I just want to add something here - an apology of sorts - if this post made any other mama feel overwhelmed in any way. My dear friend commented to me today that some people might feel worried that, if they're not teaching reading at age three, then they are not "up to par" as a mother. Let me tell you something - we mamas need to stick up for each other. Breastfeeding, bottlefeeding, co-sleeping, crib sleeping, no TV, media-rich, public schooling, private schooling, homeschooling, working, or stay-at-home. Being a mother is the hardest job out there. We all have ideals that, at times, we can uphold with ease, and at other times, life just throws us curve balls. You totally don't need to homeschool to be the best mama for your little one, nor do you need to teach them to read - it's just as acceptable to wait for that to happen in school! This reading stuff is a teeny tiny part of our days. Most of it is outside, unstrucured, and - like many households with young children - chaotic. Also, Finn goes to a Waldorf home nursery two mornings a week, and my parents care for both boys those afternoons. I'm a mix between an working mama and a stay-at-home mama, and I have the odd advantage of having a partner who is in the same boat as me.
There are rough moments when I think to myself "There is no way I can homeschool this boy, I can barely keep my cool!" There are moments when our biggest work around here is recovering from all of the anxiety produced by Lachlan's heart condition and the crazy months of hospitalization. There are moments of such sibling disharmony that I wonder if I'm doing something totally wrong. There are moments when I wish I had more time to be with the boys, and that I could really be a stay-at-home mama. That will never happen.
I always try to remind myself that I am what they need. And you, dear readers, YOU are what your child needs - working, breastfeeding, bottlefeeding, school-choosing or choosing to homeschool, Montessori or Waldorf - the life we provide for our little one is challenging and chaotic - even desperate - and totally beautiful in all of its imperfections.
You know I speak from the heart here. I'm a mama of a breastfed until self-weaned child and a pumping, then formula-fed child. I'm a mama of a little boy whose biggest challenge is overcoming his fears and learning to control his temper and get along with others, and the mama of a contented extrovert who lets the world roll of his shoulders. I'm the mama of a little baby who was born naturally in a birthing center and had his first nap on his daddy's bare chest, and the mama of a little baby who was born in a hospital with thirty medical specialists in the room watching, a baby we had with us for forty minutes before they took him away and hooked him up to an IV, in preparation for his first open-heart surgery two days later. By the time they took him away, I had a rush of oxytocin and spent the next few hours in a blurry haze without my baby boy to cradle as the love hormone did its non-productive work. I know we all have different circumstances. We all have very different children who are their own people - not just products of who we are or how we act as parents. We are all mamas, and we all love deeply, tenderly, and in a life-consuming and life-giving way.
All this to say that you totally don't need to feel pressured to teach your three year old his letters! ;) And I hope, as we begin exploring this new part of our family's life, that you will always remember that what I offer here is in the spirit of solidarity and idea sharing, not dogma or judgement or anything of the sort. We all go our own ways, and those ways are unique to each family.
Much warmth and love,