This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have waxed poetic about how their parenting has inspired others, or how others have inspired them. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
When I was pregnant I had only one or two things clear in my mind about how I wanted to parent. I wasn't going to spank and I was going to breastfeed. That was it.
Looking back on it it's almost funny how little mental work I'd put into it considering how vast the work is now. As a parent I think about the minutiae: the tone in which I express my message, my body language, do the consequences fit the request?, age- and development-appropriateness, consistency between me and Anthony, the list goes on and on.
Something I also think about is the example I'm setting for the other mothers and mothers-to-be in my life. I really do. Are they going to see me and Hollis together and have pleasant associations or are they going to be dreadful? Will lunch and play dates be something to look forward to or cringe from? Will my friends and family find it more easy or difficult to stand behind me?
And, proudly, I can say that I have created a space within my loved ones that is supportive, applauding, and inspirational.
I'm actually somewhat shocked by it. I've never really been one to inspire anyone to do anything except maybe drink too much. But recently several important people in my life have gone out of their way to tell me what an inspiration I am to them when they see me traveling this Motherhood Trail with Hollis. Those words touch me deeply given my great conflicts about staying home and still growing as a woman.
They have told me that I am gentle and kind to Hollis, that I show them how different parenting can be from what they experienced as kids. They're surprised (and thrilled) at how friendly and happy Hollis is and that makes things that might startle them (like a pants-less Hollis running around) easier to digest.
I don't do Time Outs and I don't hit, yell, threaten, or deprive. How in the world do I get Hollis to "behave"? They wonder and watch. Basically, it's a symbiotic relationship of respect, honesty, and safety. I let Hollis be Hollis and he trusts me. That's pretty much it. I'm also consistent, firm, kind, respectful, and humble. Daily, I am challenged and daily Hollis and I have our run-ins, so I'm not trying to say he's a robot child, or even a dog, but we manage pretty damn well, I think. (Damn, this is weird to be tooting my own horn like this, but this is the assignment, so I'm going for it!)
I want everyone to look at me and my son and see that there really is an alternative to hitting, yelling, yanking, scaring, and bullying. There is! I also want to share with everyone my belief that Hollis is a person, but a small, developing one. His brain is growing and not remotely as sophisticated as my own and therefore I will use my superior intellect to form appropriate expectations. I will always talk about my parenting education, my philosophies, and my goals with anyone who'll listen because if I can affect just one person, even minutely, then I feel we're one step closer to returning to a gentle, natural focus of parenting versus the Puritan ideal of original sin, spoiling baby, and rigid, unfair expectations.
Two and half years into parenting I know I'm a rookie, but I'm also a veteran. It's a weird dynamic being so new, yet feeling seasoned. I really hope that I continue to be an inspiration, both to my friends and family and to myself.
Visit 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:
- Woman Seeking Inspiration — Seeking Mother's struggles and joys to find her own path in motherhood have inspired others — to her surprise! (@seekingmother )
- Paving the Way — Jessica at This is Worthwhile makes a conscious effort every day to be a role model. (@tisworthwhile )
- No Rules Without Reason — The Recovering Procrastinator wants to inspire her husband to discipline their children gently. (@jenwestpfahl)
- Creating a Culture of Positive Parenting Role Models — Michelle at The Parent Vortex shows parents at the playground how to do a front wrap cross carry and tells nurses about her successful home births, as a way of modeling natural parenting in public. (@TheParentVortex)
- Making A Difference for Mamas — Shana at Tales of Minor Interest took an embarrassing pumping incident at work and turned it into an opportunity for all the employees who breastfeed.
- Inspiring Snowflakes — Joni Rae at Tales of Kitchen Witch Momma is a role model for the most important people: her children. (@kitchenwitch)
- Paying it Forward — Amber at Strocel.com inspires new (and often scared) mamas with these simple words: "It will be OK." (@AmberStrocel)
- A SAHD's View on Parenting Role Models — Chris at Stay At Home Dad in Lansing doesn't have many role models as a SAHD — but hopes to be one to his daughter. (@tessasdad)
- Am I a Role Model? A Review — Deb at Science@home brings attachment parenting out of the baby age and shows how it applies (with science fun!) to parenting through all of childhood. (@ScienceMum)
- Say Something Good — Arwyn at Raising My Boychick reminds women that it is within our right to be proud of ourselves without apology. (@RaisingBoychick)
- Try, Try Again — Thomasin at Propson Palingenesis wants to inspire like the Little Engine that Could.
- I'm a Parenting Inspiration, Who Knew? — Sarah at OneStarryNight has received several beautiful comments about just what an inspiration she has been, if not in real life then definitely online. (@starrymom)
- That Little Thing — NavelgazingBajan at Navelgazing demonstrates the ripple effect, one status update at a time. (@BlkWmnDoBF)
- How Has Your Day Been? — mrs green @ littlegreenblog inspired her friend to be an active listener for her children. (@myzerowaste)
- No, Thank You! — If you are reading Maman A Droit's post, you've probably inspired her. (@MamanADroit)
- My Top 3 Natural Parenting Principles — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now describes how her family's natural and Montessori principles inspired others. (@DebChitwood)
- My Hope for a Better Life — Mandy at Living Peacefully With Children hopes her choices inspire her children toward a better life.
- Natural Parenting Felt Natural — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes didn't plan on natural parenting — but her son led her there. (@sheryljesin)
- Rest. Is it even possible? — Janet at where birth and feminism intersect has found that even role models need rest — and that there are ways to fit it into everyday parenting life. (@feministbirther)
- May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Role model — Lauren at Hobo Mama was the fortunate recipient of a seed of inspiration, and has been privileged to plant some of those seeds herself, though she didn't know it at the time. (@Hobo_Mama)
- crunchspiration — the grumbles at grumbles and grunts wants to inspire others to parent from their heart. (@thegrumbles)
- No Extra Inspiration Required — Zoey at Good Goog doesn't think she inspires anyone and wasn't inspired by anyone in return — except by her daughter. (@zoeyspeak)
- Upstream Parenting — Luschka at Diary of a First Child blogs for that one mother in one hundred who will find her words helpful. (@diaryfirstchild)
- Parenting Advice for the Girl from Outer Space — If Mommy Soup at Cream of Mommy Soup could give one piece of inspirational advice to new parents, it would be to parent with kindness. (@MommySoup)
- Natural Parenting Carnival — Role Model — Sarah at Consider Eden feels the pressure at trying — and failing — to live up to her role models. (@ConsiderEden)
- May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Role Model — Dionna at Code Name: Mama encourages natural parenting mamas to take joy in the fact that they are touching lives and making a difference to children every day. (@CodeNameMama)
- Inspiration Goes Both Ways — Melodie at Breastfeeding Moms Unite! is flustered that people consider her a breastfeeding role model — but the lovely comments she's received prove it's so. (@bfmom)
- My Seven — Danielle at born.in.japan has identified seven role models in her life who brought her to natural parenting. Who are your seven? (@borninjp)
- A Quiet Example — Alison at BluebirdMama was one of the first parents in her group of friends — and has come to see almost all those friends follow in her natural birthing footsteps, whether intentionally or not.
- Gentle Discipline Warrior — Paige at Baby Dust Diaries has inspired a gentle discipline movement — join her! (@babydust)
- Change The World... One Parent At A Time — Mamapoekie is more comfortable inspiring parents online than she is in real life. (@mamapoekie)
- Inspirational Parenting — pchanner at A Mom's Fresh Start has intentionally tried to be a role model but was unprepared for how soon someone would take notice. (@pchanner)
- My Inspiration — Erin at A Beatnik's Beat on Life has written thank-you letters to everyone who's inspired her to become the lactivist and natural parenting advocate she is today. (@babybeatnik)