Family by blood, family by grace, family by choice. Our families come in all forms, but at the heart, family is home. Family is where you can be safe to let your hair down and be honest and vulnerable and crabby, and also where you learn firsthand about forgiveness and love.
I feel so lucky that I grew up with such a strong family. I am the second oldest of 5, and I can't imagine my life any other way. My siblings had (and continue to have) such an impact on the person I am today. My parents did such an amazing job about raising each of us as individuals with different interests and passions and strengths. They took time to create simple rituals that are still a part of our lives today. When it was someones birthday, that child was able to choose where they wanted to go for a special birthday meal, with just mom and dad. They had a "red plate" that was a special glass plate that was brought on on special occasions, but also on more ordinary times when my mom thought we needed to honor a family member. We sing a special song after the traditional "Happy Birthday" song that I have shared with my son and with my friends/framily. I always had someone to play with, and we had a very happy childhood. My parents instilled in us the value of hard work and serving others. They also lived with love... their love is something to behold. Their love taught us respect and how to work through challenges.
Now that I am a parent, I have a whole new appreciation for all of the big (and little) things they did for our family. My mom is still just a text away and I have sent her countless messages asking for her guidance on things with our son, but also with life.
Every night before bed, my son and I talk about all of the people in his life that love him. We talk about his Grammy and Grampy, and his aunts and uncles, and his Grandma and Grandpa, and we also talk about those friends who are family. I want our son to know about love in this world. I want him to notice it, and I want him to give it away freely. I want him to know that there are scary things and sad things, but when you are on the side of love, it will work out. I want him to love the earth and all of the people on this huge planet. I want him to love the plants and animals, and know how to take care of those things. I want him to love himself. To know how special he is for his unique qualities. I want him to know that others are just as special and that our differences can bring people together.
Things can change so fast, and it is so important for children to know that they have a group of people who are there for them, no matter what. No matter what. I used to use the word "tribe" but I feel like tribe can be exclusive, or something that you have to earn membership to.
Are families perfect? No way. It is through those imperfections that we learn how to deal with the world. We learn to love ourselves and forgive ourselves. We learn that we are all connected, each and every person on this planet.
What rituals or routines do you practice with your child to mark the ordinary days, and the special days?
Beth is a mom first and foremost. She is also a trained Montessori teacher who is passionate about making the lofty ideals of the Montessori philosophy more real and manageable for families.