I’ve been thinking a lot lately about perspective and about how my perspective has shifted as I’ve grown. When A was three, we were lucky enough to find a public Montessori school for her to attend. The circumstances leading up to it were uncanny:
- We found the school after I happened upon it while meeting my husband for lunch one day. I was a bit early for lunch so I was driving aimlessly around a new part of town. (A was only three, so we weren’t even looking at schools yet.)
- The week I found the school was the week of open house.
- The open house was immediately prior to an admissions lottery.
But deep down, I always believed that all of that happened because I was a bad mom. I thought we needed to send her to school early so that she wouldn’t be around me all the time. It was hard for me to have A & B at home with me non-stop and it came as a huge relief to have A in school five days each week, where she was stimulated intellectually and socially in a way I could not provide at home. While I was proud of her, I felt a little guilty that she had to go to school because I was a bad mom who couldn’t give her all of this at home. If I had been craftier, or more organized or better with kids, she wouldn’t have needed a Montessori school.
A started fourth grade a few weeks ago, so all of this happened seven years ago. But it’s only been in the last three weeks that I’ve really gained a different perspective on the situation. My perspective has shifted because K started kindergarten in a traditional classroom this year. She loves it. She enjoys coloring worksheets with each letter of the alphabet. She loves saying the letters and the sounds they make. She tells stories about her classmates and what she does in art class. And she is not bored. Instead, she is thrilled to be joining her big sisters each morning, thrilled to start the process of growing up. She is perfectly suited to Kindergarten and is right on track to do well, but likely not excel, this year.
But had A waited until she was five to start school, I believe that would have been a disaster. Kindergarten was her third year of full-time school. Two weeks in, they tested her reading level and found she read like a second grader who was halfway through the year. Not stopping there, by the end of the year she tested as a mid-fifth grader. Would A have been satisfied with Kindergarten like her sister is? No way. She would have been bored. She might even have been disruptive. And she almost certainly wouldn’t think that school is a fun way and place to learn.
I tell you all of this not to brag about my child, but to illustrate a very needed perspective shift. I saw this situation as being all about me: my failings as a mother, my need for time without my children, my inability to challenge them without help from educators. But it was really all about my daughter and what she needed. I realize that everything is not personal, but this requires a constant shift in perspective. It is so easy to go back to thinking about ourselves first and everyone else second.
Sometimes we are bystanders in our own lives. Events take place that effect us, but don’t have much to do with us. We are there just to play a role in someone else’s life. I would do well to remember this in the big and little things in life.