Welcome to the January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Learning from children
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared the many lessons their children have taught them. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
Before we had children, Sam and I considered it all very logically and asked a lot of meta questions.
What if we had a child just like one of our siblings? for instance. Would we be content with that? What if we had a wild child, when we're laid-back? What if we had a party-loving butterfly, considering we're socially awkward homebodies? What if we had an athlete, when we're uncoordinated and sedentary? What if our child loved camping when we both dropped out of Scouts?
But, more, what if we just didn't like our kid? What if our child, especially as he or she grew, embodied values we found distressing or unapproachable in adults — like lack of a sense of humor, or extreme clinginess, or failure of introspection, or intolerance of differences? What if our child, as an adult, repudiated all the choices we had made, prioritizing earning money over being with family, joining the opposite political party, and embracing all the belief systems we had rejected?
When Mikko came out, all 11 pounds and 13 ounces of him, I looked down at his squishy Neanderthal face and had a moment of disconnect: So this is what you look like, huh? This is what has been beating inside me for nine months? Who are you?
Part of it was the swelling and molding of vaginal childbirth, but part was that the most salient features, full lips and wide nose, were all from Sam's side of the family in those early weeks. I couldn't see a trace of me there.
And then those early months were so hard, so hard. The crying and bouncing and waiting for a sign that he understood who we were, that he cared at all, that he could communicate back some of the love we had been lavishing on him. Sam and I often wondered what we had given up to become parents — our carefree and us-centered lives, now focused on one small person.
So here we are, three and a half years later, and Mikko has grown into chubby cheeks I remember from my childhood (and in to my twenties…don't mock) and his eyes, so slitted and slate at birth, have morphed and settled into my dark green. But, you know, that's not the point. The point is what I've realized — this child never was me. He never existed to fulfill my ideals for what his character or future should embody. He is himself.
But, even more importantly? I've learned that I like him. That I cannot help liking him.
No matter who he is, no matter who he becomes, he's my child. My love for him is overwhelming and instinctual and not something I had to reach for. It just came upon me, inevitable.
I am pregnant now with our second child, and every once in awhile, I have a gasp of fear. What were we thinking? What if this is the child we cannot like? How will the two of them together get along? What new things will we be giving up to have two children rather than just one?
But, mostly, I am calm. Because I know now — it's surreal at first to meet your child, and it's hard those first months (year…), but — it gets better. You familiarize yourself with this little one, and your heart opens and swallows up every little detail down to the ringlets over the ears and the dimples dotting each knuckle. You get to know this person as he or she grows, and it's just right. This one belongs with you, and there is no doubt anymore.
That is what my child has taught me, and what my unborn child is already teaching me. That our hearts are bigger than our minds, that we were designed to love our children just because, that all our rationalizations disappear under the onslaught of cute and chubby and drool and toothless-to-toothy smiles. That, no matter what and no matter how old we both get or how much they change, we will always smile when we see our child's sweet face come into view.
Visit 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 live and updated by afternoon January 11 with all the carnival links.)
- Affection — Alicia at I Found My Feet has finally become a hugger and kisser, now she has someone sweet and small to snuggle with. (@aliciafagan)
- Learning from Daniel — Amy at Anktangle hopes that she and her husband will always be open to learning from their son. (@anktangle)
- Kids Cultivate Awareness of Universal Truths — From forgiveness to joy, Amy Phoenix at Innate Wholeness has become aware of deep truths that come naturally to children. (@InnateWholeness)
- What the Apple Teaches the Tree — Becky at Future Legacy has learned about imagination, forgiveness, and strength.
- A Lesson in Slowing Time — Bethy at Bounce Me To the Moon revels in the chance to just be with her baby.
- Learning From My Children: I Am So Honored — WAHM Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey is learning to choose tea parties over work. (@MyMotheringPath)
- P-A-T-I-E-N-C-E — Now that she's a mother, Danielle at born.in.japan is finally learning about a personality trait she lacked. (@borninjp)
- Top 5 Homeschool Lessons My Children Taught Me — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares what she learned from homeschooling her (now grown) children. (@DebChitwood)
- Learning to Live in the Present By Looking to the Future — Dionna at Code Name: Mama finds the patience to be a gentle parent, because she knows how fleeting childhood really is. (@CodeNameMama)
- The watchful Buddha boy — At Dreaming Aloud, they are learning to cherish their thoughtful, sensitive child in a action-driven, noisy world. (@DreamingAloudNt)
- What My Children Taught Me — Dulce de Leche's children have taught her to value herself for the wonderful person and mother she is.
- Lessons from the First Year — Having a child made Emily at Crunchy(ish) Mama realize that her decisions affect more than just herself. (@CrunchyishMama)
- Lessons from Loss — Erica at ChildOrganics learned so much from the love — and loss — of her sweet Bella, five years ago. (@ChildOrganics)
- The Socratic Baby — Erin at Multiple Musings has so-called "identical" twins to serve as a daily lesson in nature vs. nurture. (@ErinLittle)
- Learning to be a Mother — Farmer's Daughter learned the type of patience that enabled her to calmly eat one-handed for months and change clothes seven times a day, before noon. (@FarmDaughter)
- A Few Things Being a Mom Has Taught Me — Heather at Musing Mommy shares the curious, hilarious, and sometimes Murphy's Law-like tidbits we learn from our children. (@xakana)
- I Feel You — Motherhood has taught Jamey from At the Bee Hive empathy, and it extends beyond just her child. (@JameyBly)
- Lessons From My Child… — Jenny at I'm a full-time mummy shares the inspiring ways she's learned to expect the unexpected — and have a camera ready! (@imaftmummy)
- My child is my mirror — Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama has seen herself in her children – and it's not bad. (@crunchychewy)
- There is enough to go around… — Kellie at Our Mindful Life learned that love doesn't diminish when it's shared.
- Learning From Our Children, Every Day — Kimberly at Homeschooling in Nova Scotia, Canada is continually inspired by her children. (@UsborneBooksCB)
- Life Lessons From My Children — Kristen at Adventures in Mommyhood has learned that every slug is fascinating, doing the dishes is fun, and sharing a banana is a delight. (@crunchymamato2)
- Things I've Learned From My Children — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings uses pictures to share what she has learned from her children. (@sunfrog)
- Beyond the questions lies the answer — Lauren at Hobo Mama stopped wondering and started knowing — loving and liking our children comes naturally. (@Hobo_Mama)
- Learning from Children — Lily, aka Witch Mom, finds out just how enchanting balloons can be. (@LilyShahar)
- Lifelong Learning — Lindsay at Living in Harmony has learned that what works for one kid might not work for another. (@AttachedMama)
- Walking alongside my daughter — Lindsey at Mama Cum Laude is learning to give the clock less power over her family's life.
- Things my baby taught me about me — Luschka at Diary of a First Child is proud of how she has grown as a mother. (@lvano)
- From my children, I have learned — Mama Mo at Attached at the Nip has a litany of beautiful lessons, from selflessness to sleeplessness.
- The Little Things in Life — In a simple and lovely prose poem, Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children shows how adults worry about the wrong things and forget the little, important ones: watching ladybugs, jumping in leaves, cherishing each moment as it comes.
- The Virtues of Motherhood — Melissa at The New Mommy Files has had opportunities to learn from children as both a teacher and a mother. (@NewMommyFiles)
- My Kids Have Taught Me That It's Time To Stop Blogging — Melodie at Breastfeeding Moms Unite! has learned that childhoods fly by too fast to blog. We'll miss your wonderful online presence, Melodie, and we wish you much peace and happiness. (@bfmom)
- Having Kids Has Taught me a Thing or Two — Michelle at The Parent Vortex learns all day long — from fun facts about hedgehogs to tying a complicated wrap with a screaming child and an audience. (@TheParentVortex)
- We Could All Learn from the Children — Momma Jorje takes time to get on the floor and play so that she can see the world through her child's eyes.
- Teaching Forgiveness — Mrs Green at Little Green Blog has a daughter who's taught her unconditional love — even when she feels like she does't deserve it. (@littlegreenblog)
- Parenting as a joint venture — Olivia at Write About Birth appreciates watching the astonishing way her children learn. (@writeaboutbirth)
- Beginner's Mind — Rachael at The Variegated Life learns from a child who builds bridges to nowhere, calls letter magnets his numbers, and insists dinnertime is truck time. (@RachaelNevins)
- A baby's present — RS at A Haircut and a Shave presents a short poem on the differences between a baby's mindfulness and ours.
- Self-Confidence Was Born With My Daughter — Sara at Halfway Crunchy learned to trust her instincts by responding to her child's needs — and saw her self-confidence bloom.
- The Importance of Being Less Earnest — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante has one list of earnest and one list of silly things she has learned as a parent. (@seonaid_lee)
- Lessons my children have taught me — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes learned that attachment parenting was the best way to meet the needs of her child and herself. (@Sheryljesin)
- Till the water is clear — Stacy at Mama-Om learns that being present is the best present. (@mama_om)
- I Hold It — Stefanie at Very, Very Fine has learned that the ability to communicate is much more important than the number of words a child knows.
- What My Children Taught Me About Letting Go — Summer at Finding Summer is learning from her kids to laugh in the face of heartache. (@summerminor)
- Finding My Tools — The Artsymama has applied some of what she's learned as a mama in the classroom, with great results!