I am in my thirties and I just realized that I missed my whole education. I wish I could go back to 1986 and that the Maria Montessori method of education would have been so highly accepted in France that my parents would not have had any options other than enrolling me in a Montessori school. I feel that my life would have been very different if I had received this style of education.
I always felt misunderstood and for me school was just a waste of time. I am a dreamer. I would sit in the back of the classroom, close to the window in summer and next to the heater in winter. I would watch the seasons as they went by... birds singing in spring, leaves falling in fall, wintery snow flakes, and staring at the bright summer sun as long as possible without blinking. I was not found of school. What a frustration it must have cause me that I can still remember the childhood poems that I had to memorize word by word, comma by comma. And how about math! Teachers taught us to use our fingers to count, then traumatically told us not to. I can still picture those countless pages of fractions, additions, subtractions and divisions that I had to do. And the teacher, walking down the rows making sure we were staying on task. I would just look out the window, wishing I were a bird and fly away (so my bird tattoos represent my childhood frustrations). The worst part of a non Montessori education is the homework. I remember getting in big trouble when failing to do my homework. Who likes to add more hours after a long day of school! Everyday the teachers would review our assignments and grade them, and if the assignment was not done properly, we would be required to hand over a note to be signed by our parents. Ouch! Nobody wants to go back home with a note from the teacher.
School was painful. I did not have a lot of friends as I never felt I could be myself. Therefore, my creative juices were stifled. Grades were a great frustration as I grew up. Being constantly compared to classmates did not help build my confidence (which I am still lacking). The constant pressure that I had to go from grade level to grade level and how good results are crucial. But really, are they? Later, in your life, will you be judged on the good grades you had at school or on the person you became? If you ask my parents, I don't even think that they remember whether or not I was a good student.
Finding myself was a big introprospection. I spent the next 5 years after high school trying to get my niche. I first needed to find out who I was, then what I was good at. However, instead of discovering that at 23, I could have started this "finding myself work" at 3, when starting my Montessori education.
Surprisingly, Maria Montessori said that we become adults at age 23. She was definitively right, I got my life together and finally decide which direction to take at 23. Perhaps, If I had had a Montessori education I would have continuously be working in Communications and would have started my career way earlier. Or maybe I would be a journalist or a painter but not so.
Everyday, I have the chance to watch my girl working in her classroom, I can picture myself blossoming in this environment. I am such a hands-on person. I need to see, touch and play with materials. Combining, assembling, sorting, and matching in order to understand is the whole concept of Montessori. It invites you to learn at your own rhythm... Yes, your own rhythm! I would have loved working with the tower, assembling it step-by-step and leaning the decimals with the golden beads.
I would have made such a great Montessori student. I would have actually enjoyed receiving lessons, appreciated my teachers (instead of hoping that they were sick), and among everything, LOVE LEARNING ... my mornings would also have been way easier.
Photo credit: Helena Eddings
I always thought that I was ambitious and that at some point I would end up, at least, VP of Communications in a big company. I therefore studied hard, got my Master and worked in big and well-known organizations. My goal was to gain as much experience as I could. That was until … I became a mom and realized that I preferred leaving work at 4 pm and spending time with my family. Being a mom made me realized who the real me was … A person who does not mind hanging out all day wearing large t-shirts and yoga pants, covered with left over vomit. This is definitively the “cool me.” During my time as a stay-at-home mom, I got to know all the Disney movies and even build opinions. For instance, Anna from Frozen is way cooler than Elsa (come on girls, stop with her, she is so annoying and needy). I ate kids’ food, drank out of sippy cups and over used the words: “pee pee”, “peekaboo,” “boo boo,” and “ba ba ba.” The good side of being a stay-at-home mom is all the time you get to spend with your child. Seeing them growing, getting independent, being around for every laugh, smile and step. The bad side is all the time you spend with your child; crys, tantrums, diapers that overflow with diarrhea, running noses and catching your child blowing it with your favorite shirt… Yes, it sounds contradictory … but there is really a mixed feelings. At some point, I needed an activity that would take me out of the house … but at the same time, not too far. Yes, still very contradictory.
After 18 months as a stay-at-home mom, I am back on track! Yoga pants stay home, working pants and clean shirts on, I am ready to rock the outside world. So was the transition easy? No, it was hell … first, I have to wake up early. Then, as soon as I open my eyes, the morning marathon starts: getting ready, preparing the girls, lunch boxes, finding the missing shoe, bottles, the hubby, the missing phone, the wrinkled shirt, me, what to do with my hair … getting everybody in the car, rushing to the daycare, rushing to the school, applying mascara in car, rushing to … oh no, no more rushing, I forgot to mention that I work at my girl’s school (5 minutes away from my place). Yes, I know, a dream job for any mom. I drop my girl in her classroom, chat a bit with her teacher and walk to my office. At 4 pm, I am done working and at 4.20 pm I am home with my two girls. My work environment is fun and challenging, but why would it not be, I work in a school. Everyday is different, with different issues and an UH-MA-ZING team to work with.
So back to the question, was the transition easy? I was kidding, it surely was. I even enjoyed it. The main issue while not working was the lack of interaction with other adults. Now, every day, I face challenges that require me to use something that I forgot I had … a brain. Yes, I have a brain that I stimulate everyday. Sometimes I forget that in a working environment, we do not go “pee pee” but we “use the bathrooms.” I also meet great people with whom I can relate. Of course, my routine changed. My 9 month old goes to daycare instead of spending the entire day with me. But at the end of day, we are happy to be together and keep on hugging and kissing. I also feel that I have something that drives me, something that is just for me.
And here we are again, more killings, killings and still more killings … like it is not enough. Yes, it is all over the news, all over social media. It’s dinner time and we are on our phone, silently scrolling down looking for any information on what happened and we scroll down, scroll down, scroll down, and the more we scroll down the angrier and the sadder we get. But we keep on scrolling down hungry for more information. This is how we spent our diner yesterday. Then I put my girl to bed, read a nice story went back downstairs and now I wonder.
I want to raise my girls to be open-minded, respectful, kind and charitable. But what if the family next door is raising theirs to be violent and racist? I wonder, should I lock my door and create a bubble around my girls so nothing happens to them? Should I become paranoiac?
I wonder what kind of world are we creating? A world of fear where we will constantly suspect our neighbours to possess a gun or to be radicalized. I also wonder if our kids are the key to end violence … even though I would be happy if violence ends with our generation.
I wonder why killing under the name of God because I am not a believer. I wonder why killing under the belief that there are different races and some are better than others, because I do not believe in races. I believe in people living in the same world. I believe in a world that we could share even if it seems so hard. I am surely too naïve but I believe in peace.
I keep on wondering and wondering again … as French living in the US for over a year I feel helpless and frustrated. I am here an ocean away from my family, friends and compatriots. With our 4000 miles apart, I made sure everybody I know was safe. And it was the only thing I could do.
My twenties are very far away. There was a time where I was not married and did not have kids. And for those who doubt, really, I use to be so damn cool. I use to be ...
Before, I would catch all jokes, and would always have an answer ready. Now, if you tell me “oops, I lost the kids”, I might freak out and call the cops… even if you look at me with a “just kidding” face, I will not appreciate.
Also do not joke around the fact that there is no more wine or no more hot water. I need wine to evade – sometimes – and hot water to have a 5-minute relaxing shower. So I might not appreciate. Sometimes, I surprise myself joking … but I am always the only one laughing. People stare, puzzled. So I have to tell my joke again to get half (polite) smiles.
Before it was: “me, going out without high heels, pfff never”. Now, I grab the first flats I find without caring if they match my outfit. Do you know what it is like to live in a city where there are no Zara stores? Before living in Toledo, I had never ordered clothes online. I was one of those women who consider shopping as a real workout. Now, I have Zara app on my phone and I am a master at ordering, tracking, trying on and returning clothes that do not fit. Really, I love my kids but the Zara box waiting for me in front of my door is always the highlight of my day.
If you see me now, you might not believe it but, really, I use to be trendy. I was always aware of the latest designers’ collections and would renew my wardrobe every season. Now, when I enter a store I first go to the kids’ section, and then there is no more budget for me. Also, how can I be motivated to dress up, NOBODY cares here, in Toledo, Ohio. Finally, let’s be honest, yoga pants are so comfortable. It’s like a second skin. Why would I wear something else? I even think that we should have an “International yoga pants day” with a dedicated song.
… Such a party girl
In my twenties, I was such a fun party girl. I was wild, free and always motivated for a fun night out. I was even funnier after a couple of drinks. I could dance all night long and still go to work the next day … without feeling tired. In clubs, I was one of those cool girls with a cigarette in one hand and a glass on the other hand. My friends and I were so broke that one beer would last the entire evening and we would buy one pack of cigarettes and share among us.
Now, after one glass of Chardonnay, I am completely useless. My nights out without kids end at 11 … the very latest, because I am tired or because of the babysitter or because blabla, always a good reason …
Do I regret this time? Of course neahhh. I have never felt so complete now than I have a family. I enjoy my thirties, my coffee addiction and among everything my role as a mother and wife. It is always interesting to back in time to see how far we went and how much we achieved. I guess I turned into a cool mom and someday into a cool grandma (but not yet, please).
Here, it is all about food, children and me.
Claire, mom of two adorable girls. Montessori believer.
A few pounds overweighted and a few inches too short. Sometimes too French for Americans and most of the time too American for French people. Rarely down to earth but often out of my mind.