I get it. I really do. It’s easy to see the million and one activities landscaped across beautifully decorated rooms on Pinterest and think ‘Am I the only mom not making homemade…everything?’ It’s easy to see the piles of unfolded laundry beginning to mix with the dirty laundry, the crumbs on the floor, and that curtain rod you meant to hang two months ago still waiting in the corner. It’s easy to think everyone else has it all together and their kids magically obey their every word and think each activity and idea is the best thing ever.
But that’s just not true.
There was a day a few weeks ago where our school time was just not working. Like, not at all. I was growing more and more frustrated insisting Joey do his math correctly, while he was pretending he didn’t know how to count above 30. *insert dead stare* Yeah. It was one of those times you’re irrationally frustrated and you know things are only going to escalate.
I wanted to make the day work so bad. I had plans for our theme unit. (By the way, we started our human body unit in February and we’re still working on. You’re not the only way “behind.”) Plans to happily read books curled up on the couch together, to encourage the kids to do practical life and work on extensions with the pink tower and brown stair.
But I also knew that if I kept pushing (hello, so not Montessori), the day and our attitudes would only get worse. Still frustrated and disappointed, I stopped my pushing and we put away the materials and went our separate ways.
It’s days like that, which happen more often than I’d like them to, where I feel like a failure as a home educator, Montessorian, and parent. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve done the opposite of my educational beliefs and I feel like I need to give up my Montessori card.
At the end of the day I was sharing with a friend how the whole day was derailed. But as I was going over the things that happened instead, I realized by letting go of my plan we shared real life within the Montessori schism. The boys made their own sandwiches for lunch (practical life), they played board games (community, taking turns, following rules), Joey worked with Otto on his numbers (older child helping/teaching the younger). This was a special moment I got to listen as the boys were playing a card game and Joey began to hold up two cards and ask Otto which number was bigger. It was amazing to see how Joey naturally knew how to teach him and Otto followed. Even when Otto answered incorrectly, Joey would simply ask him again which number was bigger.
It was everything I could have asked for in a school day. It just didn’t happen the way I planned.
But here’s what I think. We can come up with these great big ideals, but when they don’t work the way we expected them too, when life’s regular interruptions occur, we can hold on so tightly to our ideals we begin to lose sight of what’s important. If I’m trying so hard to fit our lives into this square image of how I think Montessori homeschooling should work for us it’s going to be a battle. I’m going to miss things and become the drill instructor instead of the guide.
Sometimes we need to loosen our ideals to let in the real living, and with that the true learning, while leaving our misplaced guilt at the door. Follow the child. Watch and observe. What do they need? It’s not always what’s written in our planner.
What’s a lesson you’ve learned recently?