Lisa Belkin at the NYT has a great column about Slow Parenting.

I think this may be my new favorite word to describe what I do as a mom, beating out “attachment parenting” by several miles. As her interlocutor puts it, “Slow parents understand that childrearing should not be a cross between a competitive sport and product-development. It is not a project; it’s a journey. Slow parenting is about giving kids lots of love and attention with no conditions attached.”

Exactly. I feel this so acutely when I look at my life with my kids. I just posted about the work I’m doing to scale back my desires for them, and my growing awareness of how I sow desire in them.

Slow parenting relates to that. I remember when I was choosing, last year, to homeschool the kids. I kind of fell into it when we were deciding whether or not to send our kids to private school. The school was so good, but so expensive. It raised so many questions: am I doing the right thing? Will my kids get The Best Education? Do they have Enough?

I felt so intensely that what I consumed on behalf of my children would define them, would make their lives richer or poorer on a grand scale far outlasting the cost to me of a new toy, an enrichment class or even a private school education.

For me, the real temptation is to consume experiences for them. I’m not a big shopper, but I wanted to enroll them in every enrichment class. We did Music Together for the first time when Rio was 9 months old, and we’ve done music classes, gymnastics classes, yoga classes, nature workshops, etc. ever since.

I felt, as I think many parents do, that I had a moral obligation to buy the best of everything for them, at any personal cost.

And then that started to change. To go to private school, we would have relied on a financial aid grant that requires both parents to work full time. This would have meant putting our girls not only into school, but into after-school programs, starting now at their very young ages.

It didn’t feel right. I wondered if it might actually be better for them to live more simply, to go to school in our neighborhood or right in our living room, and have access to me – my energy, my love, my simple presence in our home – for their whole lives growing up.

Now, as we live our abundant, simple life, these questions fall away. I’ve come to terms with not having a Brand Name education for my daughters. Not only did we choose homeschooling over private school, but I dropped out of the Waldorf teacher training program I’d enrolled in. I don’t need it any more than I need the charming, expensive hand-made toys they sell in the Waldorf School gift shop.

I’ve learned to genuinely love what we have, and to reach outside myself less for happiness or wholeness. In a sense, this is an exercise in radical self-love, loving myself enough to believe that I am all my young kids need to flourish.

So far so good. We are enough, unto each other. Today I asked Rio what she wanted to do with our afternoon, and gave her several “enriching” choices – the library, the museum, the bookstore. She responded by performing a song and dance (literally) about how wonderful it would be to stay home with her mother and sister and cats.

So that’s what we did. We baked cookies, drew some pictures, and played with the wooden trains. Again. The same thing we did yesterday, and the day before. I think maybe she likes it. It’s Enough. The Best, even.