Tag Archives: motherhood

Your kids are being punks because they’re BORED!

Well, you know, maybe.

Have you ever met a Kindergarten teacher who did no planning?  Can you imagine what chaos would ensue in a classroom that had only free time and recess?

Why do we mothers expect our days to function differently?  Our kids love having free access to their toys and activities, but kids also love structure.  Before you go to bed tonight, or first thing tomorrow morning, or today during nap time, or when they’re jumping on Daddy as he walks in the door, take 10 minutes and find an activity online that you can do with them.  With the entire internet full of ideas, you can find something that uses stuff you already have and will get their wheels spinning.

Cut up some pipe cleaners, let your kiddo drop them in a jar, then use a magnet from teh fridge to manipulate the pieces.  My toddler loved this.  The grooves and contours on the jar can make moving the pieces more difficult, so pick your jar based on your kiddo’s age.

There’s a Thomas the train story that ends with Percy getting a new coat of paint.  My toddler loves to give her trains a new coat of paint.  Every chance she gets.  If you’re going to bathe the kid today anyway, let her paint a metal train, then take the train into the bath.  Drive the train through the pain to make tracks, or give the child a spray bottle to wash the train down herself right in the kitchen sink.

Seriously, your days will go smoother when you have an activity or two planned throughout the day.  Write it on the fridge.  Or write your ideas on index cards, and pull one or two out each day to keep things from getting stale.  That seems like an idea that should be on Pinterest, doesn’t it?  ;)

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Let’s Flesh This Out – Breastfeeding and the Bible

Aliza nursing in her early days 

There is a line of thought common to Christians that breastfeeding is sexual.  Or, breastfeeding might not be sexual per se, but it’s still something that should be done out of sight and possibly/preferably out of the room.

I disagree.

In my effort to double check my theories against the bible and God’s theories, I did some research.  The bible has a LOT of references to breasts.  A lot.  They’re all over the place.  Most often, the word breast is an anatomical reference.  The right breast for a sacrifice or the growth of breasts to symbolize puberty.  Then, there are the sexual references.  All seven of them.  Four in Song of Solomon, one in Proverbs, two in Ezekiel.  How many times does the bible reference breasts in the context of breastfeeding?  14.  Plus 10 other references to nursing and drinking mother’s milk.  Twenty-four times the bible references breastfeeding without shame.   Without hesitation.  Without hiding it under a blanket or in another room.

Breasts are used for feeding and comforting babies twice as often as they are used for the ‘comforting’ of a man.  And the authors of the bible (talking about the penholders here) referenced breastfeeding in a way that is so tender.  There’s almost a longing or reminiscing about the days of being comforted at their mothers’ breasts.  Because breastfeeding is so much more than food.  So much more than simple calories.

God designed women (and men!) to have a biochemical response to babies, particularly to breastfeeding babies.  Not only do women let down their milk as a result of an oxytocin release (a hormone that provides feelings of bonding and love) by men are physiologically impacted by the continued presence of a lactating woman.  A man’s estrogen level increases as his primary female partner (aka wife) nears the end of her pregnancy and this hormone level remains high for a period of time after the baby is born, suppressing his libido.  This isn’t an accident.  God didn’t let this slide as a side-effect of our design.  Breastfeeding stimulates feelings of love and attachment, and those feelings are recalled throughout life by members of both sexes.

But love does not have to include sex.  A man is perfectly capable of loving a lactating woman without being either turned on or turned off by her milk.  Just because a man sees a woman breastfeeding a baby/child does not mean he is enticed to lust.

Breastfeeding is not enticement.  Even though breasts may or may not be visible during breastfeeding (even without a nursing cover, there usually isn’t much to see), the simple presence of a breast is not enough to encourage a man to lust.  Each person’s lust is wholly within themselves; as Christ put it: “anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed lust with her in his heart.”  The man doesn’t need the woman at all.  He can lust without her knowledge or consent. And his lust is fully within himself.

Hiding breastfeeding does not help a man to avoid lust, either.  Hiding breastfeeding (in another room or under a nursing cover) only furthers the separation of that man’s experience with breasts and the true function and purpose of breasts.  Further entrenching him on an inescapable island of helplessness.  If/when men only see breasts in a sexualized way, the sexuality is reinforced with each exposure.  When you start to temper that extreme view, you desensitize him to his incorrect notion that breasts are only for him.  Only for his own selfish pleasure.  Breasts are first and foremost for the nourishment and care of small children.  Only as an addition can we consider the sexual qualities of breasts.  And if men were seeing breastfeeding twice as often as breasts as sexual toys, we wouldn’t have to have this discussion at all.  Breastfeeding, uncovered, in the presence of men is the only way that I can help a man gain control of his lust.  Not because I expose him to something sexual and give him the opportunity to control himself, but because I expose him to something decidedly asexual and give him the opportunity to understand that.

 

I wonder if that’s why breastfeeding is a more common biblical context for breasts than sex.

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Meredith Fein Lichtenberg, CCE: Mom on Mom

“Mothers are people, not categories. 

. . . it’s glaringly obvious that the person speaking is tired and not thinking about what she’s saying, not thinking about all the obvious exceptions to what she’s saying, and would not say it if she heard what she sounded like.”

via Meredith Fein Lichtenberg, CCE: Mom on Mom.

Love it!

Often I consider the receptive vs expressive nature of the internet.  We subscribe to people who think like us, ‘friend’ people who have similar views, and frequent the blogs that espouse what we want to hear.  It’s all very good for encouraging and normalizing the new habits/thought processes you’re trying to internalize, but tends to turn us into extremists.  Instead of being open to a different idea or experience, we become experts in our favorite rhetoric and begin regurgitating those talking points on any forum we see.

We aren’t being receptive.  You don’t get ‘likes’ or comments of encouragement for sincerely listening to someone’s perspective.  You get them for skillfully and hurtfully delivering your own message.

Most of us, most of the time, are trying to be helpful.  Using this powerful analogy or that emotionally charged line is meant to get your attention and show you the issue under a new light.

Sometimes that works, but not often.  Not on the internet.

Like usual, I am guilty of this.  I try really hard to be loving and kind and understanding, and I usually do a better job in person than online.  But even in person I sometimes fail.  I haven’t slept that beautiful, deep sleep of the non-parent in 3 years, and that does wear on a person’s eloquence.

But I am trying.  I do try.  Which is why I so encourage being challenged.  I am not so proud as to cling to my opinions in the face of a good and reasoned argument to the contrary.  I am not opposed to changing my opinions or editing my words.

Because in the end, this is just the internet.  I am just me.  I don’t really take myself all that seriously.  And there’s no reason for you to either.  I’m just figuring things out as I go along, and writing here so you can follow along if you like.  No big whoop.

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Positive Parenting: Toddlers and Beyond: Nonpunitive Discipline ≠ Lazy Parenting

 

 

 

 

 

 

Positive Parenting: Toddlers and Beyond: Nonpunitive Discipline ≠ Lazy Parenting.

 

We love to marvel at how amazing the human brain is.  We are amazed at how much it grows from birth to age 5.  Even a brief study of cognitive or neural development will teach you that the human brain doesn’t fully develop until our early 20′s.  The very last thing we can physically access is a group of functions known as the ‘executive functions’.  Delay of gratification, impulse control, etc.

We know those abilities aren’t physically accessible to our toddlers and pre-schoolers but do we treat them like we know that?  I get especially frustrated watching a child be hit for not being able to control themselves.  What part of that is not abuse?  We know a child can’t do it, we know they physically lack the capacity, but we expect them to control themselves and hit them when they don’t.

Well, some of us do.  Some of us don’t.  I’d much rather teach my child gently.  With love, with compassion, and with patience.  Anyone who has spent time around a child can tell you that sometimes they get it.  Sometimes.  And in those moments, we celebrate together.

Romans tells us this: Romans 12:15-16 “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.  Live in harmony with one another.  Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.  Do not be conceited.”

There is a note saying that being associated with people of low position also means being willing to do menial work.  Either translation is appropriate here.

I have no problem humbling myself to do the menial tasks of teaching my child over and over.  I have no problem getting down on her level to help her understand, and help her make a plan for next time.  If I seem simple, so be it.  I’m am not so proud as to hit a child for the sake of maintaining the right image.  This idea that we as Christians have to spank to be accepted as godly parents has to stop.

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Entrenching Rhetoric

Some of us who evangelize Attachment Parenting have sinned.  We too quickly villify all parents who spank as angry or cold or heartless.

In reality, human experience can’t really be summed up into neat ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ categories.  I’m not one to say that all moral issues are simply relative to their culture, nor am I saying that my definition of right and wrong should be legislated onto the masses.  But using inflammatory rhetoric to further polarize people is useless.  What’s more, it actually hinders any meaningful or productive conversation.

In the abortion debate, we call all pro-choice voters or sympathizers baby-killers.  Which is a far cry from the truth: people who vote pro-choice do so because they disagree with pro-life voters about when life as a human begins.  We know that the ‘life cycle’ starts at conception, but we disagree about when the spark, the essence of personhood, is passed into physical flesh.  Instead, baby-killer.

I have recently (over the past year or two) come to be aware that birth control pills have a secondary mechanism that inhibits an already fertilized egg from implanting.  I am not ok with that.  I think that once an egg is fertilized is too late to prevent or end a pregnancy.  But I was on the pill for 8 years before I knew anything about this secondary mechanism.  Does that make me a baby-killer?

If, at any time while I was on the pill, you had walked up to me and called me a baby-killer then tried to inform me of the pill’s effects on an already fertilized egg, I’d have written you off as a nutjob and never thought twice of the encounter.  Because name-calling, and other inflammatory tactics, do not help a discussion or help people to learn.

So why then do we insist on dividing parents into ‘spankers’ (i.e. heartless, angry monsters) and ‘permissive’ (children in control)?  There is just no way to divide up all of parenting and discipline into those two (or any two) categories.  It doesn’t work that way.  Life doesn’t work that way.  But we insist.

We insist because parenting is vulnerability.  Our decisions are judged by (potentially) everyone we or our children encounter.  What’s more, most of us are trying to create something completely new, while simultaneously put the new theory into action, and we’re doing it in front of everyone.  Most of us are changing some things that our parents did.  Most of us are incorporating a spouse’s background and opinions.  Plus, we’re reacting to a dynamic human being who has his or her own opinions.  Especially on our first ride, we’re making it up as we go along.  The parents who did things we didn’t like?  WATCHING.  The moms who are doing things a different way?  WATCHING.  People who may one day become parents?  WATCHING.

So we draw lines in the sand.  Even if I do it wrong, at least I’m on the right side.  Even if my child isn’t a poster child for my parenting style, at least I’m playing for the right team.  That sounds like pride to me.  And insecurity.  Both things I could do with a little less of in my life.

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Late-night Wishful Thinking

Sometimes I just ache for a New York City kind of success.  Like the opening scenes of Mad Men.  1960′s office in the city, house in the country, corner office, expensive suits and skinny, sexy cigarettes everywhere I look.  [PSA:  I do not actually want to smoke, nor do I want to be surrounded by it.]  I want to command my field.

I love the idea of living the single life in such a fast, expensive city.  I love the idea of dressing so that an image of success is projected from any way you could view me.

Sometimes I wish I had taken a business or money driven route.  Combined with singledom, I’d have such a luxurious life!  I’d own all my own money.  I’d depend on no one and no one would depend on me.  You know what that means for my money?  It’s all disposable.  Every penny can be spent on whatever catches my eye.  Even if most of those pennies go toward rent, or retirement, I make those choices based on me and me alone.

Another green bit of grass is my childhood dream of riding horses at a higher level.  How can I help bu think about the fun of riding to the top of that field too?  I’ve had a taste of that success.  I know what ribbons & accolades feel like.  I had options in that field.  An acceptance and scholarship money to a prestigious equestrian school. A  place held for me in any of their equestrian programs and/or any of their intercollegiate teams.   I had a horse with potential and spectacular bloodlines.  I had a natural inclination for the sport.  Success there is easy to dream about, and was close enough to seem so real.

But one of those dreams is based on an avenue I never wanted to visit and the other is based on entirely on the past.  Neither is related to present reality for me.

Success as a mother is so hard to define.  I know what I want for my kids.  but even if they turn out fine I might have failed in my goals for my own behavior and actions.  Even if I do everything right they may not live the lives I dream for them.  They may not be the people I’m trying to teach them to be.  [This is where the whole 'personal responsibility' line gets me going.  Sometimes, a lot of times, correct actions just don't match up to correct consequences.  they just don't.  That's life.]

Even if I could define ‘success’ for my carer as a mother, is that the kind of life that keeps me entertained while I’m waiting for sleep to come?

I suppose the other two dreams offer me this:  I would know when I’ve ‘arrived’.  I would be able to define success and know when I’ve gotten there.  But motherhood doesn’t afford me that.  It’s not that clear cut.  And instead of being riled up by that challenge, I’m just flustered by it.

Not that I don’t love being a mother.  I do.  I’m just not used to being uncertain with my accomplishments.  I want to know in what percentile I rank.  I want to know how I measure up and how often (and how well) I’m completing my task.  There is no monetary reward for motherhood to tell me how much my time is worth.  There are no ribbons to put on the wall or videotape for me to review and critique.

But there is my daughter’s sweet, small voice saying, “Okay, mom.” when I ask her to get off the table and sit in her chair.  Surely that’s equal to a blue ribbon.

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Chaos & Cooties

Sometimes I want to be seen as that mom with her kids in a neat, orderly line.  Everyone saying the right things, doing the right things, all on cue.  Like I have a tight rein on them.  I want to be seen that way, but I don’t actually want that.  I don’t want that much restriction for my kids.  I don’t want that much repression or oppression.  But I want to be seen that way.  Thinking about this made me realize this is yet another insecurity.  I want people to see calm and order and to not pick up on my scared inner trembling.  My nervous questioning self is wondering if they think I’m doing a good job, or if they’re secretly criticizing me, or if maybe they want me to just go away.

My inner chaos or calm will be revealed by my kids.

That, I think, is true.  My inner chaos or calm will be perceived by my kids, lived out by them, and then revealed to those around me.   My kids pick up on my nervousness or confidence, my tension or my calm.  And they respond accordingly.  It’s a part of ‘social referencing.’  Kids look to adults to determine how to react to a situation, especially an unfamiliar situation.

With this in mind, I no longer want even to be perceived as being the lady with her kids in line.  I want my own exuberance and joy to be reflected by my children (I think it is).  My kids might be a little too loud sometimes, they might have a little too much energy, and they might be too eager to show affection to their friends.  But that’s how I feel inside.   I experience life at a higher volume than most, and with all the energy I can muster, and with all the love in the world.  God fills me with a holy love that overflows from my heart, through my kids, and on to everyone we encounter.  That kind of spillage may not be neat, or quiet, and it probably won’t stay neatly in line.

That’s why joy is contagious.  It spreads like cooties.

But those cooties accompany a more secure, confident self.  And a more secure, confident parenting style.  The cooties bring a freedom from worrying about what other people think or how they evaluate what they see.  Their evaluations would inherently be flawed because they can never know my story, my place, my background, my character, or my heart.  And the cooties bring a sense of that and I’m able to let go of their spoken judgment, and ignore their unspoken judgments.  And that freedom calms my children.

My freed, calmed soul is reflected in my free, calm children.

Well, maybe not calm.  We are talking about a toddler here.  But you get the idea.

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