Monthly Archives: February 2014

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Thoughtful Thursday: Identity Crisis

We all know them – are them – have been them…the parents who post pictures of their children non-stop.  Here is an excerpt from one mama’s admission and explanation (emphasis mine):

 I share my pictures because, like every mother on the planet, I think my kids are adorable (no, but really mine *are* adorable). I share because, as pathetic as this sounds, the attention is validation of sorts. I can’t get A’s anymore — and forget about being recognized for my achievements (like getting my son to pee before leaving the house — why is this so hard?!) So what do I have? “Likes” and comments about how cute my kids are.

I share because my pictures tell stories about our daily lives and our adventures. I share because my pictures create a dialogue with other people.

And perhaps the biggest answer is that I share pictures of my kids because spending time with them is what I’m doing with my life.

Written by Jen Simon for Kveller.com – excerpt from The HuffPostBlog

While it’s a lovely and honest explanation for her behavior, I implore parents to remember who they are at their core. We owe it to ourselves, first and foremost, to preserve that identity so that we can care for others from a healthy place.

Whether you work at home or away from home, do you know who you are?  Do you know what your core values are?  Are you living them, and would your children (or anyone else) be able to name them based on your actions?

I invite all parents, whether you are at home or away during the day, to shake things up.  Who are you?  And then be honest: if you are living for your job or your children, think about changing that.  It has been my experience that remembering our “core” selves keeps us from making decisions that are harmful to our psyche.  Choices that are aligned with our values keep us from sabotaging our lives.  From here on out, I am going to continue with children as the main focus…feel free to replace that word with whatever is your major focus right now if it is not your child(ren).

Burying our value under or behind our children is at the very least, stifling, and it may only get more oppressive as time passes.  We submerge ourselves underneath our children.  We pretend that life is perfect.  We forget who we are as we talk ourselves into the idea that “this” is what we are doing with our lives.  What if “this” turns into living with regret, guilt, dwelling on lost opportunities?  These emotions may manifest themselves later, in emotions such as anger (rage), depression and other disorders.  Those things do not benefit us, or our children.  And so begins the crack in the dyke.  Unchecked, the tide of destructive behaviors ends up hurting the sweet little children we use as tools for validation from our peers.

HERE is honesty from a woman named Isabelle who was not true to herself.  This mom who “gave it all up” shares her legacy: she is not happy about her choice, and you hear regret about her life.  How many other parents feel that way?  I bet we can all think of someone.  What it is like to hear that raising children was not worthwhile, and that the lost time can’t be replaced?  They are loved, albeit in an interesting way, that is for sure.

I admire Isabelle’s commitment to raise the children she agreed to bring into the world.  She saw her role as personally giving them the best start.  That is a noble commitment, to parent out of a moral obligation to do well by them.  In addition to that, I strive to parent our children with love and respect.

As part of parenting them with love and respect, I want to honor them as their own people, separate from me.  I saw myself turning into “that” mom who over-shared.  I made a conscious choice that I had to have an identity outside of my children because I have worth apart from them, and they have worth apart from me.

While I treasure the time with our children, I have come to realize that spending time with them is not what I am doing with my life.  I am living to nurture children who can become compassionate, creative, critical thinkers.  My commitment is to create a learning environment for them, not being validated by them. My life is also fostering a setting that inspires me to be better, do more and grow so that I can be the best parent I can be for my children.  I want to meet them where they are.  I can only see with clarity if my own lens  isn’t being smudged or filtered with buried regrets or resentments of all the things I am not doing because I “have to” take care of them.

I would like to think that those of us who parent with good intentions want their children to be happy and successful.  For myself I wonder, how do I teach them to create their own happiness, value themselves, their autonomy, and their personhood if mine is non-existent?  I propose that we need to actually be happy, not just pretend to be happy in cropped and filtered social media snapshots of “perfection” that garner “likes”.

I encourage parents who find their identity and seek validation from their adorable children to take a minute to reflect.  Why is that important to you?  Can we find *you* on your social media, or just your children?  Aren’t you worth remembering?  Are you doing something to be proud of outside of your children?  If not, consider digging around to find out where you went.  If you want your children to be strong and independent, show them how to be autonomous.  If you want them growing up with a healthy respect for humanity, show them a human worth respecting for their individual value.

It is possible to be a good parent without losing yourself in your child.  It is possible to have social media accounts that are not covered with pictures of your child.  If you have an extended family stretched around the world, maybe you could consider a “secret” group (facebook) or a private blog or webpage that is password restricted.  That way you can keep a private online record for family to follow without compromising your child’s right to create their own persona.

Beyond that, you are worth it.  You deserve to find your passion and live life to the fullest, with children that make the living even more enjoyable because you have wonderful souls to share and journey with as you live.

A little postscript from the woman who decided to run a contest to increase submissions for wordless wednesday…feeling slightly hypocritical…still, food for thought:

I want my children to learn that they have a voice, and I want them to have the freedom to create their own identity.  I came to the realization that if I post pictures of them from the time they are born until the time when they are no longer living under our roof, I have created their public persona.

We are starting to hear that schools and employers ask for access to a potential employee’s social media accounts.  We know that technology can identify faces electronically.  That means that in the future, anyone can form an opinion about them based on my portrayal of their person.  That frightens me, and it is also sobering.  They deserve to define themselves.  It is their right, not mine.

Personally, I make every effort to only post pictures that are in side or back profile.  If there is one especially amazing photo that shows their full face, I ask permission before sharing.  And if they say, “NO!” or “no”, then I do not post them.  I have recently taken that position with the #wordlesswednesday submissions – if multiple photos are submitted, I will choose the images that demonstrate the theme and reveal the minimal amount of the child’s identity.  It will certainly make me think twice about the themes I choose going forward.  While I believe that images help normalize attachment parenting, the tricky part is that breastfeeding and AP necessarily involve a minor.  Hmmm.

Babywearing: Kiss To Build A Dream On

This is our last love-month-theme…a reminder that when you wear your Sweet Pea, one of the safety checks is that they are “close enough to kiss” <3  Read more about safe babywearing HERE from The School of Babywearing™.

What you will see in today’s images:

  • A mama making the transition from one Sweet Pea to two
  • A mama’s progression to different carriers
  • A wrap carrier or two
  • A soft-structured carrier

Babywearing can pretty much be done with any size infant or toddler, in pretty much any setting – enjoy!  Keep scrolling down to see who won our first contest!!

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Here is one of our lovely Cassandra and T:

thanks aquar

Thank you to everyone who sent submissions for our first contest!  Random.Org did our selection for us.  Each featured image was numbered in the order it was received…and our winner is….

Kendra Campbell – Congratulations!

Please email me at sweetpeafamilies@gmail.com to claim your prize :)

 

Aha! Parenting & Seeing Dr. Laura Markham

A couple of weeks ago I heard that Dr. Laura Markham was coming to the town I live in, Pacific Grove, and would be speaking at the charter school just down the street from my house.

dr laura markham

I knew I had to go because 1) seriously this is such a small town and being so close (but-not-so-close-when-you-have-a-toddler-and-one-car-and-a-million-logistics-to-consider) to Santa Cruz and the Bay Area I was actually kind of shocked at how convenient this venue was for me and 2) Dr. Markham’s blog & then book have been a sound resource for us for quite some time. We have talked about her website on SPF before and I also read her book as part of a mama book club back in May.

dr laura book club

follow us on Instagram @sweetpeabirths!

I bought my ticket & headed out alone Tuesday night, Moleskine and pen in hand. It was a great talk + Q&A and even though I already really liked the Aha! Parenting site and the book I enjoyed Dr. Markham much more in person and was so glad that I went. I will try to recap most of what was discussed as best I can below!

There were three key takeaway’s Dr. Markham wished for everyone to remember:

“You always have the power (as the parent) to calm the store or blow it up into a tornado”

“Parenting is only 10-20% guidance and 80-90% connection.”

And the parenting “sweet spot”, empathetic limits.

parenting graphic

              

“You always have the power (as the parent) to calm the store or blow it up into a tornado”

In order to be able to help or calm a difficult situation with your child Dr. Markham recommends that you first need to regulate your own emotions.

>> Don’t take it (whatever your child is doing/saying/etc) personally.

>> Remember you are the role model.

>> It is not an emergency.

>> Stop. Drop. Breathe

>> Don’t act while angry.

When a huge tantrum is taking place, a road map for how to react would look like this:

Calm yourself (Stop. Drop. Breathe.)

Admit your contribution to the incident (were you distracted & not listening to your child? talking back aggressively or rudely to them? being dismissive?)

Connect with your child (stop what you are doing, look him/her in the eye, hold him/her, etc.)

Empathize (understand his/her perspective). You have to actually care about your child’s point of view and needs in that moment.

Set a Limit (we don’t yell/kick/talk to each other like that no matter how upset we are).

Help him/her work through their upset.

“Parenting is only 10-20% guidance and 80-90% connection.”

Because children will not accept guidance without connection. Even if you respond to your child with compassion and empathy in the moment it won’t work if there isn’t more 24/7 “preventative maintenance” connection between the two of you.

Connection Power Tools 

*empathy

*roughhousing & laughter

*special time: one-on-one, uninterrupted, unstructured time that is directed by your child

* time- in’s – holding space so your child feels safe to work through their emotions, they need to either cry or laugh to make themselves feel better during/after a tantrum or meltdown. They may not want you to physically hold them but being right there will allow them to know you are present & available whenever they do need you.

All emotions and needs your children have are ok, we should allow all feelings, it is just some behavior that may need to be limited. Emotions drive behavior, so in order to change behavior we need to help them with the feelings that are actually driving the undesired behavior. Once they can manage their emotions they will be able to manage their own behavior. Which leads us to the next topic…

The parenting “sweet spot”, empathetic limits

Dr. Markham does not teach that being as connected with your child as possible means having low expectations of them. It is actually high expectations that will help teach them and give them opportunities to practice self discipline. She does not believe in punishment or imposed consequences, bribes or yelling as a way to achieve desired behavior.

Punishment does not work to improve behavior because it does not address the underlying cause of what is driving that behavior, your children will only learn to lie to circumvent punishment, act out in other ways, and not learn to self regulate or self discipline. Self discipline is the act of giving up something you want for something you want more, and in order for this to develop we need the repeated experiencing of having to chose, in order to “practice.”

It is also beneficial to empower your child to repair. Instead of punishing them, work together to come up with a way to “right” the behavior. Many children, especially strong-willed ones, are experiential learners. They have to *want* to do something, and arbitrary consequences made up by a parent will never appeal to their personal integrity.

How to Enforce Limits:

> Get in your child’s face in a friendly way

> Empathize/ Give Wish Verbally (“I know you want to keep playing and I bet when you are older and live on your own you will always play straight through dinner and not eat, but in our house we all eat together so right now it is time to stop playing and eat with us.”)

> Side step a power struggle by giving choices

> Invite cooperation with playfulness

> Ask her/him to help to solve the problem

> Let them discover natural consequences

Dr. Markham also talked a bit about how human emotion works and that most often we “stuff” our emotions down into our body rather than experiencing them. This manifests as a myriad of health problems: stress, disease, etc. and research has also shown the same affect on the body for people who yell regularly. By allowing our children to “feel” we help teach them that emotions are normal and safe. Crying in children has shown that it helps them to heal, reduces anxiety, and builds resistance. Giving them a safe place to cry, in or out of our arms, and not distracting them from it are all extremely helpful in the long run.

It was a very informative, fast paced, two hours, and although this post attempted to pull it all together in a digestible form I really encourage you to check out her blog or book for more examples and further explanation.

I do find that a lot of the techniques are not as easily applicable to toddlers, especially non or less verbal ones.  A lot of these practices are based on “age appropriate” expectations and gauging what is or is not appropriate for your specific child. I had hoped to ask Dr. Markham if she had any reccommendations for resources that were helpful in understanding more of what is age appropriate for 2/3 year olds not yet talking much but didn’t get a chance to as there were a lot of questions and I needed to get home for T’s bed time (: This is definitely my next avenue of exploration though, maybe it will warrant it’s own follow up post! That being said, even though I feel like there is only so much T & I can actually work together on (he will be two next month and only uses ~5 words) I feel like these ideas and tools have helped lay a great foundation for me. I am able to practice the self regulating techniques, I can “talk it out” with myself even if T isn’t comprehending as practice, and I have to say I have gotten pretty good at surrendering the “power” and side stepping struggles that don’t actually matter.

Does anyone have any other insight to share regarding punishment, natural consequences or enforcing limits emphatically? Do you enjoy the Aha! Parenting blog? I would love to hear from anyone with older children as my parenting experience thus far is limited & I have always found the subject of emotional regulation very fascinating!

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Monday Musings: I am

Do you know who you are?  Do you know what your core values are?  Do you know what your purpose is in life, apart from the people that you are providing for and taking care of as your “job” or your “role” in your family?

I am working on a piece called “Identity Crisis” for Thoughtful Thursday this week.  I think that all of us need the reminder that it is okay to think about yourself first – you must be in a good space to wear all the hats that you wear on a daily basis with a smile. Not the one that is just pasted on the space between your chin and your nose.  I’m talking about the genuine, really beautiful smile that resonates deep down from the heart level.

So I leave you with the big question for self-reflection until Thursday:
How do you answer the question “I AM A/AN….”, if you are not allowed to use your “title”? (mom/dad/husband/wife/partner/job title not allowed)

Be sure to check out this week’s listing of FREE family events around the Phoenix, AZ area on our SPB blog, and remember that this Wednesday’s theme is “Babywearing: Give me a kiss to build a dream on”.

CONTEST!!
In order to motivate you to scroll through your picture gallery and send us an email, each picture that is featured is equal to one entry! I will be drawing a winner using Random.org.  Numbers will be assigned in the order that picture submissions are received, and we will draw a winner on Wednesday evening that will be announced when the post is published.  Winner gets a choice of a water bottle, a baby onesie, or a toddler tee from our shop on Cafe Press.

Email your submissions to sweetpeabirths@gmail.com, along with a statement that we have permission to share your image(s) on social media.  Thank you!

Breastfeeding: With All My Heart

I love this theme:  Anyone who has breastfed knows that it is definitely a journey.  It is not always easy, it is not always convenient, yet we persist because their is a core belief inside of a breastfeeding mother that it is the right thing to do.  I know very few breastfeeding mothers who do it out of obligation; though they exist.  No mommy wars here: I am by no means saying that mothers who went the formula route love their children any less.  I am marveling at the fact that there is a proven biophysical response built into the breastfeeding relationship that makes us fall a little more in love every time we breastfeed – and I am fascinated at the way our bodies work.

With that, here is a great family picture of a mommy nursing a baby, a big sister nursing her dolly, and daddy looking on in love at his family:

BLOG ww140219 spf.1Although I have shared the next two before in other posts, they went along with the heart theme in the pictures.  Here are our breastfed babies, who in all, have been breastfed a total of 125 months:

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Charger was my big helper on picture day - he helped brush them with melted butter, and then we sprinkled them with our cinnamon-xylitol blend.

Charger was my big helper on picture day – he helped brush them with melted butter, and then we sprinkled them with our cinnamon-xylitol blend.

 

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Tuesday Tips: Cleaning House

The meeting down at the State Capitol yesterday was great, and besides an action plan, some Arizona homebirth advocates took time to meet with several Senators.  I am relieved to report that things are looking MUCH better.   If you would like to get involved in this very important work, please visit the Rights For Homebirth facebook page.  Regular updates offer action steps to take to keep the pressure on as we strive to Kill the Bill SB1157.

To go along with the theme of “Cleaning House” and getting rid of nasty bills, I thought I would share this website with you today.  It has been the source of most of our “green clean” recipes that we are using for non-toxic house cleaning.  It is written by Dr. Bronner’s granddaughter, Lisa, and she shares cleaning tips as well as anecdotes about her colorful grandfather’s life and times.  Definitely a useful and enjoyable site if you are a fan of Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile soaps like we are.

Going Green With A Bronner Mom

And with that, I am off to start the day…I came home from the meeting yesterday and started pulling together documents for the Rights For Homebirth group to use as we continue to advocate and lobby the Senators to pledge a NO vote on SB1157.  The Sweet Peas had a free day which they loved! It all worked out.  Now it is time to do some double-duty in our homeschool, and head off to one of our favorite monthly events this morning.

Wishing you a great day!

What is your favorite DIY cleaner recipe?

 

Monday Musings: Taking Action

Not a very long post today – I am heading down to the State Capitol to meet with some other home birth advocates and a state representative sympathetic to our goal to Kill SB1157.

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It was so disheartening to see the bill passed on a party-line vote.  I would like to think that people can think for themselves…this was clearly not the case.  NO THANK YOU to the four Republican *women* who voted against evidence-based birth.  THANK YOU to the Democrats (2 men, 1 woman) who stood up for Arizona’s women and their right to choose their birth place even if they are not what the medical community considers an ideal candidate for home birth.

If I can find it, I will post the video from last week’s meeting so you can watch this dismal facade called “testimony”.  It was deplorable how the side for evidence-based birth is held to one standard to fight for their rights, while the medical community is given a pass to even offer one shred of evidence or “gold-standard” research for the “statistics” they offered.

I encourage all of you to get involved with birth politics in your community.  Get informed, and form a community of evidence-based advocates.  I am sure that ACOG and other anti-home birth factions are watching the proceedings in Arizona…the fight may be on your doorstep before you know it.

Personally, I am looking forward to having some action plans.  Hope you all have a great day!

Out of the loop and want the scoop?  HERE is a great summary of the bill, why we are opposed to it, and some action steps you can take to advocate for evidence-based home birth from Sink Full of Dishes.

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Home Birth in Arizona – Your Voice Counts

I want to start by saying that I respect obstetricians individually.  There are many good, caring, watchful OB’s who practice as Dr. Bradley did, acting as a “life guard” at the pool, stepping in when a pregnancy or birth necessitated obstetric care.  Otherwise, they care for and facilitate safe, natural births…Dr. Bradley’s stats were 94-96% vaginal birth rates in any given year.

Despite his, and other OB’s invested in the natural, hands-off approach to normal, low-risk pregnancy and birth, maternity care in the United States is not uninterrupted.  Thanks to “advances” in maternal care, most births take place in the “Safety” of a hospital setting.  Our cesarean rates are still at an all-time high, and despite spending the most per capita on maternity care, our maternal mortality rates are 48th in the world.  47 countries, including some third-world countries, do a better job at keeping mothers and babies alive than we do.

In the face of these facts, many women are choosing to seek different care.  Certified Nurse Midwives are making gains in the hospital setting, and home birth with Certified Professional Midwives is on the rise in home settings.  Guess who is freaking out??  The white-coats who have enjoyed little to no opposition since they convinced the US consumer that they were better off birthing in a hospital than they are at home.

Let’s take a look at homebirth and hospital birth numbers…check out the infographic, or find links to the reports on the first ever published home birth study in the United States HERE.

This infographic is used with permission from Growing Slower:
Birth-Statistics-Infographic

And now, a group in Arizona has decided to try and “back door” a bill (SB1157) that I suspect, they thought was going to go undetected.  It is an attempt to reverse all the strides in evidence-based care that were made when the AZ Department of Health Services expanded the Midwifery Scope of Practice.  The scope was ammended after hours of testimony, consideration and deliberation – you can see those proceedings HERE.  The backers of the bill are using the same rhetoric that was used to get women into the hospital in the first place: “Unsafe” “Irresponsible” “Dangerous”

The fact of the matter is that the case can be made that hospital births in the United States are now dangerous.  You have a 1 in 3 chance of receiving a cesarean, even if you walk in as a low-risk mother.  Category X drugs are used off-label, when the manufacturer’s instructions specifically list the dangers of use in childbirth and warn against using them in pregnancy or labor.

Read more about that  here:

We have the right to self-determination and access to qualified, professional care providers, even if they are not the care provider that would be chosen by the majority.   If you are in Arizona, please join us at a rally to say no to Senate Bill 1157.  You can read more about action steps you can take whether you can or cannot join us in person HERE, or please take moment to sign THIS change.org petition to the Chairwomen of the Health and Services Committee, who will hear the bill tomorrow.

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Monday Musings: Moving Past Anger

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We hosted a bonus class for Bradley students to meet our chiropractor on Saturday. Since our lives have been immeasurably enriched since we started chiropractic care. we invite him to share the benefits of chiropractic care with our students. As a Bradley™ dad, he also has some amazing tips on coaching back labor. Since they involve physical manipulation of the sacrum, we leave that info to the professional!

And then – the reason why he is a “bonus class”. He is a wealth of information on all things parenting and life. On this visit, he really stressed the importance of emotional health and well-being in the partnership before the baby arrives to have a better birth experience. He also shared that the stress level of the caregiver affects the immune health of the child.

As we seek to improve interpersonal communication, recognize that anger is unmet expectation.

Simple. It is not about you. It doesn’t need to spiral.

“You had an expectation – what did you want to happen?”

Whether you ask it of yourself, your partner, your child, or whoever it is that is angry, you have inserted a place for a breath. The answer to that question is something we can do something about. Or maybe it the start of a conversation than is long overdue.  Be it an action or a dialogue, maybe both, steps can be taken that remove the anger and restore the peace.

I am so looking forward to this new tool in our communication toolbox!

Do you think this could work for you?
If you already  have a “breathing space” question(s), what  works for you?