Tuesday, March 11, 2014

It's not heroic when you're living it

Welcome to the March 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Everyday Superheroes

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 talked about the remarkable people and characteristics that have touched their lives. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

It's not heroic when you're living it == Hobo MamaWhen I meet non-homeschooling people who find out we are, I get a lot of the same messages:

Wow, I couldn't do that! You must be really organized.

I get the same reactions when I tell people we work from home:

You must have so much self-discipline!

Well … I dunno. I think it's due to people's lack of imagination for what it might actually be like to live some of these choices. I'm not some amazing superheroic mother or entrepreneur. I just … prefer doing things this way.

Same with home birthing and breastfeeding and babywearing — I'm not a crunchy green superwoman. To be totally honest here, I chose those things because (a) I don't like leaving home and being around strangers, (b) it seemed a lot easier to use a body part attached to me than get out of bed to wash bottles and pump parts, and (c) my arms get tired if I have to carry my baby around all day (and I do).

So … yeah. Taken all together, I'd say I made a lot of my "heroic" choices because — wait for it — I'm lazy. Because they were convenient and made sense to me and were expedient.

I consider things about other people I consider otherworldly. For instance, Mikko and his astonishing sociability. (Yes, even though he's homeschooled!) He will make friends of any stranger, badgering me into exchanging phone numbers or Facebook information. (I rarely comply, because I am not on the same wavelength at all.) He comes by this trait honestly — his grandma and aunt on his father's side will make acquaintances on airplanes and city buses, and have friends to meet up with in every city. This is not something I had to train Mikko on, or something I could force myself into — it's his own predilection and skill.

When some of us choose a life path that seems heroic, it's often because we're just geared toward that path naturally. Or we might not even be that naturally skilled but have figured out how to manage. For instance, I wasn't going to have an unmedicated birth at all, until I figured out that I didn't like the alternatives and had to find a way through that worked for me (childbirth hypnosis ftw).

So on the one hand, we don't need to adulate other parents for choosing paths we haven't (or can't). The homeschooling, work-from-home mama might not have your gift of housekeeping and socializing. (Hint: This one doesn't.) The breastfeeding mama might not have gone through your experience with preterm birth and low milk supply.

And on the other hand, we can think charitably about the choices we do admire. For ourselves, we can consider that even when we feel like total fails (when unschooling seems a repetitive wash of lack of discipline and results, or when working from home means more time feeling frazzled than successful), we can know that someone on the outside thinks we're superheroes.

And we can think charitably about others — not setting them up to impossible standards but admiring the traits they have and accepting guidance and inspiration for ways we can improve the parts of our lives that could use rethinking and retooling.

We can see each other not as superheroes but as parents — and pretty dang awesome ones at that — doing together and individually the work and joy of parenting, in the best way we know how.

What do others think is superheroic about the way you parent? What parenting skills or experience do you value most?

It's not heroic when you're living it == Hobo Mama
P.S. If you want to sew your own shiny capes
for your little superheroes,
follow my simple tutorial!

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 by afternoon March 11 with all the carnival links.)

  • I Am A Super Hero — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she learned the hard way exactly what it means to be a real super hero and not a burned out shell of a human simply pretending to be one.
  • Quiet Heroics — Heroism doesn't have to be big and bold. Read how Jorje of Momma Jorje is a quiet hero…and how you probably are, too.
  • Not a Bang, but a Whisper {Carnival of Natural Parenting} — Meegs at A New Day talks about the different types of "superheroes," ones that come in with a bang and ones that come in with a whisper.
  • Silent courage of motherhood in rural Cambodia — Nathalie at Kampuchea Crossings marvels at how rural Khmer women defy the odds in childbirth.
  • Super PappyMother Goutte's little boy met a superhero in checked slippers and Volkswagen Polo, his grand dad: Super Pappy!
  • An Open Letter to Batman — Kati at The Best Things challenges Batman to hold up his end of the deal, in the name of social justice, civic duty, and a little boy named Babe-O!
  • My Village — Kellie at Our Mindful Life reflects on the people who helped her to become her best self.
  • 5 Lessons My Kids Taught Me — Children are amazing teachers, when we only stop to listen. They remind us to choose happiness, to delight in the small things, to let go and forgive. There is so much we can learn from our children. Justine at The Lone Home Ranger shares a few of the lessons she's learned.
  • Could you use some superpowers? — Tat at Mum in search shares a fun activity to help you connect with your own superpowers.
  • Like Fire Engines — Tam at tinsenpup tells the story of the day she saw a surprising superhero lurking in the guise of her not entirely mild-mannered four-year-old daughter.
  • Everyday Superheroes — Erica at ChildOrganics shares her list of Walker Warburg Syndrome Superheroes that have touched her life forever.
  • My Superhero of the Week: Nancy GallagherTribal Mama muses about the transcendent things her superhero mom has done.
  • My choice in natural birth does not make me a super hero — Bianca, The Pierogie Mama, discusses her thoughts on her experience with the perception of natural birth and putting those mamas on a different level. Does giving birth naturally give cause for an extra pat on the back? No! All mamas, no matter how they birth, are superheroes.
  • Someone's Hero — Sometimes being a parent means pretending to be a grown-up, but it always means you are someone's hero. Read Mandy's lament at Living Peacefully with Children.
  • Growing into a Super Hero — Casey at Joyful Courage shares how owning our behavior and choosing to be a better parent, a better person, is an act of courage.
  • A Math Superhero — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling writes that her 7-year-old daughter's superhero is an MIT-trained mathematician.
  • It Starts With Truffula Trees And Tulips — Luschka of Diary of a First Child takes a hard look at the realities of her relationship with her mother, and through this post goes on a journey of discovery that ends in a surprise realisation for her.
  • We Don't Need an Excuse — Maria Kang (aka "Hot Mom") asks women #WhatsYourExcuse for not being in shape? Dionna at Code Name: Mama asks Hot Mom what her excuse is for not devoting her life to charity work, or fostering dozens of stray dogs each year, or advocating for the needs of others. Better yet, Code Name: Mama says, how about we realize that every woman has her own priorities. Focus on your own, and stop judging others for theirs.
  • It's not heroic when you're living it — Lauren at Hobo Mama knows from the inside that homeschooling does not take a hero, and that much of what we choose as parents is simply what works best for us.
  • Superheroes, princesses and preschoolers — Garry at Postilius discusses why his preschool-age son is not ready for comic book superheroes.
  • The Loving Parents of Children with Special Needs – Everyday Superheroes — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares posts with resources for parents of children with special needs along with posts to help others know how to support parents of children with special needs.
  • Everyday Empathy — Mommy Giraffe of Little Green Giraffe shares why her secret superpower is everyday empathy.
  • The Simplicity of Being a Superhero — Ana at Panda & Ananaso explains what superheroes mean to her wise three-year-old.
  • My Father, The Hero — Fathers are pretty amazing; find out why Christine at The Erudite Mom thinks hers is the bees knees.


Little Green Giraffe said...

My favorite line:
"I just... prefer doing things this way."

I found your message so relatable. I think as human beings we can have these experiences where we find our strength, passion, and courage. Then others know our stories and they say "I could never do that." When in reality, we might not intend to be heroic, we just can't imagine living any other way and then decide that we won't settle for anything else. Or maybe it actually is just easier and it just seems "hard" because its not the norm or expectation.
Now that doesn't diminish the courage or strength it takes (you are still a superhero in my mind). However, I really value that humility and how relatable you make it.
Personally, I find it encouraging and I thought to myself: Okay, that means maybe I could do ____, too.

It's so great to read everyone's perspectives on superheros and how often being super/heroic is so human (or vice versa).

Deb Chitwood said...

Very thought-provoking ... and so true, Lauren! Many of my choices of natural parenting, Montessori education, and homeschooling were made at least in part because they fit my personality type and natural preferences so well. I always love to see the different ways people approach parenting and life in general. As long as we're all trying to do our best, it's awesome. :)

Anonymous said...

You and your sons look like you have a lot of fun. I am always looking for new ways to teach my 3 year old. What a great way to introduce different cultures. My grandparents were from Germany and I want to share more of that with my daughter. This gives me some great ideas. I love the lederhosen.

Kati said...

I love what you said about how your heroic choices from being "lazy." I feel this way too. Sometimes being exactly who and how we are is heroic in and of itself.

Tat said...

When you're drawing on your own superpowers, and not trying to be what someone else is expecting you to be, that's when heroic happens. Even if it doesn't look that way to the person living it.

Kampuchea Crossings said...

I do love finding out how others manage the same things I have to get done, but differently - maybe more efficiently or more fun or more something that I hadn't thought of. (I agree that setting up impossible standards is counter-productive.) It's just each person's mix of values, interests and resources. I learn so much from others and I admire people for that.
Oh - and lazy is good! Lazy people are responsible for many inventions to simplify processes and other stuff! :D

Christine said...

I can totally relate, its great to do things from a place of simplicity and computability :)

Jaye Anne Healing said...

Haha hero by laziness! I love it. I love when people say stuff like that to me. I don't know what to say. Usually, I'm like, "well, it's easier than swimming upstream and fighting my child. Just easier."

Dionna @ Code Name: Mama said...

Love the honesty! I was just having a conversation with DaniƩl about moms who volunteer to help out a lot. I've had a lot of comments about how much I organize/do - but I do that to be involved in my community because I'm so introverted. I'm not out at moms' night outs, I don't normally call people up on the phone for chats - but I do want community and friends, so I offer to help. So in my case I'm not a superhero, I'm selfish ;)

Unknown said...

Love it - and I must say, I did feel like wonder woman when I squeezed my second baby out in a birth tub at home!!!! But the nursing and the baby wearing…. this just felt… right. Thank you for your thoughtfulness and your ability to normalize what so much of society sees as "alternative." I am not a homeschooling mama, I am a work from home mama who chooses to do things off the beaten path from time to time, but most importantly, I do things that work for my family. And, as your article clearly illustrates, is the whole point :)

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