“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder without any such gift from the fairies, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in." - Rachel Carson

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Way of Wondering

Welcome! Let me explain a little about the purpose of this blog. I'm a mom to two amazing daughters, Rowan, who is 3 years old, and Retta, who is currently 3 months old. I'm also lucky enough to have a wonderfully supportive husband named Aaron, and we live together in a small house with a big yard just outside of a coastal town in Maine. For a long time I've been thinking it would be nice to start doing a better job of documenting our family life- I bought a baby scrapbook when Rowan was born that is empty and collecting dust in our closet, but I like the idea of blogging about what's going on at our home. 

Us on vacation in Hawaii at Makaha Beach, June 2012

As to why I've chosen to call the blog "Wonder Parenting," I’ve been reading the book Our Babies, Ourselves by Meredith F. Small, and she discusses the idea of “parental goals,” which I found interesting, because I had never really stopped to consider my specific goals as I raise my children:

 “Parents today, in the more modern anthropological view, are seen not as passive translators of culture but as active participants, making choices about this or that pattern in bringing up a particular kind of adult citizen. These themes are often referred to by child development scholars as “parental goals,” wherein parents have conscious or unconscious objectives that influence every action with their offspring. Parents implement these goals in layers of ways as they go through the day. The goals are usually unconscious, although at times parents are very clear about what they are doing.”

What were my parental goals? I must have some! Then I realized that the very name I had wanted to give my blog was actually my major, overarching parental goal: something I’ve decided to call “wonder parenting.” My goal as a parent is to instill a sense of wonder in my girls. To give them the tools they need to approach every situation in life open-mindedly, with curiosity, to hold their discoveries and new experiences up to the light and see what each has to offer. In my experience thus far, life is what you make of it. I’m not sure what the point of life is, other than to enjoy the time you have as best you can, and to do that to the fullest, you must be able to find the good in your surroundings…the whole attitude of gratitude thing. When I see Rowan squeal with excitement each time she finds a worm while digging in the dirt, or laugh from the bottom of her toes with complete kid joy over something simple like being told she can get chocolate milk at a restaurant, I think, “God, I hope you can hang onto that ability to find joy in simplicity, and to unabashedly express your happiness and share it with the world.” How sad it is that as we grow out of childhood we often forget how to really have fun, or feel self conscious about expressing our true feelings. I hope that my girls will always have hope, believe that anything is possible, see the world as an amazing, awe-inspiring place, feeling free to be themselves, doing what makes them happy. Of course they will experience many failures and disappointments along the way, but I hope they will approach those experiences with the attitude that you can always pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and use those life lessons to start anew.

So, to that end, I am going to make my best effort to imbue our days together with adventures, explorations, lots of marveling, and creativity. I want to use this blog as a place to collect my thoughts and record my experiences as a parent in this oh-so-sweet time of life, use it as a place to organize photos of our adventures, craft projects, recipes, etc., and possibly inspire or start a conversation with some of my readers along the way. 

There's the old adage that "the days are long, but the years are short" and I try to keep that in mind each day as a parent. I can gush on and on about the warm fuzzy feelings I have for my daughters but there are also times when I feel like I'm going to pull my hair out, and I wistfully long to inhabit my past life in the days before children, even just for an hour. We have blissful days, and then we have those days where 20 minutes feels like 20 hours and I'm calling Aaron leaving passive-aggressive messages about getting out of work early to come home quickly to help manage a "situation." My house is often so messy that I can't walk barefoot across the kitchen floor without feeling the sticky squish of a raisin attaching itself to my foot, most days I leave the house with a hefty deposit of baby vomit on my shoulder, and I have plenty of moments where I wish I'd handled a situation differently and could have a do-over. Let's be clear that I'm not trying to imply that I'm any kind of "Wonder Woman" when I refer to "wonder parenting." I am using the term to remind me of the over-arching theme I hope to achieve in our days together, because someday I want my daughters to look back on their childhood with nostalgia for all the fun we had, and all that we learned from each other. Because in addition to teaching them to see the world with a sense of wonder, I truly am in wonder each day at all that they have to teach me. They keep me in check with all that is good and important in life, and I want to put our experiences in writing so that I can remember them some day when I emerge from the multi-year sleep-deprived fog in which most new parents live. So if you want to follow me, I'll be flattered, and maybe we can figure out this parenting thing together as we go. Regardless, thanks for taking a peek!

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