by Stacy, Guest Author
I remember standing inside my home, alone, holding my newborn son. I was looking out the window and my heart was wide open. I was peering into the world and thinking, “I need to find it. I need to find the connection between motherhood, peace, and community. I know it’s here.” I heard my child’s heart beating.
I had no idea at the time that my search would lead me to elimination communication (www.diaperfreebaby.org), extended nursing, joyful parenting (www.enjoyparenting.com), nonviolent communication (www.cnvc.org), and unschooling. I didn’t even know these things existed until I began feeling around for something different, something that felt “right.”
The first time I questioned school was when reading Jan Hunt’s, The Natural Child. My son was about eighteen months old. She said something about how we trusted our children to learn how to walk, eat, talk… Why would we stop trusting them after a certain age?
It felt “right” to think of my child as an active participant in his education, outside of compulsory, mass education; after all, I had been basing my parenting on the concept of him as an active participant in his own life. My husband and I began to talk about homeschooling.
My oldest son is not quite five and not yet of school age, but life without school has brought my focus on to our family in an intense, and ultimately healthy, way. My children and I spend a lot of time together, and that inspires me to find ways we can interact and connect without driving each other nuts. My daily challenge is how to meet everyone’s needs in a graceful and genuine way (and I don’t always succeed!). Spending time together also means that I search in and around our home and beyond – into our community – for ways to engage my children in life-learning.
Reaching out to the community means that I question our community’s role in supporting us as a family. What sort of people and situations are healthy for us and add to our robustness? Which ones detract? What opportunities does our community have for families and children? What is missing? How can I connect the pieces? This search has brought us to question how we can arrange our work lives so that my husband and I are available for our kids and family activities. We have also explored and are now pursuing the opportunity to live in a co-housing community.
By making the simple, initial choice to trust my children, I unknowingly challenged myself to engage in and examine the health of our family and the many layers of our society. I found myself compelled to create circumstances that ensured my children could continue to listen to themselves, learn to communicate and connect peacefully, and enjoy life. Those circumstances are a home life that provides emotional safety, fun, and richness; parenting that is respectful and relies on modeling rather telling, requests rather than demands; and true engagement with a diverse community that shows my children how life can be an ever-changing endeavor rather than a chore.
I had no idea how far the repercussions of trust would reach. I am still standing at that window, searching (and finding) the connections: a child’s heart, a parent’s role, a family nest, a community of peace. And back around again.
Stacy Lewis is together in life with her husband Rom and their two sons, Orlando (4 ½) and Mica (1 ½). They are active in the Seattle Homeschool Group, enjoy walking in the woods, gardening, visiting the library, and playing Godzilla. She blogs about peaceful parenting at Mama-Om (http://mama-om.blogspot.com).