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.
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.
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 —
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 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
- balancing a home business, writing, and parenting, and not getting as frantic about it as I do
- taking Mikko for endless rounds at the science center and aquarium so I can have space to think and write
- treating my dreams with respect
- having dreams of your own
- being with me through it all
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!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
- A Thank You to my Husband — Lactating Girl at The Adventures of Lactating Girl thanks her husband for keeping her grounded and giving her unwavering support in the face of discouragement from within and without. (@lactatinggirl)
- My Reverse Traditional Husband In the Wild — Paige at Baby Dust Diaries gives us a lesson on how dads in the wild parent their young. Can you guess which male animal actually nurses its young? (@babydust)
- February Carnival of Natural Parenting — TopHat at The Bee in Your Bonnet tells us how the patience of a partner can make a difficult breastfeeding relationship succeed. (@TopHat8855)
- Parenting Together — For Alison at BluebirdMama and her husband, parenting is simply an extension of the way they live. (@childbearing)
- If We Had A MIllion Dollars — Melodie at Breastfeeding Moms Unite! and her husband would both agree to be crunchier parents if they had a million dollars to ease the way. (@bfmom)
- February Carnival of Natural Parenting: Co-Parents — Dionna at Code Name: Mama has written a letter to her husband, thanking him for his incredible support in every aspect of their natural parenting journey. (@CodeNameMama)
- Natural Parenting Fathers — Sarah at Natural Parenting is balancing being all there for her son with being present for her husband. (@considereden)
- Just Wonderful: Love and Partners and Natural Parenting — Zoey at Good Goog let her husband lead her to babywearing and cosleeping. (@zoeyspeak)
- All that stuff I don't get comes so easy to him — The Grumbles is taking this opportunity to say thank you to her husband for his mad parenting skills. (@thegrumbles)
- The Power of Having a Supportive Co-Parent — Chrystal at Happy Mothering and her husband started with vaccinations and moved on from there. (@HappyMothering)
- February Carnival of Natural Parenting: Love and partners — Lauren at Hobo Mama makes do with babbling incoherently about how her husband practices natural parenting in such an effortless fashion, with bonus video. (@Hobo_Mama)
- Love and Partners — Mrs Green at Little Green Blog shares her husband's moving account of her birth story, and his testament to the power of a woman. (@myzerowaste)
- labor support... — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children is thankful that her partner has provided her immeasurable labor support through each of their last three unassisted homebirths (and will again for their upcoming fourth!).
- What co-parent? On prams, routines, ideals, sickness, and finding my way alone. — Ruth at Look Left of the Pleiades describes life without a present co-parent: making new choices and taking care of things herself. (@brightravenmum)
- Parenting With Support — How many people can say that their husband talked them into cloth diapering? Darcel at The Mahogany Way can! (@MahoganyWayMama)
- Co-Parenting Support — Summer at Mama2Mama Tips knows the importance of being supported in the face of criticism. (@mama2mamatips)
- Natural Parenting Carnival: Love and Partners — pchanner at A Mom's Fresh Start has been blessed with an incredibly involved partner. Her husband loves to take part in every aspect of parenting! (@pchanner)
- Daddy's Little Girls — Kate Wicker at Momopoly finds her husband right at home in a tangle of girls. (@Momopoly)
- How do I love my parenting partner? Let me count the ways. — Sybil at Musings of a Milk Maker is thankful that she and her partner co-parent fluidly and gracefully. (@mamamilkers)
- Interview with a Daddy — NavelgazingBajan brings us a highly amusing peek into her husband's perspective.
- Being Supported in Natural Parenting — Sarah at OneStarryNight has witnessed both ends of the parenting spectrum, and is grateful she found a father who is comfortable with natural parenting. (@starrymom)
- Moments in time: a love letter — Arwyn at Raising My Boychick will make you cry with the beautiful way she describes the complete relationship between father and child. (@RaisingBoychick)
- Natural parenting converts — Jen at Recovering Procrastinator brought her reluctant husband around to cloth diapers, bed sharing, and time-ins as a discipline method. (@jenwestpfahl)
- Breastfeeding Father — Amber Strocel at Strocel.com describes how her husband helped her overcome the breastfeeding challenges she encountered with her premature daughter. (@AmberStrocel)
- A Natural Parenting Village — Acacia from Art, Body & Soul, in a guest post for Jamie at Suddenly Stay at Home, broadens the term "coparents" to embrace supportive extended family on both sides. (@SuddnlyStyAtHme)
- A Natural Dad — Shana at Tales of Minor Interest doesn't have a husband who merely supports her — she has a husband just as dedicated to natural parenting as she is.
- Love and Support From My (sometimes pantsless) Man — Joni Rae at Tales of a Kitchen Witch Momma describes life with the sometimes bumbling but always lovable Pantsless Man. (@kitchenwitch)
- G-O-T-E-A-M! — Jessica at This Is Worthwhile made sure her future husband agreed with her parenting choices early in their dating. (@tisworthwhile)
- how we come to parenthood — Michelle at womanseekingmother dances with her husband around the subject of cosleeping. (@seekingmother)