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September 04, 2019

Montessori Parenting: The Sensitive Period for Motherhood

At a little over 37 weeks pregnant, I'm starting to feel that constant pull between enjoying the last few days of our current life situation and eagerly anticipating meeting our new baby. As a Montessori parent, I've read my Montessori baby books before, but I've been pulling them out again to glance over during the course of this pregnancy and just read randomly parts that spoke to me. Last night I chose Understanding the Human Being to read over in the bath. And, I came across this phrase that really struck me - "the sensitive period for motherhood." 

Montessori Parenting and Motherhood

Dr. Montanaro uses the phrase while talking about the special relationship that develops between a newborn and its caretakers - particularly its mother. A child's caretakers are the ones most effected by a child's cries, needs, and helplessness. By being in tune with the child, a preferential relationship develops - one that benefits both the mother and the child. 

37 week pregnant woman takes a selfie in a Montessori baby movement area mirror with pull up bar

But the use of this phrase - the sensitive period for motherhood - just struck me. In Montessori we talk and worry so much about the sensitive periods that our children are reaching and meeting, but have you thought about your own? I haven't. Even when I first read this book many years ago this phrase hadn't jumped out at me. But, it's so true. So incredible - for all parents, not just mothers - how our bodies change, respond, and grow with each child. 

And, now using modern brain science research that incredible changes happen in a person's brain when they are pregnant. In fact, research shows there is as much change in a pregnant person's brain as there is in an adolescent

However, a sensitive period doesn't mean that the learning automatic, or won't be a lot of work, but that the person's brain and body is especially equipped for the task. For me, it sort of takes the pressure off. It's such a reminder that I know what to do, that I just need to listen to my own instincts and tune into my child and my body will adapt. 

A sensitive period also comes with some enjoyment, and without fatigue. A child in a sensitive period is called to this work, and wants to repeat without tiring and with a great sense of joy. Again, this feels like such a great reminder to me. 

Yes, a newborn will be physically exhausting, but it will come with great joy. I won't fatigue in the traditional sense of the word. I'm up for this task. Sometimes our society likes to remind us how difficult new babies are over and over again. How horribly hard it will be. But, I love this reminder that in that work there is joy, there is contentment, and a sense that this work is what needs to be done right now. 

Welcoming a new baby is such a time of joy, excitement, and so many unknowns. Montessori parenting can help you understand not only your baby but also yourself. Are we in a sensitive period for motherhood? Is the work of motherhood made easier during this time of great change?

Have you ever considered early motherhood to be like a sensitive period? 


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