Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A New Post About Me.

I feel like lately I've been pouring lots of time and energy into Mothers of Change when I have time to go online and type, and that this blog has suffered.  You get lots of links, and lately some YouTube stuff, but not a heck of a lot of me.
On the one hand, I really miss expressing myself here in a very personal way, spilling my guts, cyber stripping.  The way I love to.  On the other hand, I'm really excited about being able to take the Mothers of Change website and run with it, and to move in the direction of something cool.  Although I co authored a post for Lamaze's website and got dissected and I wanted to wither up like a slug in the Sahara.

As an aside, did you know that until I moved to the Coast the biggest slug I had ever seen was an Okanagan slug?  They are about the size of your pinky fingernail at most, and pose no great threat to one's garden or one's footing while hiking.  The first time I saw one of these:

I thought someone had pooped on the trail.  Seriously.  They are like giant greenish yellow boogers.  Gross.

Anyways, I haven't been able to squeeze out enough time for this blog, and I should, because it is where my true colours get a chance to air.  Amarys started crawling for real yesterday.  Until then she was scooting, but now she's four points deliberate A to B crawling.  I'm so not ready for the constant maintenance of pristine floors, but I'm very ready for her to get herself from A to B instead of sitting and whining that she wants you to do it.  This is an example of something I'm wanting to write about, but not having time for.

Also, my kids use my computer to play Club Penguin, which they are only allowed to play in short installments but these always seem to be at times I may have gotten on the computer myself, in the days before CP.

Another big also that has been playing on my mind lately is the fact that my blog is part of the blogroll for NPN.  This is a bunch of online writers who network together with the common interest of natural parenting, which is a pretty all encompassing term enveloping everything from environmentalism to discipline and healthy eating.  These are crunchy types who do things like cloth diapering, elimination communication, consider the concept of washable 'family wipes' instead of toilet paper for more than a single nanosecond, and avoid all forms of punishment when it comes to discipline.  I used to think I was the crunchy type, until I met some of these parents, and now I'm all, "HELL NO I'm not washing my husband's poop off a reusable wipe!"  And then I figure I'm just not much of an environmentalist.
Everyone gets antsy when it comes to comparing parenting techniques, and I'm no different.  I put my kids in time outs.  Not every second of every day, but when warranted, and I feel pretty good about our overall attachment and balance of democracy versus boundaries.  But I worry, you know?  If I talk about time outs on my blog, will the NPNers think I'm awful?  Maybe one or two of them, but probably not all, but still it feels a bit constraining to know that blogroll is happening.  I feel fine about my parenting choices, but I don't want to purposely put myself in front of a train that doesn't believe in the time out chair if I'm going to put my kids on said chair and then mention it.  I might get run over.

I'm all for parents tweaking their techniques and I like the idea of democratic, gentler than gentle parenting.  I think it's great!  But in my heart of hearts, I truly believe that 90% of parenting is just showing up.  You get up, you feed them, you listen to their stories, you laugh at their jokes, you educate them, you bathe them and wrap them in fuzzy towels, you love their other parent, you apologize when you do wrong, and you stay.  You get up again the next day, and you stay in their lives day in and day out.  Repeated I love yous and repeated family dinners and repeated responsiveness when they cry at night build a foundation for emotional stability that will carry them through the rest of their lives.  How you discipline, how you feed, how you deal with their poops, these are interesting reflections of parenting philosophies, but that's the other 10%.  In a way they are more intertwined than that; responsiveness in general can be reflected in elimination communication, for example.  But the underlying theme that is healthy is responsiveness.  Which is a form of showing up.

I also sometimes think that the most radically gentle parenting ideas don't really have experience with a Matthew.  The kid thrives on boundaries.  He also challenges all my beloved parenting philosophies: food, discipline, teaching.... everything.  I remember feeling extremely challenged to teach him anything when he was struggling with speech pathology and chronic hearing loss, because my main teaching style is verbal.  Talkety talking at him to teach him something was about as effective as using a foreign language.  What worked?  Physical boundaries: lifting him down off the bookshelves repeatedly instead of saying, "Keep your feet on the floor!" or "Climb the playground, not the bookshelves!"  If I lifted him down enough times, he would get it.  Putting our hands over his when he wanted to touch things that were off limits (like little babies' eyes: he always wanted to poke them), and removing him from the immediate vicinity of the thing he wanted to touch.
Another important parenting tool for me was (IS) positive language: please stop instead of NO DON'T!  Or "You are a good jumper!  Jump on the mini trampoline!"  Instead of "Don't jump on the couch."  Or "Hands are for touching gently!" Instead of "Don't hit!"
Yeah, Matthew doesn't respond to subtleties.  I HAVE to say 'DON'T!'  My compromise is to say No or Don't or Not, and then add the positive whenever possible.  I give a positive alternative so he knows what I want him to DO and not just what I don't.  But his personality is so strongly in favour of constantly touching the edges of things, that he needs a No.  He also isn't hugely verbal so we have to keep it brief.  Long (or even short) explanations go unheard.  He's a boy.  He's a very physical boy.  He learns by taking apart and putting together, without words or instructions.  He pushes and pushes and pushes, not because he's poorly behaved or rebellious, but because he feels reassured when he knows the boundaries exist and then continue to exist the next day.

Of course, when he develops to a new level suddenly he will cross over our boundaries, too; we have to be able to discern this.  Like when he started helping himself to the paring knives and trying to cut vegetables, I figured out that he was ready to actually learn how to use a paring knife.  And I promptly put him to work helping make dinner!  =)  Which he loves.  He has been helping me in this capacity since he was four.  He's very physically adept, especially with manual dexterity and balance.  Which is why he was wielding a knife in the kitchen before he knew the alphabet.

A life without time outs for Matthew?  I just don't see it.
I mean, maybe if he had two stay at home parents and no siblings.

Anyways, sometimes I worry about what people will think of me when I write freely.
But anything I write on here has to be free from the heart of me, or I won't write.  It's just not my style.  Yup, I believe in time outs.  Yup, I sometimes say NO DON'T.  And my kid is required to eat all his food save 'one vegetable.'  (Another pet philosophy of mine that Matthew tossed out the window).  I outsource their education.  But I love them, and it's enough.

I show up.
I respond.
I feed them.
I bathe them.
I love them.
It's enough.

On the flip side, I do wash my own diapers!  I got some medium sized brand new Fuzzibunz from Craigslist (my cousin gave me a bunch but we outgrew the smalls and the mediums she had were too baggy around the legs) and am very happy with them.  Woot!  We've been using cloth since Amarys was about four months?  Before that her bum was too sensitive for our cloth diaper service, and I was hesitant to invest in a cloth system before testing it out on her.  Most disposable diapers her bum was too sensitive for, too.  I washed my own diapers for Ayden and Matthew, and wore them out completely.  Then for Riley we used the diaper service.  And now for Amarys, the Fuzzibunz.

AND I am reading the No Cry Sleep Solution~a whole other post is our sleeping philosophy and journey in this house, but we've always been pretty open to cosleeping and following our kids' lead when it comes to nighttime parenting.  But you know, no matter how many kids you have you're always learning somethin.'  So Amarys has decided that a nighttime play session is in order, and Riley has been tag teaming me on top of that with nighttime requests to breastfeed and cosleep, and then Ayden, too.... which you all remember from my previous post about it being The End of an Era and kicking every kid out of our bed but Amarys.
I'm working hard on the No Cry suggestions, many of which we already knew, but I'm hoping to get into a better sleep pattern and eventually get more than 4 to 6 hours per night average myself.  Yowch.

The other night I took Amarys to a restaurant so I could go out with some friends in the evening, and despite it being a noisy restaurant with music, the football game on a plasma screen, and tons of loud talking patrons, a guy approached our table as he was leaving and said,
"It was very nice listening to your baby cry while I was trying to eat my dinner.  Next time leave her at home."
And then he finger pointed at my daughter.  Like, take your disciplinarian finger shaking and shove it up your ass, man!  I was so shocked I said nothing.  (Really, brain?  You couldn't come up with something better than *nothing*?!)  After he left I started to cry.  My friends were dumbfounded.  She had not cried all evening!  Weirdo.  Freak.  Sexist childist self centered JERK.  On facebook I posted what I wished I'd said:
"If you're going to forget your manners I suggest you leave yourself at home."

My friend suggested that if Brent had been sitting with us, that jerk would not have said anything.

Tonight I'm making  a breakfast dinner: hash browns, eggs, waffles with whipped cream and strawberries, and 500 grams of thick sliced bacon.  YUMMY!

I'm back.  I'll try and balance the Mothers of Change time with my own personal outlet here, on my blog, and I'm just going to have to apologize in advance for being a bit more conventional than some NPNers when it comes to discipline.  I'm gonna write about it, because it's how we roll here.  Hopefully we can live a peaceful coexistence.

And you know what, peeps?  Comment.  Please.  PLEASE!  Sometimes I don't write just because it feels like no one's there.



Doulanic said...

Okay, that guy was an absolute terd. A self centered, narcissistic jerk. Some people just haven't got a clue. Still, this doesn't help in the moment, does it?

I hardly blog about parenting issues anymore and topics that are "sensitive" because I'm tired of having to defend myself, tired of people's criticisms, and tired of, like you said, putting self in front of a truck. I hear you!! Maybe we all go through a blogging slump like this once in awhile.

Carry on with what you're doing - you're a great mother, and a great blogger - for both sites!

And I read every post. :-)

melissa said...

Thanks, Nic! Thanks for reading everything, and for commiserating the parenting issue thing. I think I just need to come to terms with my fear of conflict and just allow for differences of opinion....

Louise Chapman said...

I always read and love the personal posts:)

melissa said...

(I hope) you know I'm always here, even if I don't click through from my google reader to leave a comment as often as I'd like.

This is *your* space and *you* know your children best, so whatever you think is best for them, is what you should keep doing (but you know that), and if you feel like writing about it here, then you should go right ahead! I've been working on avoiding shoulds. Clearly I need more work.

I'm in the middle of the No Cry Sleep Solution, too, and just finished the No Cry Nap Solution. Sleep is hard with one. I can only imagine a whole bed full! I'll be combing your blog for pearls of sleep wisdom as things progress.

And the man at the restaurant. Just wow. I can't even imagine what I would have done. :/

melissa said...

@thanks Louise; I always read yours too! And I am getting better at commenting when I do, but I could comment more! I will!

@Melissa, thank you. You are a frequent commenter and I totally appreciate it. Good luck with the sleeping! The hardest part for me, so far, is the afternoon nap~she wants to sleep at school pick up time.... garrrr

Rachel Clear @ Clearly Speaking said...

This was a great post! Since I know you write on MOC, I just think of it as hearing from you when I read there too. Don't even worry. You still blog more than a lot of people! And they're always personal and great.

Okay... so the guy in the restaurant. Man. I don't know what I would have done. That is just shocking. I simply cannot even comprehend that happening ANYWHERE, but hey, I guess it does.

And I am totally with you on the blogworld of judgment and what-not. That is the sole reason why I don't do blog carnivals, don't promote my blog, don't really want a lot of strangers (except for NICE strangers reading it). Even though I consider the Natural Parents Community to be MY community, I am not dumb: I know they are a cynical and judgmental bunch and they aren't shy about it!

melissa said...

@Rach; you just might be absolutely right! You made me laugh, and I think it might help me to just be *me* and know that although they are my community too, they are a judgy type, by virtue of them being so counter cultural. There's a reason they reject mainstream stuff, and sometimes if I'm mainstream, they would reject what I do, too.

Imaginiff they knew my kids have sometimes been spanked, too?

Tamie said...

I'm totally reading. My internet is SO slow that I rarely comment. But I'm reading. And loving you. And wishing I was w/ you at the restaurant so I could've said to that guy a short Anglo-Saxon phrase that I do believe gets the point across.

melissa said...

thanks tamie! xo