Yall know that I'm a big proponent of natural parenting. I believe in doing things the way God intended...to a point. :-) I'm in a place where I'm trying to find organic and natural alternatives to products and decisions we make as a family. (Soon be blogging about this on Jack Be Natural's blog, Natural Intuition, when it's up and running.) However, I'm also an ever bigger proponent of taking care of yourself. And sometimes, wait for it...hold it...don't get scared now...that means compromising!
Let me explain...
A fellow cloth diaperer friend from Jack Be Natural's Facebook page posted after months of using cloth diapers that she just couldn't do it anymore. She was exhausted. Staying up til the wee hours of the morning doing laundry for her twins. The sad part of this story to me wasn't that she decided to go back to disposables, it was that she felt guilty and feared being shunned from "the group." Now, I ask you. Which is better for the child? Cloth on their bum or a restful, energized mom? If cloth doesn't work for you, don't do it!
Another friend of mine who's very into natural living, once commented on baby wearing and cosleeping by saying that forced separation doesn't foster independence, love and knowing she'll always be there with them does. Again, I ask you. Which is better for the child? Being beside, on, near a zombie parent or a restful, energized parent? In her case, she wasn't a terrible zombie mom, but I certainly was! So, no cosleeping for me. And, my child turned out to have benefited from my "forced separation."
So, here's the jist of this post. What's best for me IS what's best for my child.
I am a person who lives and dies by the rules. But, once I became a mom, I figured out there are SO many different rules. Everyone says something different from the next person, and I learned that no one ELSE could make my rules for me. So, I put my big girl panties on, grabbed some chalk, and went to the drawing board. (Notice I said chalk and drawing board, not chisel and stone.) Long story short, I've come to the conclusion after having raised a son for two years now that my RULE is "what's best for me IS what's best for my children." I have to be all the I can be.
Putting yourself before others is not the typical Christian parenting topic now, is it? In fact, it's the polar opposite of the way I was raised. However, I believe, and this is my opinion, that in order for me to be the best mother I can be, I have to take care of myself FIRST before I can properly take care of my son. If I am ill, I can't take good care of him. If I am stressed, I can't take good care of him. If I don't get sleep, I can't take care of him. This may seem like a totally backwards concept to some, but hear me out. I suffered from extreme depression after having my son, and I COULD NOT TAKE CARE OF HIM. Epic. Parenting. Fail. So, I decided to take action and take care of myself first from then on. And my parenting methods underwent a permanent shift. Took an anti-depressant to get myself right again so I could take care of him. Ate right so his milk would be good. And when nursing added to my depression and stress, I chose to switch to formula to alleviate my depression and stress so I could take care of him. Taught him to fall asleep on his own in his own room (not co-sleeping) so I could fully rest in order to have energy to care for him. Showered even though he was screaming for 30 minutes so I would be clean and energized to take care of him. Used disposable diapers (WHAT?!!!) cuz I couldn't handle the laundry, so I could take care of him. Etc...you get the picture. There's a saying that "if mama's not happy, no one's happy." Well, I hate to say it, but it's kinda true. If mama's the primary caregiver, she MUST take care of herself in order to take care of her child. And, if you're a mama reading this and you are the best you can be when you cosleep, nurse, cloth diaper, make organic baby food, babywear, stay at home, etc...then DO IT! Please don't read this post as my rant against these methods. Remember, I started this post saying "I'm a big proponent of natural parenting." And when I say "natural," I mean whatever comes naturally to you, whatever works naturally for your family. Parenthood (and more specifically, motherhood) is not an all-or-nothing venture. Take a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Make your own concoction. You. Make. Your. Rules. And keep in mind, those rules WILL shift...different seasons with one child and different effects with another.
Now, there's a fine line between taking care of yourself first IN ORDER TO better care for your loved ones and simply just putting yourself first. It's a delicate balance, but once you figure out what works for you and your family, it's important to stick to it. And does all this mean I don't make sacrifices for my son? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Don't even get me started there! lol! And will I do exactly the same things with our future children? Probably not. I'm different, my husband's different, the situations will be different. Parenting is all about flexibility.
So, whether you subscribe to hypnobabies' birth plan or epidurals, cloth diapers or disposables, organic home made baby food or ready-made, baby wearing or strollers, natural medicine or Rx, choose what works best for YOU. Try everything. And try it twice. Even if your recipe for success involves a combination of things. There's no law that says if you like baby wearing you can ONLY do baby wearing. Pull out that stroller every once and a while and give yourself a break!
I'm a very different person now than I was when I had Noah, and I can guarantee that I will try more things and try them harder next time around. I have a list of these things if you're interested. If I get enough interest in said list, I'll do another post.
Life's too short and our influence too great to waste time comparing ourselves to each other, blaming each other, pointing fingers at each other, and fighting with each other. Instead, how bout we encourage each other? (For more on this issue, read this.)
Be all that you can be so your little ones can be too.