The World from Within My Arms

by Rachael on October 12, 2010

Welcome to the October Carnival of Natural Parenting: Staying Centered, Finding Balance

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month participants shared how they stay centered and find balance. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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Tuesdays at The Variegated Life: a look at how I’m making this working-at-home-while-mothering thing work. Or how I’m trying to make it work, anyway …

One afternoon shortly after the Critter was born — after the grandparents had gone home but before Beckett returned to work — Beckett sat morosely on the couch. “I think I’m going to have to give up the studio,” he said.

How did I reply? I don’t remember. But I had decided long before the Critter was born that I have no wish to be married to a bitter ex-artist. And so I made the commitment, as I have again and again since then, to ensure that Beckett has not just the time and space to make art, but also the discipline to seek and find walls on which to hang his paintings and people who want to buy them.

Though I believe in his work with all my heart, I have often railed against this commitment. I, too, have my art to develop; and not only is my resistance strong, but I have so many other things to take care of: my freelance gigs, this blog, and my spiritual practice. I run when I can get to the park, which frankly is not often enough. Plus, we have a home to keep, and family and friends to keep in touch with. Oh, and the Critter, too!

On the one hand, given our ambition and many commitments, it’s a marvel we don’t forget the Critter. On the other hand, how could we possibly forget the Critter? Except when he’s at preschool, he’s pretty much always right by my side, my little companion in all things, frequently standing there with his arms raised, demanding, “Pick-you-up! Pick-you-up!” Which in Critterspeak means that he wants to look at the world from within my arms.

I'd want me to pick me up, too. Looks pretty cozy in there.

As I’ve written before, I have a hard time finding my balance. In fact, I’ve felt off balance most of the last several months. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some of the things I’ve been doing not just to find my balance, but to give me some insight into the reasons for my lack thereof: writing schedules (much more exciting than I ever would have thought! Really!), having formal meetings with Beckett, and figuring out why the heck I’m doing any of this, anyway. But today I want to write in defense of attachment parenting as a way to maintain balance.

Carrying your baby everywhere! Sleeping with your baby! Letting your child lead the way toward weaning! In our culture, which values independence and achievement, such practices as these might sound more like ways to lose your balance than find it. What will happen to your relationship with your partner if you sleep with your little one? How are you going to get anything done if you’re always holding or nursing your child? Now, given how very different our world is from that of our hunter-gatherer ancestors (on whose presumed practices much of attachment theory was originally based), I cannot possibly argue with the validity of such questions. In fact, I originally had no intention of bringing the Critter into our bed or nursing him much past his first birthday. And, to be clear, I claim no virtue whatsoever for the fact that I changed my mind. I changed my mind simply because what we’re doing works for us.

It works for us — well, for me; I can’t speak for Beckett — because it works against one of my worst tendencies: to withdraw into my mind and go about my life as though I were a disembodied head. Now, I don’t think a disembodied head would make a very good mother for the Critter. Thank goodness, he demands so much more of me: my arms, my milk, my laughter, my kisses, my legs to run after him. He draws me out of myself and into a more embodied life, a fuller life, in which we GO FAST running down the sidewalk until the demand comes again to “pick-you-up,” and so I pick him up and we point out all the BUSES and SCHOOL BUSES and GARBAGE TRUCKS we can see. And so in giving the Critter the world from within my arms, I find my balance.

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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:

(This list will be updated October 12 with all the carnival links.)

  • Balance — Sheila at A Gift Universe has put her baby first — and has no regrets. (@agiftuniverse)
  • A Moment for Mama — Starr at Earth Mama has learned how to recharge on the run, so she doesn’t miss a moment with her children.
  • Take a 30-Minute or 5-Minute Me-Break — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now discusses the merits of taking small daily breaks to maintain balance. (@DebChitwood)
  • Achieving Balance — In a guest post at the new Natural Parents Network, Heather explains how yoga has helped her find balance in her personal and family life. (@NatParNet)
  • A Stitch in (Quiet) Time Saves Momma’s Mind — Joni Rae at Tales of a Kitchen Witch Momma didn’t realize she needed “me” time — until she got it and had no idea what to do with herself. (@kitchenwitch)
  • Attachment Parenting and Balance — Michelle at The Parent Vortex believes that the last item on the “attachment parenting” list is both the most important and the most overlooked. (@TheParentVortex)
  • Little Breaks Bring a Little Balance — Jen at Grow with Graces finds balance – some days! (@growwithgraces)
  • Finding Balance — Are you a Type A mama? Dionna at Code Name: Mama is, and she needs your help to find balance. (@CodeNameMama)
  • (high)Centered — Stefanie at Very, Very Fine has had a spa gift certificate sitting on her nightstand since last year, a symbol of her inability to take time for herself.
  • Taking Time for Me — Marita at Stuff With Thing takes refuge in the world of books, with her daughters immersed in reading beside her. (@leechbabe)
  • Writing as a parent: October Carnival of Natural Parenting — Lauren at Hobo Mama didn’t let parenting put her passions on hold. (@Hobo_Mama)
  • The Dance of Balance — Balance isn’t static. It is dynamic, it is a dance, it is about keeping in touch with you. Read this wonderful bit of wisdom from Seonaid at the Practical Dilettante. (@seonaid_lee)
  • Rest Hour – a Primer — Do you get 15 minutes to yourself each day? How about an hour?! Mrs. H. at Fleeting Moments shares her tips on how to incorporate a “rest hour” for adults and kids.
  • Separation Is Critical — Only through enforced separation with the end of her marriage did Jessica at This is Worthwhile realize she should have taken time apart all along. (@tisworthwhile)
  • Bread, Roses, and a Side of Guilt. — Betsy at Honest 2 Betsy isn’t ashamed to admit that she enjoys a pint once in awhile, or that her daughter recreates it during pretend play.
  • The World from Within My Arms — Rachael at The Variegated Life finds balance despite her work and her husband’s commitment to art through attachment parenting. (@RachaelNevins)
  • Balancing the Teeter-Totter — Rebecca is rediscovering balance by exploring her interests and passions in several different categories. She shares in this guest post at The Connected Mom. (@theconnectedmom)
  • Balancing this Life — Danielle at born.in.japan is slowly learning the little tricks that make her family life more balanced. (@borninjp)
  • Uninterrupted Parenting — Amy at Innate Wholeness has learned that she does not need to interrupt parenting in order to find balance.
  • Knitting for My Family — Knitting is more than just a hobby for Kellie at Our Mindful Life, it is her creative and mental outlet, it has blessed her with friendships she might not otherwise have had, and it provides her with much-needed balance.
  • Taking the Time — Sybil at Musings of a Milk Maker has all the time she needs, now her girls are just a bit older.
  • Please, Teach Me How — Amy at Anktangle needs your help: please share how you find time for yourself, because she is struggling. (@anktangle)
  • A Pendulum Swings Both Ways — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment found herself snapping with too little time for herself, and then veered toward too much.
  • Finding Balance Amidst Change — It took a season of big changes and added responsibility, but Melodie of Breastfeeding Moms Unite! now feels more balanced and organized as a mama than ever before. (@bfmom)
  • At Home with Three Young Children: The Search for Balance, Staying Sane — With three young kids, Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings knows parents sometimes have to adjust their expectations of how much downtime they can reasonably have. (@sunfrog)
  • Attachment Parenting? And finding some “Me Time” — As a mother who works full time, Momma Jorje wants “me” time that includes her daughter.
  • A Balancing Act — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes has concrete ways to help keep centered with a little one and a new baby on the way, from exercise to early bedtimes to asking for help. (@sheryljesin)
  • Aspiring Towards Libra — Are your soul-filling activities the first to be pushed aside when life gets hectic? Kelly of KellyNaturally.com aspires to make time for those “non-necessities” this year. (@kellynaturally)
  • SARKisms for Sanity — Erica at ChildOrganics has found renewed inspiration to take baths and laugh often from a book she had on the shelf. (@childorganics)
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    { 11 comments… read them below or add one }

    Dionna @ Code Name: Mama October 12, 2010 at 12:52 AM

    I have no doubt that attachment parenting is part of my balance. When Kieran was weeks old and I was faced with the end of maternity leave, every cell in my body screamed for me to not go back. And so I didn’t. Several times in the past almost-3 years, I’ve thought about returning to work full-time, but the thought still makes me shudder. Being present in my child’s day is too important to me, and to him. If I were parenting differently, if I were elsewhere, I would be completely off-balance.
    Dionna @ Code Name: Mama recently posted… Introducing the Natural Parents Network

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    Lauren @ Hobo Mama October 12, 2010 at 3:57 AM

    It is funny to me how “easy” attachment parenting really can be, when it gets a rap for being the hard way. I daresay any parenting is hard to some degree, but the AP style meshes best with my own desires and inclinations.

    I also understand the great joy and burden of having your own work and passions to follow while at the same time nurturing a partner’s desires and dreams. Sam and I have had to find creative ways for us both to feel fulfilled, as parents and in our passions and in life in general. It’s worth the complex dance, but it can be a challenge nevertheless.
    Lauren @ Hobo Mama recently posted… Writing as a parent- October Carnival of Natural Parenting

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    Momma Jorje October 12, 2010 at 10:06 AM

    What sort of formal meetings do you have with your husband? There have been times in my life when I felt that regularly schedule parent meetings might be very helpful in my family life.

    And how wonderful of you to make such a commitment to your husband’s art!
    Momma Jorje recently posted… Attachment Parenting And finding some Me Time

    Reply

    Rachael October 14, 2010 at 10:40 PM

    Our “regularly scheduled” meetings, if they could be called that, are usually a rushed discussion on Sunday nights of our plans for the week. But the formal meetings that I’ll be writing about in a few weeks are much less frequent: we had one about a year ago and are planning another one for this month. In this meeting, we talk about our big goals — what’s next for his art, what’s next for my writing, what the Critter needs from us, and how we’re going to balance everything. Once a year isn’t really enough, though; going forward I’d like to have these meetings about every six months.

    Reply

    Momma Jorje October 12, 2010 at 10:08 AM

    Oh, and btw – I LOVE your blog title! I seem to fall in love with all things variegated I happen upon, often not even realizing it is variegated. My mom and eldest child called me on it and it has since been a running joke. Of *course* you think it is gorgeous – it’s variegated!

    And your description of why it is called that is also beautiful.
    Momma Jorje recently posted… Attachment Parenting And finding some Me Time

    Reply

    Kat October 12, 2010 at 1:18 PM

    I absolutely agree with you! AP is so very much a way to keep us in tune with not only our children, but with ourselves. In the end we will look at our happy children and know it was so very worth it!

    Reply

    Sybil October 12, 2010 at 2:26 PM

    I think you’re off to a really great start. Your little guy is still so young, you’ll find you are able to achieve a little more balance as he grows.

    I love that you talked about helping your partner achieve the parenting balance he needs, as well. My husband works outside of the home, A LOT, and I am sure if he were writing for this carnival he would say, “balance? What balance?”

    I am so glad I was able to discover your blog through the carnival. I look forward to reading more from you!

    Reply

    Michelle @ The Parent Vortex October 13, 2010 at 12:36 AM

    Lovely post! I too have a tendency towards disembodied-head syndrome, and having kids to talk and laugh and play with certainly does help keep me more in the moment and less in my daydreams. Balance is definitely something we all pitch in towards as a family – I make time for Tom to pursue his interests and he makes time for me. It is complex but it’s worth it to have us both happy and interested in what we’re working on.

    Reply

    Amber October 14, 2010 at 12:26 AM

    I have really found that attachment parenting promotes balance for me, as well. Which seems counter-intuitive, based on conventional wisdom. But in practice, it just feels very RIGHT.
    Amber recently posted… Mission- Local Flour

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    kelly @kellynaturally October 14, 2010 at 10:41 AM

    Getting back in touch with my children at the end of a long day or work, school, housework, lessons, etc…. then parenting them to sleep, cuddling them… it helps me restore my balance. And theirs. There’s so much to be gained from attachment parenting. That connection never goes away (I like to believe), even when life gets hectic and disconnected.
    Glad I found your blog!! :)
    kelly @kellynaturally recently posted… Have a Magical Day

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    Melodie October 17, 2010 at 2:00 PM

    I think doing anything that feels right to us and is also good for our kids is going to lend itself to balance. Sometimes it’s counter-intuitive, when it’s time/energy consuming but I wouldn’t have my balance any other way! :)
    Melodie recently posted… Sunday Surf

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