Tag Archives: motherhood

Identity in flux – again

What a moment

The internet has been a powerful tool for me in my journey into motherhood. It has given me the possibility to be in touch with (mostly) women who inspire and inform me on topics that I am passionate about. It has also triggered me to reconsider who I am and what my values are. Many of the choices I have made as a parent and a person are considered to be way outside the realm of what is acceptable.

It has been hurtful to read some of the scathing and bitingly rude opinions that exist on topics that I am passionate about. It has also been humbling to find very solid and sound support.

I am still somewhat naive and somehow hope for a reality where people are tolerant of differences in opinion and do not feel the need to attack with quite so much viciousness. I think I need to let go of that ideal. There are people who will wish me ill, question my intelligence, question my reasoning/judgement, question my decision making ability. Essentially my choices will intimidate some and there is nothing I can do about that.

Through this process I have learnt that I too have been judgemental.

There is no right or wrong. Although it pains me to write that. I desperately want there to be a right and wrong. It makes life so much easier.

However, there just is not a categorical right or wrong that can be applied in every situation when it comes to being a parent. Short of parents being true to their abilities and doing the best they can in any given situation.

Why all this contemplating my belly button?

I feel the need to check myself and the more unorthodox choices I have made. Have I just been brain washed by forums on the internet? Am I loosing my ability to think for myself and subscribing to ‘group think’?

On the issue of vaccinations, I wrote about a year ago on my suspicions for not using vaccinations as my preferred choice of preventative medicine. Today I am still not 100% confident in my choice not to vaccinate my son.

My choice lies mostly in my concern with the lack of long term safety known on the practice of artificially stimulating the immune system, as well as the missing data (and curiosity) on the safety of injecting common vaccine ingredients. I also am concerned about the efficacy attributed to vaccines. I do not think enough is known about how vaccines work in the body for there to be a clear enough understanding on what the side effects could be.

I also do not think vaccines are ‘causing’ anything, from diabetes to autism. I believe they can be a trigger for some babies/children/adults in some cases. The individual make up of the person: their genes, their nutritional status, their overall health. These things make a difference with regards to how people respond to vaccines. And unfortunately this seems to be little appreciated by some people who like to shroud themselves in science and say that they are 100% certain vaccines are safe and effective for pretty much every baby, child and adult – bar the odd very unusual case.

I don’t know if I am making the right choice or not. At the moment my choice is based on a hunch that the medical scientific community are not necessarily telling the whole truth when it comes to vaccines and diseases. They put all the benefit on the vaccine and all the risk on the disease. It is a very biased and overly simplified approach.

Being told I was too stupid to make the choice for myself, that my baby would die without the vaccines and to stop reading on the internet only piqued my anger and curiosity. It did not make me trust the people who were insulting me, and it did not make me think I should do as they say. It made me think that I need to understand just why they are so scared that they are prepared to bully me.

So, today I am in a situation where my 21 month old son has yet to be vaccinated. I check myself constantly. And for now I have yet to find a compelling reason to go ahead and vaccinate my son. I might find that reason. I am open to a sincere discussion. I might need to ask many more questions before I have a firm enough handle of the issues.

It is not easy to make choices that are ridiculed. It is horrible to have people mock and insult you, like what I have seen on the internet. And yet, as in the playground, that is not a good enough reason to just do what other people are doing, just to get the bully off my back

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Modern motherhood

A window

A window

This is what my modern motherhood experience comes down to for me. I consider myself pretty much saved as a new mother who does not have a strong tradition around her for building a healthy happy family. The internet has been my lifeline for so many vitally important issues in my mothering journey.

When I listen to my mother or my MIL talk about how difficult it was to be at home and how lonely it was and crazy making – I know that I have it much easier.

  • I have the internet as a a way to connect with other mothers and offer support and be supported in my choices
  • I have a husband who sees his role as being there to help when he can and who very much works to be part of DS’s life.

Both these things have made my life at home as a mother much much easier than being stuck with a baby and no support.

I think that I am aspiring to create a rich home life also helps – this brings meaning to otherwise dreary jobs. I do have friends who stay at home who just pop their child in the car and head off for the mall and eat out and live very differnet lives. That would drive me crazy.

The internet is beyond wonderful and absolutely essential to my life. I probably could manage without it – but it would be very very rough 😦

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Another questioning post

Motherhood right now

Motherhood right now

Yesterday I had a lovely day at my little local organic cafe with one of the women from the local crunchy mama group. Our boys had a great time playing in the garden and we had a totally delicious meal, with lots of chatting.

This mother is looking at putting her son into Gan (kindy) in the next month (he is 2 days older than DS) and is very excited about giving him this opportunity. She has also had 2 mornings free a week while a nanny cares for her son. I think this has been happening for 6+ months – but I digress.

I just found myself uncertain of myself and the completeness with which I have embraced the role of mother. While I long for another pair of arms to hold my DS if I am cooking, reading a really cool MDC thread or trying to do whatever it is that DS would prefere I weren’t doing – for the most part I am just happy being a mom. And creating a gentle space at home and aiming for those home cooked meals, fresh veggies from the garden, healthy child playing outside in the sun and a home smelling of enticing scents that invite the visitor into my home. These have become the things that bring me meaning in my day. And I feel a certain sense of shame that perhaps these are not worthy goals.

Why do I not yearn for the days I did not have a baby in tow? I was wondering if I am not normal for not wanting to be alone and having my own life badly enough. Enough that I would leave DS in the care of another (in my case stranger).

Much thinking later I am coming to the following conclusion. This is a very short period in my life and I am actually probably the happiest I have ever been. I do not want to give up on what is making me happy and I am not going to go looking for things to do so that I can leave my son in someone elses care. In the matter of a few short years by design my life will be totally different and in a few more short years I will no doubt be right back in a workplace.

For now, for us, this is working.

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Dear adults

I want to understand. I want the pain to stop. I want to be the best mother I can be. I want to be the best me that I can be.

I am so sure that CIO is not a choice I would make. I am so sure that DS will be snuggled, hugged and loved unless he chooses not to be. I see such a different reality for my family – a reality that I never had and one that I crave with all of my being. I know it is not a new idea, but in many ways I do feel like through my mothering of DS, I am in a way mothering myself when I was his age and thus making things better for myself.

The two memories I have that just gut me are sucking on my dolls arms every night to sleep and ruining them, and my mother would fix on new arms, rather than comfort me. I do not understand this. And I was left to cry almost every day after school for 3 years from the day I started school. No one wondered why I was crying almost every day and no one thought to try and understand and help me. When I wrote a letter to my teacher in grade two telling her how sad I was and no doubt hoping someone would help me, she formally asked my classmates to include me in their games, which left me mortified. I hid under her desk during break time.

And that I was having a tough time being accepted in my class I guess should not be a surprise when I had a foreign American accent and could not speak Afrikaans, and I was no doubt working through the burden of child sexual abuse in my childish way. I was just expected to deal with life and get on with life. And I did.

At a price. Today I have a really hard time when I feel I am not accepted or heard. I struggle to find my place in a group. I am very defensive and careful about how I present myself so as not to inspire ridicule. I fiercely protect myself and feel that I can only rely on myself, even when my DH has shown himself again and again to be my life partner in every aspect of life. I never let go of the feeling that when it comes down to it, I have to rely on only myself to make life happen.

I also have learnt to achieve what would be thought almost impossible – only to be stumped when I find myself in a group and I just do not understand what is happening around me on an emotional level.

Motherhood is  opening wounds and I am  experiencing great anger and disapointment in my parents. However, I also am healing deep wounds that matter in my life.

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Hmmmmm

me loving my boy

me loving my boy

I have been busy with life. DS has been growing and growing and becoming the most gorgeous boy. I am falling deeper and deeper in love.

I also have been examining my experience as a mother. I have been thinking so much and reading so much and trying so hard to ‘know it all’ or at least as much as is humanly possible. And I think I need to balance that out.

DS had his first illness some weeks ago, in the middle of the latest crisis in the Israeli Palestinian conflict. He got croup and it was scary. (although here in Israel it is called Stridor as croup associates with Diptheria….) It was hard hearing his laboured breathing and heart breaking to see him in pain when he coughed. And frustrating that he was prescribed steroids as a matter of routine. And yet, I feel that DH and I managed very well considering. I was not opposed to steroids under all circumstances, but when I understood that the 2nd and 3rd nights are the toughest, I was concerned about giving a medication as strong as steroids if we did not need it –  and the presciption was given on day 3. To cut a long story short, DS didn’t get the steroids and he got better just fine. But the decision as parents, each with their own preferences, was hard. Very hard. I cannot speak for DH, but for myself I was not convinced that steroids would be this magic pill that would make DS better at no cost. I did not even know if they would make him better at a cost.   I did not know that his stridor was pronounced enough to warrant medication.Scouring theough BMJ and tyring to understand what the studies meant for my son in our circumstances…. tough. I think for me the most profound experience in this whole episode was that I knew the instance DH brought DS to me coughing. I knew what it was and I knew we needed to stay calm and calm DS to make it easier for him to breath. And it worked. And it was a relief to have a doctor confirm my suspicion (although I did not tell the doctor what I thought, I just described my sons symptoms and let him draw his own conclusions). That DH and I had the tools to meet DS’s needs and know when it was serious enough to warrant a trip to ER was greatly empowering for me.

The one mistake we did make was DH calling his father for medical advice and me calling our friend the chinese doctor for his medical advice. We both reached out to what was more failiar to us. But not within friends and family. We won’t do that again. We need to make our own decision without others in our lives being involved.

So, DS is doing just fine. He has started to feed himself far more foods and is still gaining weight at quite a pace. He has also started to feed himself my nipple which is so cute – he now associates food with putting it in his mouth 🙂 He also loves to torment our cat – his shrieks of delight a sure sign that he has found kitty curled up somewhere cosy. To kitties credit, he never bites or scratches – which is more than I ever hoped for.

I think I am learning to trust myself as a mother. To trust my responses and my instincts and to find out ‘why’ later. I cannot always have all the information at my fingertips. As long as it is not a life and death situation – I can always take the route of less intervention/pressure and change my approach should the situation require it.

And to finish. Today I expressed my hope that my DS will grow up to be a strong and independant person. My dreams that he will be the clearest and most honest expression of himself

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Fish out of water

I am sure I have alluded to the difficulties with my IL’s, particularly one set of them. FIL and his wife, and particularly the wife.

It’s not going away.

Step MIL (SMIL) does not approve of any choice that I have made as a mother/parent. From the birth through to where DS sleeps, vaccinations and what and when he eats is all met with the most scornful and biting disapproval and not so passive aggressive jibes. In my mind she has come to embody the *anti-mother*. She is highly distressed and offended by breastfeeding, convinced babies need to be left to CIO and not manipulate their parents, and that infants require a diet of meat, white flour products, sugar and dairy products. And let me point out that this is a woman who is a MD who works with diabetic patients. Our relationship has become strained to say the least. I react in the moment of conflict with her with silence, and then let loose at DH with a long list of words describing my sense of frustration, hurt, dislike of this woman: bully, disgusting, revolting, despicable, slimy, underhanded, unctuous, arrogant, ….. the words that flowed so freely today are now missing…. Yep, I do not really like her and for some reason that keeps tripping me up she gets under my skin each and every time.

And then I try and conjure some sympathy and the people around me just do not get it. I think she has some real problems with my choices as they threaten her and her choices. For someone who is so anti sleep sharing, I find it hilarious that her large dog crawls into her bed each and every night…. and it’s also a bit sad. Babies are supposed to be trained to sleep alone and dogs are allowed in bed… whatever. To me it is f*cked up.

And I am just having a crappy time with IL’s in general. MIL and her husband, while being emotionally very much there for us, think I am totally barmy for wanting to eat organic whole foods and beleive that it is a ‘personal taste’ choice that I am making. In their world,  I should be prepared to compromise on food. Somehow, in their reality, when you choose to drink OJ or apple juice, so you make the same decision if you choose organic or pesticides… it’s a matter of personal taste. And this frustrates the hell out of me. I get branded as this extreme individual who doesn’t like to compromise, and the people branding me just have no clue. It makes me hopping mad it does.

Gosh, how I wish I could find more people who didn’t freak out at the term ‘organic’ or ‘wholefood’ or ‘complementary medicine’ or ‘environmental’. I am really really tired of having to do what I know is best for my family while the people around me snicker behind their hands and feel oh so comfy on their high perches looking down on me and my choices. Inform yourself people. Ya’ll don’t even know what ya’ll are talking about.

I’m off to look for a comfy pond.

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Good Enough Mother

So much is on my mind and I have no idea how to bring it all together. I am hearing more and more about shaken baby syndrome (SBS) or shaken baby syndrome – scurvy and it is scaring me.  I read about it in forums and even my parents are wanting to send me an article about it. I am confused.

I read about vaccine reactions being the cause of SBS and I wonder how a vaccine can cause fractures. The closest I had thought that vaccines could come to causing SBS was a baby being found not breathing and the parent shakes him/her to try and get him/her breathing again. And that the not breathing was somehow related to the recent vaccination. I know there are people far more knowledgeable than me on this issue and I am sure I am missing important information. I was just surprised to have my parents tell me they want to send me an article about SBS for me to share with others . They are totally convinced that there are people who shake their babies and that there needs to be more awareness so that people do not do this. Then I found myself thinking that maybe there are people who do shake their babies. I remember all too clearly the complete desperation when DS was a couple of weeks old and would not stop crying and I had no idea why. In such moments maybe I was vulnerable to shaking my baby? I have also read about uncontrollable crying after vaccinations and maybe parents just do not know what to do with their child and it does not even cross their minds to think of vaccinations. Maybe parents are very stressed out with the new responsibility and often the work pressures that come with trying to balance work and family…. and a crying baby is the straw that broke the camels back so to speak, when it comes to keeping your cool. I just do not understand. I do think there is an unrealistic expectation for parents to be bringing up their young children so very alone and unsupported… but my thoughts are wandering. SBS sounds awful, whatever the reasons – all possibilities are just too awful to contemplate. I hold DS a little tighter and hope that I will never need to know the pain of admitting my infant to ER and on top of that be suspected of abusing my child. It sends shudders down my spine.

In all of my pondering this issue, I was reminded of the phrase “A good enough mother” by Donald Winnicott. There is no such thing as the perfect mother, despite our aspirations, we cannot be perfect. We cannot protect out children from every danger, large and small. It is simply not possible. We can do our best, we can inform ourselves and make the best decisions that we can. I can put rubber corners on all the low furniture corners, but that does not mean DS will not pull himself up in the sofa, loose his balance and get a bump on his head. I can put all cleaning products 2 metres up, but not think to look under the desk where DS found a small coin to put in his mouth. I know that I need to be careful and create a safe environment for my DS, but I also cannot beat myself up when mistakes happen. That is life. (my heart clenches as I write this. How can I as a mum admit that I cannot control everything and ensure that my child will be safe in every possible way? Every fibre of my being wants to ensure that DS will never need to know suffering. Oy, I guess I need to read up some more on Buddhism. Suffering is part of life – no escaping it. But how do you tell yourself that when your own child suffers?)

I often find myself thinking that sociologists will one day look back on this era in the Western World and marvel that people continued to bear children despite the awful circumstances around being a parent (and child for that matter). In Hebrew you say “hafuch al hafuch” – upside down on upside down. Everything is just totally mixed up and confused.

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