Monday, November 5, 2012

in {her} shoes...Lyndsay

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i'm beyond ecstatic that Lyndsay from Our Feminist {Play}School is guest-posting today.  i first found her blog through the April 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting.  after reading her post, Bath Time: Just Another Chance to Play, my heart soared at finding another momma whose parenting views were so similar to mine.  in the 6 months since then, i've gotten to know Lyndsay more and am blessed to call her my friend.  through her i have learned to practice an even more conscious level of parenting.  i've learned about what it means to be a feminist and how it affects me as a parent.  and i'll be forever indebted to her for that.  if you've never been to her eloquently written blog, i strongly encourage it, my friends.
I am excited to be sharing 'my shoes' with such an eclectic and fantastic group of mamas, thank you Andie for including me and my words. I can't say that I always wanted children, they were a possibility that seemed to float across my radar with varying intensity depending on where my life was taking me. Before I had the pleasant surprise of becoming pregnant with Aodhan, I was quite focused on my career and traveling. I was living far from my home country and quite content to spend holidays in Italy, Spain and the South of France, with little more than a couple of novels in my carry-on.
But, the universe had other plans for me, and I became a mama. Despite not having planned for my son, I quickly switched gears and happily looked ahead to parenthood, and I knew almost immediately that the parenthood that I wanted to immerse myself in would be slightly different than what I saw around me. With some poking around on the internet, I knew that I was an 'attachment parent' and have allowed myself grow into the natural minded, gentle, child-focused mama that I am today. Although Aodhan is now half way through 3, I am proud of all the aspects of his infant and toddler hoods that shaped me as a gentle parent. This includes, but is not limited to: natural/home birthing, breastfeeding on demand and child-led weaning (he nursed until he was 3 yrs and 4 months), cloth diapering, baby-led weaning, baby wearing and co-sleeping. I allowed my son to guide me through the early months of parenting, listening to his needs and focusing on him as he figured out the world around him.
He has left the land of diapers, boobies, and baby slings behind him, but attachment parenting seems almost more important to us now than it was when he was still a quiet newborn. Gentle Discipline is at the crux of how I parent now. Being 3 means that Aodhan wants to push and pull at boundaries that I set out for him, and I acknowledge that. I work every day to find peaceful and gentle solutions that will help him figure out the path that will be the most pleasant for everyone. It means taking a good look at myself and a lot of deep breaths (because, yah, the kid is 3), but what I see is a little boy who feels loved and nurtured and confident in himself and the love of his parents. I am incredibly proud to be a feminist mama, and do everything I can to embrace and embody feminist parenting. That means fighting against gender and sexuality stereotypes when buying toys or clothing, it means pointing out the awesome job that a female mayor or CEO is doing, it means talking openly and honestly about racism, poverty and the many other issues that intersect with feminism. It means showing my son that I don't have to be a martyr to my family, and it means showing him that beauty exists in all bodies - fat, thin, old and young. I want Aodhan to grow up and be a proud feminist, because all men should be proud to be feminists. By including feminist values into my parenting, I feel that I am giving Aodhan the tools that he needs for interacting with the whole world, not just women: compassion, acceptance, open mindedness and a sense of curiosity. Watching Aodhan develop into such a gentle and loving soul has been the purest beauty in my life. Every. Single. Day. I am confident that the decisions I make to be gentle and child-centred have helped my boy possess the joy and happiness that seems to beam from his every movement. Challenges exist in parenting, as they do in any real situation, and for me they are more fleeting thought than imposing weights across my shoulders. I find it a challenge to carve space out for myself (what mama doesn't struggle with this?); I miss the time that I used to spend working on my writing, and I long for a night where I am not awoken by a foot in my face. But, these things seem trivial and passing when I think of the greater stretch of time that sits ahead of me, when I am no longer needed by my son. Hopefully, I have years ahead of me to lounge around in bed reading books and writing poetry. But these first few years of his new life? These will be gone in a second. It is a trade off I am more than willing to make. What 3 words would Aodhan use to describe his mama? If someone asked me this a month ago, I would have said: boobies, boobies, boobies. But, as he has (sniff) weaned, I think it would be more like: silly, cuddly and vegan.
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