Man, I’m a sporatic blogger at best!

I was looking through my archives and noticed that I’ve only been blogging once, maybe twice per month recently. Well, I suppose ‘recently’ is a misnomer … it’s been a while, hasn’t it?

Ah well, I’m not going apologize. Know why? Because I’m not sorry. I haven’t felt like it, and that’s okay!

But I am going to write about something dear to my heart today.

The needs of children.

I was thinking the other day about what it is that really bothers me about ‘training’ children – whether we’re talking about sleep training, ‘discipline’, whatever. It hit me: what really bothers me is the belief that the parents’ needs supersede those of the child.

I’m learning never to see any issue with my kids this way. Both of our needs are valid. Is there any way that we can compromise or meet both of our needs without someone needing to lose? After all, that’s how I would hope to approach it with an adult: brainstorm possible solutions to the problem and choose one that’s acceptable to everyone, hopefully meaning no winners, no losers.

Let’s co-operate and look for creative solutions, shall we?

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Industrial revolution: a revolution of the family

In her recent blog post, A liturgical downer, Brenda linked to the blog of a Benedictine sister: Monastic Musings Too. In her post, Millions of Holy Innocents today, she writes:

Elizabeth Marquardt raised the fundamental question in the title of her ground-breaking report, The Revolution in Parenthood: The Emerging Global Clash Between Parents’ Rights and Children’s Needs. Most homilies preached in Catholic Churches today will focus on abortion, in which the lives of millions of children are sacrificed for the needs – and legal rights – of adults. Marquardt’s 44-page monograph provides a larger context which helps to illuminate the political struggles around the issue. She studies the needs of the children in opposition to the desires and rights of parents. How did this opposition come about?

Social scientists place the heart of that change in the Industrial Revolution. Until that time, children were often part of the domestic economy – whether on the farm or in a craft or service occupation or business. From an early age, children participated in the work of the family, both contributing to the family’s livelihood and the learning the myriads of skills they would need as adults. The children of cooks learned to cook; of farmers learned to farm. Children were contributors to the family, and valued.

While I have lately become familiar with the Industrial Revolution as the start of unskilled, unsatisfying work, and also the beginning of consumer debt, I had not yet read anything about this … and it makes so. much. sense. It saddens me that this is the kind of thing that is missing in my life with my children. Since I don’t really have ‘work’, and Brad works in an office, Gwen is bored. There is only so much she can help me with at home – only so many sinks of dishes, only so many times I can make muffins, only so much sweeping to do. Yes, Gwen has toys, and yes she is often content to play with them, but I can just imagine how much more full her life would be if both Brad and I had practical, hands-on, skilled work to do in which she could participate joyfully!

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Jesus is an attachment parent

I haven’t been in a great space lately. My head is swimming and I’m having a hard time getting coherent thoughts out – especially into blogland. It’s a combination of all sorts of things, but mostly, I think, a lot of growing pains.

This subject, though, is one that took me by surprise. It might be shocking to some of you that it’s been over 2 years since Brad and I have been to church with any regularity. We were part of a church that we loved and moved into an intentional community with people we felt drawn to and then, well … and then we had Gwen. She turned our entire church experience upside down and that, coupled with some other stuff, has left us not attending church regularly. That’s not to say that I don’t think about faith and God much – I do. I think about that stuff a LOT. But, sharing my space with a toddler and a (very busy) baby all day means that when I do think about anything, it’s gone just as quickly as it came.

Again, this subject just keeps coming to the front of my brain … and I thought, “Hey. Maybe I should blog about it.”

So, here I am. And here’s my crazy thought process. Read the rest of this entry »

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Gil Update: Six Months Old!

*Gah! I thought I hit ‘post’ on this post last week, but apparently I hit ‘save’. And I was wondering where all the comments were – duh!*

I know, I know, I’m a little bit late, but better late than never!

My little boy is six months old. SIX MONTHS! Half a year! Where on earth did the time go? Read the rest of this entry »

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Reintegrating

It’s odd. I’ve had a hard time thinking about what to blog this last week since we came back from our vacation.

We spent a week at a cottage in Kincardine, Ontario with another family – our good friends and their two kids, who are almost the exact same age as our kids.

We spent a week playing with kids, enjoying the water and sand, talking, cooking, and eating very good food.

But to me, what was most wonderful, was the tribe-like atmosphere. Other adults to talk to – about superficial things, deep things, and everything in between. Other adults to share in the childcare, to give each of us a few much-needed breaks. To hold a baby while the other was doing something else for a moment.

To be completely honest, I felt absolutely no desire to check to see if I had new blog comments, to check out a forum I’m a part of, to check and see what was happening on Facebook. I’ll admit I did, once, think about checking my email, but that’s it.

There’s nothing wrong with social media, per se, but I can see how it’s a very poor substitution for actual human interaction. Being online leaves me feeling like I’ve wasted my time; like I’ve taken a ‘break’ but haven’t really rested; like I’d like the last 20 mins/hour/evening of my life back to do things that matter.

Being in the presence of real people who share your passions and who talk back in real time … with whom you can talk at the same time as making dinner or nursing your baby or taking a walk on the beach or setting the toddler up to colour … is just so very different than the things with which we have replaced such interactions.

And, I believe, so much healthier for not only ourselves, but most of all, our children.

Sometimes I wonder: If the people who devote so much time and energy to building online communities could put half the time into developing our physical communities … what would happen?

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Sometimes, I feel like Superwoman!

Today is one of those days!

Brad worked from home today and it was wonderful to not rush about in the morning in preparation for him to go to work and it was awesome to enjoy his company in short spurts throughout the day.

I needed to just write down how well my day went!

I got up early – about 5:45AM thanks to the smiley-est alarm clock EVER. I showered, headed downstairs for a couple of pieces of toast and to prep for morning smoothies, going off to morning prayer @ 7AM.

Back at 7:40AM, I made smoothies, and Gwen’s currently preferred breakfast: a big bowl of yogurt with berries in it and a thick slice of carrot-raisin-nut loaf smeared with butter. Brad decided to work from home and we enjoyed leisurely smoothie drinking :)

I had a fabulous visit with my friend Jen and her sons Anderson & Taiten in the morning, after which a botched attempt at ordering pizza ($34 for two medium pizzas? No thanks, Pizza Pizza!) led us to enjoy eggs and toast for lunch.

Gwen went down for her nap – for the second day in a row without me sitting beside her! What a big girl she’s becoming! After her nap, Gil was asleep, so I laid him down and went with Gwen to the library – just the two of us! It was a blast!

When we came home I began dinner prep and we had delicious quesadillas. Then, Gwen and I and Gil headed to the park.

Just to re-cap:

  • two loads of laundry washed, dried, & folded
  • 2L of yogurt made
  • 3 large loads of dishes done
  • three family meals (plus toddler snacks!)
  • one mommy-daughter outing
  • one after-dinner trip to the park

All-in-all, I’m declaring today a complete success!

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Huh! I’ve never thought of it that way …

Check out this post on the difference between a question and  a quiz …

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Trusting

I’m doing a  lot of reading/listening/thinking these days about trust. Today, I listened to a podcast at Whatever Whatever Amen: Trusting Children (Part One). This is an excerpt from the podcast, a quote from John Holt’s How Children Learn:

“All I am saying in this book can be summed up in two words: Trust Children. Nothing could be more simple, or more difficult. Difficult because to trust children we must first learn to trust ourselves, and most of us were taught as children that we could not be trusted.”

Here’s the comment I left on their page:

I’ve just recently started listening to your podcasts. The ‘AP sucks’ one got me hooked :)

So you asked some questions in your podcast, and alluded to some things that I’ve been struggling with. Since realizing that school isn’t really all that necessary (thanks to Sir Ken Robinson’s talk on schools killing creativity for getting that ball rolling!) I’ve realized that although school was easy for me and I (mostly) enjoyed it, I spent most of my schooling making my parents proud. Heck, I went into Biochemistry at University because it made my parents (and guidance counsellor) proud and happy. When I switched into Nursing, I was terrified to tell my parents for fear of their disapproval and even now at 26, married for almost 4 years with two kids, I’m terrified that if I don’t ever “use” my degree and work as a Registered Nurse, I’ll disappoint them (actually, I know I’ll disappoint them. My dad has said it on a number of occasions). So, do I trust myself? Hell no. I’ve been subtly told that I’m untrustworthy and incapable of making decisions for myself my whole life – but I’m darn good at making decisions to make other people happy. It sucks. It sucks second-guessing myself all the time. It sucks having to think “am I making this decision because it’s right for me or because it will make someone happy/proud?” every time I decide something.

I have a hard time knowing who I am and what I like to do. I mean, some things are obvious – I like to knit, I love to read, I’m passionate about environmentalism and breastfeeding, but beyond my hobbies and passions – who am I? I can’t answer that.

Do I trust my kids? Yes and no. I find it easy to trust infants/babies. Really, their needs are so few (and so obvious and so easily met, generally speaking) that it’s hard to argue that they aren’t trustworthy (although some people try *cough* Gary Ezzo *cough*. I trust 100% my son, Gil – he’s 5 weeks old. When he fusses or cries, I nurse him, comfort him, take him to pee/poo or change his diaper if it’s too late. That being said, I find it terribly difficult to trust Gwen, my 21-month-old. There’s a lot of information on attachment parenting babies – not so much on once they become little people! I find it hard not to slip into the “she’s manipulating me” “she’s testing me” “she doesn’t know what she needs” “she should eat more/sleep more/go to bed earlier” “she’s just being dramatic” “what’s wrong with her” “she shouldn’t feel that way” trap. I hate it and I try not to do it, but gosh darnit it’s HARD not to think those things and even harder, once you’ve thought them, to not take action on them.

Learning to trust is hard. We’re currently planning to unschool, and I’m learning every day to give up a little bit more control so that Gwen can learn about her environment, make messes and mistakes, and enjoy her life. I don’t want to pass on my distrust of myself, and I hope that the past 18 months of distrust in her is easily undone. I’m hoping to do things differently with Gil – for example doing baby-led solids (which we ended up at with Gwen anyways because she wouldn’t eat purees), not trying to force him to sleep separate than us, etc. I’m so looking forward to enjoying life with my kids and exposing them to different life experiences (a nutrient-rich environment – I like that analogy) and learning along with them!

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More on Cry-It-Out

Go read this post. It very eloquently explains why we won’t use any cry-it-out techniques at our house.

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Sleep .. or lack thereof.

Interestingly, I’m finding that adding a second child to our family has not, overall, made me nearly as tired as I thought it might.

Mind you, I’m napping when I can and going to bed a LOT earlier these days than I ever have – probably since grade 7 or 8 … maybe even earlier. I was a bit of an insomniac in those grades …

Gil falls asleep sometime between 7 & 8, we normally start Gwen’s bedtime around 8, and after my part is done (pj’s & diaper, nursing if she wants it, and tooth brushing), I head to bed with Gil curled up beside me. If it’s before 9, I might read for a bit, or like one night this week, enjoy a tv show with Brad.

Mostly, though, I’ve realized that I will only need to go to sleep that early for so long … because before too long, Gil will be sleeping well enough that I can ‘enjoy’ my evenings again.

I’m find this excerpt from Conscious Transitions – Motherhood: Layers of Letting Go to be very true of myself, emphasis mine:

But the main difference between my experience this time is so simple: I go to sleep earlier! I put Asher to bed, then I put Everest to bed and fall asleep with him. Most nights, I’m asleep between 8:30 and 9 pm. So even though I’m still woken up several times during the night and am usually awake for the day by 5 am, I feel relatively rested most days.

Here’s the thing: with Everest, I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my evening hours in favor of sleep. I would have rather been exhausted than give up my private time or time with my husband at the end of the day. The sacrifices as a new mother were so overwhelmingly numerous that I couldn’t bear to let go of one more thing – especially something so essential as time separate from my child. More shocking than the sleep deprivation was what felt like an almost total obliteration of my separate selfhood. I grieved many things in the first months of new motherhood but at the core of the grief was the loss of self and the loss of the freedom I had before becoming a mother.

With the second child, I’ve already adjusted to having significantly less time to myself and the lack of freedom. I don’t experience it as a loss anymore because there’s an acceptance that this is what life is with young children. And over the last 5 1/2 years, I’ve learned how to find my separateness even when I’m in proximity to my kids.

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