Naming the struggles: transition to life with a new baby

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(“Maternity” (1935) by José de Almada Negreiros via P. Ribeiro Simões, Flickr CC)

“You name our suffering, and that makes us want to come close to You.”

(Rev. Glenn Hoburg, Grace Presbyterian Church)

The second I heard those words, I put down my pen and slammed my journal shut.

Did I hear that right? I thought. How did he know? How was it possible that those words, preached in a church about the New Testament book of Romans, could have anything to do with my parenting a three-year old and a 10-month old baby?

Although uttered in the form of a prayer, referring to God’s relationship with His children, that sentence immediately reminded me of my three-year old daughter, E., life with a new baby (yes, still, 10 months later), and my ability to accept – and confront – all of E.’s feelings.

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Home Tour, Montessori style

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Several months ago I wrote a post about how we invited Montessori into our home.

While I may have only scratched the surface of what Montessori means, I have come to understand that it is more than just a type of school or style of education; it’s a framework that guides my parenting, a new lens through which I see my daughter. Montessori is a way of life. And, that includes how I have prepared my home for my daughter.

Today I’d like to invite you into our two-bedroom city apartment. Not to show you the massive Rita Hayworth portrait above my credenza, or the random CraigsList finds I’ve scored over the years, or my 1940s record player. (I do love my vintage record player, though!) Rather, to show you how we’ve made room for children.

Before becoming a mom, I always swore that I would never, ever turn my house upside down to accommodate my kids. Call me selfish, call me vain. But, I guess at the heart of it, I didn’t want to make my child/-ren the center of the home. I feared having garish plastic toys screeching out the ABCs on repeat on my living room floor.

However, I’ve come to understand that accommodating a child in your home is not the same as making her the center of the universe. In Montessori there is a lot of talk about the “prepared environment:” “…Maria Montessori’s concept that the environment can be designed to facilitate maximum independent learning and exploration by the child.”

Today, I’d like to share with you how, through the basic principles of Montessori, D. and I have, little by little, made room for our daughter.

Those principles of the prepared environment are:

-Is each room safe for the child?

-Is each room accessible and welcoming to the child?

-Is each room clean, orderly, and peaceful?

-Is each room aesthetically appealing, beautiful?

-Does each room facilitate the child’s independence and learning?

E. is an equal member of our family, so it seems only right that she has a part in each room of our apartment, an indicator to her that she is welcome everywhere (minus my shoe collection…ha!) and a reminder to D. and I that we live with a little person with different needs than our own.

So, bienvenidos a nuestra casa.

Continue reading