Saturday, May 17, 2008

Triggered memories

I read an excellent book review by the Thinking Mother in this week’s Carnival of Homeschooling.

Although I haven’t read Ships Without a Shore, based on the review, I certainly share the author’s viewpoint. Years ago I wrote numerous articles for the Montessori school newsletter about some of those topics...

Montessori preschool – what a long time ago!

One girl in Jacob’s class was an only child. Her parents both worked full-time for a large corporation so they could afford their large, sterile-looking MacMansion where they could have housed a dozen kids. That little girl, who spent mornings at Montessori preschool and afternoons in daycare, prayed that her mother would lose her job. She just wanted to be with her mother. The child cared nothing for the large house.

The greatest gift parents can give their children is their time. Instead, many parents believe that signing up kids for softball, piano lessons, and sending them off on sleepovers is what’s best for them. The parents end up as chauffeurs; the kids end up frazzled and rushed. Where is the one-on-one time? The teaching moments?

I enjoy spending time with a friend chatting over a cup of coffee. In the same way, I love spending time with my children, talking, cooking together, gardening, or just hanging around the living room. When the kids were preschool age, they were far more eager to spend time with me than they are now as teens. But, surprisingly, because of the time that my husband and I spent with them back in their younger years, the relationship we have today is still remarkably close.

It wasn’t always easy to make the time to be with the children. We were an odd family, I suppose. Because my husband was an immigrant and I had more earning power, we decided that he would stay home with the kids and I would work. Oh, it hurt when the kids cried at night for Daddy, not Mommy, because Dad was at home to kiss their boo-boos. But I consoled myself thinking that most Dads are never that close with their kids. Their closeness remains to this day, and sometimes they still choose to confide in Dad instead of Mom. Yes, it still hurts, but I’m still glad that the children are that close to Dad. I never was close to my own dad.

As the kids got older, we juggled our time so we could both work. Both of us were self-employed – George as a general contractor, I as a writer. George took on daytime projects and I stayed with the children. Then in the late afternoon, we would switch: George would take the cranky, worn-out kids and spend the evenings with them, tucking them in as I wrote training documents in my home office.

My fondest memories are from those days of juggling when the children were about 2, 4, and 6. I did all kinds of things that I enjoy with the kids, things that I would never have allowed myself the luxury of doing if not “for the children’s sake.” Finding caterpillars and raising them into Monarch butterflies. Wading in the creek at a nearby park and climbing the shoulder-high waterfall. Hiking in the neighborhood park. Netting tadpoles. Roasting hot dogs over a bonfire in the backyard woods. Catching fireflies in the park.

Today, my older two would rather spend time with their friends than go to the park to catch tadpoles. But 12-year-old Larissa still prefers those quiet one-on-one times with Mom. For now.

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What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
— Albert Pike, Scottish Rite Freemason (1809-1891)