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On reflection

My daughter’s reaction to not being allowed to watch My Little Pony. Nice. Ironic 😂

You’ve heard that cobblers children have the worst fitting shoes right? I think this applies well to me. Don’t let this site fool you into thinking I know what I’m doing as a parent. I am a passionate and experienced educationalist but as a parent I’m mostly baffled. Yes, I am guided by Montessori philosophy -and my training is coming in useful for homeschooling- but most of the time I’m the antithesis of ‘Montessori’; threatening, bribing, huffing and puffing, exasperatedly putting my daughter in front of a screen trying to get a moment’s peace. Total hypocrite.

It’s taken me a very long time (6 years) to finally give myself a break and accept that parenting a child is a very different ball game to ‘teaching’ a child. Other people’s children are lovely and I see all the good and potential in each one (no matter what behaviours they display) I remain patient and kind, and retain my sense of humour. My own daughter, well, she brings things out in me I never knew existed! Too close to the bone I suppose. And she behaves in ways with me I know she wouldn’t with other people. My patience and sense of humour fly out the window! Of course, exacerbated by this winter lockdown.

As a Montessori teacher, we are trained to be mindful and reflective practitioners.

We are very aware of what we say, how we say it, how we move, our body language, our mood... to make sure we can be a positive and steady force to scaffold the children in our care. During our training we go through what Maria Montessori called ‘the spiritual preparation of the teacher’, and during this time we reflect upon our preconceived ideas, our prejudices, our personalities and think about what aspects are helpful and what are not so helpful when best serving the child. It’s a process that helps the adult to remove their ego from the equation and realise that to really follow the child one has to be completely open to trusting in the child to know what they need, and to act as a guide without asserting ones own ego or beliefs too forcibly on to them. Maria Montessori created her educational philosophy in opposition to the many adults in history who have believed children to be empty vessels that know nothing and need the all powerful and mighty adult to fill them full of knowledge and mould them into their form. Alas some still do!

Reflecting is now second nature to me, but unfortunately it’s become more of a ‘keeping me awake at night beating myself up for being a s**t mother’ kind of reflection and not at all helpful. I have therefore made a parenting reflection activity that I try and do most evenings. It’s really helping me (download link below if you think it might help you too).

We are all fallible. Every parent before us has been, and every parent after us will be. It’s ok. It’s life. It’s learning. I might let her watch too many cartoons, I might roll my eyes and tell her to stop crying when she’s fallen over, I might be constantly telling her to ‘hurry up’ or use sweet food to bribe her, I might have let her see me in some highly emotional states, I might spend too much time looking at my phone.. but I’m here for her, always, and love her beyond anything I could imagine (even in moments when we don’t like each other much). Although there are tough times, the good far outweigh the bad and she brings me so much joy. I cherish feeling her little hand in mine, knowing that it’s not going to last forever. Time goes so quickly, and each period of her growth brings a different set of joys and challenges. It’s a bloody rollercoaster!

What I try to keep telling my self is that she is not me. She is her own person. I need to let her be her own person. Just because I had a bad time at school, doesn’t mean she will. Just because I always felt misunderstood, doesn’t mean she does. One of the main things I have learnt to reflect on now, is what are/were my feelings and what are hers. I’m learning to empathise without projecting. Not always easy, but awareness and reflection are the first step I suppose.

Now, I’m going to pour myself a nice glass of red, get in a hot bubble bath and give myself a good pat on the back. The sink is over flowing with dishes, my daughter went to bed covered in felt tips, I’ve done my best today, and I’m sure you have too. Like me, I’m sure you don’t judge your friends or others harshly on their parenting, so don’t judge yourself harshly either. Praise yourself for the positive things you’ve done today, and let anything negative go. Tomorrow is a new day.

here‘s the link for reflection pdf

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