Showing posts with label Momlife. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Momlife. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Momming Mindfully

Sometimes, it's more fun to invent or borrow invented words from other moms. Forgive me, dear reader. 

Having the time and the mental spoons to think and function in a meaningful way is a privilege. And therefore it is a privilege to get to raise your children mindfully and spiritually. 

Having this ability and this privileged to be not only spiritual but also mindful is a true gift. It’s a true gift anywhere you are in life if you’re in a happy place. And for me this happy place is motherhood. 

Being a mother in our current day and age is not a passive process. Yet, the variety of requirements from homemaking, parenting, and working can eliminate the last mental spoon and render a person missing a vital component of the daily routine let alone their spiritual journey and living in the present. 

Life seems to reward meticulous planning and flawless but passive execution of those plans instead of living in the present. Most of our daily life is a physical and mental distraction unless we pay attention and live in the present. Inside each and every one of us is a piece that wants to be back with the whole. And we feel best in our journey when we are not lost or strayed from our path. 

As a mother, I often find that I have to make myself an expert in the working knowledge of a psychologist, natural scientist, doctor, and religious leader. And I’m also teaching my child his heritage, our human story and all that I know about it.

And in a way, through the present, the stress of such a calling goes down! I feel lucky to be summoned to such a vital role in the continuation of our human story.

I want my children to have the gift of writing their own story as much as possible through personal experience and living in the present so they can experience enlightenment, truth, peace, happiness, joy, and love.

Monday, February 1, 2021

5 Money Saving Methods that are Trash

Okay, confession time, I listen to Dave Ramsey and I also follow Jordan Page. Additionally, if there was a money saving tip of any sort, from any mama or lifestyle blog, there's a good chance that I have listened to it, clicked on it, or read it depending on the media format. Sometimes, I just like to have things on in the background while I'm cleaning.

I wanted to dive into some "user" feedback for some of the advice bits that feel profoundly out of touch to me. It felt right talking about these things seeing as the financial industry is witnessing a bit of a small ripple. 

If anyone has a money blog, or if you are an avid reader of these blogs, my general TLDR message is that most advice is out of touch or not relatable to most families. 

Here is my artwork for my rant: 

Moms are tired of cutting corners, and these recent bits of money advice are trying to make cutting corner a full time job. 

1. You are the Problem--So Change Yourself or Your Habits

There is this unwritten rule that if you are reading these resources or seeking these resources, there is something inherently wrong with your approach or your practices or you are merely a believer in constant improvement (I am like that too and it's okay, this isn't what my rant is about). There is a perceived proverbial something that a "money expert" will see in a few minutes that can change your life within a short amount of time. 

"Stop being silly and ordering avocado toast and that latte!"

Problem solved, I now have access to generational wealth. 

In reality, most single people and families that I know, are doing the best they can. The mentality that it's the 4$ latte keeping you from owning a home in America and not the 50k of college debt in a stagnant job market has been disproved. And, yet, despite this, there is a culture of "fix what you are doing wrong and everything is going to fall into place."

This mentality is very attractive. It gives the reader the perceived control over the situation. And while that is romantic thinking that you are only 3-10 steps away from a private island of your very own, the reality is that there's a good chance that struggling families are doing the most they can. Already. There's a good chance struggling families have been doing the best they could for years without significant changes.

2. The Money Fasting Technique

If removing a bad habit that costs a small bit of change, but adds comfort is not doing the trick, it is important to double down and do it for longer periods and on as much stuff as you can. Yes, let's turn buying nutritious food for your family into a sin that is keeping you poor. 

Does "No Spend November" actually help you if you need to fix your car in November? Or does it really help to miss on the reoccurring expenses that keep your household running and keep you living a certain quality of life?

Spending is one way to avoid long-term issues in ares of life like your home, your car, and personal health. In fact, one thing that becomes pretty obvious is that someone who lives a comfortable middle class lifestyle spends a certain amount of money for general repairs to avoid replacing appliances and tools.

The money fasting technique was introduced to reduce costly spending due to self-control that one could argue is a necessity to replace "time" (i.e. convenience shopping or getting take out) or  comfort (i.e. a bath bomb and a bubble bath to replace the discomfort of bad weather). Money fasting is great to some degree for nearly immediate gratification, for example, paying off a loan, or saving up for a PS5. That's great. 

In contrast, more often than not, spending fasts are used to try to tackle a fundamental problem with personal or family finances. Usually, the problem that needs broader strokes like significantly more free time, money or comfort, is instead treated with metaphorical band-aids in the form of spending freezes. And quite frankly, it doesn't make sense to have a lifelong spend freeze on an essential need.

3. Making Everything from Scratch

Let's be honest, not many of us possess the skills to make bakery level bread. Not many of us have the time needed to make that bakery level bread. So apart from extra time during quarantine or a super awesome bread machine, I can't think of a good excuse to adopt making staple baked goods from scratch week to week. 

May I also remind you that you reader are also not a food scientist. Sure, you might get away with bread here or there, but it would help to know how to make something nutritious as bakery bread. 

Maybe I will get there, but I don't like this solution full of hypocrisy. After all, many people don't make their own pasta sauce or salad dressing. Not everything has to be from scratch. So why choose something that takes so much time and skill? 

And as far as time goes, many people reading these articles are just as worried about every minute of free time as every dollar.

Perhaps a better way to re-word this tip is to suggest honing in cooking, baking, foraging, and gardening skills to be able to make more with less and make ingredients stretch across several meals for the week? 

Maybe something like, "find enjoyment in cooking again," is a much better goal than trying to cut down on a food bill. After all, finding enjoyment in cooking may mean getting some base ingredients and slowly but surely moving away from higher price, pre-made, less healthy choices.

4. Taking on Extra Jobs

Money is time, and time is your one and only non-renewable mystery resource. You do not know how long you have left. If we all knew that, we would live each day very differently; however, an overwhelming amount of suggestions include taking on formal work, one-off gigs, or completing effort that might as well be an extra job. Even something as romantic sounding as foraging or gardening equates to added hours that cannot go towards something else. It's not all bad, kids love watching things grow and with enough instruction they might water the garden or do something else on their own. 

The issues come when adults in the home are stretched way too thin. Way too thin to complete the big emotional labor tasks, teach life lessons and skills to their children, and take care of their emotional and mental needs in a way where they are thriving.  

I understand sometimes it has to be done, I have done this too, but I wish this was not the easy solution. Truth be told, time is too precious. 

5. Sacrificing Comfort

Comfort goes a long way. I should know, I had spent an overwhelming amount of my life without it. So once I had found it and worked to keep it, I cringe at the awful advice of "getting out of your comfort zone." Here's my secret, I thrive in my comfort zone. Most people thrive in environments that are conducive to their own long-term growth. 

Your mind, body, and soul are their best when you are comfortable. Sure, stressful situations may bring out “your best” here and there; however, they are typically not sustainable and the lack of comfort is noticeable.


 

Friday, January 22, 2021

C-section and VBAC Birth Stories

Giving birth is a miracle--it doesn't matter how much of a role modern medicine plays. 

Doing all of the right things during a pregnancy doesn't seem to have that much of an impact on actual birth itself. At a certain point, it is about genetics and your odds. Without modern medicine, my first baby and I would have died or become seriously injured. 

And I'm not talking about modern medicine like give birth at home in a pool--no I'm talking about the operating room being available right there to save my life and ensure my baby is as healthy as he can be.

And I did all the right things like dieting, prenatal visits, prenatal vitamins, and prenatal exercise. I researched how different vitamins and nutrients absorb into my body. And for vanity, I researched the best lotions and butters to put on my belly to ease the growing pains and permanent marks. 

 

C-section Birth Story

Disclaimer: there is a lot of medical advice out there from local and global health resources, this is not one of those posts. 

None of this helped when I woke up early in the morning with cramps that just did not go away. I am not 100% even during my normal wake up time, so it was no surprise that it didn't register as birth right away. I followed the medical directions and timed my contractions for an hour to reach that 5, 1, 1, rhythm--just like I learned in the birthing class. I took a non-medicated birth class too. 

After the longest car ride, and the longest paperwork sessions of my life, I was in a bed, in absolute pain. 

I took the epidural shot thinking that absolutely anything including death is better than this. The shot worked, the IV worked, and my husband who was there with me by my side the entire time felt that he could move the car. One nurse mentioned that I could sleep until the baby is ready to come. With that assurance, I relaxed, and my husband left the hospital building to move the car. 

The doctor came in , completed a check. The doctor said that the baby was stressed and in a position impossible to deliver safely and that a c-section was the best outcome. I don't exactly remember the words, but there was expediency and I was given lots of paperwork to sign. 

I am sure these procedures are derived from research, data, and training; however, at the time, it did not seem like a choice. What was I going to do? Let my baby die or become injured inside me? I scribbled on all of those signature lines and initial spots as fast as I could. I was moved into the operating room. 

My husband was surprised when he was given a set of scrubs to put on immediately when he came back. I did not notice him changing, but I assume it was fast. 

I was given additional anesthesia, but could not go under due to the epidural. The anesthesiologist checked to make sure that I could not feel a wet wipe on the surface of my belly. 

The amount of anesthesia made my head spin and I managed to throw up every where. It was embarrassing, no one was happy, and to make matters worse, it was red because I had eaten frozen cherries the night before as a healthy treat in place of something with more sugar.  

But I never felt the cuts, I barely felt a change in pressure. All I heard was a crying baby. I could not see him. My husband, who didn't even deliver his baby, saw him and took pictures of him. 

They sewed me up, while cleaning up my baby and giving him his newborn exams.

We were moved into a smaller room and my baby was snuggled up like a borrito in a hospital swaddle blanket. My husband helped with taking care of the baby and changing the diapers. I was still feeling signs of my anesthesia. 


C-section Birth Recovery 

C-section recovery was worse than birth itself. I had no core muscle strength since my muscles were stretched and also cut up from the c-section operation. It is a major abdominal surgery. It was awful. I did not have the strength and comfort level to sleep in my own bed. I just slept on the couch. I was not getting the same quality of sleep, and I was not recovering as fast as others who had c-sections. 

I had developed an infection at the incision site despite cleaning the area and taking the prescribed antibiotics. The infection slowed down the healing process and only after a 3 or 4-hour trip to urgent care did I have the antibiotics dosage right to fight the infection.

I recovered slowly, I could eventually use my core muscles, cough, sneeze, and laugh at jokes without being in pain. 

It took me about 6 weeks to be able to do what I would have been able to do immediately following a vaginal birth. 

 

VBAC Story

A vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) is not the default. There is effort from practitioners to make these more common, but not everyone gets one. This Web MD resource is a good primer. Your body is rated for how likely you are to be successful at this endeavor. Arguably, none of the criteria are something you can easily control in a healthy way. Yes, BMI is on there as well, and I do not believe that drastically changing a BMI in a short span of time, and especially while pregnant, is possible in a healthy way. 

So, I really wanted one. I did everything I did with my first baby, albeit less personal time since now I had a child. 

This baby did everything right during birth, and I had a long labor without losing patience. I had my wonderful epidural, I had my husband, I had my nurses, and it was a lot of pressure. I could feel a lot of pressure--not sure if it was pain exactly, but it was not the comfort other mothers have described like "having the biggest poop of your life."

Not for me anyway, my experience was long, and the baby's head took a while to go through the birth canal, and my body took a while. It just all took a while. My doctor said the right things to push me and she also knew that I was afraid of large tears seeing as I had a very bad experience with my c-section recovery. 

But the baby was happy the entire time while being born. It was the craziest thing going from a birth where I just heard my baby, to seeing the baby come out and go right to me. I had the baby on my chest crying like his brother did. It was a giant baby and the long labor made more sense after the fact. 

Unlike his brother, my younger baby had the classically reformed head from the birth canal journey. And like, his brother, he was almost the same weight. The doctor called my 9lb 7oz baby a whopper. 

I had a second degree tear that my doctor fixed with absorbable sutures. 

VBAC Recovery

The recovery was just like the Frida commercial that caused controversy. That was a good and honest commercial. But it was shorter. Much shorter, and I was able to walk longer distances sooner, as well as complete my chores. 

I had used up so many products from the hospital and from Amazon in order to make the recovery bearable.

While neither recovery from birth was glamorous, the recovery from the VBAC was much easier. I would recommend a VBAC to anyone who is able to get one. 

 

How the Births were the Same

1. Both were hard. 

2. Lack of sleep was consistent

3. My exercise routine was changed to being very gentle on myself after recovery.

4. Pain and discomfort were present during recovery

 

How the Births were Different

1. I could not drive after my c-section birth due to the pain relief medication, while I was able to drive almost right away after my VBAC.

2. I was unable to get up from the couch easily using my core muscles after a c-section, while I had trouble sitting from bruising my tailbone during birth after my VBAC. 

3. I was able to mitigate pain and recovery with my VBAC. The pain was in places that I could get to and I could identify what parts were in pain. I think I will write my experience bruising my tailbone in the future because it was profoundly painful weeks after birth and I don't think this injury is talked about enough.

4. I could laugh with a VBAC, meaning that I could relax with a VBAC.

5. While I am reminded everyday that I had a c-section when I get dressed, I cannot detect my second degree tear. Second degree tears are most common (link). 

6. Bathroom trips following a c-section were easier.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Favorite Planner Things

I don't know where I would be if it wasn't for planners. Planners are beautiful visual aids that make my goals and dreams come true through calendars, checklists, and notes. Yes, I have uncompleted resolutions of yesteryear too, but we will not talk about those just yet.


 URSTYLE Link: https://urstyle.fashion/styles/2824598


I love digital calendars. Sharing events on digital calendars is convenient and my life would be much harder without them, BUT there is something beautiful and irreplaceable about a physical planner because I love seeing my week come alive on each page. I also love being able to write things down to remember them better.

But they can be fairly expensive. So I have a round up of items that to jump start your planner journey from Michael's


 

While the planner community is full of nice bespoke agendas, templates, and accessories, I wanted to take the time and talk about planner things from Michaels. Why Michaels? Well, because it is an accessible store and it had pulled me though some hard times through crafts. 

The truth is that when I first started with my planned journey, as much as I wanted to go all over the internet, it was much more comfortable to go to the physical store and look at everything in its physical form without worrying about actual size or quality. 

Another reason to use a one stop shop like Michael’s is that I get to see if I like a product at a lower price point before jumping headfirst into some consumables I will never use up. 

I enjoy aesthetically dressing up my planner so that I know what I have to look forward to and also keep track of my year. Yes, 2020 has probably been the worst year for planner companies, but I hope 2021 is much better and at the very least here are a few ways you can jot down your COVID-19 shot appointment dates. 

Planner Shell

The planner shell is necessary. There are I believe three common sizes, A5, standard, and pocket, as well as some others.

While for a shell almost anything goes, I would say that I prefer those that meet my need to write as much as I can. I typically go for the A5 and the standard size.

 

Small Letter or Symbol Stamps

These are great for tracking your habits, chores, drinking 8 glasses, spending or not spending, etc. if your kind of goals revolve around numbers or day to day consistency, I highly recommend stamps that fit snugly into a page. And yes, stickers might work as well, but I often find that they are too big for this purpose. 

Big Stamps

Big stamps are for big events! If you have consistent events like vacations, flights, play dates, birthdays, seminars, or outings, I highly suggest a fun, big and visual stamp. 

Ink Pads

You can’t have stamps without ink pads, there are many different kinds and it’s important that your matches your basic needs like not bleeding through thin agenda pages or not being easy to wash away. 

Pens

I love pens and the finer and more vibrant in color the better. I think multiple colors are a great way to communicate different details such as making time in orange or location in green. This way, if you are scanning your pages for certain information, you can ignore the colors that aren’t important that moment. 

Highlighters

I use my highlighters to designate that something is done. It’s a great way to mark up pages without obstructing the original text.

Filler Pages

Filler pages are needed. There are some yearly start ones like a calendar at a glance and detail pages for each week. There are also habit tracked pages, mela planning, budgeting, drawing, etc.

Washi Tape

Washi tape is not a requirement, but it is SO PRETY and it’s easy to feel festive or seasonal by decorating your pages. 

Stickers 

Stickers are another great way to decorate or label a planner. If you were an overachiever in school you might want to reward yourself with a set of stickers for days that go really well! Or just because you as an adult deserve them to brighten your day. 


Sunday, January 3, 2021

Five Reasons Why Sunday Night is the Loneliest Time for Working Moms--and What to Do About It

After a beautiful day of fun, accidents, messes, cuddles, and all around love, Sunday night is the LONELIEST TIME FOR WORKING MOMS.

URSTYLE link: https://urstyle.fashion/styles/2823227

 

Let's be clear, I wouldn't have it any other way, but knowing that you are about to wear so many hats during the week is hard for several reasons. 

1. It's Hard Filling Your Own Bucket While Momming

Let's face it, little kids need constant attention and focus on anything else for too long is either impossible or dangerous. And even while not watching them, I am making sure I order medicine, have enough diapers, and make calls to set up a doctor's appointment. These caregiver tasks don't end. Then, once the kids fall asleep, it's hard addressing my own tasks that I neglected for a while. Showers, planning out my week, writing a to do list, stretching, those things take time and are very hard to do within the small window between the kids' bedtime and my bedtime. It's just a space of alone time in my planner.

2. You Still Have Hopes and Dreams for Meaningful Social Interactions

I don't want to be melodramatic, but I still have things that I would like to complete in life like save the planet a little more, advance my career, travel, etc. And it is my non-parent friends that unabashedly talk about these things and I find a lot of common ideas, but not a lot of common free time to get into deep conversations on a regular basis. We end up bonding over our weekend projects instead through pictures and limited texting (please see number one about focus).

3. Getting Mentally Ready for the Week

I'm getting ready to juggle, my partner and I or our care giver team need to huddle up and know the game plan or someone will fumble a proverbial ball. One or two fumbles will not ruin a week, but little mishaps here and there add up until I'm are ready to count down to Friday.

I also have to switch personalities. No one wants to hear how potty training my child is going besides maybe another parent at work. I'm not saying you have to fake a stan level of interest in a sport or a movie, but it's time to put the "mom plus" personality away for the week because it does distract from the team dynamic at work. And also--people are shallow and generally don't value accidents involving bodily fluids. 

4. Then Sometimes, It's the Work You Have to Start Before Monday Ever Comes

There are a billion little tasks that need to get done as part of being a functioning person in society. These include regular doctors appointments, car service appointments, health and beauty appointments (self-care), and regular home repairs. Whether big or small, these errands and responsibilities carve away from the work week.

As a result, I want to get ahead before I can get behind. I also prefer to read important documents without kids crying and giggling in the background. Nights are perfect for first read overs, edits, and first email drafts.

5. Back to Number Two

It takes time to save the world, or to learn a new skill that can set you apart when you're back behind that computer. It's hard feeling like another weekend has passed and you are no where near where you wanted to be, and that's okay. I just feel empty compared to that energy boost I feel when I finish a big home or hobby project. 

 

What to Do About It

 

I bet you can already tell that I love numbers, so here are some suggestions without much order:

1. Do one minute of a hobby or home project. Be honest with yourself, you weren't going to install those solar panels yourself anyway. And you would have taken some time and thought about your choices before committing to a big project like this in the first place.

2. Learn to ignore anything that is not urgent. I am behind on Christmas cards and Christmas presents. It was just 2020 outside, I know people who did "everything right" and their stuff still arrived late and they are behind too. 

3. If your primary love language is quality time or words of affirmation, try out converting it to something that fits current COVID guidance. Words of affirmation can be completed on social media or over mail with cards. Quality time might be possible through refined coordination with friends and family about watching movies and shows at similar times or seeing each other while socially distancing. 

4. Instead of staying up late to work, focus twice as hard when you are at work and you can make every minute work a bit extra. 

5. Fill your bucket without apologizing. And figure out a way to fill your bucket faster and deplete is slower during the day. Sleep, hygiene, beauty, what ever it is. It is worth it. And the biggest investment that you can make is in yourself. This might be meal planning to include a decadent dessert after kids' bedtime.   

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Gingerbread Man Christmas Tree Ornaments with Customized Tags


 

 One tradition that we started in our home was making Christmas tree ornament gifts "from our children." Our firs baby's first Christmas ornament "gifts" were handprints and footprints in red and green. This was nearly a hassle free project and I was hooked. The next project was a bit more elaborate, and nearly from scratch. 

These were a lot of effort to make, but were worth the result. I had completed the gingerbread man outline and I had let my toddler decide on the decorations that I had glued on using hot glue. 

Below are the instructions used to create these ornaments.

 

 I also wanted to make sure that the tags were customized. A tag die and a small tag hole punch were used to create the shape out of heavy scrap-booking paper. I then used small Recollections stamps to write the giver and recipients. 

 
 Finally, I added some fun to the tags by using my child's favorite stamp. 
 
 
 



An Honest Usborne Book Review


I first came across Usborne books when one of my friends asked if I would go to an Usborne book party that she was a virtual host for.

Before that, most books companies that I was aware of were the big publishing houses that filled big book stores, used bookstores, and school book fairs alike. 

I do not need an excuse to buy children's books because we read books throughout the day. I quickly picked out some books that were interactive and accessible for my child at the time. 

I received the books and we have enjoyed many evenings touching textured pages and lifting flaps.

URSTYLE Link: https://urstyle.fashion/styles/2775628

The books vary in subject, targeted age range, and quality. The prices reflect this. 

The touchy-feely book that I own is an amazing quality with thick pages. The illustrations that accessible to babies who may not be able to see in full colors. And I appreciate that it was made for babies instead of the adults.

I want to be very honest when I say that the illustrations are not unique works of art exactly. The artwork is made to stand up to repeated wear and tear though. And that is most important to me right now. This might be a skewed view since I did not get any thematically intricate books like a fairy tale.

The drawback to these books is that they do thrive in an MLM structure. The MLM business structure makes me wary. And I will tell you why. Usborne books are everywhere online, in big box stores, and at virtual MLM parties. I feel like all of these platforms compete with one another and I genuinely feel like the "book people" should get a fraction of all generic online sales since they are the ones doing the majority of detailed marketing. 

Even as I write this, there is a list of books that I want to get and I also have a "maybe" future list depending on what my kids get into as they get older. 

All that said, I have heard some concerns and a bit of conflict from independent authors and illustrators who find that these books can overwhelm regional small business fairs to the point that it is harder for local authors to compete at the very events that were essentially designed for them. So knowing this, I hope that anyone reading this article spends additional effort sleuthing online for local authors and independent authors in addition to these wonderful books.

In particular, I think it is important to shop for books where illustrations jump of the pages, especially in this day and age where parents are discouraged from taking their children to museums. I think that illustrators are amazing and it is important to seek books that support illustrators. Also, I feel it is important to ensure that my bookshelf includes books with characters that look like my child as well as characters who that do not look like my child. 


Monday, November 9, 2020

The Story of Mothers in Little Fires Everywhere

 

First Impressions of Little Fires Everywhere

URSTYLE Link: https://urstyle.fashion/styles/2758979

Reading "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng was a beautiful experience and I wanted to dive into it from a parenting perspective. 

Please be forewarned, there are spoilers ahead.

While intertwined relationships between teenagers is the main focus, and Shaker Heights, a setting that can be a character, attempts to steal the spotlight where possible, the book is fundamentally about motherhood. About parenthood. About that nuance of human cycles and conversely unprecedented futures that comes with each new generation. 

This book would have wound up in a recommended school book report list had it been written a hundred years ago. I have heard a book reviewer say that the sentence structures could be better. I understand the sentiment, but I often find that a signature of the author features the author's weaknesses just as much as strengths. For example, while I highly enjoy Edith Wharton's work, I cannot, for the life of me, imagine a map or directions of any location within some of her key works. And that is okay. I prefer her descriptions of human nature under specific circumstances to the most riveting land survey.

Celeste Ng's characters escape from the page as fleshed out people without divulging every single tidbit of life history. The interactions are full and while authentic to their time, place, and culture, are universal enough that a few changes in slang and peripheral details would be enough to transfer this story in time and geography.  

Parenting in Little Fires Everywhere

So back to parenting in "Little Fires Everywhere." While it is impossible to outright name each mother within this book a bad parent exactly, there are little red flags here and there that often resemble the red flags in real life. And I loved that. Not only is parenting a teenager one of the most difficult aspects of parenting, but also being a human being while parenting is a challenge not too small.

Even the most perfect parents carry red flags with them and make mistakes. And that's okay. 

Elena Richardson and Mia Warren are portrayed as complimentary forces in parenting. 

Elena Richardson

Elena Richardson had pursued preparing the space for the child and had followed this course to completion as part of the philosophy she adopted from her planned Shaker Heights setting. She had let her career, while impressive, stagnate compared to those of her peers. 

She had come back to Shaker following schooling, ready to start the next chapter of her life. And while this preparation is elaborate, all of this preparation goes against "following the child," a key Montessori motto.

The main takeaways from Elena's parenting style is that there is not much flexibility. There is not a lot of room for mistakes because the preparation had eliminated as many opportunities for mistakes as possible. 

One heartbreaking moment is realizing that while Elena has written the plan for her own children in stone regardless of how well it works out for them, she is more than willing to help other parents realize plans for their children that work for them. For example, she was more than willing to help a friend get her daughter into an all-girls school that was better for her education. Now it is not clear if this option is better just on paper or genuinely better for the child in real life, but it is already a red flag that Elena does not entertain even a glimmer of an idea like that for Izzy until the plot rolls out through the book. And then, it is much too late.

Mia Warren

By contrast Mia Warren provided and prepared many spaces showing her child the different ways to live in one country and how unique the landscapes, people, and even the sky can be. The comfort provided seemed very essential, instead of absolute. The complete lack of "following the child" is a stark contrast to Elena Richardson's methods and while it would be considered quirky to say the least by the current interpretation of the Montessori method, I can see a fierce follow the child aspect. Key examples include Mia using a sling when her child did not want to be put down, taking on jobs that allowed her to be close to her child, and letting her child mold oneself in the short term without judgement. 

Mia's frequent moves take away any long-term environment from her child and give her child additional challenges in life. Her child is not able to establish long-term relationships, develop a support system other than her mother, or develop traditionally rewarded academic and extracurricular activities for college admissions. 

One heartbreaking, yet completely glossed over point in the book, is the fact that we know that Pearl had the writing abilities to get into a prestigious university. After all, her essay had helped someone else get in. But it is doubtful that Pearl's application would have reflected the grades and involvement typically associated with stellar applications. After all, it is 2020 and parents have gotten into trouble for forging their children's extracurricular involvement. We know this matters, and we know it is hard to build this consistency in new places. 

Both Mothers are Goals and Both are Cautionary Tales

I wanted to provide a comfortable home for my children to thrive in. I also had seen what multiple moves do to a child's academic progress as a tutor and from my own experience. And yet, I want to show the world to my children that I was lucky enough to experience. Yes, consistently developing a know-how in academics or sports is important, but there is so much of the world to experience that is far more personally rewarding.

Mia's life is enviable despite it being opposite to the suburban living ideal. And as a parent in 2020, it's easy to see why. Pre-COVID, it was not surprising to see school shooting events in the news. Surely, doing remote schooling while traveling sounded a lot better than looming fears and sporadic school drills. Even the most prestigious suburb- or any setting that can be its own character- does not guarantee safety from school shooters or other violence.

 



 

 

The Great Outdoors with Toddlers

  The Great Outdoors with Toddlers   One great way to ensure that toddlers appreciate out beautiful planet is by giving them increasingly mo...