Mara writes: As a tired, busy mama of three kids, six years and under, who often finds herself out of the present moment, it is easy for me to get caught up in what’s going wrong, what I’m not able to do, and how tough parenthood is. In these moments, I admit that sometimes life gets the best of me. Given all that life has handed me in the past two months, it would be understandable to throw in the towel, turn on the TV, and let the kids run amok (more to come on that in a bit). Yet, then a blessing occurs, a tiny miracle happens, and my perspective shifts from what I don’t have and what is “wrong” with my life to what I have right in front of me and all that God has blessed me with. It isn’t a picture-perfect life, but rather a perfectly imperfect one.
Mary writes: I am kneading dough and lost in thought. It is our last supper. Our youngest child is leaving for college in the morning and has requested homemade pizza for her last dinner at home. As she heads upstairs to pack up the final boxes, I work the dough, wondering whether she has learned everything she needs to know before she heads out into the world, hoping she’ll meet people who are kind to her and who appreciate her for the unique and spirited person she is.
It’s funny, I remember as I add a little more flour to the dough, I was worried about these same things eighteen years ago when we sent our first child off to kindergarten. Was he ready? Would the world outside our home receive him with kindness? Some things never change, I guess. At each transition for all three of my children, I have fretted over the same things.
“Our phones are now indelibly bound up with our aesthetic souls.
And today, both are always on.” Robert Capps, WIRED
A couple of years ago, my husband asked me what I wanted for Mother's Day. I told him that all I wanted was to wake up in a tidy house and go to bed at night in a tidy house and that I did not want to clean on that particular Sunday. He looked at me and said, “Can't I just get you a smart phone?” “No thanks,” I laughed, “I don't need a distraction in my pocket.” Honestly, I was never really attracted to the device. I learned to like my simple, small flip phone that made calls and received calls and not much more.
Jennifer writes: A few weeks ago during a visit to my parents’ home, my oldest daughter was working contentedly with her Opa. I was on the phone at the end of the driveway, when suddenly she walked towards me. Making eye contact only briefly, she paraded past me with her chin up and a grin on her lips. She defiantly walked down the sidewalk away from the house never so much as glancing towards me—and I let her go. I let her go to see how far she needed to go.
I haven’t written an article in several weeks, and I have been blaming a writer’s block; I know exactly what I want to say and yet cannot seem to find the words. Several days ago, however, I admitted the unspoken truth: I am burned out. There, I said it (actually, I just got off a bit easier, since I wrote it…). It is difficult for me to admit when I am in need of a break from my children. Actually, I think that may have been one of only three times ever. Ugh, I can barely even write that sentence. What a horrible thing to say when I am so head-over-heels in love with each of them! However, I need to remember that it is not really about taking a break from them, but rather, taking some time for myself. After giving so much of ourselves, each and every one of us needs time to invest in some good ol’ self-care.
I didn’t even know I had it until someone at my LifeWays training mentioned they had caught it when their children were born. C.H.A.O.S., or “Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome” is brought on immediately following the birth of your children. You will find your once semi-orderly home slowly becoming untidy, dusty, and in need of some serious TLC. This all goes unnoticed or, let’s be honest, ignored until someone decides to visit. Then there is no time to spare and you create a fury while you sweep through the house grabbing one baby sock here, dirty dishes there, an old banana peel under the dresser… don’t forget to wipe down the toilet and the bathroom sink because they may just ask to use it…and finally throw everything extra into one bedroom and shut the door. Phew. And that’s if it’s planned. If a neighbor happens to knock and want to share
Several months ago, I repeated something I had been saying to myself for years: “When my oldest, Lucy, is 5, she will be in school and life will be so different.” That’s when I realized, “Hey, wait a minute! She will be 5 this year!” Ever since then, I have felt I have been trying to catch up and wrap my head around the fact that my baby has grown up.
This piece, taken from Jennifer's 2013 LifeWays paper on "Becoming Worthy of Imitation," is the last of three installments.
The Language of Technology
This piece, taken from Jennifer's 2013 LifeWays paper, is the second of three installments:
Becoming Worthy of Imitation
Looking into a child’s beautiful face, one realizes the responsibility that comes with the role of caregiver. It is a mighty thought to conceive: You, with all of your essence, have the power to alter and shape a life with your thoughts, gestures, voice, and sound. That is quite a bit to carry with you every moment of every day as we deal with life’s stresses and find ourselves deep in the future instead of living in the moment. What can we do with this power? How can we change if we find ourselves not who we want to be right now?
This piece, taken from Jennifer’s 2013 LifeWays paper on "Becoming Worthy of Imitation," is the first of three installments on “Using Our Voices.”
My World of Language
When I first discovered my daughter was hiding snug in my tummy, my life changed. As the months progressed, I found myself humming quietly as I prepared for her arrival. I did not seem to notice the drastic changes within myself until I had spent weeks, perhaps months, after the birth staring at her beautiful body and witnessing the life that was continuously transformed in front of me.
“A mighty creature is the germ,
Though smaller than a pachyderm.
His customary dwelling place
Is deep within the human race.
His childish pride he often pleases
By giving people strange diseases.
Do you, my poppet, feel infirm?
You probably contain a germ.”
Beret writes: One of the things I love most about the LifeWays approach to early childhood is the respect given to a child's pace. Children are given ample time to get through any given activity. They are not rushed or told to hurry. Adults do not do things for them even though it may be easier and faster in the moment. Once they are old enough, they are given the time and support needed to complete their own tasks, such as hanging up their coats, getting dressed, etc. Mealtimes and snack times are sit down events, allowing for good digestion, appreciation of the food that has been prepared and each other's company. Lots of time is spent in free play, both inside and outdoors. Adult led academic learning is delayed until grade school. This allows time for the child to grow a healthy physical body, which is the main task of the first seven years.
Jennifer writes: I am one of those people. One of those annoying people that cannot be quite satisfied with the way I am. What I mean is, although I make changes and have even completely transformed since let’s say five years ago, I know I can always improve. To the people around me this comes across as though I am too hard on myself, as though I feel my accomplishments are not good enough. They are good—in fact they are great, perhaps even somewhat astonishing considering the path I was on ten years ago—I just wouldn’t throw that word enough in there. I don’t believe that when it comes to my children, the word enough should ever apply.
Our children are our teachers.
There are so many festivals of light at this time of year, especially in countries where the days grow short. You may have seen pictures of the oldest daughter in Sweden, wearing a crown of burning candles and bringing pastries to the family on the morning of December 13th, Santa Lucia’s Day. (It’s a long, interesting story how this celebration got from Sicily to Scandinavia!)
This festival of light was also celebrated at the Waldorf Institute when we did the teacher training there: all the families with children were invited to leave their homes open the night of December 12th for the Santa Lucia angels to come in singing and give a star cookie to each child they gently awoke. I was living with five adults and three children at the time and decided not to tell anyone else about our angelic visitors, so you can imagine that the adults were even more amazed than the children….
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