Sharing My Joy

Welcome to the February 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Fears

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and wisdom about parenting fears.

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As a parent, I do things a bit differently than the majority of Americans.  I am aware of this, and I am ok with this.  There are some things that I don’t even begin to expect others to do – even if in my utopian dreams, everyone does them.   There are some things that I wish others understood better.  There are some things that I am passionate about and that I believe that most families could do, to the benefit of the children or the family.  However, I also understand VERY well that every family is different and the same things don’t work for every family.

One of my biggest parenting fears is that other parents may feel that I am measuring them against myself, because I do things differently than they do.

I will admit that once upon a time, I was a new mom, with only one baby, and a lot of loneliness in the world.  I was in a bad place in life, and feeling isolated and judged.  And in that space and time, with only the experience of one baby, I was in a place that I sometimes judged other parents.  This is one of my few regrets as a parent, and I am truly, deeply sorry for making that mistake.

But now, 7.5 years and 3 additional children later, I have a different outlook on life.  I have got a great network of supportive friends.  I am no longer in that lonely, sad, scared place I was once upon a time.  And I really do not have the time to sit around judging other people’s choices.  Unless a choice involves outright parental neglect or abuse, I don’t really think twice about it, these days.  So, I am always taken aback when it is implied that I am being judgemental, or as though I am coming from some high and mighty place.  And it is implied, and even outright stated to me that I am, every now and again.

The reason it is always such a shock is that I have only made the decisions I have made for my own family.  I have chosen to do things that bring me and my family great joy.  My entire family loves the benefits that we have enjoyed from breastfeeding.  We all love our cloth diapers.  We all love eating whole foods that help our bodies to be strong and healthy.  We all enjoy the dynamic that homeschooling has brought to our lives.  And on, and on, and on.

Our Mindful LifeOur family doesn’t sit around thinking about what families who aren’t breastfeeding, cloth diapering, eating whole foods, or homeschooling *are* doing.  We spend our time enjoying ourselves and each other.  We spend our time spreading love.  And we spend our time telling other people about the joys in our lives.  That means that sometimes, we talk about breastfeeding, cloth diapering, eating well, homeschooling, or one of the other plethora of things that we do.  We talk about these things because they bring us joy and we want other people to know that they are options that bring us joy.  We do not talk about them because we think that it will change the minds of people who find joy in formula feeding, disposable diapering, eating processed foods, schooling at the school building (as we call it), or any of the other things that people do differently from us.

So, I always feel a little bit sad when I am talking to someone about something that we do, and they start defending the reasons that they do what they do.  People will see our cloth diapers and ask a few questions.  And after a minute, they inevitably start saying things like, “I thought about cloth diapering, but it just didn’t work out for us because it was too much laundry, and Lenny hurt his back at work, and I couldn’t do the stairs to the basement all of the time, and so, even though I’d really LIKE to be doing cloth diapers, it just isn’t going to work out for us to do them – now or ever…”  Or, I’ll post an article on Facebook about breastfeeding and someone will often say, “Not everyone can breastfeed!”  Or we’ll be hanging out with friends when some comment will come up about some current TV show, and I’ll mention that we don’t have a TV.  Inevitably, the mom will blush, and stammer, and start talking about how they only watch such and such channels, and only for so long every day, and how if only dad would turn off the TV that mom would happily live without one, and how it would be so great if the kids didn’t watch TV…

HomeschoolingAnd in any of these situations, I can feel that tension.  That feeling that I am being judged as being the mom who thinks she is better than all the other moms because my family does things differently.

The thing is, when I am talking about what we do, I am not judging anyone.  I am not feeling superior to anyone.  I am not saying that any one person should do things the way that I do them.  What I am saying is that these things that we do bring our family joy.  I am saying, this is my authentic self, and I won’t lie to you about who I am to make you feel better – I believe that you can feel good knowing who I am and who you are.  I am saying, if you find that what your family is doing doesn’t bring you joy, and you want to ask me about what I do, I am happy to talk about it!  I am saying, I am happy and I hope you are happy too.

 

 

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo 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 (list will be final around 5pm PST February 11):

  • When Parents’ Fears Escalate — If we didn’t self-doubt, we probably wouldn’t care enough about our children to struggle with understanding them. But how do we overcome self-doubt? Read advice from Laurie Hollman, Ph.D., guest posting today at Natural Parents Network.
  • What ifs of addiction — After seeing how addictions of adult children is badly hurting a family close to her heart, Hannah at HannahandHorn shares her fears for her own child.
  • Sharing My Joy — Kellie at Our Mindful Life shares her fear that others think she is judgmental because she makes alternative choices for her own family.
  • Building My Tribe Fearlessly — A meteorite hit Jaye Anne at Tribal Mama’s family when she was seven years old. Read the story, how she feels about that now, and how she is building her tribe fearlessly.
  • Fear: Realized — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen shares how her fear of car accidents was realized and how she hopes to be able to use her efforts to overcome the remaining fears to help her children overcome their own.
  • I’m a Negligent Helicopter Parent — For Issa Waters at LoveLiveGrow, the line between helicopter parenting and negligent parenting is not so cut and dried.
  • My Greatest Fear For My Child — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama admits that she has struggled with not allowing her fears to control her and how the reality of this was blown wide open when she became a mother.
  • Procactive Steps to Calm Parenting Fears — Every parent has certain fears related to dangerous situations, That Mama Gretchen shares ways she is preparing herself and her children for emergencies.
  • Homeschooling Fears – Will My Children Regret Being Homeschooled? — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares an interview with her now-adult children that answers a question she had throughout their homeschooling.
  • An Uneasy Truce — Homeschooler and recent convert to unschooling, Tam at tinsenpup shares just a few of the things she tries to keep in mind when fear and insecurity begin to take hold.
  • Fearing the worst, expecting the best — Tarana at Sand In My Toes writes about fears that come with parenting, and why we must overcome them.
  • Can I be the parent I want to be? — Amanda at Postilius confronts her struggle to peacefully parent a preschooler
  • Out of Mind, Out of Fear — How does Jorje of Momma Jorje deal with her pretty steep, long-term fears regarding her son’s future?
  • I Don’t Homeschool to Manage My Kids’ Transcripts — One of Dionna at Code Name: Mama’s fears of parenting is that she will get so caught up in the monotony, the details of homeschooling, the minutiae of everyday life, the routine of taking care of a household – that she will forget to actually be present in the moment with her children.
  • Beware! Single Mom Camping — Erica at ChildOrganics shares her first adventures as a single mom. She laughed, she cried, she faced her fears.
  • Parenting Fears And Reality Checks — Luschka from Diary of a First Child shares her three biggest fears as a parent – that most parents share – looks at the reality behind these fears, and offers a few suggestions for enjoying parenting.
  • Parenting fear : to kill a pink rabbit…Mother Goutte tells us the story of a pink rabbit that disappeared, came back, and became the symbol of her worst parenting fear…
  • Roamingsustainablemum considers whether allowing your children freedom to explore the world safely is harder now than in the past.
  • Meeting my parenting fears head-on — Lauren at Hobo Mama had many fears before she became a parent. Learn how they all came true — and weren’t anywhere near as scary as she’d thought.
  • Don’t fear the tears — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger worried that letting her children cry when going to sleep was tantamount to the dreaded parenting moniker, CIO. She discusses what actually happened after those teary nights, and how she hopes these lessons can carry forward to future parenting opportunities.
  • Will I Still be a Good Mom? — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot worries about her mothering skills now that breastfeeding is no longer the top priority.
  • Pregnancy Fears: It Happened to My Sisters, It Will Happen to Me… — Kristen at Baby Giveaways Galore discusses the difficulties with pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding that the women in her family have had and how she overcame them.
  • Fears — Meegs at A New Day talks about how her fears before parenting led to a better understanding of herself and her desires for her daughter.

10 comments to Sharing My Joy

  • Great post. I sometimes feel like I am stuck in the middle of two different worlds. I am not as natural or crunchy as the moms I follow online but I am way more natural and different than many families around me in “real” life. It feels like I don’t fit into either world but I have decided to not let it bother me. I try to do the best I can and I do what works for MY particular family. That is all any parent can really do, the best for THEIR own family.

  • Yes, I totally agree. When I had my first child and felt lonely, I felt judged a lot, and that came out in how I viewed others as well. But now…this is just what we do, and I understand better that others do other things for their own valid reasons.

  • Yes, yes, yes! I totally agree with all you have written. I have found that sometimes it is easier to keep my mouth shut and not say a word even when I want to. Then I come across as being dull and not someone that people want to be around. Being different is hard work but it is so worth it!

  • Now that my brother and sister have their own children and parent soooo differently than us, I frequently need to remind my parents that their situations are different (my brother and his wife adopted a toddler and my sister is a stay at home mom whereas I had to return to work when our son was 11 weeks). It helps all of us to remember that child and situations are different.

  • I love that last paragraph! It sums up every interaction I have with people. A lot of times I will say something I am doing, and people get all offended because it is different than what they are doing or what they did. I am trying to rephrase things so I am slightly less blunt about it, but I can’t control their wounds! Thanks for your article :-)

  • Man, parenting is such a hard gig. It seems like no matter what *anyone* does, someone feels judged. I wish everyone could be as confident with their choices, no matter what those choices were. Then maybe we’d spend less time defending ourselves and arguing, and more time being compassionate and being friends.

  • Laura Black

    I know that while becoming friends, I was often that mom that sounded like I was defending my choices but I have never felt like you were judging me. Sometimes, that little paragraph that a mom gives comes about because we don’t know where to go with the conversation because we aren’t knowledgeable about the other moms decision and silence can be uncomfortable in a new friendship.

    • kellie

      Laura, I am SO glad that you have never felt judged by me! That helps me to feel better. However, I know that isn’t the case for everyone, and there have been plenty of moms who have come to treat me like I am judging their every move simply because I share what we are doing.

  • Another possible interpretation of other parents’ defensiveness is that they really believe, themselves, that what you’re doing is probably better and that they maybe should be doing it too. They are defending against their OWN judgment rather than assuming you’re judging them. I’ve been in a few situations where I’m sure this was true, particularly when a parent says, “I would have done X, but my partner wasn’t on board…” and he/she is wishing he/she had stood up for it, because of seeing my joy.

    When people DO think I’m being judgmental though I’m being carefully tactful, I try to take it the same way I do when people think I’m being thin to make them feel bad about being fat–I remember the saying, “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent,” and think it says more about them than it does about me.

  • I admire you for your choices, and I think it’s possible that people you meet feel the same way. Maybe they aren’t being defensive, but thinking that your choices are ‘better’. There are some of my own choices that elicit the same reaction, but I know I’m not being judgmental and I leave it at that. #CarNatPar

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