Leaving’s not the only way to go…

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As I’ve been facing so many changes in my life over the past two months, one question I find myself constantly asking is this: how does one gracefully extricate oneself from something that is just no longer working?

It’s a question without an answer, I fear.

When I worked at Mothering.com as a moderator for all those years, I observed that people who became disenchanted with natural family living and attachment parenting as billed by MDC generally took one of three paths when they decided the community was no longer for them: they flamed, flounced, or faded out.

The flamers were pretty easy to spout. With a flurry of expletives and namecalling, they announced their self-imposed exile from the community, usually while calling into question the motives and morals of everyone else who was staying.

The flouncers were similar, although they tended to make it a bit more personal. They were hurt and it was everyone’s fault except their own. And so they too left.

The people who faded away always left me the saddest. They slowly posted less and less, leaving their stories hanging with no ending. As they found they had less and less in common with the community, they slipped away, never to be heard of again.

I’ve noticed this in the Waldorf homeschooling blogging community as well. The flamers change their mind about the entire exercise and leave with many harsh words about how misled they were. The flouncers lock up their blogs, leaving in their wake accusations and hurt feelings. And the faders just kind of disappear, never to be heard of again.

I don’t want to choose any of those options, so I am trying to forge my own path here.

I love Waldorf education. I love the beauty of it. I love that it’s so deeply rooted in storytelling. I love the deep, deep respect for children and their abilities. I love so, so much about it.

And I just can’t do it anymore.

I’m not going to make blanket statements about how it is impossible to do with large families. Indeed, I know several large families who manage quite gracefully. But I just can’t. Or maybe I won’t. I’m not sure. All I know is I was becoming so stressed trying that it wasn’t enjoyable anymore. And while I’m not so naïve as to believe that everything in life needs to be a load of laughs, I do think that when something becomes a constant chore, it might be time to let it go.

I love the emphasis on rhythm and routine, but I am finding myself being held hostage to it. It’s impeding my family’s ability to just pick up and go do something amazing when the opportunity presents itself, and in a big city like this, amazing opportunities abound.

I no longer have the time, energy, or, to be honest, desire, to spend hours and hours planning main lesson blocks for 4 different children. Again, I know that there are some mothers who can manage it. But I’ve been trying to manage it for a year and failing miserably.

Without going into too much details, certain aspects like the color and grain of the day were setting off my OCD.

I’m not crafty, so there are several “sacred cows” of Waldorf education that never really resonated with me. This isn’t simply a matter of me not trying hard enough, as some have suggested. I truly have motor issues that make knitting anything other than a lumpy dishrag just about impossible, and I fear my children have inherited this as well.

There are parts of Waldorf education that seem overly adult-led, and I’ve always been a big believer in child-led curriculum. I do believe in strong parental leadership, but I would also like to have a little more freedom to let my kids take the reins.

And my kids really, really like Webkinz.

So… where does this leave me? Well, we’re probably going to stick with Oak Meadow but I am going to stop killing myself trying to make it “more Waldorf”.

My oldest is doing a cyber school and my first grader might be doing one next year too because they’ll cover speech. And I’m not feeling all that guilty about it.

I’m going to stop worrying so much about what everyone else says my homeschool should look like and spend more time making it work for my family.

I’m going to keep writing Seasons of Joy but worry less about how it lines up with other Waldorf “curricula”. It was never meant to be a curricula. It’s a seasonal guidebook for loving families and that’s what I would like to see it continue to be. I have found so much joy in it and I wish to continue to share that with others.

I’m going to give up Waldorf Wednesday. There are some other lovely link-ups out there and I hope you will post to them instead.

I’m also going to stop blogging for a bit. It’s feeling forced lately. I still have a lot to say and I’ll probably be back. But I need a break.

I also am going to cancel the Spring Faire. I feel terrible about this, but I just couldn’t pull it off alongside everything else that’s going on.

And before I step away, I’d like to send a giant thank-you to four amazing friends I’ve made in the blogging world:
Sheila at Sure as the World
Carrie at The Parenting Passageway
Kara at Rockin’ Granola
Melisa at Waldorf Essentials

I will miss this, I think, and hope that I’ll returned refreshed in a month or so. Meanwhile, if you find yourself missing me, feel free friend me on Facebook via the badge over on the left sidebar.

Blessings to you all on your journeys. I wish us all peace and joy and tons of love and energy as we travel this path with our families.


  1. Yeah… sometimes we need to stop being a “waldorf mama” and just be a MAMA, and take the path where the yoke is easy and the burden is light… 😉

    1. Author

      That is it exactly! And unfortunately (??) the only way I can do that right now is to walk away for a bit. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the gnomes though.

  2. I don’t think anything needs to be all-or-nothing. I take the elements I love about Waldorf, the elements I love about Montessori, the elements I love about RIE, and all the other methods of parenting and schooling out there, and I do what works for US. That’s what it boils down to, right? What works for you and your family. And no guilt need be associated with any of it.

    I hope the break you’re taking is just what you need to refresh your mind and spirit 🙂

    1. Author

      I do agree with you! I have found, unfortunately, that as soon as I stuck the Waldorf label on myself (or even the Waldorf-inspired run-around) I got bogged down by a whole bunch of dogma and shoulds. I probably places most of those on myself. So I think I am going to try just being me for a while and see how that works out. 🙂

  3. Thank you for being so honest, and for taking care of yourself.

    First, you are an amazing mom and woman, and I admire all that you do with your family.

    I once tried to be a Waldorf mom and homeschool and blahblahblah. As a midwife, my life was simply tooooooo chaotic and spontaneously lived to follow all sorts of rules. Then I became a single mom. So, I put my kids in a Waldorf preschool, read all sorts of Steiner, bought all sorts of Hearthsong stuff for Christmas and did everything I could to develop the Waldorf flavor in my home.

    After a while, my kids blended into public school, saw violent movies and ate fast food. I wondered if the magical whimsical beauty of the Waldorf way was lost in them….

    Now I get to interact with my children who are all adults and very much themselves. I can just TELL from who they have become and what they care about and how they relate to the world that IT is not lost, it is just woven in to the tapestries of who they are now….and I sure wonder where it will come out when they become parents. ( two of my three swear up and down that they will NOT procreate but that is a different subject…).

    What I got from the Waldorf years of my life was a way of seeing the world…and I am totally sure that all you have done for your family to honor that way of seeing the world will continue to be held in all of you as you forge a slightly different path.

    And, for goodness sake, you live in a fabulous city with endless and boundless opportunities. Have fun!

    1. Author

      There’s definitely a magic there I don’t want to lose for anything. And there are aspects I will always carry with me. I think what I just need to do is get away from losing the label.

      Thank you so much for sharing your journey. <3

  4. ((hug)) it is good that you see what you need and what your family needs. that is what matters most, truly at the end of the day. have a great month or so off. i would hate to see you go away for ever. <3

  5. I hear you!

    I’m looking at this fall of trying to homeschool 4 people in 3 grades (although the little guy will just be along for the ride) and already I’m feeling overwhelmed!!! I’m trying to figure out how to pull it all off and NOT go crazy. So, I’m letting go of things. I’m deciding…what’s truly important. Where can I pare down, what can I hand off to someone else, what workbooks can I choose to do some of the work for me. And it’s agonizing. I want Waldorf. Not Waldorf lite…not Waldorf flair…but I have to realize…I can’t do it and stay sane. And this is the part that’s adding to my guilt of not being “Waldorf” enough…I’m in the middle of Waldorf Teacher Training. So, I know…how it’s “supposed” to be.

    This is what I discovered. Earlier this spring, my Foundations class studied Parzival (don’t know if you’ve read it), but this is what I took away from it. The journey of the Grail Knight is to bring something from deep inside herself, to walk the solitary journey to bring it to the world. The Knight of the Round Table works with the GROUP, to bring something from the outside to their own individual self. I’m not a Grail Knight, I’m a Knight of the Round Table. Homeschooling is the path of the Grail Knight. I want to walk the path with my fellow Knights the Faculty Meeting. Right now, for this fall, it’s not looking possible (though there’s still hope!). I graduate next Summer. My prayer is to find that empty seat at a Round Table that’s big enough for my entire family.

    I also think there’s a problem with the label “Waldorf”. What it is and what it isn’t. The heart of the movement is “meeting the children where they are at”. I think that gets lost at times among the gnomes, silks, and beeswax. My kids love math worksheets. It makes them happy, and it meets them where they are at. Go figure. I just try to find the good ones. =) And I agree with you about child led education. Waldorf Education right now is about the classroom…which means adult led inherently. I have to keep remembering…homeschool is not school at home…and I think much of the homeschoolers try too hard to do that. (and I’m guilty that too.).

    So, I understand how much you can LOVE Waldorf Education and want it for your children…and still not be able to give it. We do our best…and that’s all we can do.

    Thank you for posting this…I think I not only needed to “hear” it…I needed to write this answer out too…it’s kinda solidified some things for me.

    Happy Trails! Until we meet again!!


  6. I think there is such beauty in recognizing what is best for YOU and YOUR family – I really do. It can be so easy to get caught up in the ‘shoulds’ of any endeavor, that we can lose sight of what we started out trying to do.
    It sounds like you and I have actually been on not dissimilar journeys (albeit I am at the beginning of my homeschooling journey, so my angst has been more theoretical, than practical). It hit me one day, that the Waldorf police were not going to come to my home to check on me, that I could create the environment that I wanted … which for me means taking aspects of Waldorf that meet the needs of me and mine, and leaving the rest.
    I really appreciate your honesty here; you standing up and saying this will help countless other mamas who are in a similar place – bravo for that!
    And finally, we’ll miss you. Sometimes it’s good to step away for sure, but know that we’ll be here ready for you when you come back.

  7. You are an awesome mama. And doing what is best for your family and for each child is the best gift you can give them! When we try to “label” our playschool and my early homeschooling, I find myself saying… “Montessori, Waldorf, Nature Based, Delight Directed..hmmm.. ECLECTIC” Yeah, that.

    Hope to see you soon!

  8. Hugs to you. Blaze your own trail and keep what is sacred to you, the rest can go 🙂

  9. What candor and courage!

    I heard a quote of St. Catherine of Siena yesterday:
    “Be who you are and you will set the world on fire.”

  10. Blessings Annette! We will miss you while you take your break – but the reason I feel connected to your blog is your honesty. I love hearing about the real approach that you take with homeschooling your kids, not just the “waldorf” parts. 🙂
    Hugs, and have a wonderful joyful summer!

  11. all the best to you during this courageous time of change…what a beautiful journey it shall be : )

  12. You summed that all up for me. We hit the same place with the Waldorf Inspired things we were doing. Just not a fit.

  13. This year I worked hard to schedule a more waldorf infused year for my three school age children (and tow along preschooler!), but about halfway through the year I realized it just wasn’t what I wanted and it was entirely too much trying to balance 4 completely different threads simultaneously. I fully believe it is possible to let those pieces of whatever curriculum inspire us as teachers and mothers. To let them rest deeply in our hearts and use those parts that bring the best of ourselves to our children and families to their fullest potential. Our life really is a series of seasons and I have always appreciated your blog name and thought it apt; may we always strive and seek joy in whatever season our life is in.

  14. Much of what you said, I can relate to. I also feel myself coming away from Waldorf as more of my kids are school age, feeling like I can only go so many directions. We have always taken what works for us about Waldorf, and just left the rest. I also try to support child-led learning in our home, so much of what we do looks a lot like unschooling. I have never felt quite Waldorf enough to call myself a Waldorf homeschooler, but because we are inspired by Waldorf, I never quite felt like a true unschooler either. 🙂 Funny how these labels can bring us together but also make us feel lonely or separate at the same time.

    This has been a lovely space to connect with others who are interested in Waldorf but not rigid about it. Thank you for the Waldorf Wednesdays! And best wishes to you and your family.

  15. Hi Annette, Prayers and blessings on the new journey. Glad that you won’t chain yourself to a particular dogma. The educational directions are just tools in the end, not an end in themselves.: )

  16. Proverbs says trust in the Lord with all your heart, with all your mind and with all your soul and peace of God that excels all thought, keep our hearts and mental powers by means of Christ Jesus. God bless you and your family.
    Thank you for all you’ve shared with us.

  17. Annette, your post resonated so much with me and I understand exactly how you feel. I have struggled with the same thing for 2 years. What I did finally come to grips with (this year) was I am not Waldorf teacher, I do not run a Waldorf school, I am a homeschooling Mom trying to do my best. As for the bashing and the rude individuals that find the need to point out our missteps you have way to much time on your hands.(they should do more knitting) The blogs that we all have created were to grow community and share our journey with others, not judging one another. Annette I commend you on your honesty and can’t wait to read about your new adventures in homeschooling.

    -Compassion automatically brings happiness and calmness. Then, even if you receive disturbing news, it will be easier to take, as your mind is still..
    Dalai Lama

  18. Teach Out of your joy. That’s what it’s about.

    I was and am still glad for this community space — whatever you call it.

    I’m glad you didn’t flounce, flame or fade. Have a wonderful time figuring it out. And Enjoy your spontaneous adventures of joy around your city … even on Wednesdays when you can’t find a millet street vendor to buy lunch from (;

  19. Awesome Annette,
    My wish for you this year is to have FUN, to feel loved, and have many precious moments with your children. I think life is too short to expend super amounts of energy on things that are not nourishing to you, and sometimes letting go is what provides the best balance.

    Lots of love!
    Carrie XXOO

  20. I think you are very brave. Your note is inspiring and empowering. Thank you for your honesty! And many warm wishes for the next stages of your family’s journey together

  21. My children went to a Waldorf School through 8th grade. Now we have 2 girls in public high school –one is about to go to college. I still consider us a “Waldorf” family. In thinking about what makes us “Waldorf” when we have kids in public school and way more technology than we should, I realize it is that we have a family sensibility that focuses on a rhythm to our year and an approach to life that honors a “less is more” attitude and a developmental understanding of our children’s (and our own) needs. This may not make sense because I’m still thinking it all through.

  22. I think that it is awesome that you have come to the realisation of what is right for you and your family Annette! I hope you find a happy space for your family to be in that works for you!

  23. Thanks for sharing this! It’s my introduction to you and your blog, and I can see you’re a thoughtful mom and teacher. 🙂

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