From Montessori Educator to Montessori Mama
The transition to a Montessori mother was not what I had pictured. I had created all types of expectations for myself when I was pregnant with Sage. I had pictured her environment perfectly, day dreamed about days of observing her little movements, and had a routine established in my head on what our days would look like before she was even born.
Well, once she was born, all of that went out the window. I found myself extending the symbiotic period - where a mother and child live in a womb like atmosphere for the first two weeks of the child's life to help adjust them into the world. This period extended until she was almost two months. She slept on my chest, skin to skin, for the very beginning of her life. I had no routine other than doing tummy time in the moments when I needed to make food or shower. The Montessori mobiles that I love so deeply and inspire parents to use - were rarely taken out for her to work with. My baby who refused to sleep anywhere but on top of me was now in our bed. I kept mentally kicking myself going against all protocol that I had learned during my training.
But then, I remembered the core principles of what I teach parents in my classroom- Follow the Child! I was following her needs, and mine, in these sacred moments as I transitioned into a mother. I recognize as an educator in the classroom, I had so much expectations of parents on how they should be with their child because of the Montessori guidelines but now I know, those guidelines are meant to be written by our hearts while keeping the mindset of Montessori.
In Montessori, we teach respect, consent, and consistency from the very beginning of infancy. It's daunting to be told that the major human tendencies and special periods within a baby (and continues to toddlerhood) are order and consistency when as a new mother I couldn't find that within myself. So of course, I wasn't able to implement in my daily routine. So what I chose to do was give myself grace and allowed to follow my instinct.
What I see in today's culture, not specific to Montessori, is that we are driven away from our mother instinct. We are told to buy specific things, be "done" with postpartum after 6 weeks of birth, and go back to our old routine without complaint. But instead, we are navigating the waters of the deep transition that every mother feels when a new child enters the family. I also recognized that listening to my mothering instinct was Montessori! In those early months, I made sure to talk to Sage, ask her permission, involve in her everything we did together while still following my own heart's desires. Like, contact napping and bed-sharing.
I'm learning there is no such thing as black and white in Mothering. The Montessori approach teaches that. Every child is unique and needs specific things within each of their environments. For Sage, after a traumatic birth experience for both of us, she needed to know that I was within reach or else she wouldn't sleep. It was as simple as that. Independence, which is an important Montessori principle, stayed in the back of my head during this decision. Now, Sage at 7 months falls asleep on her own, in our bed, but I don't nap with her anymore and when I put her down for the night - I leave the bedroom to find time for myself. Instead, I create independence by showing her to navigate her world. My whole house is a "yes" space for her. Which means that she can be anywhere and I know it's safe (with the exception of the bathrooms.)
I have naturally carved out a routine for us that implements order, consistency, and independence by allowing her to work (purposeful play) while I'm out of sight. The thing is, if we stick to a specific script that our mind has created, we tend to leave our heart out of decision making. This is why I call myself the Wild Montessori Mama - because I will continue to make decisions with my mother instinct with a Montessori mindset. I see the flexibility now, which I had not before.
So I encourage you mama, caregiver, or educator - follow your heart as well as your mind. I believe that Dr. Montessori had taught us this through the development of the Montessori method that we have come to know and love.