Since I had done a lot of reading before Raccoon was born, I felt like there was so much more that I should be doing to enrich Raccoon's crucial early years. I imagined other mothers being able to do these amazing programs with their children that I could not, due to trouble with nursing and sleeping, colic, several major moves, and other upheavals during Raccoon's first two years. I did the best that I could, incorporating as many things from the Doman books as possible. But as he grew and became increasingly mobile, almost everything that we were doing, and enjoying up to that point, stopped working. I got stressed trying to find new ways to make things work, and then it wasn't fun anymore for Raccoon or for me. I took a break for awhile from intentional early stimulation, and I stepped back to examine why I was so frustrated that things weren't working. So what if we didn't do any structured learning? One of the common criticisms of early learning is that the parents are forcing the children. I wondered, if I was really honest, did I have any hidden motivation or agenda?
In the end, I realized that my motives were a mixture of good and bad, like most things in life. Mostly, I wanted to share with Raccoon my love of learning. But if I was truly honest with myself, there was also some need to validate my capabilities as a mother by his achievements. "See, Raccoon can do this, so I'm not a total failure." After realizing this, I prayed a lot about whether I should continue or not. After a time, I felt peace about it and I set some new goals.
My new focus in every area is exposure and enjoyment, not mastery or performance. I don't need to know how much he knows, test him, or try to catch it on camera. Glen Doman says that the child will show the parent in time, and Maria Montessori said something like, "You don't dig up the seed to see if the plant is growing." As long as Raccoon and I are having fun, and the information that I provide is clear and of the highest quality that I can do in a reasonable amount of time, I am content. My focus is also on being more intentional about enriching the time that we spend together and to create more mutual respect in my relationship with Raccoon. (Love is already there and flourishing.) My ultimate hope and prayer is that if he learns that I listen to and respect him now while he's little, he'll still come to me and trust me to respect him when he's not so little anymore.