20 March 2012

Backsliding and Dithering

A decision, once made, is rarely made for good where I am concerned. If you have no tolerance for dithering and self-doubt, skip this post! Things sometimes get so ridiculously tangled up in my head...

At least a year ago I came to the conclusion that beginning to keep kosher was the right thing to do, for me. The rest of the family aren't (the children so far as I control what I buy but not so far as what other people feed them). The other day, I started having cravings for pork, and did I stick to my principles? Did I heck. I justified the decision to buy a sausage sandwich, in spite of all my reasons for keeping kosher in the first place. I had a stomach ache for the rest of the day - perhaps psychosomatic, but self-inflicted either way. Stupid. 

EC worked so well for us, one way or another, with other babies. Sometimes by instinct, sometimes by timing, sometimes by clear signals from our babies. And yet here I am, feeling an utter failure on that score. Talia wears nappies. Almost full time. I sometimes catch a signal and do something about it, but far more often I swear she has just peed on me without even stirring - and far more often I go from activity to activity and realise I haven't even changed her nappy all morning. So much for the smug self-congratulatory things I said as a new parent about never leaving my child in a wet nappy!

Actually, maybe I should just try to stop processing and questioning so damn much, because since I started writing this I have taken her to the toilet twice successfully.  What is it with me?  Seriously?

And these are the "easy" things - the things that at least I still have clear ideals in my head and can work at, gently, not beating myself up with them, but learning and moving forwards... There is a goal. I DO believe that humans are meant for a kosher diet (specifically, that "unclean" meats and fish are not fit for consumption). I DO believe that EC is possible and desirable where and when it's working, and that it can and will work more often for us as time goes on - even if it's only ever part time.

Some things I fight and fight and still can't fix. Talia crying while I put out some other domestic fire... Squabbles between siblings. NORMAL everyday stuff. Oh how I undervalued those long boring quiet domestic days when Jenna was small. She cried a lot more, I KNOW that, but certainly I was more free to be there with her while she did so.

I find myself calling, "I'm coming baby, I'm sorry, I know, I'm COMING." She doesn't understand, but it makes me feel slightly better.

Attachment Parenting is not failing me - and I'm not failing at it. All a written-down set of ideals can give me is the reassurance I sought - is it OK to follow my heart and Be Present with my baby? Answer: sure, go right ahead. There is evidence to support your hearts yearning to be there for this little person.

And I'm not failing. Just the ideal right here right now in the real world looks different to how it looked when I had more hands (or fewer people and things which those hands had to attend to) and different to how I thought it might...

Other ideals are more loosely held. I still believe that plastic isn't a great thing to have around, and yet and yet... Is it an increase in maturity to "give in" and take my children's stated desires into account when buying? How can they understand all the ins and outs of why we do what we do to make an informed choice about buying - yet how can I judge their choices "poor" when they make those choices joyfully and instinctively.

I don't want plastic toys. But they aren't my toys. I go back and forth, back and forth. The children have some plastic toys now. This world is just so... pervasive. *want to go live in a cave with only wholesome things around us* Only partly kidding.

Jenna is using worksheets again. I feel the wrongness of them, it niggles at me. These are cheap junk-food; not the wholesome filling educational experiences I want to provide to her. How far do I choose what to offer, how far do I go with what is *here* and *now* and working - or at least not hurting? (Morgan asks for worksheets: I still give her my sneaky-mama substitutes of form drawing and mandala colouring and mazes!)

That word, "no". Oh heaven help me, my Waldorf heart tugs against my Radical Unschooling head. 

Does anyone have any idea what I'm wittering on about?

OK, this is it: sometimes I have no idea what I'm doing. Sometimes my ideals prove themselves to be faulty in the outworking. Sometimes the ideals are fine and real life is just not like that. Sometimes I am not able. And sometimes I don't even have the first idea where to start puzzling, testing, tasting what is good, what is right for us, what is true and wholesome. 

So I come back, again, and again, to love. Love is always right. Kindness, truth, joy, peace, patience, self-control, gentleness: these I can trust.

When I ask myself, "is this kind?" Wow. I get the answers I am looking for more often than not - and the times I don't, maybe, just maybe, I'm just asking the wrong questions and stressing about things that are really minor matters of personal preference.

Love is always right. Simple.


  1. You are doing a fantastic job. Look at it this way - if someone came up to you and said that their baby/child was not doing what "the book" (possibly by a certain Ms Ford!), says, what would you say? That's right - all children are individuals. All people are individuals. What is right at one moment in time for one person might be completely wrong for someone else. Talia wears nappies because she wants to wear clothes. So what. She is happy, wanted and loved, and you are responding to her needs. When you strip AP right down to the basics, it's about loving and respect a child as an individual - which you do.

  2. You are so real Sarah. I appreciate your realness. You make me feel ok. :-)

  3. I expect you know you are being far too hard on yourself lol. And ALL parents question and change their choices. I think sometimes we see, or read about something which makes sense to us (and is apparently working for other families), and we think, yes, I want to be that kind of parent/person. The reality is of course your home and family and finances are different from mine and mine is different from theirs. I tend to have the all or nothing attitude, unintentionally though, and maybe you do too. I feel I have failed if I dont meet my own expectations even once. Yesterday I was pondering on the 'they don't miss what they have never had' theory. In this instance I was thinking of sugar, but it applies to lots of areas of parenting. I concluded that in these days of abundance for many families (not wealth, but 'things'), and media hitting us from all sides, I don't think that stands necessarily true. It is difficult to eliminate things from your home which other people would consider 'normal'. What a rambler I am lol. I am trying to make you feel better honest. Happy healthy children are after all, the most important thing anyway.

  4. wow...I agree with all that you have said....except the kosher part which I have never looked into but would prefer my family to be vegetarian so possibly for similar reasons i.e. toxins, health and cleanliness.My dream is a cabin in the woods or a cave away from the toxic, plastic society we all accept so easily. I often request wooden toys for the children and usually end up with a mountain of plastic...so we tend to buy the wooden ones which the children love, and they equally love the 'others' that people buy them. Maybe compromise is the key , for the sake of sanity. I too often analyse things to whithin an inch of their lives, yet all it seems to do is bother me and make me feel inadequate. From what I have seen on here, you do an amazing job and I feel I could learn a lot so please don't be disheartened. You just have to keep swimming and follow your heart :-)

  5. Love and gratitude for the comments, all of you. And (group hug) for the other self-doubting mamas who are wrestling with real life and ideals. xxx

  6. Oh, it's so hard isn't it! I find myself saying the same thing to Jude - "I'm just coming baby, I'm sorry....", and I only have two! I find I've left her chilling out on the sofa for ages because she will just chill out, and then resenting Grace for *never* chilling out and letting me lavish some attention on Jude.... I swear AP is for only children.... :) This baby definitely doesn't know what the "in-arms" phase is all about - not helped by the fact that she hates to be awake in a sling :(

    Oh, we just do the best we can, don't we - and hopefully forgive ourselves when we fail :(


  7. It's a minefield isn't it. I'm never quite sure if I'm being the adult when I make a decision, or whether it's just a conditioned response of how I was raised.

    Am I being authentic to my beliefs, is something I ask myself all the time. I also struggle massively with what I'm prepared to put up with and the principles behind radical unschooling - do I allow Rye to eat sweets and sugar laden things unrestricted and trust him to regulate himself, or do I restrict when I believe the stuff is poison to our bodies and is actually addictive??? (I restrict as I feel strongly about it; but explain to Rye why I sometimes make decisions for him)

    Such a minefield.

  8. Oh Sarah, I am with you on the nappy free angst :( Just posted about it rather incoherently actually! You are doing an amazing job, four Is tough in lots of ways, feel like I am just reaching the top of some huge mountain as Jahara nears her first birthday....love to you all x x x

  9. Oh I can so so relate to this post Sarah! And my friends would probably testify to the fact that it's so me! Lol. It really is not just you. I like to think of it as having my ideals but being flexible to real life events. Apart from the things I'm just not sure on... Then I just call it dithering! Lol. I too have a waldorf heart and RU head!
    A good friend of mine once said to me (of herself) "I am a woman and I am Muslim, anything else could change. After all there is no absolute reality. No one right way to live." I decided then not to pigeon hole myself, even though I hold strong beliefs. :)

  10. I knew you lot would resonate with this ramble! I find it so easy to cut other mamas some slack and say, "do what works, you're doing fine" and much harder to give myself the same love...

    Thankyou for sharing my struggles and doubts, and encouraging me in loving my babies in every way I can. (hugs)

  11. I wanted to comment but actually everything that I wanted to say has already been said by some wonderful mamas. You know what Sarah, I have 5..yes 5 children aged from nearly 25 to 5 and I am still learning to let go of being the perfect (perfect for me) mother.
    loads of love xx


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