Monday, December 30, 2013

new year; fresh start

This week it will cease to be 2013, and begin 2014. Its a non-existent line in some non-existent sand, but one that hold so much significance to so many people. I don't know why it does, but heaven help me it really feels like a clean slate, a fresh chance.

As a mom I find myself looking for clean slates. Its so easy to hold every raised voice, every overreaction, ever missed learning opportunity against myself. Its so easy to judge myself and find me to be lacking. So here's to using this fresh start to allow myself a little more forgiveness. Fresh slate, new day, new year.... my mom sins have been purged and I'm starting anew.

When we hold on to old "failures" (whether they be a real failure, or only something that feels that way in our heads), we bring ourselves down, wear ourselves out, and set ourselves up for future "failures." When we forgive, give ourselves the space to be human, and show our children that everyone makes mistakes but if we own them and learn from them then they aren't failures.

So my parenting resolution for the New Year? Make mistakes, and let them go. Be the best mom I can be to Gwen in each particular moment. Then start anew.

What do you hope for the New Year?

Monday, December 16, 2013

I thought it would be forever...

I thought I would fight you on sleep forever. When the nights are long, and you have to be shushed and bounced and rocked and nursed, it feels like forever. But here we are at almost 4, and bedtime is a breeze. After we read a book, I tuck you in and turn out the lights. I rub your back for just a minute, then we give kisses, I tell you how much I love you and I leave. Simple as that.

I thought I would nurse you forever. When you are touched out and tired and sore, it feels like forever. But at 39 months you led me, and did it yourself. The end was as peaceful and sweet as I had hoped, and you still remember fondly how you drank milkies.

I thought you would be in diapers forever. When you are changing your 2 poop diaper of the day, and being told NO that you don't want to sit on the potty, it feels like forever. But when the time was right, you did that practically on your own too. Happily sitting on the toilet to pee, and fine with waiting if we weren't next to a bathroom.

Despite how it feels when you are tired and worn, I know that nothing is really forever. Except for my love for you, child. That will never change.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Domestic Violence in Your Community: Remembering Chris Keith

Recently, my community and the blogging community suffered the loss of a person I never even knew before she was gone. She wrote a blog "Confessions of a Thrifty Mama on a City 'Stead," homeschooled her children, went to church, and by all accounts was an amazing person who did her best to live sustainably and ecologically in tune with her family and her community.  As we seem to have friends in common, I am sorry I never got the chance to know her and now never will.  She was Chris Keith, a devoted mother, who was doing the best she could for her children and was struggling to divorce the father of her three youngest children and was killed by him Dec. 4.  (He also killed himself and Chris' eldest son, Isaac Miller, who was just 14, that night.)

Because I did not know her, I cannot speak to her specific story and what the details were of her life, but I feel compelled to share the facts of her death (and life) with you for two very specific reasons.  The first is to break some of the silence and isolation that empowers domestic violence to continue.    Our contributing author Amy has written bravely of her own story to that end and I want to share her story as well here.  It is not easy to leave and both Amy and Chris deserve recognition for their bravery in fighting to get out of their situations.  I'm not sure anyone knows the details of what Chris was going through this year as she left her husband, but the one silver lining to this tragedy is that while two innocent souls were tragically lost last week, the lives of her three youngest children (who were thankfully not home that night and were spending time with their grandparents who are now going to raise them) were quite possibly saved by her courageous decision to leave their clearly mentally unstable father.  While these children have been both orphaned and have suffered the loss of their elder brother in a single horrific incident, they are still very much alive and will keep the legacy of their mother's bravery and devotion with them.

This leads me to the second reason for me to share this story, the church where she used to attend has created a memorial fund for her and Isaac in order to benefit the three young children who have been left behind.  Obviously, their grandparents who are now planning to raise them, had no idea that they would be taking them in and need funds to fix their van, make their house work for three young children, and generally care for their grandchildren.  If you have not already allocated your charitable funds this holiday season, please consider giving to them.  The link is here.  It is not tax deductible because it is not going to the church or to a non-profit domestic violence charity (although both of those causes would probably benefit from some patronage as well), but to the family directly so that they can deal with the practicalities of surviving the loss of this brave, powerful woman and her son.

Also, if you know someone who is in a relationship that you suspect is abusive, please talk to them privately about it and offer your support (it may take several offers before she feels safe enough to confide in you).  This is the first step to helping her.  Here is a link to the national domestic violence hotline for more specific information and help with planning an exodus safely.  As Chris' story illustrates tragically, it is a life and death situation.

Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Birth Matters: So Does Motherhood

 I believe in birth.  I believe that women's bodies were made to birth naturally and that most women, if left alone medically and supported emotionally, will birth and that experience will be both powerful and transforming.  I believe that birth matters for not just the mother and the baby, but also for the family unit as a whole.  I can attest that had I not been successful in my VBAC last march, I would have had a different kind of recovery and our bonding as a family would have been very different and might well have been more difficult, but difficult is not impossible.

You see, I've been reading a lot of different blogs and articles lately about the importance of your birth on the bonding process and the impact your birth can have on your child for life.  Whether its the physical trauma of a csection on the body of the mother and the baby or the stress put on the spine of an infant when misaligned for long periods before a vaginal birth or the emotional trauma of a long separation after surgery for a mother and child or the emotional impact of the use of pitocin during labor, there is no doubt that birth has the power to profoundly affect the developing relationship between a mother and child.  However, I don't think birth defines that relationship.  It is the start of the relationship and for a time it might set a tone for the relationship, but it is not the final word on your relationship.

I don't care how rocky the start might have been between you and your child, how many "mistakes" you think happened in your birth, how many interventions happened in your birth, or how traumatic your birth was for you and/or your baby, as long as you are both alive at the end of it, there is still hope.  After a birth, comes motherhood and the choices you make as a mother matter even more than the choices you made in birth.  Not just the choices you make with your newborn, but the choices you make with your toddler, preschooler, and even your teen.  What is dynamic and awe inspiring and humbling about motherhood is that it is completely based on the unique, idiosyncratic relationship you have with your child.  Just as your relationship keeps evolving, so, too does your mothering skills and what is even more inspiring beyond that is that it is never too late to change.  Even if your children are adults, your relationship with them is still important and although it gets tougher as they get older, your role as their parent is never not important and is still impactful.  If you doubt me, think about how strong your emotions are about your own parents whether you have good, strong relationships with them or not.  Ambiguity and ambivalence are not descriptors that are often used for the relationships between parents and children at any age for good reason; the depth of our emotions (positive or negative) prove how important and primary the relationship is to us all.

So, if you feel distant, take steps to get closer.  If you feel like you are not bonded, do some bonding activities.  If you made choices you now regret in your birth, in your newborn parenting, in your young child years parenting, or even last week, let your child know about your regrets.  Let them know that you want to make a new choice now and then make it.  Every beginning is just that, a beginning.  It isn't the whole story.  It's never too late to make a new start.  Birth matters the way every introduction matters, but it's not the end.  If it was adoption would never work and we all know that adoption does.  Beautifully.  Take heart, mama.  Make a new story for you and your child with the choice you make today.

Thanks for reading,

Monday, December 2, 2013

ask a Connected Mom Writer

Calling all Connected Mom readers, this one is for you:

We're looking for your questions. Is there an aspect of Attachment Parenting that have a question about? Are you having a parenting issue you could use some feedback on? Or do you have a question about one of our writers specific experiences?

Leave a comment here with your questions, and we'll feature them in an upcoming Connected Mom post, with collaborative answers from our Connected Mom writers. If you wish to remain anonymous, feel free to send your questions to