Monday, May 4, 2015

{On Mothering}

Join me this week, as we head into Mother's Day, for a little series called {On Mothering}. 
I have asked four bloggers, and mothers, to share a little something from their mothering experience. 
The only information I gave them was the title of the series, the rest I left up to them. 

Today I welcome Coco from At the Altar of Family Life 

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Sharing the Path





Sometimes we are lucky enough to find a way of life that fits us so well it seems that we are being reunited with something lost instead of discovering something new.  It’s natural to want to share this experience of wholeness with everyone around us.  And, it’s human nature to reject the ways of others when they don’t look like ours.  All of this is amplified when our children—the people we love more ferociously than anyone else—lie at the center of the path.  So, perhaps you can imagine that when I became pregnant with my first child six years ago, I easily extended my values as a Waldorf teacher to my parenting choices, while at the same time deeming other choices less capable of meeting the needs of children. 

My values added up to a pathway that looked like this: A home birth midwife helped all three of my children into the world.  They wore cloth diapers and tiny woolies.  They never heard a television or a radio or even a vacuum.  Between six and nine months I sleep trained all of them, each in their own turn, and after a year of nursing on demand, I intentionally, and quite naturally, weaned all of my babies.  During both of these transitions, I put to use the “controlled cry-it-out,” approach.  I turned away as many plastic toys as was socially respectful, and sent the kids out to make mud pies instead.  We used our hands to work together.  I left intellectual exploration for later and told them stories and sang songs.  I ground our grains and sewed our clothes.  At family dinners we said grace and learned our manners.  I encouraged them to be independent, while at the same time could’ve never imagined going “back to work,” until they were all well out of early childhood. 

Of the little things, I can assure you, I changed my mind and my course from time to time, but I essentially still believe that I know what my children need to thrive.  You may have caught the shift there.  My children.  Not children, my children.  You see, as the years went by I kept meeting mothers.  In the beginning, in full disclosure, I judged most of them for not getting it right.  But as life has it, I kept meeting mothers whose choices were different from mine.  

I met mothers who made their own yogurt and mothers who ordered take out.  Mothers who trusted someone else to care for their child while they worked, and mothers who got a part time job when their last child graduated from high school.  Mothers with flashcards and mothers with finger plays.  Mothers who lost their tempers and selfishness on the same day.  Mothers who marveled at the magic of the human being.  Mothers who cried with, and for, and because of their children.   Mothers who realized they were more patient than they ever realized possible.  And mothers who were doing their very best, even though most of the time it felt like it wasn’t good enough.  

Mothers, in short, who were just like me.  

There was a time, I imagine, when mothering was more defined by culture and tradition than by individual understanding.  Our path was chosen for us.  Now these ways of our grandmothers have loosened their grasp upon us and we are left to forge our own pathways through the journey of motherhood.  What we lose in shared wisdom, we gain in personal freedom.  A freedom that is both exhilarating and terrifying.  And with this freedom, responsibility.  To be conscious about the way we approach our children and our homes, our partners and our communities.  Not just to do what others have written in books, or to depend upon what feels right, but to wake up, watch, listen, be, and when all of these things align, to know in the deepest parts of us that our choice is right.  It is in that moment of knowing that we might look upon each other and understand that the shared path is not one of whats, but of hows.  That if we are divided by the many choices we make, we are united in our striving to understand and nourish our children.  And then, it doesn’t matter so much that the scenery differs.     
 
After all cloth diapers are not for everyone.                      

26 comments:

  1. Beautiful Coco. I especially like the part about mothers doing their best even though most of the time it didn't feel like enough because really, that's what we are all doing, our best.

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    1. So true, which makes it all the more important that we support each other, despite our many differences ;)

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  2. This is just perfect!!! Love it!

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  3. Wow! That was moving! What a lovely message from Coco! Loving your series so far Kim! 💜

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    1. Thanks, Tiffany. The series is such a great idea, isn't it?

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    2. And so lovely to bring it to fruition with you ladies. xo

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  4. This was a great, thought-provoking discussion. I have always thought of myself as a mix-and-match mother. I tend toward the "crunchy" side but not in every way. I breastfed until they weaned themselves (at 4 and 3.5 years, respectively), nursed through my second pregnancy and tandem-nursed for over a year, but I also did some sleep-training and never even tried cloth diapers (I considered them very seriously, but decided not to use them in the end for a variety of reasons). I homeschool partially, with the help of an alternative public school program. I feel like I've found a good balance for me and for my own children, it's that simple. I enjoyed reading another mother's story from the same perspective.

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    1. Mix and Match mother, I like that. I think in the end we are all this, no single approach fits us entirely (unless of course you wrote the approach, I suppose!), so we find our own way. I never find it too simple though. LOL. But that's just me, always wanting to wade through every last thing to find the best for us.

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  5. What a wonderful piece of writing, popping over for a visit to Coco’s blog now.

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    1. Thanks! Hope you enjoy my space!

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  6. Very beautiful words, really nice and touching reading.

    Lluisa xoxo

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  7. Wonderful words Coco, just beautiful. I can see myself in so much of what you wrote and at the same time, feel in awe of every word on this page. Isn't it amazing how in everyday, we relearn how to do this amazing task? How everyday reminds us of the gift that was bestowed upon us.

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    1. The gift of learning is a great one for sure. The gift of letting the learning come as it needs to is the greater one, I think not? The letting go and trusting everyday of the relearning as you call it. This is the greatest gift for me, and the most difficult one!

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  8. I am loving this series Kim!! What perfect thing to do this week before mothers day <3

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    1. Thanks Jen, I feel very honoured to be hosting it, and to have these lovely ladies in my space this week.

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  9. Beautiful words, and so true!
    Thanks Kim for putting together this series!

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    1. No problem Taryn, so lucky to have these lovely ladies sharing their experiences and thoughts here in my space.

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  10. Love the honesty of your words Coco, it is so lovely to read your thoughts and to see your gorgeous images too! :)

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  11. Well said! This was lovely to read.

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  12. Coco, what a beautiful write- as usual. I feel like I got to know you a little bit better through this post. Wonderful! Nice series, Kim...feels like a nice mama community!

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  13. Beautiful words and images, if we all did it exactly the same way it would be boring!

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  14. I think this is brilliant Coco - and so very very true - at the end of the day we are all choosing what we feel is best for our individual children, and as that can differ between children in the same family it should be no surprise that we differ from our friends too!

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  15. such a beautiful perspective. i am always amazed with each mother i get to know... that there is always something they have to teach me. sometimes it is even just a way to take it easier... or see something in a different light... but each and every one carries a lesson. you carry many lessons :) i love hearing about your experiences! thank you!

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