Tuesday, February 9, 2010

February Carnival of Natural Parenting: Love and partners

Welcome to the February Carnival of Natural Parenting: Love and partners!

This is the second monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month we're writing about how a co-parent has or has not supported us in our dedication to natural parenting. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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I had this wonderful idea to do something special for this post. I was originally going to post a poem I wrote two years ago in praise of Sam's parenting. Short, sweet, done. But when I bragged to Sam of my plans, he was ... well, unimpressed.

I blame Melodie at Breastfeeding Moms Unite! and her post about The Five Love Languages of Children, by the way. It got Sam and me talking about what our love languages are. It turns out my preferred kind to receive is acts of service (taking Mikko out to the zoo so I can write, for instance!), and Sam's is ... verbal affirmations.

So it turns out an old poem isn't verbal affirmation enough for him to feel loved. Not when the whole carnival theme is describing our experience with our co-parent. Since I've had good experiences with my personal co-parent, it stands to reason that my carnival post should be plenty affirming.

I reconsidered. I had business excise taxes due Feb. 1, and the carnival submission was due Feb. 2. I filed the taxes and got to work. I had high hopes. I had dreams, my friend.

I would write and record a song! I would craft a new poem! I would put together a heart-warming video! I would pull it all together with a heart-rending essay! It would be marvelous! It would be stupendous! It would be —

— unattainable.

I have just a few hours left, and I've fallen back on my old standard: babbling incoherently.

Never say I don't love you, Sam.

When I think about how Sam has supported me in natural parenting, I think about all the times I launched something seemingly bizarre at him and waited to see how he'd respond.

Most all of my natural parenting ideas didn't come naturally to me. I read about them in books or online and had to change my mind, the hard way, to come around.

When I first heard about breastfeeding for longer than a few months, for instance, I couldn't think of anyone else I knew who'd done that, and the idea of nursing a toddler seemed positively icky. When someone tried to convince me that comfortable home birth was possible, I fought tooth and nail to convince her otherwise. Cloth diapers seemed messy and old-fashioned, and when I first heard about elimination communication, I thought — how silly, how disgusting, no, no, no. When someone clued me into baby sign language, my first reaction was to deride it as faddish and bourgeois. The first couple who told me they didn't vaccinate inspired me to whistle under my breath and try to end the conversation as quickly as I could. Unschooling and unconditional parenting sounded like hippy ideas that wouldn't hold water in the real world.

I was a hard sell, in other words.

Considering it took me so long each time to come around to an alternative point of view on anything parenting-related, every time I had become convinced of a new position, I then felt I needed to sell it to Sam.

I would bring up each topic hesitantly. "Hey, um, Sam, so there's this thing ... it's called, um, elimination communication. Kind of weird, I know. But, um, it really makes sense once you think about it ..."

And I would explain, and wait, and wonder how long it would take him to come around to my point of view — or if he would at all.

And you know? It took just as long as telling him. He would pause, digest, nod, and ask me to tell him more.

I feel like I'm the instigator and investigator of most of the adventurous ideas of our parenting, but I figured out why last night, when Sam and I were talking about this theme.

For Sam, parenting naturally is the most instinctive way for him. It is, in fact, his path of least resistance. As long as he takes the time to question the mainstream way of doing things, he will naturally gravitate toward the type of parenting that for me was so hard won.

For instance, I'm naturally a little less patient, a little less playful and more school-teacher-ish when interacting with children. I've had to fight my inclinations to pepper my speech with "good boy," to quiz and tutor Mikko all day long, and to assume "misbehavior" is an intended affront against me. In contrast, once Sam watched the DVD of Unconditional Parenting and felt vindicated in letting go of the cultural norms of discipline, he was free to respond to Mikko in his usual thoughtful way. He treats him according to where Mikko is in his development. He has faith that Mikko will grow up to be respectful and cooperative if respect and cooperation are modeled to him. And so Sam does this, naturally.

I'm still glad I've done all the research, because I think Sam has needed the vision of what some free-minded people think parenting can be, to liberate him (and me, too, obviously) from unthinkingly following the societal norms and mirroring the way we were raised. But I am eternally grateful for two things: (1) that Sam and I have been on the same team in all our natural parenting ideals and (2) that Sam has been an example for me to live up to, to spur me on to being a better parent.

I just want to list some of my particular items of gratitude. Thank you, Sam, for:

  • filling the birthing tub and finding umpteen back-up heating sources in case the water heater ran out on us
  • filling ice-cube trays with Emergen-C
  • finding a wooden massager to press on my back through each contraction
  • listening to Hypnobabies CDs
  • believing that I could give birth, and imbuing me with your quiet confidence
  • finding me a birthing stone on our slow-dance walks along the beach that I could squeeze with each wave; it came with me to the hospital and reminded me of your love
  • taking your shirt off so you could hold your son skin-to-skin right away; I knew for sure then we were both going to nurture our son
  • holding tubes and bottles so we could be a feeding octopus in those first days of breastfeeding chaos
  • taking pictures of me breastfeeding when I ask so I can remember this time when Mikko's more grown-up than we now believe possible
  • bringing Mikko to me whenever you suspect he wants to nurse
  • continuing your conversations as I nurse in public, as if it were the most natural thing in the world (since it is)
  • knowing your way around a prefold and wool cover and for having been the one in charge of bundling the dirty diapers for the diaper service
  • taking Mikko to the potty wherever he needs to go, even if it's #2 on a BBLP in the trunk of the car
  • letting me complain about being a parent, and complaining back
  • letting me complain about other parents behind their backs instead of telling me to be nice
  • stacking trucks on top of each other, hiding interminably under blanket tents, giving Mikko sharp objects and Sharpies to play with, sculpting Play-Doh octopi, and doing other silly things I sometimes forget to do
  • feeding Mikko yogurt and bananas so I don't have to eat the leftovers and you do
  • learning the signs for donkey and elephant and the German for bye and good night
  • teaching me the words and tune to "Elmo's Song"
  • introducing me to quality YouTube videos
  • sleeping on the far side of the bed so Mikko can take up far more of the king-size mattress than should be physically possible
  • finding creative ways to get intimate
  • being with me through it all
Thank you, Sam. I love you as a parent, a partner, and as the beautiful person you are. Mikko and I are blessed to have you in our lives.

All right, I pulled this video out of my butt at the last second. Not literally, you understand. I wasn't able to write a new song, but Sam gave me some quiet space to record an old one. It still wasn't very quiet, unfortunately, and I was having issues with my video software, so I'm trying to keep myself from apologizing for the quality. I hope Sam likes it, anyhow!




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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated Feb. 9 with all the carnival links, and all links should be complete and active by noon EST. Go to Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama for the most recently updated list.)

25 comments:

Paige said...

First comment! haha. DH is sick so I'm awake! Look at that list! I can't wait to read them all.

I didn't get an email with the updated code so I just copied from your page.

I'm the researcher in my marriage too and DH is happy to do what makes sense. I always approach it as you say with caution but he's always on board. Sometimes I wonder if he really gets it and then I'll hear him at a party explaining it to someone else. What a great guy! I need to come back to your post and click on all those links!

Thanks for the carnival this month. Looks great!

Jessica said...

This is actually a wonderful love letter (just in time for Valentine's Day)! As you already know from my post I'm lucky like you: my husband is on board with me, too. Yay for lovely partners!!

the grumbles said...

I bet we are making all of our husband's days with these adorable posts! Thanks men, for breaking the mold you see on tv and being so awesome!

molly said...

Is that you singing and playing the song on the video? Beautiful!!! You are one lucky gal to have Sam and Mikko!!!

Dionna said...

I'm school teacher-ish too, probably b/c I used to teach preschool ;) It is such a good example to watch my hubby & Kieran playing together freely. This is a wonderful post, Lauren - I'm sure Sam will love it just as much as a poem :)

~Dionna @ Code Name: Mama
http://codenamemama.com

Shana said...

Ha, I was a hard sell too! Isn't it amazing how much having a child can make us change and grow and challenge our long-held opinions?!

Happy said...

Such a sweet post Lauren! These preggo hormones have me all teared up. I especially loved the comment about Sam wanting skin to skin contact with Mikko. Brian did the same thing with Zoe and it was the most precious thing ever! It sounds like you guys make a wonderful team.

Betsy B. Honest said...

Oh dear, I am so weeping right now with snot pouring down my nose after watching that video. Parenting is such a beautiful journey when it's shared with a beautiful man.

Betsy B. Honest said...

Oh dear, I am so weeping right now with snot pouring down my nose after watching that video. Parenting is such a beautiful journey when it's shared with a beautiful man.

Amber said...

OK, you've made me cry. Not that hard, but still, kudos.

"sleeping on the far side of the bed so Mikko can take up far more of the king-size mattress than should be physically possible"

And that bit made me laugh. See? Balance in all things.

Dionna said...

And now that I don't have a sleeping baby on my lap (just a nursing one), I was finally able to watch the video - soooooooooo sweet!!!

Jamie said...

Such a sweet post! I kind of like you more now since I know you hold yourself accountable to the carnival deadline even though it's YOUR stinking carnival and you could totally bend the rules if you wanted to. You and Sam are really lucky to have each other, and Mikko too, of course!

Melodie said...

Okay. The video? Absolute tear jerker. And the Oscar for best home video goes to Lauren @ Hobo Mama (THUNDEROUS APPLAUSE!)
Sorry about all that pressure I put you under with my post. I really don't mean to make people's lives more difficult. Sigh. :)

Lisa C said...

What a treat--more pictures of Mikko and even Sam, too! (Now we need some of YOU, hee hee). What a sweet post. My husband is pretty supportive of my parenting ideas, but not really into most of them like I am. I have to be grateful that he goes along with it, at least, but it would be nice if he were more into it.

So wondering...what did you use to compile that video? I love it!

seekingmother said...

I love the gratitude list. It is a long vivid list that creates such a beautiful story of a wonderful husband and father. I can picture the two of you, then three of you, through your delivery, early days, first years. And can imagine how your life will continue to unfold with great partnership and love and trust that you will each contribute the best you have to offer to your son. Your voice is always so distinct when you write. So Hobo Mama. You are a pleasure to follow and add so much to this world of natural parenting.

Kate Wicker @ Momopoly said...

Signature Hobo Mama post full of wit and wisdom and love!

Hobo Mama said...

You all are so sweet! I'm thrilled with this month's Carnival of Natural Parenting. So much variety and so many intriguing glimpses into people's lives.

Paige: Hope your husband is feeling better!

The Grumbles: Ha ha, I didn't think about how happy we must be making them all! It's not every day you get a love letter posted online, huh?

Molly: It is! In good ol' GarageBand.

Betsy: Snot, too! I'm impressed.

Amber: You always make me laugh!

Jamie: When I was skimming and saw "accountable to the carnival deadline," I thought you were going to call me out on adding the video at the last minute. :) But, yes, other than that, we try to stick to the rules... I was Tweeting with the other last-minute peeps last Tuesday, so it was good camaraderie. :)

Melodie: Ha ha! You're so sweet. Trust me, I wasn't seriously blaming you for your post. It really did open up all these avenues of discussion, both with Sam and me and among some good friends of ours. And with new knowledge comes new responsibility, right? But also new opportunity, because now I know what sort of thing might make him feel most appreciated.

Lisa: Your wish is my command. I didn't think anyone would care about my ugly mug. :) I like your profile pic, by the way. I used iMovie for the video (an older version, actually, which I prefer), and Photoshop Elements to edit the photos beforehand. Took forever. It was Sam's suggestion about how the recording sounded vintage and old-timey (because of the terrible recording space I have, but I guess it works for this song!), so I tried to make everything match the theme. I had to work so long at the video that Sam had to keep amusing Mikko away from me, so I kept joking with him that I hoped he'd think it was worth it! :)

seekingmother: Beautifully put, and I love your hope for our future. Thank you!

Kate: Thank you as well! That means a lot coming from you.

kitchenwitch said...

I thought I commented already- absent brain momma thing going on. I can't get over how awesome our husbands are- I feel like we are all so lucky! Thank you for sharing this sweet and loving post with us!

Darcel said...

What a great post! Cute kid, and a wonderful husband you have been blessed with. Love your gratitude list.

Alot of the natural parenting came easier for my husband. I also researched a ton. I was so excited to find so many other parents who did what I felt was natural. It felt so good to let go of everything I had heard or read about mainstream parenting.

Zoey @ Good Goog said...

Although my husband was all about the babwearing, co-sleeping and breastfeeding the 'unconditional parenting' style didn't come as naturally. For him the society-ingrained punishment/reward was pretty strong. Luckily, he's slowly been able to open his mind to a different way of doing things.

SaRAW said...

I'd say this post ought to be special enough for your husband! Go daddies! (Beautiful pic at the top, by the way!)

:)

Pickle said...

I love this post. I was reading old archives of yours.
My husband is the instigator for me. I mean, the first few days our baby was born he said.. hey i've been reading about this attachment parenting stuff... then it was.. hey, I heard about EC... I didn't resist attachement/continuum/natural parenting, but on the EC, I was like ya right, but here I am, a year later, a EC mom.
About the list--
good idea about the Emergen-c ice cubes. I'm doing that next time.
And I love the 'taking Mikko to the potty where ever he needs to go..' funny.

Momma Jorje said...

Sweetest.Video.Ever. EV-AR!

As for the quality, that was totally part if the charm! Absolutely beautiful, Lauren!

Mrs.Smitty said...

Sorry I'm dragging this post up so randomly, but I was perusing your posts and this one hit home. I have a habit of taking my husband for granted too often and I think I really needed to sit and reflect on the amount of awesome he really is.

Just from your list, I see a few things I just brushed off..

-taking your shirt off so you could hold your daughter skin-to-skin right away
-taking pictures of me breastfeeding (without me asking) so I can remember this time
-bringing Belle to me whenever you suspect she wants to nurse
-continuing your conversations as I nurse in public (and discretely helping my transition in those early days when I was uncomfortable and needed a little assistance)
-letting me complain about being a parent, and complaining back
-sleeping on the far side of the bed so (we can cosleep with our youngest, and accommodate our oldest when she feels the need to join in)
-finding creative ways to get intimate
-being with me through it all

and there's so much more.

Thanks Lauren

Lauren @ Hobo Mama said...

Just responding late. :) Thanks, everyone!

@Momma Jorje: Aw, thanks. :)

@Mrs.Smitty: Glad it inspired you. Reading your comment reminded me of those things, so thank you as well! With a newborn and in-laws visiting and a messy house, I've been feeling irritable lately, so it's good to have these reminders on "the amount of awesome" our partners are. :)

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