Monday, February 4, 2013

I Am That Mom: Heather




My name is Heather. I have a son and a daughter- age three and a half and a 10 month old son. I worked as a nurse prior to having children. My oldest 2 were born extremely premature, and my youngest has a traumatic birth story. Nevermind their rocky starts though: I believe my sweet babies are the most awe inspiring beings I've ever seen and I spend countless moments in quiet thanks each day that I get to be here, with them, helping them become the very best individuals they can. My oldest little stinkers recently got glasses:

 

My little guy felt a little left out of all the excitement:

 

(we now call him our "seeing eye baby" - cutie poo with a job to do:) 

 

 Parenting is a funny thing - there are made up terms and abbreviations that seem utterly ridiculous to me- crunchy? scrunchy? silky? attachment parenting (as opposed to detachment parenting?) ...and the arguments among women...people... Many of them start as a simple statement of fact: "breastfeeding is the healthiest (feeding) choice for a baby and mother"; and turn into full blown bitter and heart wrenching battles laced with personal ballads about medical road blocks, lack of support and the ever present, "I turned out ok and was formula fed - and I tried to breast feed for the first ___weeks and my kid isn't any healthier than the kid down the street," and on and on.

Then the flip side: I breast fed for decades and it was Heaven on earth beautiful and anyone can do it if they just think positive thoughts and have good juju. So here's the thing (emotions aside): It (human breast milk) is the healthiest dietary option (for human babies). There is no argument - this mammal's milk is better (again, medically speaking) for that mammal's offspring just doesn't make sense (would you say that a cow should be fed goat milk? would the cow survive? - probably - and do well? sure (of course that's a relative term)! is it the best option? no. Will a baby fed it's mother's milk (EVER) get sick? yes. Will said baby be of genius mental capacity and spared any and all developmental hardships because his mother fed him as long as mutually agreeable? no. Will it be easy just because the woman has breasts and is genetically engineered to feed her young? no - it takes work. Just like all other aspects of raising children. I believe there is an obvious medical need for an alternative infant food source (formula or, preferably, donor milk that is widely accessible) - the price of which need not be increased by rampant advertising and coupon pushing. I believe in doing the best we can with the information at hand - and acknowledge that said information is expanding, changing and growing in ways we simply can't predict. I breast feed because it's a normal concept and practice (to me) - because it just makes sense with respect to health. I pumped for my older 2 children for (just under) 3 years. It was a monumental task to build my milk supply after having our babies at 24 weeks gestation. However, I felt lucky to have the opportunity and access to the medical technology that made it possible: 1. for us to bring 2 of our little ones home and 2. for me to even have the opportunity to produce the milk in the first place via reeeealy nice pumping equipment. My youngest is still exclusively nursing at 10 months and counting (but for some fun tastes of things every so often). It's what we do and it works for us.

 I cloth diaper. At one point, I had 3 children in diapers. It just made good financial sense.

 My kids wear amber necklaces because I bought them as a last resort to alleviate teething and temper issues...and as it turns out, those darn things work!

 I make our own bread. Quite frankly, it's easier than bringing the kids to the grocery - and it tastes better - and I use a bread machine. It's the ultimate in lazy: 5 ingredients, press "on" - done.

 I cook - from scratch - whole foods. I buy local first, organic second and decide whether or not we really *need* the rest. I am constantly looking for new foods to try - and my ever supportive hubby is usually up for the (food) challenge of the evening. My sweet babies help me in the kitchen. I want them to be unafraid of food and be able to listen to their body's needs vs. wants or time schedules. I don't think cookies, cakes and junk are a necessary "part of childhood". I do think that it's part of tradition and nostalgic for most adults. My children are, by no means deprived of all things colorful and fun. It just comes in other forms in our house: fruits, veggies, and the very occasional treat.

We have off days or weeks - but typically it's MY cravings or a change in routine that throw us off - not their requests...Our diet is a work in progress; a really fun work in progress. The body is an amazing thing - hilariously simple in physical structure; deceivingly complex in chemical make up. I firmly believe that, in most cases, we are our own limiting force.

 I tell my children every day: I love you, you can do anything. I believe it. Their potential is great, the possibilities, endless. It is their choice (see statement above), but it is my responsibility to offer them tools and positive support so that they know and believe they are so loved no matter what, and that they have "anything" as an option. I am a sucker for educational toys. Seriously, I should be embarrassed about the sheer number of "abc and 123" options we have in our house. But, instead, I just encourage the kids to use what we have and engage their imaginations as often as possible. I embrace and enjoy the slight chaos that is having 3 under 3 at home because it keeps me from fully developing my OCD tendencies. Having said that, I have been known to pick up...while the kids are still playing with the toys...but I can usually laugh about that later (and I'm always working on letting go). It think it's sometimes 
necessary to wear matching pajamas:

   

 I believe in playing "supa he-woes" with materials at hand: 

 

and stopping for tea as necessary: 

 

 We co-sleep, we snuggle, we bond. Our children are an extension of us. I love the smell of their soft heads and the sound of their giggles. Going away without them feels about as natural to me as leaving my arm behind. I don't just miss them, I am literally disoriented without stepping over tiny people all day. I don't view that as unhealthy or co-dependent (but believe me, I've heard that and worse), but the natural path of being a mother. I make conscious efforts to maintain an independent identity - for me, that is easier said than done as a stay at home mother.

 However, as our children have grown, I have found more opportunities for "me time" (and that is a wonderful thing). I am outspoken and opinionated (I'm sure you've grasped that by now) - which is not to be confused with loud and obnoxious. I love a good debate - but not a pointless argument. Differences in opinion add spice to life and opportunities for growth. Discuss them, embrace them, learn from them and move on. We simply do what we feel is best for our children. That's it - I'm confident I've made many many mistakes. But instead of going about life scared of the damage I'm doing, I choose, instead to look at the growth I've facilitated.

 But best thing of all about parenting is (perhaps) that it is what you believe and what you make of it. There are plenty who disagree with our parenting style...lean in; listen closely: THAT'S OK!! Relax. Do what's best for you and your sweet miracles. I've never heard a mother say, "nah - I want my kids to be unhealthy, societal misfits who lack the ability and self reflection to care for themselves and function on even the most basic level. Please child, go play with your knives and other sharp objects now." I don't view our parenting differences as anything other than you doing what works for you, and us doing what works for our household. The only children I claim any sort of expertise on are my own. I am that mom: I buck "the system" as I see fit and think "outside of the box" to solve our household qualms. I am ok with being me - label of "crunchy", "attachment" or no. (For the record though, I think I'm just "Mom: doing the best I can".) 

My snuggly lovies: 

 

 xo, Heather

You can read more about Heather and her adventures as a mom here. 

4 comments:

  1. I'd say you are doing one terrific job as a mommy!!! Those precious kiddos are lucky to have you as their mom!

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  2. Tiffanie S LasseigneFebruary 5, 2013 at 8:28 AM

    Excellent post Heather!! :)

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    Replies
    1. many thanks! I hope you and those precious boys are doing well!!

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