10 November 2010

My dear friend Erron wrote a fantastic piece on her blog today about parenting styles and the judgment and guilt that go along with our choices. I've been mulling it over all day and trying to put to words my feelings on the whole topic.

First, I believe that judgement in parenting is real. I've been on the receiving and (sadly) the giving end of it. It happens on the mainstream and the "crunchy" sides of the coin and it can get downright ugly.

And then, a certain percentage of it is what I think is perceived judgement. A mom breastfeeding in public who feels angry eyes on her is in fact being watched by fellow breastfeeding moms who would like to make eye contact and send on a visual "Go you!" message. The mom who feels like 15 mothers are watching in disgust as her 2-year-old has a full out tantrum in the cereal aisle is really being seen by those mothers are remembering those rough moments and wishing there was something they could do to help.

I'm a big believer in energy (in case the Reiki, reflexology, flower essence work I do didn't tip you off). I believe that the more we sit and stew about judgement, the more energy and vitality we give to the mommy wars. The more we parent our children differently from our peers and fear their biting comments, the more we draw in those cutting and harsh remarks.

I love the "what if" game. What if you didn't have to worry about what other parents thought? What if you expected to be greeted with acceptance and understanding by everyone you met? What if you looked at other parents with the knowledge that they were doing the very best they could in that moment? What if we shared nothing but empathy with other mothers?

It's something to think about, isn't it?

I've had moments in my life where I've been checking off all the right boxes (Breastfeeding? Yup. Babywearing? For sure! Co-sleeping? Of course!) and yet I've been too busy looking at how I look to pay attention to why I'm doing all the things that I'm doing.

Attachment parenting isn't a checklist to complete. It's a loosely-defined parenting approach that I've come to see as pretty much describing my parenting style. We co-sleep, extend breastfeed, babywear, EC, discipline gently, unschool, and love unconditionally because these are the things that promote the types of relationships and environments for my children that I want.

When I'm too busy looking out there in the world, I'm not able to see those moments that are happening right inside of my home and my heart. When I'm able to let go of all that crap out there and just focus on these people I've been blessed to call my family, incredible things happen. There are moments of divine beauty and heart-bursting tenderness that I never could have imagined possible. My children and husband bring blessings and meaning into my life that I have to be fully present for in order to appreciate.

And in the end, isn't it that what it's all supposed to be about?

03 November 2010

Sometimes I feel like I know where I'm going, chugging happily along in the midst of the daily joyful chaos that fills our family home. We're moving forward to the vague future out there. We're growing the kids. We're exploring our interests. We're building lives full of goodness and love.

And then something falls from the sky and I'm left re-evaluating my focus. Yesterday, the something was a friend talking about a distance midwifery program that she's hoping to arrange a group discount for. At first I looked at it as one of those "Oh wouldn't it be nice if..." ideas, but the idea has been nibbling on my brain all day.

It's got me thinking hard about where I am, where I want to go, and how hard I want to work to get there. I've never given a whole bunch of thought to a career. I completed an Equine Sports Therapy program a few months before Nick was born and while I've worked with some fantastic horses along the way, I never set it in motion as a full-time career. I also completed a Holistic Health Practitioner program when Nick was young. Liam and I were married two months after I graduated and I worked in my field for a year before Lily was born. I've recently started my business where I work with families and offer my holistic health services to them.

This has all been "on the side" sort of stuff. I love what I've learned and the work that I do, don't get me wrong, but it's all been in the midsts of raising young children. There was never any question of me working instead of being home with the kids. Liam and I both entered this marriage knowing that me being home was a main priority.

Now, looking at this midwifery program that typically takes 3.5 years to complete, I'm looking ahead at my life. There will come a day when I don't have a child who needs to nurse to sleep and randomly throughout the night, and there will come a day when the youngest is old enough for the oldest to take care of for growing lengths of time. In 10 years, our kids will be 20, 15, and 11 and their needs for me won't be quite the same as they are today. And I'll be 40, with all sorts of working years ahead of me.

It's kind of like peeking out from behind this cloud of young-kid-parenting, this looking at the future. Who do I want to be when the dust settles? What do I want to be doing? Where do I want to be investing my time and energy?

To anyone who knows me well, it wouldn't be surprising to hear that I'm looking at delving further into the birth-y world. I find pregnancy and birth and the parenting of babies to be a personally fulfilling experience. I've developed strong views and opinions on how birth can be, and on how our society's dramatic view of birth as dangerous and frightening doesn't serve families very well.

In my ideal world, I'd love to see families experiencing pregnancy and birth from and empowered, informed place. In the Edmonton area, options are incredibly limited as the few midwives in the area are coming nowhere near meeting the demand and are they working under the limitations that came with provincial funding. Families are too often missing out on the ability to make choices because of a lack of available options. Hospital birth with an OB should be but one possibility in the midst of midwife-attended hospital birth, midwife-attended birth center births, midwife-attended homebirths, and unassisted homebirths.

Anyhow, I could go on rambling for ages about birthy stuff in and of itself, but the point of this entry is to try to figure out where I feel I fit into all of this. On the one hand, the possibility of becoming a midwife and giving families further options when it comes to birth is thrilling. I would personally get a lot of satisfaction out of it and I could see myself really enjoying training for it. On the other hand, is it the best investment of my time in relation to what I already have in my life? Are there better ways to serve families that wouldn't require such intensive training? Is this career path in keeping with what's best for my family as a whole?

Ho hum. Such heavy thoughts for so late at night. I'm not sure where the answers are out there or when I'll find them, but getting things written out is at least helpful for reflection. On that note, I'm off to close my eyes next to the small squishy child who's waiting for me in my bed!

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