I am very pleased to invite Alexandra from Alive and Blogging to Heart Mama today. Alexandra writes about conscious parenting, and why we make the parenting choices we make. Head over to Alive and Blogging to read more from Alexandra.
Why do you bother?
Why bother wearing your baby when you can put her in a pram? A pram is easier, they say.
Why bother having a disrupted sleep when you can just put the baby in another room? Sleep training is easier, they say.
Why bother being with your baby all the time when you can just use formula and have her babysat? Bottle feeding is easier, they say.
Why bother experiencing your birth naturally when someone else can do it for you? Drugs and intervention in labour is easier, they say.
There have been many times that I have started to doubt myself and my choices after being asked these types of things. It wasn’t until my daughter (now 22 months) was about 13 months old that I had a strong support network around me and I knew that my instincts were a reliable source! I can’t stress how important that was/is to know.
I don’t write the above questions and statements as an argument about one choice over another. They are merely reflections on what I have chosen in this journey of parenting. Regardless of your choices, I imagine there will be someone who thinks that their way of doing things is easier!
I remember someone suggesting to me at one point that I was just a sucker for punishment because I was still parenting my 8 month old at night… They said (and I quote) “I don’t know why you bother with her in your room and waking up at night to feed her. We just put our kids in their own room the day we brought them home from the hospital and they soon learnt to soothe themselves to sleep. Our third child was noisier than the first two so we just put him in a room further away.”
That got me thinking… is it really about the ‘easier’ option? It depends on your values. I decided that it’s not about what is ‘easier’ and what’s not. It’s not about that at all. Ease is a subjective measure. It changes depending on circumstance and it changes from person to person. So why do we make particular choices when it comes to parenting (or to any other roles for that matter)? Where do these choices come from?
I think that we all make decisions based on our individual knowledge, experiences, values and available support at any given time. We all have these things innately within us – like ‘foundations’ and we can continually build on them and grow from them, and they in turn shape our next choice or direction. Of course, these vary from person to person too.
The doubt comes when we forget our own knowledge, experiences and values and that is where we run into conflicts – when we face decisions that we aren’t comfortable with, when we have regrets and when we have those internal battles between our head and heart. It is then that we make a choice based on someone else’s values, knowledge and experiences and if they don’t quite align with our own.. We feel stuck. Helpless. Lost.
When people ask me why I bother with doing things the way I do, I generally explain something about giving my children the best start to life that I know how so that they can go from there in whichever direction they choose. But what does that even mean? Sometimes I feel the need to provide the research on the health benefits of the choices that I make. Sometimes I feel the need to share the scientific evidence about a child’s psychological development to support the choices I make. I had to actually stop and ask myself ‘why?’ When did ‘because it feels right’ not become satisfactory?
I had to make a very conscious decision to follow my instincts, regardless of what others told me to do, think, be. As Zanni often talks about, it is ‘parenting from the heart’ that makes it all clear – when you come from a place of love, there are no hard choices and there are no internal battles. It all just makes sense. It is no longer a matter of ‘bothering’.
I write this to you Zanni (and to any of your readers who need to hear it at times). I may not be near you to fill your freezer with food, to pop in when you’re having one of ‘those’ days or to play with your girls while you have a shower. So instead I just send this… My way of offering you support, acknowledgement and love. I know you have a wonderful support network so it is my hope that you rarely feel alone or lost.
If you ever do, please know that you are doing it right. You are doing it well. You are a wonderful role model to so many other women and you are the support that many others look for. I love that you follow your heart and I love that you share it. Little Eve has chosen a wonderful time and place to enter this world. Love, support and the ability to follow her instincts are all a mother needs to be able to raise a wonderful child.
Linking with Jess from Diary of a SAHM for IBOT.