I want to be that mother who can stand up and say I am a strong confident mother and I know what is best for my children. We breastfeed and co sleep, We listen, We include, We eat chocolate and snot smoothies, we trampoline and grow frogs, we sling, we carry and we try and understand and work with our children without resorting to punishments, threats or coercion.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Conversations with Maia

Time for a Re-think of Societal Norm

Having kids really is a head fuck!!

We bring over so much known and unknown baggage, so much known and unknown opinions and beliefs. The way we react to certain situations. The way we feel about different things. The nuances and ideas and issues and all round basic emotional fuckwittage all come from the way our own parents parented us.  I say 'all' but I guess I must mean mostly since after a while other factors/people do come  into play. 

In the beginning though it *does* all come from the way our own parents parent us. Their influence, their involvement, their love, their acceptance, their connection, their hugs, their kisses, their arms, their warmth, their presence. It all matters. From the very beginning.  From the moment you are born. (Actually I'm beginning to understand and believe more and more that it starts before birth and the way you are born makes a huge difference, but I'm in danger of going way off on another rant/tangent)  Back to being born.  Laying down the foundations of your development. Emotionally. Physically. Behaviourally. Everythingally. It all matters. It all counts. It leads to brain pathways being wired. It leads to the essence of who you are and how you function. You know big proper important stuff. 

It all starts to deteriorate, with disconnection. Bit by bit, little by little. Cutting mothers aprons strings or cutting the umbilical cord it was once known as.   Ironic given that it is now scientifically proven and well on its way to becoming almost standard practice in most hospitals to actually LEAVE the umbilical cord attached until it has finished it's vital function of blood and nutrient transfer! 

"“But aren’t we meant to let go?” many parents ask. “Aren’t our children meant to
become independent of us?” Absolutely, but only when our job is done and only
in order for them to be themselves. Fitting in with the immature expectations of
the peer group is not how the young grow to be independent, self-respecting
adults. By weakening the natural lines of attachment and responsibility, peer orientation undermines healthy development" Gabor Maté,

(Really it does start with conception, pregnancy labour and actual birth  but I promised I wouldn't go into that. If you want look here and here and here  and here to pique your interest!)

So back to being head fucked from having kids.....

By unknown, I mean It may not even be something you are even aware you are doing. It's so ingrained into your psyche that it becomes unconscious. It becomes routine. It becomes normal. It becomes societal norm. But is it? So much of what is considered normal by societies standards makes me want to strangle society and knock some sense into it. Oh dear there goes my ingrained subconscious mind reacting again. I mean, I would like to reset societal norms back to their roots through gentle and nurturing ways. 

 - When it becomes ok to completely medicalise birth, hand care and responsibility over and remove your self and your baby's needs completely from the process then it's time to rethink societal norm.  When it becomes ok to stop a mother feeding her baby whilst breasts are sexualised and objectified more and more then it's time to rethink societal norm.  When it becomes ok to not hold your tiny vulnerable baby then it's time to rethink societal norm.  When it becomes ok to not go to a crying baby then it's time to rethink societal norm.  When it becomes ok to not pick up a crying baby then it's time to rethink societal norm. When it becomes ok to leave your child to cry into a pool of his own vomit then it's time to rethink societal norm.  When it becomes ok to stop responding to your child's needs because they are no longer a 'baby' then it's time to rethink societal norm - 

There is so much more I could say. I could go on and on in this way. Really  though, it's time to stop and think about what we are doing to our babies, what we are doing to our children and what we are doing to ourselves and its time to stop the madness and get back to connecting, bonding and establishing those scientific neural pathways. 

Did you ever think about the consequences of your actions? Did you ever think about how your words and your actions could affect your child? Did you ever lie awake at night and wonder if you were doing the right thing? Did you ever think about your own childhood and what was modeled for you?  Did you ever make the connection?

Do you actually believe that how you responded was really the most nurturing and gentle way?

I sometimes wonder..... 

Meltdowns - a communication to stop, think, breathe
Losing the Plot - a communication to stop, think, breathe
Breastfeeding - a way to stop, think, breathe

Food For Thought

I came across this post from last year sometime. I don't think I published it but I was obviously meant to find it tonight because it is relevant. Once again.....

Spin off from one of today's conversations.  At what point do you start worrying about decreased appetite in your kid. It's always said and agreed that its totally normal for them to go through phases where it seems like they are eating nothing and that they equally go through phases of eating loads. It all evens out. It's the same with adults we eat more or less depending on many variables. Tiredness. Heat. Cold. Hunger. Exercise. And the bane of our broken Continuum: Comfort.

 Appetite is so variable. Why should it be different for kids?

Sometimes,  it can be due to a virus or an illness brewing. Sometimes it's something. Sometimes it's nothing. Sometimes its an underlying symptom of another issue. And Sometimes it can get out of control.
Sometimes the selection is poor.
Sometimes it's just a phase and it'll all come good.

So I began thinking how long does it take you to notice a different level of appetite and then when should alarm bells be ringing?

I  notice things here and there
I start to notice less porridge being eaten in the morning
I notice bits of lunch are being left
I notice dinner not being eaten
I notice less fruit being eaten
I start to think hmmm I'm seeing more food being left on the plate

Here is a turning point. It can go either way right now.  And actually each stage could potentially have its own disproportionate reaction. (DR)

It could go like this:-

I ask more questions: do you want this? Do you want that?  What do you want?  Why are you not eating? You have to eat. Food is important.

I request more is eaten. Just a little bit. Half that. A wee bit more. That bit there then that's all.


I notice it's becoming a thing
I let go a bit
I back the fuck off
It already starts to feel better

The virus comes. It doesn't. The phase is over.
The kid starts eating again

Or in some homes it could go like this:-

You can't leave the table till you are finished
You can't watch tv till you've eaten that bit
You won't get dessert if you don't finish your plate.
Food is conditional.
Food has negative associations
Eating has become a negative thing

What's the harm?  Resorting to a little bribery or coercion at this point. It's just a small thing. Eating is important. Right?

In a healthy continuum. One that's not been broken. One where instincts are trusted, Is it all best left to the kid to work out when they are hungry and when they want to eat? Should we trust them and let them learn to listen to their bodies.  Should we stop attaching negative connotations onto food and projecting your own broken relationship with it, onto them?

I did it when they were (fed on demand) babies asking for milk. Why stop?!

As long as the house is essentially full of healthy choices (and in our case mixed in with a few unhealthy now and again!  I'm a work in progress on the healthy food front)
I would like to think so. I would like to think my kids will learn their own healthy relationship with food.

Sometimes though, my old thoughts take over.  It's hard not to worry. It's hard to let go. It's hard to not think I'm fucking up the food side of their lives this week!!

Meltdowns - Is it too much to ask for them to eat?
Losing the Plot - I am SO bloody annoyed with cooking food and it not being eaten
Breastfeeding - If only this could last forever, then I'd NEVER need to cook

Saturday, 24 August 2013

It's not me

It's not me. It's not me. It's not me. It's not me. It's not me!!

It's the society we live in. It's this insular mainstream, disconnect as soon as possible from your children, messed up yet still doesn't see the damage it's doing to each generation society. IT'S NOT ME!

Camp. Was. Amazing.

Ellie relaxing round fire
It couldn't have come at a more crucial time.  This last year and a bit has been a bit of a mental physical emotional metaphysical biological monetary(al) astronomical mindfuck. Adjusting and growing into life with another needboid  wonderfully gorgeous exceptionally super, new person and with all the financial stress has been.....weeeelll you all know how's it's been!!  We've been living off fish fingers, porridge and mayhem!!!

Anyway, we went to a La Leche League Family camp this year. It was a camp for families who all parent in a similar way. A camp for people who believe in breastfeeding past the meagre 4-6month norm. People who cosleep and are familiar with gentle discipline and loving guidance. Who had no difficulties in sharing their time, love and energy with my three girls and who were happy to connect, communicate, and love my girls exactly as they are. To hold them on their knees, walk with them through the woods, play any manner of crazy games at any given moment. Didn't care that their faces were dirty, that their hair was full of the outdoors, that their clothes stank of smoke - oh. No. Wait a minute, they weren't really wearing clothes half the time. And that didn't matter either!!  It was just completely brilliant. My girls used the words 'my friends' and I felt happy inside knowing that they were experiencing that real meaning. 

There was a fire on the go 24/7 to warm cook, dry, and laugh around. There was someone to talk to whenever you wanted or there were secluded enclaves if you needed some space. There was camp fire singing, silly games, abominable jokes, confusing riddles, arts and crafts, organised outings and a loving vibe from each and every person. Teens interacted with Tweens and babies as smoothly and effortlessly as Tweens with adults and adults with teens. Everyone was involved in the welfare of everyone and it was all so beautiful to watch.  We were so welcomed as newcomers. At times, It was beyond my capacity to actually believe it was really happening!! I cried a lot. I laughed a lot. I worried a lot less and  practically *never* lost the plot!! It's only me a tiny bit in this environment.

Even little Millster was left to explore her environment without helicopter hovering freaking out judgy people. She was watched with a gentle eye and a loving hand if needed. She was carried by children of all ages to where she needed to be, usually brought back to me but not always!  There wasn't an eyelid batted or a sharp intake of breathe (well maybe once or twice!!) as she toddled about the camp, moved around the fire and wandered about the woods.

I may be idealising it a bit but seriously it was pretty great. My kids needed the full on non stop nurturing and I needed the space and acceptance. I felt so much relief to hear people being positive about our girls instead of feeling paranoid and fear over their behaviour and appearance and exuberance. 

I have to admit, I was nostalgically whisked back to my camping days as a kid in Habonim Dror, the popular Jewish (Socialist) Youth movement in my day. So many similarities but the one massive difference which I think is really the crux of the matter, it didn't include my own parents.  It was a camp of like minded folks in its way, similar gentle values but without the boob philosophy!! Yet my own folks weren't there to experience and connect and build our familial relationship, year after year. 

I am completely fascinated and excited that this camp has been running for over 14 years. That these kids have come back, year after year *with* their parents and effectively simulated tribal living for that brief moment of their lives. What an amazing opportunity these families have had and still have. I kept imagining their next generation of babies being breastfed and held and gently guided through those woods and through their lives.

I so want this where I live and I so totally want to see our fledgling NIN camping trips evolving and growing year after year in this way. It's given me some great ideas and I now have this whole fantasy and vision of our NIN camps turning out similarly!!! Maybe...

Maybe I'm naive. Maybe I'm stuck in a fantasy. Maybe I'm too old and stuck in my ways for it to EVER really work but that ethos of sharing and community and helping and understanding and communicating and connecting and supporting is something I am always searching for and always seems just. out. of. my. reach. 

So, if I can have it regularly from now on, for about one month of my life, this could be the turning point I've been looking for. 

In the Happy Valley there *ARE* 
 b( . )( . )bs but no rules. 

Well just that small one about burning sticks!!!

Meltdowns - mainly due to extreme tiredness from being non stop on the go in the woods
Losing the plot - I actually don't think so. May need hubby verification. 
Breastfeeding - you better believe it!!

Monday, 5 August 2013

I am a robot.....exterminate

I deactivated. I did it....and, I'm still alive!

I have a very addictive personality. If I start something I have to finish it. I am persistent and methodical. I rarely give up. Even if I am not quite enjoying it anymore, I still feel compelled to see things through and get to the end. 

Facebook has no end. It almost had no beginning for me. My husband spend a good few months back in 2006 persuading me to join. I was reluctant. I didn't have any friends, what was the point? I didn't get it. 

Then I joined. 

I was instantly hooked. In the early days most of my FBfriends were family. I have a large family so the numbers were nearing 100's!! It was fantastic knowing what they were up to. I had been quite close to my cousins growing up. Even though they lived in London and I in Glasgow, I still visited them quite a lot over the years and now that I wasn't travelling much due to babies, I loved being 'almost' close to them. I missed them. And there's the rub. 

Taking a break was healthy. It was good not to be looking at my phone every 3seconds or frantically looking *for* my phone!!! I also managed to get quite a lot done, for instance, today I killed over 30 fruit flies with my bare hands.

I'm sorry to say I didn't have any massive revelations but I did watch a lot of films with the girls and of course it was great for them to see my eyes. But....

miss my FB friends!

Over the years, I have developed many many friendships on Facebook, some real life ones too. My newsfeed is bursting with like minded people. Mothers who breastfeed and do so for years not just months. Mothers who co-sleep and are not vilified. Mothers who sling and are not 'spoiling' their baby. Mothers who lament their exhaustion but understand. Mothers who swear! Mothers who get it. Mothers who just know. 

Back in the beginning when I was less unsure and needed a friendly neighbour or two, I started an online parenting group based on the writings of an influential life book called The Continuum Concept. It has hundreds of parents from all over the world all trying to navigate their way through this non coercive, non punitive, non manipulative quagmire called parenting. 

In a society that treats children as second class citizens who need to be manipulated and coerced into being, it is SO comforting to read the thoughts and activities of natural gentle mamas (even the dark thoughts). I rarely have a cry it out status. I rarely read about how manipulative their little shit is being. I NEVER read how a good spanking sorted them out. 

I read many things that give me hope through my lonely parenting journey. I read gentle reminders about respect for small minds and slow paces. I see comforting pictures of messy houses and kids in various states of cleanliness. I see lovely breastfeeding pictures and hear how a mum has decided to be brave, in a country that condemns such behaviour, and feed her baby outside. I have learnt so much more about natural birthing and pregnancy and the essence of womanliness. Embracing these times of growing and nurturing a life and how birthing can be SO much more than mainstream media would have us believe. I've expanded my consciousness  and knowledge base. 

So, whilst my foray into deactiveness was a great experiment and stopped my incessant Facebook checking and 'like' whoreing, I really do see the positives to the now ubiquitous social networking site. It has connected me to many wonderful people I would never have known existed and in those wee small hours when I have been woken for the umpteenth time or when I sit and comfort feed on the kitchen floor mid dishwashing, it really is lovely to have someone awake to talk to and be available right then to say "OMFG will this baby EVER stop sucking!" Or "hey you how's life for you at this ungodly hour?"

So if needing a tribe and wanting to have someone to talk to at any given moment is considered an addiction, then YES I admit....I am a Facebook addict!!

So hold on to your boobies........once camp is over....

I'm signing back in! I miss all of you lovely virtual and real people!!

Focus more on your own behavior than on theirs. It'll pay off bigger.

—Pam Sorooshian

Meltdowns - little Millster is taking the lead!!
Losing the plot - well the little buggers haven't been interrupting my fb time so... ;)
Breastfeeding - thems some nasty big teeth coming through :(

Naked children

For kids that spend 90% of their time naked,  I think they've packed a sizeable amount for 10days camping in the woods!!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Half way down the stairs.

It's been 9months and Millie still won't climb down the stairs. She must have changed her mind half way and as I was hoovering in another room I didn't hear her.....

Naaaaaaww!! I feel bad for abandoning her but OMG I wish she'd work out down!!!

Meltdowns - massive one from Ellie in park yesterday 
Plot losing - too tired to muster the energy
Breastfeeding - so so much just now. She must be upping supply