La Tela di Carlotta
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A personal note on family

Oct 10, 2017

Just recently, some unfortunate events made me think about the meaning of family.

I grew up in Italy, a very family-oriented country and culture, and I was taught that family is sacred, and family gatherings are to be attended by any means possible—the showing-up part seemed to be the true display of love.

I once got upset at my aunt for not coming to see me in my only trip to Italy during my first pregnancy, I kept thinking “I’m just a 5-hour car journey away, she’s known it for months, she could have made an effort to come say hi. What can possibly be more important than seeing and hugging your niece after a year, especially now that she’s pregnant for the first time?”. I didn’t even stop to wonder what her reasons might be, I was disappointed she didn’t show up and I didn’t talk to her for months. Today, as I share this with you, it makes me feel silly, childish, selfish.

It might be because I became a mother and my priorities shifted. Or maybe I simply evolved as a human being, and became a more empathetic person.

Today I know family is not about the big events, the reunions, the birthday presents, the Christmas wishes. It’s not about who showed up at my wedding, or who came to see Oliver and Emily when they were born (although it was nice to have the grandparents and my sister here). It’s not even about having a good excuse not to show up—there doesn’t need to be an excuse to begin with.

Family is something else.

It’s my husband changing his plans last-minute to stay with me and the kids when I need help. It’s my sister jumping on the first plane and staying with us for weeks when I was on bed rest during my second pregnancy.

But it’s not even that much, to be honest.

Family—especially long distance family, like mine—is a phone call, an email, a message once in a while. Family is who keeps in touch. Family is who respects one another—genuinely, not because some label demands it—who gives the benefit of the doubt, who understands each other instead of pointing fingers.

But most of all: family to me is to not expect ANY of the above.

Expectations of any kind—financial, affective, social, professional—poison relationships. I often feel like people expect anything and everything from family members just because of this haunting label—“they’re family”—and because they think it’s their duty to be there, to support, to respect, to care for one another, to talk and share sorrows and joys, to attend reunions (or to have a good enough excuse not to), to want to be together, to show the best version of one another or to accept it when the worst comes out, instead.

That is not what family is.

I feel we have to revisit the true meaning of family, learn to not have expectations and to recognize it when we do—even deeper, hidden expectations that we’re not fully aware of. Only then can we have meaningful relationships with our family members, and teach our kids family values—not the socially expected ones, but the real and honest ones, the ones that will really make a difference for your close and extended family.

And a few more cobweb-like thoughts—each one could be a separate blog post that I’ll never have the time to write, so here they are:

  • Respect to family members is overrated. Respect is a two way thing, it’s never to be expected based on age, experience or family hierarchy—it always has to be earned, even when it comes to family.
  • Children don’t owe their parents. Now that I’m a mother I feel even more strongly about this. We parents choose to bring children into this world, so, if anything, we owe them.
  • Never mix money and family. No matter how good your relationship is with your family, money will always find its way to ruin it, even just a little bit. Not worth it.

Tell me what you think

Did you like it? Do you agree or disagree? I'd love to hear from you.

The blog

I write mainly about Montessori, parenthood, and multilingualism. Here are some recent posts.

Montessori
One day a few years ago my husband came home and said, "Why don't we put a mattress on the floor in the baby room? It'd be much more natural". "Never" was my reply. That's how our Montessori journey started. Since then we've been living, breathing and applying the philosophy at home day in and day out, starting from ourselves. Because educating children starts from the parents.
Bean and seed mosaic
I'm not perfect. I'm aware
DIY yoga cards for kids
Children at the restaurant: let's recalibrate expectations
Don't ask your children to share their toys
Those "good job" that erode our children's confidence
Our Montessori birthday
Two alternatives to screens that my kids love
Using fear and threats to control children is never right!
"Stop crying!" doesn't work
Living sustainably
Living sustainably for me doesn’t only mean to have a more eco-friendly lifestyle. It means to make decisions that are sustainable for our planet, the people on it, but also for our life, our lifestyle, and our happiness. It means to take any daily chance to evolve and be happier, healthier, kinder, more responsible and more caring human beings—the only sustainable way for a meaningful future.
Face yoga is an act of self love
Why you should wear the same outfit twice on Instagram
The power of creating habits (and why you should do it, even if you then break them!)
Responsible eating is the diet of the future (Would you like to teach it to your kids?)
The power of NOT complaining: can you do it for a whole month?
Clean up your planet, please!
Infographic: 8 steps to switch to cloth nappies (a guide for reluctant parents)
A personal note on happiness
A personal note on social media
A change of life always widens your horizons
New to La Tela?
I’ve prepared collections on various topics that I’ve written over the years. Perhaps you’ll find one that interests you.

Travel

We sold everything to travel the world for two years. We're currently in New Zealand.

Books

In 2020 I wrote 4 books for the Italian collection “Gioca and Impara con il metodo Montessori” curated by Grazia Honegger Fresco. The collection is a project by Il Corriere della Sera and La Gazzetta dello Sport.

We also implemented the workshops of the last 15 volumes of the collection with Oliver and Emily.

Podcast

On my podcast, “Educare con calma”, I talk about various topics, from Montessori to sustainability. Only in Italian!

Oct 16, 2020 • 19m
La nostra routine con i bimbi
Mi chiedete spessissimo quale sia la nostra routine a casa con i bimbi e in questo episodio vi svelo che noi, una routine vera e propria, non ce l'abbiamo. Abbiamo una routine minima e indispensabile, che è un concetto che mi sono totalmente inventata su due piedi mentre parlavo a briglia sciolta in questo episodio, ma che credo funzioni davvero. Almeno per noi. La routine minima e indispensabile, secondo me, risponde anche a un altro "problema": trovo che ci bombardino spesso con l'idea del...
11
Oct 9, 2020 • 24m
Sostenibilità: come sensibilizzare i bambini e i giovani adulti | Con Cristiana Cerri Gambarelli
In questa puntata a due voci di Educare con Calma – divisa a metà perché amo gli episodi corti - parliamo di sostenibilità e per farlo ho invitato mia sorella, Cristiana Cerri Gambarelli, project manager della Federazione dei Giovani Verdi Europei e un esempio per chiunque voglia intraprendere un viaggio nella sostenibilità: negli ultimi ha cambiato tutta la sua vita per ridurre la sua impronta di carbonio e per prendere ogni giorno decisioni più sostenibili per il nostro pianeta e in questa ...
10
Oct 2, 2020 • 24m
Intraprendere un viaggio nella sostenibilità | Con Cristiana Cerri Gambarelli
In questa puntata a due voci di Educare con Calma – divisa a metà perché amo gli episodi corti - parliamo di sostenibilità e per farlo ho invitato mia sorella, Cristiana Cerri Gambarelli, project manager della Federazione dei Giovani Verdi Europei e un esempio per chiunque voglia intraprendere un viaggio nella sostenibilità: negli ultimi ha cambiato tutta la sua vita per ridurre la sua impronta di carbonio e per prendere ogni giorno decisioni più sostenibili per il nostro pianeta e in questa ...
9

Instagram

I update Instagram almost every day to be "close" to my family far away.

Why La Tela di Carlotta?
I dreamed of the name La Tela di Carlotta. One morning I woke up and in my dreams I had created a blog named just like the American novel (Charlotte's Web). Many years and endless ups and downs later, this web of thoughts and stories is my work. It took me a long time to understand what kind of online presence I wanted and today I know: I'm transparent, I show real life, I don't advertise, I only recommend sustainable brands (and not only because they pay me) and I believe in the value of my blog and my courses—because if we don't believe in the value of our work, no one will believe in it for us.
Carlotta
Carlotta dreaming of La Tela
I know! I don't want it to be over yet either.