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One of the beautiful messages of Waldorf early childhood education is that instead of trying to “educate” our young ones (from birth to age 7), that what they in fact need from us is a good role model to learn from.

” A child at the imitative stage of development absorbs every aspect of his environment, which then becomes part of the innermost stirrings of his will, deep below the level of consciousness.”  Beyond the Rainbow Bridge- Nurturing our Children from Birth to Seven

I have to tell you that while I have been aspiring to many “waldorfian” ideals since the birth of my son 9 years ago, I have since had much trouble with slowing down to let my children do housework with me. I also found that my son wasn’t very interested anyway. At least that is what I thought were my obsticles…

I am starting to wonder though, beyond that we are conditioned to try to speed through domestic tasks as something to just get over and done with, that also we as mothers are not the ones that our son’s are supposed to be modeling themselves after. Sometimes, I also think that my expectations and timing were off in the way that I invited my children to share in the domestic tasks with me. 

But could it be as simple as finding that unique thing that we do that our child has a natural affinity for, and model and share in that task with our child. And beyond the masculine and feminine propensity to be attracted to masculine or feminine things, we are all such unique individuals that our interests fall in many places along the spectrum. 

I rarely recall my son naturally wanting to do any domestic tasks with me. Sometimes I’d ask and he might do it for a moment, but truly he never really became engaged in housework. But he could sit with my husband and “fix” things for long periods of time. Give the child a hammer and he’s happy!

So because I was never that successful in sharing in the domestic tasks with Isaiah, I figured that it was because I was essentially lacking in some  “way of being” that would facilitate ease in that area. I am starting to think though now, that resistance in our life is not a problem within us that needs to be changed, but rather it is  a sign that we need to transform our thinking and expand our view on the subject to include an essential missing piece to the puzzle without which, our mind feels conflicted. For example, “I want to  model such and such for my child, but I don’t really want to do or be that thing.” But the truth is “I want that “thing” modeled for my child, but I don’t want to be the one to do that modelling”. The first thought is a conflicted parent and the second thought is a clear and authentic parent. It is obvious which thought is open to a solution and which thought is a trap.

Now I am thinking I was resisting it because it was not natural for my son who is a very masculine soul. And I think that I was resisting it because it is not natural to have to be everything to one person. I was resisting it because deep in my heart I know that these expectations are futile. How am I to enjoy domestic tasks when I am alone and isolated and longing for a community of women to share in them with me? It is right for me to resist, for the resistance calls us to open to the question, “can it be another way?”

Because I had carried this inner picture of myself lacking, I sort of put this ideal of sharing my domestic tasks with my children on the shelf and never really bothered to invite my daughter into my domestic tasks, until two days ago. In a way, I had long since resigned my ideals around that.

My children were leaving to go for a three night camping sleepover with Grandma and Grandpa and I wanted to savour every last moment with them before they left. So after becoming bored with reading my 4 year old daughter stories and cuddling all after noon (my daughter requested that “we cuddle till Grandma gets here“ which was 2 hours away!), I suggested that we clean the kitchen together. She replies quite happily that she would like to. So I give her the job of unloading the cutlery basket of the dishwasher and she wowed me! Not only was she ingredibly adept at “getting” where everything went, but she understood how to reload the dishwasher too (many adults have trouble with that one!)….while she only wanted to vaccum for a minute, she was a pro in the kitchen!

It felt so great having spent that time with her and having seen a side of her natural abilities that I had never seen before. She seemed so distinctly an individual that day…..let me tell you, it feels so good, really good, to really “see“ your child. Not in the role of your child, but as a unique soul and an equal.

And you know, while Isaiah still prefers to do `manly` things with Dad around the house and won`t clean his room with out clear direction from me, he has no trouble making eggs and porridge from scratch, for the whole family. He`s into cooking and asks me questions about food and healing on a regular basis. So rather than focus on the fact that he`s not yet being tidy (something my conflicted mind thinks that I should be teaching him, but don`t…. mostly I clean his room!), I feel compelled to nurture the food/healing aspect of his soul, after all, he is inviting me too!

So after all, it seems that while I haven`t come close to being an idyllic “waldorfian“ mother, my children are naturally orienting themselves to imitate those aspects of my life that facilitate their own natural longings and drives.

I felt compelled to share this because I wonder if there might be other moms out there who feel inspired by Waldorf and it`s emphasis on imitation, but who are losing energy feeling that they are really not living up to that ideal. I invite you to notice where your child is keen to imitate you and allow other people to model for your child things that you are not such a good example of!

Maybe, just maybe, you don`t have to be  an example of “everything“ to your child.  I am starting to see that while my mothering hasn`t always looked the way that I would like it to, and while so many of my ideals have fallen to the floor and been kicked under the bed, as time goes on, the results speak for themself.

Mostly it is authenticity on our part and really seeing our children, that warms their hearts and nurtures their soul anyway. And that is the heart of Waldorf, at least in my mind!

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