I began my mothering journey with a ton of confidence. I trusted my instinct, I had strong ideals of how I would parent. I would birth at home without medication, I would find a way to help my baby sleep, I would nurse on cue, introduce veggies before grains, avoid sugar, use anatomical terms for genetalia, answer reproductive questions with openness and honesty. I understood the gravity of my new role and trusted my ability to rise to the challenge.
I did not know was that I’d have trouble breastfeeding. I had no idea that the physical inability for my body to meet my baby’s nutritional needs would trigger a long battle with anxiety. In fact, it wasn’t until four years later, when my third child was born, that I even knew I had anxiety.
Anxiety Stripped My Confidence
I didn’t know that the anxiety would railroad me into “survival mode.” I never realized I’d choose isolation over the challenges of being a working mother and having community. I also didn’t know that a three-year old’s big feelings, tiny body and need of independence would unravel my discipline ideals. I’d never had any instance of “terrible rows” and had never heard the term “threenager”
I quickly learned that my response to my upset children was about me, not them. The rage that filled me when my instructions or requests were met with defiance was MY issue, not theirs.
Powerless and Lacking Tools
Yet, I had ideals I was breaking. When I didn’t know how to make my child comply, or respond in a way that was calm, I didn’t have tools to help me do that. I knew not to hit, but I didn’t know not to speak with sarcasm. I knew not to set my kid up for frustration, but I didn’t realize all the little ways I was doing this.
“Spare the rod, spoil the child” rang through my ears from years of hearing it in the church. I felt the very real pressure of fellow Christians to make my child do the right thing. I felt the pressure of my own ideals and yet I had no idea how to handle a public meltdown, because I too was melting down.
What does anxiety have to do with Montessori?
It is very common to think of Montessori in images of toddlers pouring water, wooden toys and beautiful spaces. It is so much more than materials. As I have aligned myself with Montessori mentors via blogs, podcasts and books I have found a way to spiritually prepare myself as a mother.
“She must acquire a moral alertness which has not hitherto been demanded by any other system, and this is revealed in her tranquility, patience, charity, and humility. Not words, but virtues, are her main qualifications.”
I maintain the importance of ideals. However, I no longer hold the expectation of perfection. I have a language for my human errors, without excusing them. I have the supernatural ability to rise above and tools to make that easier.
That is FREEDOM.
This is why I needed Montessori. Not because I want pretty spaces, though a prepared environment reduces daily struggle.
Not just because this century old educational approach is constantly affirmed by research, though that is great.
Dr. Montessori provides me not only with a good understanding of child development, but also with the awareness that working on myself is the most powerful tool in my parenting.