Walking on Air

by Rachael on April 12, 2011

Welcome to the April Carnival of Natural Parenting: Compassionate Advocacy

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 advocate for healthy, gentle parenting choices compassionately. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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Making our way, though nothing is holding us up

Actually, as a parent (as in many other things), I have no idea what I’m doing. And I make many mistakes. Many, many mistakes. Daily. Nevertheless, when it comes to advice from experts, I’m pretty cavalier. Yes, I read books on parenting and even like quite a few of them. But, even despite all the mistake-making, I generally go by my gut. After all, the experts don’t know my child. I do.

And so the gift I’d most like to give other parents is the gift of not knowing but trusting anyway — trusting yourself, trusting your child, trusting your relationship with your child. Here, as in so many other things, my beloved Fool is my talisman. Just look at him! He’s about to walk off a cliff! And yet I trust that he’ll be OK. I believe that he can walk on air. In fact, I believe that we’re all walking on air, really. After all, whatever it is that we think is holding us up can vanish, unexpectedly, at any moment. Our jobs can go, our homes can go, our health can go — and so on.

A simple example: Last Monday, there I was again in danger of not meeting a deadline (the story of this year, though I think it’s over, finally), but there, too, was the Critter, having trouble sleeping and then yelling, “Daddy, my ear hurts!” An ear infection: there goes all of our plans for the week. And so walking on air means improvising, means (deadline or not) forgetting about the work I was going to do that night, and instead going to bed with the Critter. Means my husband staying home from work the next day, to take the Critter to the doctor. Means changing some of our plans for the weekend. And yes, I do feel sorry for myself, but really it’s OK. I get to snuggle with my little Critter. And though I don’t know how any of it is going to work out (the illness, the deadline), for now, I’ll trust in the moment.

I have no idea what I’m doing, and I keep on messing up — and so I write. I write to find truth, to find openness, to find clarity in the midst of uncertainty. Perhaps I find that my truths are multiple. (Am I happy? Yes. Am I full of grief and rage? Yes.) Perhaps I find nothing but uncertainty. But still I write. It’s my gift. I hope you think so, 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:

  • Natural Parenting Advocacy by Example — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction uses her blog, Twitter and Facebook as her natural parenting soapbox.
  • You Catch More Flies With Honey — When it comes to natural parenting advice, Kate of The Guavalicious Life believes you catch more flies with honey.
  • From the Heart — Patti at Jazzy Mama searches her heart for an appropriate response when she learns that someone she respects wants his baby to cry-it-out.
  • I Offer the Truth — Amy at Innate Wholeness shares the hard truths to inspire parents in making changes and fully appreciating the parenting experience.
  • Advocating or Just Opinionated?Momma Jorje discusses how to draw the line between advocating compassionately and being just plain opinionated. It can be quite a fine line.
  • Compassionate Advocacy — Mamapoekie of Authentic Parenting writes about how to discuss topics you are passionate about with people who don’t share your views.
  • Heiny Helpers: Sharing Cloth Love — Heiny Helpers is guest posting on Natural Parents Network to share how they are providing cloth diapers and cloth diapering support to low income families.
  • Struggling with Advocacy — April of McApril still struggles to determine how strongly she should advocate for her causes, but still loves to show her love for her parenting choices to those who would like to listen.
  • Compassionate Advocacy Through Blogging (AKA –Why I Blog) — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how both blogging and day-to-day life give her opportunities to compassionately advocate for natural parenting practices.
  • A Letter to *Those* Parents — Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares how to write an informed yet respectful reply to those parents — you know, the ones who don’t parent the way you do.
  • Why I Am Not A Homebirth Advocate — Olivia at Write About Birth is coming out: she is a homebirth mom, but not a homebirth advocate. One size does not fit all – but choice is something we can all advocate for!
  • Why I Open My Big Mouth — Wolfmother from Fabulous Mama Chronicles reflects on why she is passionate about sharing parenting resources.
  • Watching and Wearing — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life advocates the joys of babywearing simply by living life in a small college town.
  • Compassionate Advocacy . . . That’s The Way I Do It — Amyables at Toddler in Tow describes how she’s learned to forsake judgment and channel her social energy to spread the “good news” of natural parenting through interaction and shared experiences.
  • Compelling without repelling — Lauren at Hobo Mama cringes when she thinks of the obnoxious way she used to berate people into seeing her point of view.
  • I Am the Change — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro describes a recent awakening where she realized exactly how to advocate for natural parenting.
  • Public Displays of CompassionThe Accidental Natural Mama recounts an emotional trip to the grocery store and the importance of staying calm and compassionate in the storm of toddler emotions.
  • I will not hide behind my persona — Suzi Leigh at Attached at the Boob discusses the benefits of being honest and compassionate on the internet.
  • Choosing My Words — Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom shares why she started her blog and why she continues to blog despite an increasingly hectic schedule.
  • Honour the Child :: Compassionate Advocacy in the Classroom — Lori at Beneath the Rowan Tree shares her experience of being a gentle and compassionate parent — with other people’s children — as a classroom volunteer in her daughter’s senior kindergarten room.
  • Inspired by the Great Divide (and Hoping to Inspire) — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis shares her thoughts on navigating the “great divide” through gently teaching and being teachable.
  • Introverted Advocacy — CatholicMommy at Working to be Worthy shares how she advocates for gentle parenting, even though she is about as introverted as one can be.
  • The Three R’s of Effective and Gentle Advocacy — Ana at Pandamoly explains how “The Three R’s” can yield consistent results and endless inspiration to those in need of some change.
  • Passionate and Compassionate: How do We do It? — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares the importance of understanding your motivation for advocacy.
  • Sharing the love — Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine talks about how she shares the love and spreads the word.
  • What Frank Said — Nada at miniMOMist has a good friend named Frank. She uses his famous saying to demonstrate how much natural parenting has benefited her and her family.
  • Baby Sling Carriers Make Great Compassionate Advocacy Tools — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey shared her babywearing knowledge — and her sling — with a new mom.
  • Everyday Superheroes — Who needs Superman when we have a community of compassionate advocates?! Dionna at Code Name: Mama believes that our community of gentle bloggers are the true superheroes.
  • Words of advice: compassionately advocating for my parenting choices — MrsH at Fleeting Moments waits to give advice until she’s been asked, resulting in fewer advocacy moments but very high responsiveness from parents all over the spectrum of parenting approaches.
  • Peaceful Parenting — Peaceful parenting shows at Living Peacefully with Children with an atypical comment from a stranger.
  • Speaking for birth — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud soul-searches about how she can advocate for natural birth without causing offense.
  • Gentle is as Gentle Does — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares how she is gently advocating her parenting style.
  • Walking on Air — Rachael at The Variegated Life wants you to know that she has no idea what she’s doing — and it’s a gift.
  • Parenting with my head, my heart, and my gut — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares her thoughts on being a compassionate advocate of natural parenting as a blogger.
  • At Peace With the World — Megan at Ichigo Means Strawberry talks about being an advocate for peaceful parenting at 10,000 feet.
  • Putting a public face on “holistic” — Being public about her convictions is a must for Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama, but it takes some delicacy.
  • Just Be; Just Do. — Amy at Anktangle believes strongly about her parenting methods, and also that the way to get people to take notice is to simply live her life and parent the best she knows how.
  • One Parent at a Time… — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment believes that advocating for Natural Parenting is best accomplished by walking the walk.
  • Self-compassion — We’re great at caring for and supporting others —from our kiddos to other mamas — but Lisa at Gems of Delight shares a post about treating ourselves with that same sense of compassion.
  • Using Montessori Principles to Advocate Natural Parenting — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells how she uses Montessori principles to be a compassionate advocate for natural parenting.
  • Advocacy? Me? — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante discovers that by “just doing her thing,” she may be advocating for natural parenting.
  • Feeding by Example — Mama Mo at Attached at the Nip shares her experience of being the first one of her generation to parent.
  • Compassionate Consumerism — Erica at ChildOrganics encourages her children to be compassionate consumers and discusses the benefits of buying local and fair trade products.
  • The Importance of Advocating Compassionately — Kristen at Adventures in Mommyhood acts as a compassionate advocate by sharing information with many in the hopes of reaching a few.
  • Some Thoughts on Gentle Discipline — Darcel at The Mahogany Way shares her thoughts and some tips on Gentle Discipline.
  • Compassionate Advocacy: Sharing Resources, Spreading the Love — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle shares how her passion for making natural choices in pregnancy, birth, and parenting have supported others in Dominica and beyond.
  • A journey to compassion and connection — Jessica at Instead of Institutions shares her journey from know-it-all to authentic advocacy.
  • Advocacy Through Openness, Respect, and Understanding — Melissa at The New Mommy Files describes her view on belief, and how it has shaped the way she advocates for gentle parenting choices.
  • Why I’m not an advocate for Natural Parenting — Mrs Green at Little Green Blog delivers the shocking news that, after 10 years of being a mum, she is NOT an advocate for natural parenting!
  • Natural Love Creates Natural Happiness — A picture is worth a thousand words, but how about a smile, or a giggle, or a gaze? Jessica at Cloth Diapering Mama’s kids are extremely social and their natural happiness is very obvious.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting: Compassionate Advocacy — Even in the progressive SF Bay Area, Lily at Witch Mom finds she must defend some of her parenting choices.
  • A Tale of Four Milky Mamas — In this post The ArtsyMama shares how she has found ways to repay her childhood friend for the gift of milk.
  • don’t tell me what to do — Pecky at benny and bex demonstrates compassionate advocacy through leading by example.
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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Mrs Green @ littlegreenblog.com April 12, 2011 at 8:41 AM

Such a voice of wisdom – thank you! We forget to trust, especially in the Western World where we are taught to give away our power from an early age. We’re taught to trust the doctors, the education system, the Government and all manner of ‘expert’, but as you rightly point out, YOU are the one that knows you (and your kids) the best. Thanks for a thought-provoking post; the fool is a powerful image.
Mrs Green @ littlegreenblog.com recently posted… Why I’m not an advocate for Natural Parenting

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Dionna @ Code Name: Mama April 12, 2011 at 9:15 AM

We are so often encouraged NOT to trust our guts – how would the human race have survived without instinct?! Thank you for writing, Rachael – we appreciate you :)
Dionna @ Code Name: Mama recently posted… Ten Reasons I Choose to Nurse My Toddler

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Melissa April 12, 2011 at 9:26 AM

Add me to the list of people who are thankful that you choose to write. I know that I have very little idea what I’m doing, but instinct and writing both help me navigate as well!
Melissa recently posted… Advocacy through Openness- Respect- and Understanding

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Jessica | Cloth Diapering Mama April 12, 2011 at 10:31 AM

You speak so freely of openness and walking on air. You make ME feel confident JUST in reading your post…I am SURE your son feels that and that is what motivates him to thrive, live and LOVE!!!

I can relate so much to your post…I appreciate your honesty and your candid nature ;)
Jessica | Cloth Diapering Mama recently posted… Natural love creates natural happiness

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Seonaid April 12, 2011 at 11:08 AM

Yes! I was going to say more, but that about does it.
Seonaid recently posted… Advocacy Me

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Rosemary April 12, 2011 at 12:18 PM

So true! It amazes me how popular child training books are that go against our instincts. How much better off would all of our children be if we listened to them and their needs rather than what society says?
Rosemary recently posted… Inspired by The Great Divide and Hoping to Inspire

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Kelly April 12, 2011 at 12:48 PM

I struggled so much in my first months of being a parent with what I was taught or always accepted to be true versus my instinct. I had to get a lot of confirmation and support before I could learn to follow my own gut (thankfully it’s getting easier every day!). It is crazy how skewed we can become…

Thank you for this beautiful post. :)
Kelly recently posted… Passionate and Compassionate…How do We do It

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Lauren @ Hobo Mama April 12, 2011 at 5:18 PM

I absolutely appreciate the gift of your writing. And I appreciate your thoughts on trust in the midst of unknowing. I feel that way going into this second child, that my world will be once again rocked as hard as it was when the first one came along, and yet, somehow, it will all be OK. I don’t know how yet, but it will.
Lauren @ Hobo Mama recently posted… April Carnival of Natural Parenting- Compelling without repelling

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Laura April 13, 2011 at 7:48 PM

How I wish had been that confident in my gut… I worried and researched far too much. However, there are few things that time and experience cannot help. Very well written!

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Terri April 16, 2011 at 11:23 PM

Oh yes I’ve had my fair share of those times where just about everything is flowing nicely and then sudden illness, accident or other emergency swings life into another lane!

I love ‘my truths are multiple’ oh yes how true….so many up and down emotions all emtangled in this parenting life.
Terri recently posted… Compassionate Advocacy- Sharing Resources- Spreading the Love

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Amber April 18, 2011 at 2:04 AM

Parenting has taught me to trust. Because, really, you have no choice. You don’t know how this is going to turn out. So all that you can do, really, is have faith that it will somehow all be OK.

Luckily, it usually is.
Amber recently posted… Talking to Happy Mom Meagan Francis

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Zoie @ TouchstoneZ April 19, 2011 at 3:11 PM

This is a great CarNatPar post. I don’t know if I’d accept the magic pill of all parenting knowledge, although some days I’d really want to. I think being comfortable in the unknown is a big part of parenting. How messed up would our kids be if we were perfect all the time?

I’m with you about the fool. That’s one of the reasons my blog is named TouchstoneZ: “We that are true lovers run into strange capers; but as all is mortal in nature, so is all nature in love mortal in folly” ~Shakespeare
Zoie @ TouchstoneZ recently posted… Breastfeeding Flavors

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Rachael April 19, 2011 at 9:58 PM

Oh, Touchstone, yes! Though As You Like It is the Shakespeare comedy that I know least well, alas.

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