Monday, 14 September 2015

Tree-Hugging Hippie Mum

I'm that mum, or rather, we're those parents. We didn't seek out this path but here we are.

I breastfed my son until he self-weaned at three, I still breastfeed my one-year-old daughter, we bed-share, we don't do babysitters and now, we homeschool.

But What Will People Say???
I know some people think all of this is incredibly strange. I've seen enough reaction both online and in person to understand how many molds we're breaking and how offended people are by it. I'm still not quite sure why but if you know us, you also know that popular opinion isn't going to affect our life decisions.

We didn't plan any of this.

Our son was a very sensitive baby; the only thing that kept him happy was breastfeeding and the only way he would sleep was on or beside, but touching me. For the first three months we fought this because, as many well-meaning people pointed out, it just isn't "normal". He should be in his crib, crying it out and with a bottle. That didn't feel right for us, though, so we stopped fighting our baby and did what did feel right and it worked. Happy baby, happy parents.

Our daughter is a very happy baby but still breastfeeds for both her main nutritional needs and for comfort. It helps her calm down if she's upset and it helps her sleep at nap time and bedtime. She slept pretty much through the night from day one yet still prefers to be beside me or on my lap -- that is to say, she will fight sleep and cry and fuss if she's tired and I'm not able to feed her on my lap.

My husband and I have always been very self-reliant. We prefer to take responsibility for ourselves whenever possible. We have been fortunate enough to have had help from family and friends many times over the years and are so appreciative to have an amazing support system BUT we prefer to do things for ourselves. When we finally chose to become parents, we did so with the intention of being wholly responsible for our family. Again, that's not to say we haven't needed help from time to time or that we don't appreciate offers of help -- just that we feel it's our responsibility to take care of our kids. We don't do date nights or vacations or boys/girls nights out. We do the drive-in so we can watch movies without worrying about the kids' noise levels. We don't usually eat out but when we do it's never fancier than Swiss Chalet or Boston Pizza. We do camping trips and comic-cons and family-friendly events.

Homeschooling is our latest endeavour. Our son was four when we had our daughter and he could have gone to school that year but we didn't want him to feel pushed out of the family only days after a new baby. What would that say to him, psychologically? You were replaced? Well, this year we have decided to keep him home again and it wasn't a decision made lightly. I could go in depth into the decision and maybe I will in a separate blog but for the purposes of wrapping this up before it's a novel, just know it was not a simple coin toss.

With every decision we've made along the way we've tried to ensure we've been as educated as possible -- done endless amounts of research, consulted doctors when necessary, talked for hours and at the end of the day have chosen to do what we've felt is best for our kids. I know our choices are oftentimes against popular opinion and there are those out there who, for whatever reason, are personally offended by our choices but as I said earlier, we have never been interested in popular opinion.

So what does all this mean? It means we often have a hard time making plans with others. For me it means I am often absent on social media for weeks at a time as I am also trying to juggle all the household things and when I do have a few minutes to sit down, I generally just play a game or I'll read an article, maybe a comic. It also means we are working on our kids the best way we can for us. One thing being a parent has taught me is that life is more fluid than we expect and in a few years I'm sure things will be drastically different again and I kind of look forward to seeing how.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

I Wanna Be Me . . . I Wanna Be Free

This Thursday past I cut my hair. I had been wanting a death hawk for years and had always shied away from cutting off so much hair -- a drastic change for someone who has had long hair pretty much her whole life. As time goes by, however, I see slight lines forming in my skin, grey hairs . . . I realise today is as good a day as any. Hair grows back. So I sectioned it off, braided the sides and with scissors poised got the final go ahead from my two-year old son: "Hair off, mummy!"

Unfortunately not everyone shares in his innocent enthusiasm. Now, I don't expect everyone to like it. It's not a popular hairstyle and I understand it is one of those fashion choices that still evokes a widely negative response. Knowing this, I don't ask for opinions. I am an adult, I make my own decisions and I don't need anyone's approval.

 I learned very early on a lesson which changed how I would see myself:

There will always be someone who disapproves.

No matter your clothes, your make-up, your hair . . . there will always be someone there to put you down for it. People often put others down to make themselves feel better and so they will find the most arbitrary reason to do so. If you choose to wear what you like, wear clothes that make you feel good, make-up that you like, do whatever you want with how you present yourself then yes, you will likely have many people putting you down (keep in mind that some of them will be doing so out of ignorance, some out of insecurity and a good number because they resent your ability to express yourself in a way they feel they can't) but you will also have some admirers who may follow your lead and their own hearts, too.

As a reminder to those who may have forgotten: If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all! It is hurtful beyond words to have your nearest and dearest express unsolicited their distaste for something as trivial as your fashion sense. It's uncalled for and is in no way helpful to anyone.

How do I feel about my haircut? My husband loves it, my son loves it and I love it. I truly adore it. It's the most fun thing I've ever done with my hair. <3

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Artists . . .

Artists . . .

How do YOU not feel overwhelmed?

There are days or weeks or sometimes months during which I feel useless. I know no one's unique so I know others must feel this, too. A feeling that nothing I have to say, nothing I feel, nothing I write could possibly contribute in any way to the world. That is to say -- no one is unique. Why say it? Why draw it? Why try?

I try to listen to inspiring music or generally consume as much beauty and art as I can to spur me on but I just end up feeling like I have nothing to add. In a world with so much awe-inspiring beauty what could I possibly add? I'm a mediocre artist. Any arts or crafts I do are okay, that is to say I'm adept at picking up the basics of a good number of art forms but I am not exceptional at any one.

I digress.

Where I meant to go with this is just as I said: How do you not feel overwhelmed? With all the audio and visual stimuli available to us online how do the artists out there continue to actually want to put their art out there? Better yet: how do you continue to CREATE freely?

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Where Does Weird Come From?

I was trying to pinpoint when I knew I was "weird" according to social norms, or when I first became "weird". Surely a baby is not "weird"? Hmm . . .

Well, I know I challenged a lot of kids with all kinds of issues, though most of the time it was religion. I remember telling other eight year olds there was no god and having extensive repetitive debates consisting mainly of childish points such as,
"If there is a god, where is he?"
"In the sky."
"Why haven't astronauts seen him?"
"He's everywhere!"
"That doesn't make sense. Why can't I see him?"
And so on. We all know the futility of this debate on both sides. It was around this time that I remember first being somewhat of an outcast. (Strangely enough, not for these religious debates.)

At about eight I was playing with friends outside and was wearing a thin knitted short sleeved top my mother had made me. My friends brought out a sprinkler and so I took this knitted top off to run through. One of my friends was no longer allowed to associate with me after that vulgar display.

What else? My favourite books as a child were about witches and cats, my favourite toy as a toddler was a stuffed witch I named "Selfish", my teachers in very early grade school had to call home because I said I wanted to be a hooker when I grew up and I was teaching the other kids the facts of life, my grade seven enrichment teacher told me I was morbid . . . hmm, nope, can't think when this all started.

One thing I can say for sure: I loved being different when I was little, then I went through an awkward year or two wanting to fit in and not understanding why I didn't and now again I love it. Not that I try to be different, I just enjoy being who I am. :)

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Why Spelling is Important #1

This story involves me, my seventh grade teacher, a boy we'll call "Mac" and a girl we'll call "Molly". Now, when I was in seventh grade I was pretty unpopular. I wore bright coloured jogging suits because my parents insisted I grew too fast to wear jeans and well, I've always been weird.

One day when I was in seventh grade I was slow in packing up my stuff at the end of the day and was visibly upset. My teacher approached me and asked what was wrong and I showed him a note. The note was supposed to be from Mac, the boy in the class all the kids made fun of and asked me to meet him somewhere for some kind of date, I suppose. My teacher asked how I knew it wasn't from him.

"Well," I said, "The letter 'a's are written the same way Molly writes them and in this sentence 'Be there or be squar' she misspelled 'square' the same way she did on the quizzes we exchanged and marked last week." My teacher smiled and wrote a note of his own.

"Dear Molly,

Nice note. Learn to spell 'square'."