Launching Into Life

I am Christian, and today is the first day of Lent.  Many people are familiar with the custom of receiving ashes on this day, Ash Wednesday.  It is a day where we hear the refrain, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

But Ash Wednesday is more than that, it is a promise of light coming to shine out of darkness.  It is a promise of joy to come.  It is a promise of things that we cannot see, but that will move us and change us for the better forever.

I find this season of waiting during the last semester of senior year much like this.  Senioritis, slogging through that last bit of school, waiting for college acceptances, can all feel a little uninspiring or like a very long path without a lot of variation in the days.  But there is promise and joy to come.

Our oldest has an amazing brightness ahead of her, and we are thrilled for her new journey and adventures.  But that hasn’t blinded me to the gamut that mothers feel around this time with their seniors because sometimes it can feel dark or at the very least like a gray path that no one else is taking in the rush of the “lasts” of senior year.

If your child is going on to trade school or the military, I see you.

If your child is in the throes of addiction and trying to get healthy, I see you.

If the bad choices and lack of responsibility of your teenager have been difficult this year, I see you.

If you are worried that your child is socially immature or easily swayed by peers and now headed away from home, I see you.

If you are worried because your child is fighting anxiety, depression or anything else, I see you.

If you feel like you are losing your best friend and you aren’t sure what you are doing after this because you have put so much into parenting, I see you.  Graduation is a change for parents too.

I see you all and I love you.  Change is inevitable; some seasons are easier than others.  Children do grow into adults that also have responsibility and choices to make in how they live their lives and we cannot do that for them but that transition between their responsibility and how much to step in can be a blurry line at times.

May we all look forward to the promise of spring, the promise of renewal, the promise of good days to come.

Many blessings on this Ash Wednesday,
Carrie

Observing Lent

This time of year in the Northern Hemisphere can bring to mind eating cleansing greens such as nettles, dandelion, leeks, chevril and fasting.  It can also bring to mind spring cleaning.  For those observing Lent, which runs from Ash Wednesday through the Thursday before Easter,  this season can also make one think of:

  • Stillness
  • Focus
  • Promise
  • Transformation
  • Self-Reflection

I think this can be tricky with children, especially small children as much of the true Lenten work can be a  time of true adult inner growth and spiritual work.  However, I do think there are ways to observe Lent as adults and to include the entire family.

My church and I think of Lent in three parts, with a few ideas for each area gathered from my spiritual advisor and myself:

Self-Reflection, Repentance

  • Keeping a daily journal of thoughts and feelings
  • Praying
  • Hiking in Nature (yes, this may seem an odd one but what better place to feel connected to the world and to connected to onself for reflection than being out in nature?)
  • Schedule a meeting with your spiritual advisor

How to observe with children – setting a Lenten mood can be as easy as watching the sun rise or set every day, or observing the same tree every day at a particular time, or hiking and seeing the wonder in the world, make a Lenten calendar

Reading and Meditating on Spiritual Matters:

  • I will be using Saying Yes to Life as a daily meditation
  • Read a poem a day, create poems
  • Re-read a profound children’s book such as Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, Wrinkle in Time
  • Create music and art

How to observe with children:  Attend church together, read together, start a gratitude jar for Lent, share music and art creations

Prayer, Fasting, Self-Denial

  • Turn your screens off on Sunday
  • Get off social media for Lent
  • Create a prayer list for those you don’t know and those you do
  • Skip a meal a day

How to Observe With Children – sit for one to five minutes in silence, create a ritual of praying for others, do secret acts of kindness, writing a thank you a day or a week to someone special, creating a true day of rest for the family with lots of family games and family time

More ideas from past posts regarding Lent:

2019 Lent: Pilgrimage of the Soul

2018: What I Want My Children to Learn During Lent

2018: The Wonder of A Simple Lent

2014: Celebrating Lent and Holy Week With Children

2013: Favorite Books For Lent

2011 Lenten Ideas

I would love to hear your amazing ideas for Lent!

Blessings,
Carrie

 

Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles

I love Chapter 14 of this book because it is about balancing boundaries and independence, which is something I think as parents we are always riding the line between, no matter what the age of our children.

Part of boundaries and setting limits, particularly for toddlers and onward could be to offer two small choices (either one acceptable), follow through on the choices (I can hold you if you sit quietly or I can put you down), and then be able to not be afraid of the child’s protest, outburst, anger, or sadness. We follow up with the ability to try again.  I like what Mary Sheedy Kurcinka says on page 245: ” When you say yes, you give her a sense of autonomy, a chest-pumping pride of acheivement, a glowing sense of capablity.  When you say no, you are teaching her when and how to stop herself.”

The challenge, of course, is to get the balance right – so many parents say no to each and every thing until the child doubts his or her own capablity, and so many parents never say no to anything at all, meaning the child never learns how to stop him or herself.  It is much harder for older teens and young adults to figure out how to stop themselves and give themselves limits if this was never ever modeled or taught earlier.

Finding that balance can be individual for each child – age, circumstance, but also temperament,  developmental age and maturity, along with  your family’s values. We all want our children to be capable, so sometimes it bothers parents that in order for this to happen we have to model our best decision making for our children, and yes, gradually  helping our child learn to control him or herself.  We teach and we guide.

Manners and safety become good places to start with boundaries and then increasing independence.  Manners are actually important, because it is a sign of respect for other people, and because we all live together. Safety is something  we can’t negotiate on and must set boundaries. Safe doesn’t mean smothering, however, especially as our child grows toward independence and being on their own.  We support our children when they are young and help them move toward the point where we provide guidance.  This is possiblity no where as true than in the older teen years.   Our boundaries are guided by our family values.  The author gives the example of the Olympic ski-jumping champions on page 252.  She writes, ” I have to admit I’d have stopped them from jumping off the roof onto their mattresses even if they’d wanted to.  Today, my kids are not champion ski jumpers.  Theirs are.”

Sometimes when children are younger, what comes up is, “Well, so and so can do this. Their family does this.” That is the point though! Ultimately, not all families have the same rules or the same emphasis on things like work, play, adventure, etc.  We need to look at the child in front of us and figure out how to not only meet that child’s needs and temperament, but how to do that within our family value system.  Sometimes family mission statements are awesome for honing in on that – if you would like to see a back post about that, see Creating A Family Mission Statement

We need to respect our children’s no answers, but sometimes older children need a nudge.  The author points out on page 261 that helping to support a child through sometimes fearful sometimes requires nudging and that nudging is not pushing.  Whether it is learning to ride a bike, potty training, driving a care – sometimes children need a nudge.  It involves talking to your child about what is bothering them about the situation, and seeing what you can do to help support through that.  We also need to be careful to recognize that children may be doing things, just not the way we would do them and that is okay.

What did you all think of this chapter?  There aren’t too many more chapters left in the book and then we will be on to our next book!

Blessings,

Carrie

Monsoon Weather

I had a dear friend the other day liken her year to being a “monsoon year.”  I can relate to that – some years are like that, I have found and I really love that analogy of how just sometimes its overwhelming.

Some monsoon years our partners stand with us and help us find the sunshine in the monsoon.  But,  sometimes it is just enough to have  a partner stand with us in the monsoon and know that honestly, there is no sunshine coming right now.

Sometimes a person helps us steer the boat in the monsoon and all we can do is just try to hang on through it, exhausted and tired.

Sometimes people jump out of the boat while we are in the monsoon, leaving us alone to come out through the trials and tribulations,  but stronger on the other side.

Monsoon years can be hard.

They can be terrible, and feel never-ending.

They can be overwhelming even if they are not wholly terrible – sort of the “I am dancing as fast as I can” spot.

But I can tell you the one thing about monsoon years –

You come out different than  you were.

You mature and gain some wisdom and some empathy for yourself and others, if you let yourself.

If you feel yourself growing bitter just because life has been unfair (it often is),  you have to do the work, pull yourself up, because it’s probably time.

If someone left you in your time of need, know that there will be other people.  Wonderful people.  Know that love is there and around and on its way to you.  Know also, that in long term relationships, marriages, partnerships, and parenting, rocky points happen.  It’s fairly inevitable.  The question is what you choose to do with it.

If you are having a monsoon year, I am sending you love. It’s hard, but it will end.  It will get better and you are doing a great job with where you are right now in this moment.

Blessings,

Carrie

 

 

 

Glowing February

February can be a hard month for many people living in cold and dark climates and where it seems as if winter is dragging on forever.  I like to think of February as a month of illumination and light, which helps me counteract the darkness and think of February as a month of celebrating all kinds of love and light in the world.

This month we are celebrating:

Black History Month – Of course Black History IS World history and American history and should be in every subject we teach every month, but it’s also wonderful to take a renewed look at wonderful books and biographies this month.  Watch @theparentingpassageway IG and The Parenting Passageway Facebook page for our library hauls this month

February – Mardi Gras! (until Lent, of course)

February 2 – Candlemas

February 14 – St. Valentine’s Day (you can see this post about Celebrating Valentine’s Day in the Waldorf Home

February 17- Presidents Day

February 26- Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent  (try this post about Lent from last year with lots of links and ideas:  Lent – Pilgrimage of the Soul )  (and I am very excited to read the Archbishop of Canterbury’s 2020 Lenten book selection)

Lovely things to do with children this month:

Make Valentine’s Day cards; plan little treats and crafts for Valentine’s Day; make window transparencies; dip candles; roll candles; play board games or card games with your children;  draw, paint, model; whittle wood; make popcorn together; bake together; play in the snow – build snow forts; have snowball fights; snowshoe; downhill or cross country ski;  ice skate on a pond; read and tell stories; build forts inside; take a walk outside in the cold – look for animal tracks or berries or birds or all of the above; knit, crochet, cross stitch, finger knit, spin, sew; sing and make music together – learn some new songs; clean, scrub, dust, work around the house – rearrange furniture; go bowling or find an indoor swimming pool to swim in; write letters to family and friends; write stories together; snuggle on the coach with hot chocolate and marshmellows; cook for a neighbor; find a place of worship to attend and get involved; throw a party; clicker train your dog, cat, or other animal; take care of plants; start seeds indoors when it it is time, grow sprouts in the kitchen or a little microgarden.

Thoughts about Homeschooling:

This is the month I find myself thinking about plans for the fall.  I think I often get a little bored and restless this time of the year – maybe you do too!  This could be a great month for skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, surfing if you live somewhere you can do that or swimming – in other words, break the rhythm up with physical activity outside.  It can be really helpful!

Waldorf homeschooling is intensive and difficult at times. It requires a lot of planning and a lot of ourselves as teachers, so I think we should be easy with ourselves, especially in February and especially when we have all very young children close in age or large spans of ages, it can be a complete struggle to meet everyone’s needs.  I understand why people drift away from Waldorf homeschooling to unschooling, or to field trip/road trip schooling or something where you can combine more as opposed to Waldorf.  I have zero judgement about that.  I also understand why those who love Waldorf Education sometimes move to an area where they have a Waldorf school available. I think we need to be easy on ourselves and find what rejuvenates us, and to be honest and real when teenagers are older and the homeschool season is just changing.  For some families it doesn’t change, and that is great, but for many families there can be a lot of guilt and angst about switching either homeschooling methods or educational choices in middle and high school. It’s okay that things don’t stay the same if that is what the child or family needs.  Our job is to prepare our children for the future in the right time and in the right manner for that child.  They need to be functional adults!

My own little homeschooling corner of the world:

Our fourth grader finished a block on Norse Myths and now we are into a block I designed on Birds of Prey since that is a main interest.  Our high school freshmen is  still at a hybrid school, and our high school senior is finishing up the year with acceptances at all the universities applied to with scholarship money – so now we just have decisions to make about the best place to attend, which is a lovely place to be.

I would love to hear from you about your plans for February!

Blessings,

Carrie