30 October 2009

Un-doing

It's so easy to define parenting as a list of Good Stuff we can DO for (and sometimes to) our children. When I think about how I parent, what I choose to do, it sometimes is easy to feel smug about a list of things I'm doing the way I believe to be Good and Right. When I remember that it's about the relationship, and look at all the ways I relate to my children, I usually feel rather humbled.

A couple of weeks ago I was at a parent and baby group, one I have rarely ever been to. I really rather enjoyed it, as a casual visitor I felt welcomed and the babies were all lovely. It has been so long since I've been to a baby group though, and I'd forgotten all of the comparing. Not that I'm immune to it, just that I notice it nowadays!

It began with "bedtimes". Almost competitive: whose baby goes to bed earliest, who gets the most quality time alone before baby wakes, whose baby sleeps through and for how long, whose baby still gets up at silly o'clock. I think for a moment, and realise that I don't KNOW all of this parent trivia. At five years old, Jenna still has no set bedtime - that's what suits us. She is usually tired and ready for a story and sleep between 7pm and 9pm.

What times are mealtimes? Does baby eat "all" of their dinner? How much? How much milk?

After an hour I went home quiet and thoughtful. I suppose it re-occured to me that when I say "attachment parenting" everyone is looking for (and may even find) another list. Another way to measure parenting success (apart from the obvious - I'll paraphrase Liz here, that I want my children to be healthy, happy and curious). But what I'm actually doing is un-parenting. Refraining from doing what can be done by nature. Stepping back and letting go.

It's less babywearing, and more leaving baby where she is until she wants to be somewhere else. It's less co-sleeping and more staying in touch because we're not ready to choose otherwise. I'm not choosing to breastfeed, I'm just not choosing to use a bottle. I'm taking the path of least resistance, trusting my children, meeting needs, doing what I feel I must, staying connected and available, not adding all of this other "stuff that needs doing to my children" and all of these expectations.

Maybe I'm just being lazy! And that is a style of parenting I feel I can live up to.

2 comments:

  1. what a lovely post, spoke to my heart today - thank you:-)

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  2. OH yes, yes, yes!

    I am definitely a lazy parent, Keep telling myself I should get rye back into a bedtime routine so I have a few hours to myself in the evening - and it probably is quite a good idea being a single parent... but it's too much faff. I don't like being held to the clock.

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