I’m rereading my very favorite parenting book Simplicity Parenting, a beautiful Waldorf guide to simplifying childhood, and I’ve been having more of an epiphany now than the first time I read it. Seriously, light bulbs have been sparking left and right, and I’ve come to the uncomfortable realization that I’m not really living in alignment with what I want for my family. Doesn’t that suck when that happens??
On the surface, everything looks awesome: I’m a Minimalist. I only own what I truly love. My wardrobe is small. Our family bookshelf holds favorite books only. We don’t have a TV. R has minimal, carefully chosen toys- nothing flashy or noisy. I know minimalism is best for all of us for sure, and especially for her developing brain.
The same thing is true in our daily lives. I don’t feel that R needs constant stimulation, or to be in baby-play groups, or to be bombarded with tons of educational videos. We have simple days with lots of cuddles and visits to the chicken yard and hanging out with her grandparents. Wholesome, slow, quiet, and calm days are what I aim for, although that’s not always what we get, but I definitely try.
So what’s the problem? Well, my bedside table has 5 half-read books on it, and I’ve got a stack of at least 10 books that I haven’t even started yet. I have a bunch of crafts and projects I’ve begun but then never bothered to finish. And I have this awful habit of listening to podcast after podcast, turning them off after 5 minutes if I don’t find them interesting. I have hardly any follow-through. A little, but not much.
This stuff was never a big deal to me before R came along. When I was single, or even when it was just Chris and me, this stuff didn’t really matter. It was more this annoying quirk in my personality that I could laugh off, but it’s a lot harder to do that now. When you have a kid, what seemed like small personality flaws before suddenly become magnified.
As you can see, all this is not lining up. It’s not simple living to have a paper-trail of unread books gathering dust or to subscribe to tons of podcasts that I rarely ever listen to all the way through, or to have a long list of projects waiting in limbo for me to get another burst of inspiration that will motivate me to finish them.
Kids notice these discrepancies. They always notice. They see when our words don’t match our actions, so I can either brush this under the rug in my mind and live an obviously unaligned life, or I can actually take some steps to make things right. When I look at R, I know which one I have to choose. Good thing she’s just a baby and I have a little time to get my sh** in order. Somewhat.
Why is it that through having children we get this unparalleled opportunity to become our most awesome selves? It’s a great perk of reproduction. I definitely didn’t feel the drive for this level of congruency when I was childless. Maybe it’s just me, but to have the home and life I want for my family, I know that it starts with me on the inside. I have to step up my game.
So I’m starting with my collection of half-read books. What’s going on there anyhow? Do I really have the attention span of a goldfish like the scientist’s say? That just can’t go on any longer...R will eventually see my pattern and do the same thing and I’m not ok with that. This one is actually a pretty simple fix- I’m imposing a strict but loving limit of one book at a time for myself. One book at a time. One book at a time. (I had to write that a few times to really drive it home.
The biggest part of my epiphany is that simplicity parenting starts with mec There is no amount of “simplicity parenting”, or minimizing what’s in our home and what we fill our time with, that will make more of a profound impact on my parenting style than simplifying myself first. That means simplifying my thoughts, my impulses, and my attention- you know, basically all the hard stuff.
The thing about motherhood is that it all starts with us. We create the atmosphere and the pace of life and the mood. We have a lot of power, and I don’t mean in any kind of authoritarian way. I just mean we shape actual lives, and that’s amazing. It’s a massively huge responsibility…the biggest. I honestly can’t think of anything bigger. Yes, curing cancer would mean the world, but someone has to produce and raise the ones who can do that.
This sounds old-fashioned, but really how much more modern can it be? Looking at the world, it’s clear that we need a lot more kind, intelligent, wise, and compassionate humans roaming around, and those kinds of people don’t just raise themselves. Well, I’m sure a few have. But for the most part, it takes a loving and attentive family to nurture awesome individuals into adulthood.
So instead of Simplicity Parenting, maybe it should be called Simplicity Motherhood? That’s what I’m going to call it for myself. Everything good will stem from that, and I’m going to start with my books. We’ll see how I do.
What are your quirks that don’t line up with your dreams? I know you’ve got a few, and if you don’t, make some up so I don’t feel like such a flawed human all by myself. Haha not really. But still :)