We have been on an attachment parenting path since before Nic’s conception, preparing for childbirth, learning to be responsive,  breasfeeding, babywearing, co-sleeping, avoiding separations from the baby… (The other 2 ‘ideals’ of AP, as formulated by Dr. Sears, who coined the phrase, are: positive discipline and maintain a balance in your family life.)

And here we are, almost ten years later, (10! Nic will be 10 in August) still learning about nurturing children and ourselves all along the way.

Attachment parenting, or rather the people it helped us to become, led us to homeschooling. We knew Nic well, having responded to his needs and having kept him close all those years, and we knew that a) we didn’t want to have him pulled away from us at the tender age of 5 for kindgergarten; and, b) he’d not do well in a group environment. So we made the choice to homeschool. We didn’t know how long we’d do that. We didn’t have an ‘end date’ already preprogrammed. We just stepped into it.

Now I couldn’t imagine any other way. I see the neighbor children getting on a bus at 8:30 every morning and then arriving back home at 4:30 every afternoon. Eight hours of the day, just gone. While I am not here to judge the choices of another family, I can say that for me, for my children, that just seems heartbreakingly long.

So we continue to homeschool.

For most of these homeschooling years I’ve found that unschooling has been our prefered path. Again, this is an outgrowth of our attachment-parenting style. We have watched each of these little wonders do everything, explore everything, become everything, because it was in their nature to do so. I have been blessed to watch the natural scientist in each of them operate. I have been blessed to watch two of them learn to read, simply because there were books to read and they wanted to do it themselves. There was no cajoling, no tutoring, no pressure. They just did it.

I’ve resisted the temptation (and it is strong some days) to turn to a forced, formal curriculum for our homeschooling days. If it didn’t flow, if it seemed contrived or artificial, I simply didn’t want it to be part of our path.

And yet I find myself here, navigating our transition from being waldorf-inspired unschoolers to being waldorf-homeschoolers…and it seems *right* and appropriate.

The more I learn about the waldorf perspective, the more I respect that it is, in my opinion, very AP-friendly.

Here are a few notes I jotted down whilst reading at the Christopherus Homeschool blog:

-By being with mama a child learns how to be in the world.
-She learns about cooking, about caring for the home, about taking a walk and visiting neighbors, about caring for pets and a garden…
-She learns by doing, by imitating and by being immersed in the loving presence of an adult who cares about her as an individual.
-A boundary she also must learn is the one which lets her know that althought she is important, she is not the center of the universe.
-She learns how to interact socially with others.

I’m beginning to chance my perception of what my children need of me. That doesn’t mean being less AP, actually, I think, it means being more at the heart of really understanding it.

I’ve long seen the extremes, on the one end, too much structure, too much sitting at a table/desk and doing forced work; at the other end, no structure. And I’ve known, as with all things, that there is a middle point somewhere that represents balance.

For me, that balance has to do with engagement.
Surprisingly enough, what they most need is ME.
What is very difficult is knowing how to provide that to them, sustainably, on an ongoing basis.

So here I am, fully aware that my presence in this family is crucial. I say with absolutely no arrogance or expectation of praise, that I am the heart of this family, without which it begins to crumble. Each of these children NEED me for their survival, or at least to thrive. It’s a big responsibility when one takes it seriously.

I work everyday to engage in the lives they have brought to me.
I cannot just provide them with healthy food and a safe (moderately clean) home.
I have to really *see* the light in their eyes when they tell me their thoughts, their dreams, their fears.
I need to let them see the light in my eyes when they show me their work, their grand creations.
I need to read to them with enthusiasm and connection, creating voices for the characters and facial expressions and crescendos of text.

In short, I have to give them everything I have and everything I am on a daily basis. This is not self-sacrificial. At least not if I do it in the right way, with the right intent, and with a willing heart. For in the giving I am filled back up.

Continuing to do the ‘inner work’ that is part of preparing oneself for the ‘waldorf path’ is helping me with this. I have been stretched and challenged and enlightened and bettered by this process.

It is centering and grounding. It has led me to seeing that I endeavor to be like a tree. Trees are so very strong and durable. They grow to amazing heights, even while starting from tiny seeds. They bend when the winds come, but only infrequently break. They mold around obstacles. They dig their roots down very, very deep to find stability and needed resources. They provide rich, diverse habitats for many creatures. And even when their lifespan is over, they continue to provide nourishment for years to come.

I endeavor to be like a tree; flexible, resourceful, strong, durable and mostly…able to provide almost limitless resources, all whilst remaining firm, solid, rooted.

Somedays I navigate this balance well…reading to the children and getting housework done…building with legos and putting a few rows on the knitting…listening to their dreams and remembering to have a few of my own.

Somedays the balance eludes me.

And I blog about all of it here.

peace to you,
Mary

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