I have started working on this calendar mat more than two years ago when B. was about eight months old. I planned it to be finished by his first birthday so we could use it at his first Montessori Celebration of Life. It did not happen but I have no regrets.
It all started when I worked as a teacher in an international kindergarten inspired by Montessori pedagogy. Children had their birthdays and I led their Celebrations of Life. I studied what it is because then I had no idea – you can read something about Montessori Celebration of Life here and here. I learned how to make the Celebration for children nicer and smoother with each possibility to practice. Although it is simple and easy, it brings so much meaning:
- a child is in the center of attention,
- a child and her/his presence in the world is celebrated,
- through photographs and memories a child can perceive how he/she is growing and changing,
- a child has an opportunity to relate cycles in her/his life with cycles of Earth and Universe.
I wanted to start the Celebration of Life with B. quite early because I see how he learns – if he does not get it now, he will get it few months later – it seems like out of nowhere. I wanted, I planned, but B. did not have his Celebration of Life when he turned one. He had his Celebration when he turned two – with an unfinished mat.
At the beginning I just wanted to sew a mat made of old fabrics I had in my stash, and decorate it with four seasons trees. It made me so happy to sew those beautiful fabric pictures – it brought light to my dark days. I started with spring and I loved the picture I created. Then I continued with summer and loved it even more. And it went like that until I finished all the trees. Now I like all of them the same.
As I was almost finished, I changed my mind and decided to embroider numbers for each day of the year and that is how a birthday mat turned into a calendar mat. It took much longer to embroider numbers then I thought it would… But, as I mentioned, I do not regret it, because now we can easily use it everyday as a calendar along with a book 366 and More Nature Stories by Anne-Marie Dalmais (ours is in Slovak language).
Our calendar mat as a symbol
Finishing the mat I started thinking about all those years that passed. All those years taking care of B., years of trying to balance my mental health, years of so many changes… All of that is embroidered in that mat. I embroidered it when B. was having his morning nap or when he was playing. Always just few numbers at a time. Working on it despite of hundreds of interruptions. Patience. Adapting to B.’s and our many developmental stages. Resilience. Working also in frightening states of mind. Courage. Reconsidering, repairing, improving what I already made. Reflection. Accepting imperfections. Self-love.
Working on the calendar mat was like my life with B. Although the mat is finished we keep learning – it serves as a source of information – both, about the world and about our lives.