A friend who is a new-ish mother (of an 8 month old boy) recently told me about the competitive nature of motherhood in Hong Kong, where she lives. Children from infanthood to toddlerhood to school-going age, are enrolled in classes and schools as soon as possible. From music to aquatic to language to yoga classes, there is no let-up in a child’s day.
Understandably, she feels a push and pull of a) not wanting her son to be ‘left behind’, but b) wants him to have a normal, unstructured day-to-day life of a baby. Because, he’s a baby.
How much is too much when it comes to structured play and lessons? How soon do we start our children on a path of institutional learning? How much of a role do we mothers play in their daily life? Is what we do (reading, singing, playing to and with them) not enough? How much do we ‘hover’, and how much do we let go (in my case, benign neglect)?
I do not have any concrete answers. I only have my own instinct and mothering temperament, learning from my experiences with my children, to fall back on.
The art of mothering is learning to balance what you know about yourself, and what you learn about your children, in order to formulate a learning and fun experience for your kids. All without driving yourself insane, and your kids barmy.
I know that I don’t have the patience or talent as a crafty, DIY mom. I am much better at reading and singing to my boys than I am playing cars and basketball for an hour with them. I have know that my oldest son needs and thrives on more one-on-one attention than my independent, easygoing second child. I know that both my children are affectionate, loves cuddling and hugs, but have attention spans of…. well, kids. I know that both my children do better with a routine and both enjoy going to school. I know that their teachers love them.
Our days are half-structured, with their mornings in school, 5 days a week. Their afternoons are made up of free play. Weekends are spent with their grandparents who spoil them.
This is what works for us. Endless structured activities don’t. The idea of shuttling them to various lessons (music, art, gymnastics, etc.) when they’re only 4 and 2, simply don’t make sense to me. In my humble, mothering opinion, free play is learning, and right now, that is good enough for us.
Speaking of mothering, Mother’s Day is less than 5 weeks away. It’s a day all of us look forward to.
Well, not all of us. Because for some mothers, Mother’s Day is a painful reminder of loss and grief. A blogging friend of mine, Alexa of No Holding Back is one of those mothers, who is grieving the loss of her daughter.
Alexa has been tirelessly working to bring something special to this world, born out of her own grief, in an effort to provide support, and a forum for grieving mothers.
Last October, in time for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day on October 15th, she and a group of bereaved parents published their book Sunshine After the Storm: A Survival Guide for the Grieving Mother. It is a beautiful anthology of stories, best advice and tips on surviving the loss of a pregnancy, infant, or older child. Fueled by the positive feedback and the positive impact it was having on other parents who have suffered the death of a child, they went one step further and created a nonprofit, Sunshine After the Storm, Inc, to raise funds to donate the books to hospitals, bereavement groups, and organizations that support bereaved parents.
In Alexa’s own words, “As Mother’s Day approaches, I wanted to do something special. So we decided to start a “Mother’s Day Campaign.” The goal is simple: raise money to donate as many books as we can to hospitals and bereavement groups for Mother’s Day, and use a portion of the funds to make a special Mother’s Day contribution to the organizations that support bereaved parents, infant death, pregnancy loss, and research for children’s health issues.”
Alexa has also reached out to some well-known authors on baby and child loss, such as Sherokee Ilke and Teske Drake, CarlyMarie, the creator of International Bereaved Mother’s Day (and who creates the most beautiful artwork for bereaved parents on her Shore of Remembrance) and many others. Through her efforts, she has managed to create a giveaway of 15 incredible items.
The only criteria to enter is a very small donation of $5 (or more if you’d like!). It costs $8 to donate each book. One donation will get you entered for a chance to win all of these amazing prizes.
But more importantly, you will know that you have directly impacted the life of a mother who is hurting on Mother’s Day. On behalf Alexa, the authors of Sunshine After the Storm, the generous giveaway donors, and all grieving mothers, I thank you for your generosity. Please do spread the word of the giveaway now!
Enter the giveaway now!