of poems called “Out and About“), and really enjoyed this hour of British radio where Shirley Hughes herself set the agenda. Pour that tea!

Mr Rogers wasn’t just nice — he wanted to take down consumerism

An introduction to storying – that is, telling a story as you craft it, or crafting a story outloud. Winter is the time for stories!

Take Peace! A Corgi Cottage Christmas with Tasha Tudor film on Prime Video. The beloved children’s illustrator shares memories of Christmases past, surrounded by her paints and her corgis. Quite dreamy.

Gaelynn Lea’s Tiny Desk concert (just a quick break from Mariah)

P.S. I’ve been asked whether I’ll have a 2019 gift guide, and the answer is yes! It’s on its way (in its own time).

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Books, Family life, Montessori philosophy, parenting, Peace education

Perfectionism and parenting

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I heard this quote on a podcast recently, and it really grabbed me. There are times I can think of, as a parent, as a teacher, as a blogger, when I know, looking back, that perfectionism has been driving. And none of these have been my best, most effective, or most loving moments.

As I thought about it, I realized perfectionism isn’t actually an end point — it’s not about whether things are “perfect.” It’s always been a motivating or “driving” force, as Brené Brown puts it. It’s about proving myself worthy. And as a parent today, there are all kinds of new ways to push myself into perfectionism.

We meet perfectionism on the way to potentially stressful situations: when we feel we have an audience to impress, like visiting grandparents, meeting a new teacher, or  that first  playdate with new friends. When we have created an expectation for ourselves, like embarking on a family vacation, or preparing and presenting something new to a child (and we’re already thinking ahead to the Instagram post!). We meet perfectionism when we want to others to see us and validate us and our efforts.

It’s not about doing your best, it’s about aiming to arrive at a place when you will have your efforts, have your self, validated by external circumstances.

It’s fundamentally removed from the present moment ad is always pushing on to another, more perfect moment in the future.

I think we all probably know what perfectionism looks like, and even more what it feels like (I get that tension in my gut just thinking about it!). The unholy trinity of perfectionism, fear and shame are powerful forces that can ultimately drive us in the opposite direction of our goals.

You know what perfectionism doesn’t look like? Curiosity. Openness. Vulnerability. Acceptance. Gratitude. Joy. Presence. In fact, maybe these things are the anti-dote.

Let’s hop in that car. Let’s offer curiosity to our children. Let’s offer acceptance to ourselves.

You are a good mother. You are a good teacher. You are worthy. I am worthy.

P.S. All credit to Brené Brown, whose work is really changing the world. I highly recommend any one of her amazing books, but especially Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. If you’re reading this blog, this is the book for you.

If you’re wondering about what embracing imperfection looks like in real, family life, check out this post.

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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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