21 February 2011

After much pondering and discussion, I've decided to make a bloggy leap of sorts.

This blog has been a place to stay in touch with friends and to chatter about things on my mind, but over the past months and years I've found the tone to be shifting. As of late, I've been feeling more drawn to writing about the things in my heart and sharing my thoughts on the things I feel passionate about.

The logical path for my writing seems to be to put my time and energy into my previously neglected business blog. I want to accomplish more with my writing than just getting my thoughts out. I also want to devote attention into developing a resource for my business. These two things combined have brought me here.

I've transferred a number of posts from this blog to the Nature Baby Blogging, the ones I feel reflect the ideas and personal background I want to bring to my clients. I'm not entirely sure of the fate of this blog, whether this will be the last ever entry or if I'll pop on here to share more personal things, but if you follow me over here please do join me over at Nature Baby Bloggings.

Here's to appreciating the past and welcoming the potential of the future!
Post-publishing note: My editor (aka Liam) has just pointed out that I didn't actually include a link to my new blog. Huh. That might be useful. Here it is! Nature Baby Bloggings

10 February 2011

Tonight, my mind is whirling after some inspiration from a fantastic piece of writing on mothering and feminism, and also from a friend's blog entry about her struggles. Together, these pieces of writing have me pondering the disservice of the "You can have it all!" myth.

Children are told they can be anything they set their minds to. Girls are told they have the freedom to pursue any path they want and that they can excel at everything. They can be a doctor and a mommy, and they can simultaneously be the best doctor and the best mommy because feminism has paved that road for them.

And so, we little girls grew up and we took that message to heart. We excelled in every class (even math and science of course!), we went on to post-secondary institutions to earn fabulous degrees, we secured careers, we planned lavish weddings, we birthed a few kids, we baked cupcakes for the bake sale, and we kept an immaculate home every step of the way. We can have it all! So we will have it all! And we'll do everything to our fullest and perfectly because we expect it of ourselves.

And yet...none of it is all perfect and grand. We have some things that come easily to us and other areas where we struggle. We passionately pursue some areas of our lives but we feel resentful about other areas. We feel less than perfect and we beat ourselves up for our failings. We try to stretch ourselves to be everything all the time but there simply isn't enough of us to go around. We're tired. We're overwhelmed. We're disappointed in all the failings we see when we can't quite be fantastic at everything.

Here's what I think: I think that we can't have it all. I think that everything is out there for use to have, but that we need to choose what we want the most for us, whether it's for today or this year or this lifetime. And then we have to go after that with a dedication and joy that doesn't care about all the other paths.

If we want to delve deep into the attachment parenting world and breastfeed on demand for years and make all our own home cooked foods from scratch and homeschool our children, then so be it. If we want to have wildly successful careers that require 60 hour workweeks which don't leave time for children or for us to be our child's main caretaker at least, then so be it. Pick one and go with it.

If we want to be the spontaneous mother who is forever bringing her kids on adventurous vacations and pursuing in-depth hobbies by moving to some guru's hut for 6 months, then we should. If we want to be the well-planned-out mother who has an intricate carpool schedule to get each of her children to their activities on time as well as racking up at least three volunteer commitments each week, then we should. But we can't carpool from our guru's hut and we shouldn't beat ourselves up for that.

If we want to graduate from high school and delve straight into family life and have all our kids grown and moved out by the time we're 45, we should embrace that. If we want to attend 15 years of post-secondary and then backpack around the world for a few years before settling down, we should joyfully pursue that path. If we want to parent in the boundless energy of our youth or in the tempered wisdom of our more mature age, we should welcome the gifts we have to give our children each day.

We can't have it all and be it all and excel at it all. There are too many tempting valid options in every area of life to take a piece of everything all at once. We can, however, deliberately choose the path we set upon and walk each step with full awareness and joy. And maybe that's having all right there, after all.

08 February 2011

Welcome to the February Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Essentials

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared the parenting essentials that they could not live without.
Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


When I started to think about things I cannot imagine parenting without, my mind went immediately to material things. We have a number of items in our home that I consider important to our daily life. Our Learning Tower sees a lot of use every day, my camera helps me to record our moments, my spiffy Blendtec blender has become a main tool in our kitchen.

And yet...I can imagine parenting without these items. In the end, they're tools. They're tools I cherish and enjoy but in the end they're still just things.

The deeper answer to the question of my parenting essentials are things which cannot be bought or kept.

My husband's companionship is first and foremost what I cannot imagine parenting without. He is the rock on which our family rests. He is my parenting partner, physically when he is home and emotionally when he's at work. He is my main sounding board when I have frustrations or new ideas, and he helps me to find my center and my true direction when I'm scattered. I am blessed beyond words to have him as my children's father.

Outside of my relationship with my husband, I have relationships with other parents. Over the years I've come to realize that these relationships are also essential to my work as a parent. There is the superficial, and yet still deeply necessary, social aspect of friendships. I need people to talk with, to laugh with, to sit quietly with. The value in these friendships go far beyond this, though. In friendships I find resources for information, examples of how to approach situations, a place to express my fears and triumphs, and a place of normalcy when I'm feeling like an outsider with my parenting choices. There is something deeply satisfying about being in the company of a person who truly understands you, and I often feel most understood in the presence of a mom walking a similar path. She can empathize with my frustrations about difficulties and share my joy in the truly good things in a way only another mom can.

In the end, people and relationships are the things I can't imagine parenting without. There are few jobs quite as intense and demanding as parenting, and having a support system in my husband and my friends is more valuable than anything I could ever purchase.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Not Without Him — The love Starr at Taking Time shares with her husband is the foundation of her parenting.
  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without B(.)(.)bs — From an uneducated dreamer to a breastfeeding mother of a toddler, nursing has forever changed Kristy at Strings to Things's relationship with her daughter and her outlook on life.
  • Raising a Child in the Internet Village — When Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction has a question or concern about parenting, she turns to the Internet. What did parents do before Google?
  • Partner in Crime and ParentingBethy at Bounce Me to the Moon can't imagine parenting without her husband's sense of humor - he brings her laughter and love every day.)
  • I Make MilkPatti at Jazzy Mama can't imagine trying to mother her babies without her breasts, but she could do it if she had to.
  • New Perspectives Bring New BeginningsMJ at Wander Wonder Discover, who is a former authoritarian mamma, has gained perspective via parenting.
  • Time Out!Mrs. Green at Little Green Blog explores how time apart can increase your capacity to give unconditionally.
  • Unimaginable Without HimKristina at heyred designs is celebrating her amazing partner, without whom none of her parenting experience would be possible.
  • My Parenting NecessityClaire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl needs "me time" in order to be the Mama she wants to be.
  • Babywearing As a Way of LifeDarcel at The Mahogany Way talks about the benefits of babywearing in everyday life.
  • Parenting Partnership — Sometimes Abbie at Farmer's Daughter doesn't appreciate her husband enough, but she definitely couldn't imagine parenting without his help.
  • Parenting EssentialsMomma Jorje loves her parenting products, but she needs you even more.
  • My Parenting Must-Have: SupportJoella at Fine and Fair wrote a letter to her daughter about the role that support from friends and family plays in her mothering.
  • It's More Than Just Hair — Think doing hair is full of fluff? Too girly? Useless? Karli from Curly Hairdo Ideas used to think so too.
  • The Minimalist Parent — The parents at Living Peacefully with Children embrace a minimalist perspective when it comes to baby gear. A good sling is all they need.
  • Without My BreastsCharise at I Thought I Knew Mama can't imagine parenting without her breasts; here's why.
  • Loves Books, Loves PeopleSeonaid at the Practical Dilettante discovers that the library is a perfect fit for her family's needs.
  • An Ode to the Maya WrapRevMama's next child might be named Maya, because of her fondness for the sling.
  • Avoiding the Padded RoomPecky at Benny and Bex is here to testify that it takes a village to raise a child.
  • My parenting essentials, from Tivo to battery-operated monstrositiesLauren at Hobo Mama presents a list of parenting essentials you didn't even know you needed (and probably don't…).
  • Attachment Parenting Through Separation: It Makes It a Little BetterJessica at This Is Worthwhile talks about how she couldn't survive her separation without attachment parenting and the bond it's afforded her with her 3 year old son.
  • Parenting EssentialsDeb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the principles she used to parent her children from infants to adults.
  • My Parenting Essentials — The things that are truly essential to Kim at In Desperate Need of Entertainment aren't things at all.
  • I'm No One Without My Sling — How baby carrying is essential to the parenting of Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama.
  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without...Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine talks about what she needs to raise her children.
  • February Carnival of Natural Parenting — Through her experiences over the last five and a half years, Casey at Love What Is has discovered her most important tool for parenting is using her instincts.
  • CNP: I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without __________.The Artsymama discloses the one thing that gave her back control of herself as a parent.
  • Laugh Until I Cry — Laughing with her sons keeps Acacia at Fingerpaint & Superheroes connected and grounded.
  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting WithoutLuschka at Diary of a First Child realizes what the one thing she can't imagine parenting without is, and it turns out it's not a thing after all.
  • It Takes Two — Here are a few of the reasons why Jenn at Adventures Down Under cannot imagine parenting without her fabulous husband.
  • Stopping to Listen — Though it wasn't easy at first, Knocked Up - Knocked Over cannot imagine parenting her daughter without listening first to what she is telling her.
  • The Essence of Parenting — There are many wonderful resources that make life easier for Michelle at the Parent Vortex to parent, but the essence is the relationship between parent and child.
  • What I Cannot Live WithoutSybil at Musings of a Milk Maker considers her computer to be a parenting lifeline.
  • True Blessings: White Noise and GrandparentsKat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment can't live without her white noise machine and the support of her parents.
  • The Necessities! — What "stuff" does a natural parent like Lily, aka Witch Mom really need? Not much, it turns out.
  • Mama Showed MeMama Mo at Attached at the Nip writes about how parenting wisdom is passed on by example.
  • Ode to the Loo — For Joni Rae at Tales of a Kitchen Witch, the bathroom is her safe place, where she can take a minute to calm down if she is feeling touched out.
  • Go, Mama. Go!Andrea!!! at Ella-Bean & Co. has been able to integrate her many roles through her get-up-and-go parenting essential, exercise!
  • My Other HalfBecky at Old New Legacy realizes what a relief it is to have her husband parent alongside her.
  • Grace, Love, and CoffeeMrsH at Fleeting Moments realizes that lifelines can take the form of the profound, or the mundane. Both are ok.
  • Supportive Spouse, Check! — There are so many parenting tools and gadgets that are superfluous, but the one essential, for Danielle at born.in.japan, has been her supportive spouse.
  • Why I'm a BabywearerMeredith at Becoming Mamas reflects on the ways babywearing has enhanced her mama baby relationship...and made life easier to boot.
  • It's Marvelous Out Here, Kiddo!Rachael at The Variegated Life can't imagine parenting in the big city without the marvels of Prospect Park to share with her Critter.
  • Yes, Thank YouAmy at Anktangle offers tips on how to ask for and accept help, an essential for successful parenting.
  • Parenting Essentials Checklist: Mom’s Inner Rebel and Her Kids’ VoicesOlivia at Write About Birth reflects on raising global citizens and saying no to societal norms.
  • Eco-Mama Online! — An Eco-Mama living in the mountains of a nature island, Terri at Child of the Nature Isle finds it essential to connect to nature and to connect online.
  • Sorry, We Just Sold the Last OneNev at The Adventures of Lime confesses she missed out the day they handed out patience.
  • LaughTashmica at The Mother Flippin' Blog reveals her super power, her talisman agains mean mommy.
  • My Priceless Parenting Resource — What do books, a magazine community, my mother and the local playgroup have in common? Lucy at Dreaming Aloud tells us...
  • The Gift of Shared TimeTree at Mom Grooves strives to experience the world from her daughter's perspective.
  • Follow the GigglesDionna at Code Name: Mama can’t live without the sound of her child’s giggles - come watch her video and you’ll agree!
  • Can I Mommy Without Boob?Emily at Crunchy(ish) Mama shares her fears about weaning and losing part of that the mother/child bond.

07 February 2011

This morning, CBC shared a story on its website about how the Breastfeeding Coalition of P.E.I is working towards establishing  breastfeeding rooms in various venues across the province. This piece featured a hockey arena which has converted an unused dressing room into a place for moms to nurse. This way moms who don't want to sit on the cold hard benches in the arena have a place to go, and the room even has some toys to occupy siblings.

I'm always happy to see breastfeeding discussed in a positive light in the media. I'm also thrilled to see that efforts have been put into making it easier to meet the needs of babies. Taking care of tiny people is intense and just the thought of someone being accommodating can be a huge blessing to a frazzled parent.

Part of me, though, cringes as the other side of the message that this breastfeeding room might send. Will people think that moms are "supposed" to breastfeed only in these rooms? Will moms who feed their babies in the stands be subjected to pressure to move since there's an entire room dedicated to them? Will this help or hinder the message that breastfeeding is a normal part of parenting?

Mother's rooms or nursing rooms can be extremely useful in some situations. For the mom of a distractible nursling, a quiet place can sometimes serve as the only place where the baby will breastfeed. Or sometimes a quiet room can be what the mom needs in order to catch a few minutes of downtime to recharge. Some moms are not comfortable breastfeeding in public in the early days or at all, and so the availability of a nursing room can allow her to attend events she might otherwise miss out on.In these situations, nursing rooms are a fantastic tool.

On the other hand, there are plenty of moms who would choose not to use the nursing rooms. There are moms who don't want to miss out on the hockey game, moms who are comfortable nursing in front of others, moms who want to remain with their friends or family, or moms whose child who nurses for 30 seconds at a time every 5 minutes. For these moms, staying where they are is what would make them most comfortable and while the option of using a nursing room is nice, there should be no implication that they need to move there before feeding their child.

Whether a mom chooses to  nurse in the nursing room or while watching the hockey game, I would hope that both choices are seen as acceptable. Breastfeeding is often something that we as a society support to in theory but that we have problems showing support for in reality. Showing support for mothers who are breastfeeding in public goes a long way in normalizing breastfeeding and in helping families to meet their breastfeeding goals.

So I welcome these nursing rooms and I think it's great to let moms know that the option to use them exists, but let's also continue to send the message that nursing in public wherever a mom may be is also an equally-acceptable option.

02 February 2011

I sit at home and I see only what is in front of me. Dirty dishes. Laughing children. The dog who needs to be fed.

Small things, in the big picture of it all. Big things, in the moment.

I start reading stories of the violence in Egypt. People injured. People killed. People running scared in the streets. Not in some textbook, some snippet in history from that war that one time. Right now, right exactly as I sit here.

Demonstrators in Giza.

How can my world, my moments, my superficial thoughts all go on just like nothing is happening? I can't possibly be that disconnected from living breathing people who are not so different from me.

I remember my friend talking about the world going on despite the tragedy that tore her life apart and how deeply unfair it felt. Is it fair of my life to go on as normal when witnessing another's tragedy?

I can't stop my superficial moments. I can't quiet the children and their needs. I can't push pause indefinitely on my joy and happiness.

But what can I do? I can stop. I can reexamine. I can choose what is truly superficial and not worth my worry. I can choose what is meaningful and place my attention there. I can experience each moment of my life and use it for more than fretting about petty things.

I can love more. I can give more. And I can pray.

Christians standing to protect Muslims as they pray in Egypt today.

Copyright 2010 In desperate need of entertainment.

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