My View From Here.

Iwrote a post on June 15, one month ago, listing my five wishes for the upcoming school year:

  • Funding for early childhood education.
  • Hire more teachers, not less.
  • Provide more mental health support in schools.
  • Offer more time to play.
  • Include teachers in the reopening conversations.

Now, that post feels trite in response to the current conversation about reopening schools. Parenting decisions are numerous, and I continue to navigate through my own parenting decision making process. A process that began 21 years ago when I learned I was pregnant with my first child. Right now, I am listening to my inner wisdom, and learning to trust myself more and more, which is not always easy.

There have been moments of confusion, unsettledness, and strong feelings in my house with two young adults. I have to remind myself to stay connected to my center. My emotional regulation is first, then my brain (and heart) will be more open to solutions. I am also a kinder, gentler communicator, which helps tremendously.

“You are your child’s first teacher.” A phrase I keep recalling, as well as these 3 beliefs:

  • The best gift I can give my child is my presence.
  • Children have an innate desire to learn.
  • Parenting is hard work. I am doing the best I can.

Presence is key. The more calm and settled I am as a parent, the more available I am for the moment. As I look back, I can see that many of my successful parenting moments were often the simplest. Keeping things simple created more space for enjoyment and spontaneity. I gave myself permission to relax, which is true now also.

I also valued, and continue to value, a routine. Having a rhythm for the day is my precursor to presence. However, a schedule is not meant to be inflexible. A general flow for the day can be soothing for those of us who like predictability. My classrooms had visual schedules for the day. We also constantly would read the room, do we need a change in activity or scenery? Like riding a bike, it requires balance while moving forward.

I’ve learned to keep things simple and release high expectations. Self-care is really important. 

Follow their lead in learning. One of my favorite parts of teaching and mothering is listening. Children are wise, funny, and genuinely interested in the world around them. In my classroom, I would observe open playtime with great care. I paid attention to themes, language, and the ideas children were sharing. I listened carefully to their dialogue and questions. Children’s interest can be great motivators for learning.

Let them play and see what arises. Enrich with music, movement, art, and nature experiences.

Trust your instincts. As a first-year teacher, a colleague reminded me, “Parents are doing the best they can.” At that moment, I was not a parent. Now, as a mother, I really, truly, honestly, and deeply understand this.

My sons are grappling with young adult issues and decisions. There are no clear or easy answers, so I must practice patience and stay in relationship with them as they navigate their decision making process. The landscape continues to shift and change, so I am focusing on what I can control. Here, I feel more empowered.

The serenity prayer comes to mind these days: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

Resources. I also believe that working together and supporting each other in communities will help navigate the road ahead. Overused, yet still true, we are in this together. Consider the following:

  • Reach out and build community connections nearby.
  • Seek out local resources for more support.
  • Collect and research online resources.

I encourage, applaud, and celebrate all parents making whatever decision works for them. Being our child’s first teacher means we are doing excellent and essential work every day. Rest in that.

Photo credit: Ornella Binni @unsplash