As a parent of three children, I have often felt like everyone else had it all figured out while I seemed to be missing something. I wanted reassurance . I read all the books and still felt like I wasn’t getting it right.
Reading about what parenting ‘should be’ made me feel like a terrible mother. The ideas presented seemed so doable on paper, but when I tried to use the strategies I was learning about with my family I felt like a failure. Ultimately I was questioning what was wrong with me.
What I really wanted was to feel like I had tools in my parenting toolbox. I wanted to feel confident in my own ability to craft solutions in the moment. Solutions that felt like they were mine. I didn’t know where to start, so I began with myself.
It was when I began my inner work that I realized that I am the mother my children need – not some idealized version of myself. I came to understand that the person I am, with all of my flaws and imperfections, is who they love.
Learning doesn’t look pretty and unless I was willing to get messy together with my people, we couldn’t grow together. I have been working on my understanding of myself as ‘good enough,’ despite the many messages from the outside world (particularly in the field of parenting) to the contrary.
As I grew in my ability to practice self-compassion, I also began to recognize each member of my family as whole and perfect just the way they are! It became clear that it wasn’t my children’s behaviours that were the problem. Behaviours are a symptom…a (difficult to accept) form of communication. Without behaviours to blame, I began to realize that it was our ways of connecting (to ourselves, each other and nature) that needed attention.
Now more than ever the world is asking each member of our family to show up as our authentic selves. In our house, we work hard to live in line with our values, which are often in contrast to those of the larger systems of capitalism. We prioritize the principles of earth care, people care and fair share. We run a permaculture homestead, buy previously-used items when possible, avoid processed food, and ultimately seek freedom from all forms of fear.
The vision we have for our future looks different from what we are currently living, but each day we are moving closer to our ideals. There are days when we catch ourselves living out the life we’ve always imagined was possible.
My life has yielded many opportunities to live with paradox. I enjoy exploring the spaces in between since I observe nature consistently operating beyond the confines of binaries. One of my favourite ways to learn is by observing nature, learning from it, and applying its principles to my life.
One of the most striking paradoxes of my life is being a homeschooling/unschooling mom who also teaches previously taught within the public education system. It has been wonderful to expand my vision of what education can look like in my personal life and learn how to bring this sense of freedom to the classroom setting. I enjoy teaching students who are outliers within the system, particularly Gifted and Twice Exceptional (2e) learners.
I am a creative visionary and problem solver. I understand the needs of children who do not fit within the education system. I believe that as parents we are the most natural teacher for our children…but this does not mean that taking on this role feels natural! I had to do a lot of ‘unlearning’ in order to teach my own children in a way that felt authentic.
As an elementary school teacher of 16 years, I know that there are many things our children need to know to prepare them for this uncertain future that no curriculum can teach. We believe that our children need strong parental leadership in their formative years to follow our family values rather than those of the culture at large.
I have found that teaching my own children at home has allowed us to develop deeper connection with each other. Our learning is more meaningful since it happens in context and with interest and motivation to drive it. My children have the benefit of individualized academic and social-emotional programming.
When children (and all people) are appreciated for who they are, they have a much greater chance to thrive. I like to apply the principle from permaculture, “value the edges” as an educational model. Our edges are where the greatest amount of diversity and growth appear in natural systems, and I believe we humans are no different. Our family is consistently looking for how to expand our edges.
Sometimes the outlier’s journey can feel very lonely. I know this from experience. My deepest desire is for everyone to feel seen and validated through whatever they are experiencing.
If you would like to take the next step toward a more connected and authentic parenting journey, you can learn more about my philosophies on my podcast, instagram account, and blog. I also offer courses, toolkits, and coaching services you might be interested in.