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WISE MAMA ESTHER

A conversation with Esther Meneil Zotti
@ourlifeinthealps

January 15, 2021

Tell us a bit about you and your family (names, ages, where you live, style of parenting/philosophy)

HI, I'M ESTER, I'm 40 years old and married to my mountain-man, Christian. Together with our two seven years old daughters/twin girls and our two-year-old son, who has a little extra chromosome/downs syndrome, we live in the Bavarian alps in a typical little village in the south of Germany. We truly love where we live, and enjoy the mountains as well as the countryside with all its farms and slow-paced simple living. We do not at all regret that we moved out of Munich/the city more than 6 years ago. Our surroundings define a lot of how we live and our family values and philosophy.



To be outdoors and in nature is one of the most important things and values in our life. It's where we most feel alive, free, and creative, and I’m convinced that's where the development of my children, their creativity, self-esteem, and self-efficacy can be found and expressed. When we move outside, e.g. hiking, we feel most connected with each other, but we also experience the chance to connect and get grounded with ourselves. To live with less artificial distraction and consumption, noise and a quick/fast speed like we experienced in the city, is what we value a lot here.

To go over to the farm across from our house, where I grow vegetables with 2 others on a big field, is an enrichment for the whole family. My daughters help me on the field or go over to the horses, while their little brother plays with the soil or bites into a carrot while accompanying me - at least for now, as he can’t walk. I’m sure when learns how he will run after his sisters because they mean the world to him and he wants to be wherever they are. That's also true the other way around; my daughters are in love with their little special brother and are so so proud of him and every oh so tiny step he does. They play with him and are the greatest factor in his development. His laugh and joy is something that draws every one of us to him. I think his extra chromosome really makes him extra cuddly and lovable, and we feel blessed and honored that he enriches our lives and changes them for the better.



What are some of your favorite activities to do with your children?

Hiking... simply everything outside, baking and horseback-riding is something that I share with my daughters, and to simply admire different flowers is also something we share together, music plays a big role and is something all three kids love to do with me, as well as playing games with their dad.



What are your top 10 favorite toys?

Above all toys, my children love to play with each other the most. Especially my twin daughters, who live in role-playing games. When it comes to toys I’d say they love their Waldorf dolls most. Our son loves dolls in general, so not only his, but also his sisters. They all love their box of costumes, such as their Sarah Silk’s Fairy Dresses, as well as books, Ostheimer and Schleich animals, music instruments, and the girls love their crafting box and pens - their Opinel carving knifes are very well used and valued by them.
 


Do you have any words of wisdom for new mamas?


You are enough for your child. It's you and your presence, not the perfect equipment, or lots of space in a house or trendy toys and clothes. There is no better mama than you for your child. Be gentle with yourself, forgive yourself, and know that an imperfect mama is much better and healthier than a perfect mama. Also, I love the "connection over correction“ guide, because it is all about fostering a deep and healthy connection to your child and the rest will come. Intuition, a motherly intuition, is something that got lost for a lot of mamas in our generation, and I think it's time to make new space for it and to unpeel the onion until we get there because I’m convinced our motherly intuition is bringing us further than all those many guidebooks and the flood of inspirations that surrounds us these days... Trust yourself mama, you got everything you need for your child!



Does your family have a special bedtime routine?

Our bedtime routine has changed a lot lately due to the fact that I wean our son at night right now. I have been busier trying to schedule it for when he gets tired, which sometimes falls exactly at the same time when girls go to bed. So then Christian takes over the girls and I take care of our son. Additionally, we have two absolutely fanatic bookworms here, that looove to read for hours. Our routine also changed a bit when the girls mentioned they want to read by themselves in their big bed, because their books are soooo fascinating. So only sometimes we all end up in bed and read a good night story nowadays... it worked well during advent time, but after Christmas, they both got new books and are hooked now.

We often reflect on the day by making a round where everyone says one or two things he or she is grateful for. That often also gives room to talk about sorrows or something that needs to be clarified as well. I usually sing 2 to 3 songs in the evening when they are already in bed, and I always have to sing the same ones they know from when they were little. The singing is important for me - I experienced it as such enrichment in my own childhood, that I started the routine very early with them. The weaning also works great when holding and singing/humming the same songs/melodies with our son... the feeling of security and calm is set right there.

I end the night with a blessing for all three kids. I go over to every one of my children and lay my hand on their head or in their hand and say a blessing/prayer over them. There is no evening where they don’t get a kiss from me as the last thing. If I am with our son, they always ask for it when I come to see them, or they can’t fall asleep, they say. Lucky me.



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