Tag Archives: Mothering

Second guessing myself

Seconds into motherhood - I just had no idea what it all meant yet

As I expected my first child, I knew I would breastfeed exclusively, I knew I would give birth outside of a hospital, I knew I would not use TV and that my child would be clothed in cotton and playing with open ended, preferably wooden toys.

I also was pretty sure I would not fall into the ‘trap’ of letting my child control my life to the extent that my sleep would be disturbed for years, or that my breasts were on demand for years (horrors!). Or that my social life came to an end. I had an unexplored belief that children had the potential to be nasty little terrors who manipulated their parents.

It rocked my world to discover that my baby was not trying to manipulate me. He really needed me. If he was crying he was in pain, hungry or tired. He really did not have an agenda to destroy my life, even though it felt like it at times. And being told that I was too weak to resist his manipulation only p*ssed me off.

He would only sleep next to me and only fall asleep on my breast. Weeks became months, (which has almost become two years) and this has become my daily reality. I would have shuddered in pure horror if someone would have told me my almost 2 year old would still be breastfeeding and in our bed. I would have sworn to make sure it would never happen, under any circumstances. I remember listening to a friend who gave birth months before me sharing her woes of having a baby in bed and feeding on demand, and how that really upset many people in her extended family. I kinda agreed with them in my heart. Being pregnant I had to know all about it already…. (not!).

And I have learnt so much in these two years.

My baby fed on demand. He sleeps in our bed and I do my best to meet his needs, while also allowing for him to understand I have needs as he grows in his understanding of human relationships.

In many ways this seriously rocked my world. I did a dramatic about turn in my thinking. And it has unsettled me in a certain way. I feel a little less confident and certain of myself. (I also feel very satisfied as a mother parenting in tune with both my childs’ needs, and mine) I have had to reassess my beliefs and expectations on so many things through the heart of a mother. I am a little cautious when it comes to embracing anything to the extent that it closes off other options. The mind set of having it all ‘sorted’ and relying on an external authority or a philosophy for guiding my choices did not play out well for me. There is still a small part of me still wonders about me changing my philosophy on infant care so dramatically. Of course it suits me better to parent as I am parenting now. But what does it say about all the assumptions I have made in my life? How do I trust myself to know what is best?

I long for that experience of having the peace of knowing that there are no existential questions to be asked. That on a fundamental level I am at peace with myself and my choices and the questions that I pose myself are of a more practical nature and less of an existential one. I am slowing down in my use of disussion boards. I no longer feel the need to check myself and make sure that I am not missing something in how I go about making my choices in my life.

I’m getting there.


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I put on some old Crosby Stills and Nash this morning and was taken back to my mum through the song Teach Your Children. I sang it at school and also sang it at home with my dad on the guitar and me and my mum singing together.

The moment my father told me my mother had died is so starkly imprinted in my mind. My world stopped spinning for that moment. It just stopped.

I am still trying to make sense of this reality – that my mother is no longer in this world and that I no longer have that base of support. I recently received some photos from my dad (included in this post), and I just broke down. I was crying for the missed opportunities and the unmet potential. As I cried I knew that it was pointless. She is gone. And what about celebrating her life instead of being miserable about all that was not perfect. The photo that actually was unbearably painful for me was this one. It looks so perfect. A part of me wants to believe there were moments of perfection. But I also know it wasn’t all that perfect.

My family outside our home on a biodynamic farm - a moment caught unaware


I have been thinking a fair amount about my relationship with my mother and the pain that that memory evokes.

We never really got to know each other. We never really understood each other. And she still remains elusive to me.

I have also been thinking a fair amount about therapy and why I am happy to be giving it a break.

I had the feeling like my therapist was interested in helping me understand how the important relationships in my life helped mould my experience of myself and my life. And when I was able to see my mother through critical eyes, I had the feeling like my therapist felt he had done his job. My mother was no longer a mythical figure in my life.

And yet, I have been feeling in this time of mourning that his job was not done. He could have taken it a step further, towards encouraging me to find the tools to take what I had learned about my mothers shortcoming and weave that into a compassionate attempt to heal the rifts. This was ultimately my responsibility, and I missed the opportunity. And that hurts. Some want to comfort me by telling me that our relationship is not lost and that I can indeed work towards that healing even though my mother has died. I do not see how this can be. I wish it were so, but it eludes me.

And this all ties up with my IL’s too. I have to have some sort of relationship with them. And more importantly, I want my DH to heal any rifts or hurts that he carries with him. That is after all such a huge part of life – being at peace with life and the people in your life. So when I rant and rage about how completley inappropriate my IL’s are, I know that I need to be somehow taking it a step further….

My mother with me in 1977

Mum, I miss you and our potenital so very much. I hurt that we can never go out for another tea at our favorite cafe next to the sea in Kalk Bay – that we can never share what it means to be Mother – never know each other as a person. I still need you.

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Sleep deprived

And miserable.

I have been MIA due to sever sleep issues in our family. DS went on a waking every half hour stint for about a week and is now on a sleep strike, taking anywhere from 2 – 2 1/2 hours to fall asleep for each nap and at bedtime.

I have been unable to figure out what has caused this upheaval, other than one night of fever and no other illness following. I have had to resort to ecological disposable nappies as he has been wetting his nappies beyond their absorption capacity – and that has made a difference to his night waking. But investing 4 1/2 hours in getting to sleep, like I did yesterday, is just not working for me.

Thankfully DH is working close to home today, so he has come home to take DS off my hands after half an hour of no sleep success.

I lost it yesterday. screaming into my pillow –  slamming the table with my open hand. I fantasized about being able to intimidate my son into sleeping. Which I know is impossible and not something I would follow through on even if I could. Disturbed sleep and being chronically sleep deprived is just horrid.

Add to that my FIL (the doctor) being a complete jerk at his daughter’s wedding (to me, not her) and I am a seething cauldron of annoyance at the moment. DS was one of the stars of the show at the wedding and people were commenting on how comfortable and confident he is, and FIL piped up with “Yes, he has all he could need being at home with his mother. Although I am not sure it is such a great idea as it will be harder for him to start school if he is used to being with his mother”.

Nothing like, “You’re doing such a great job with him, he is so delightful”. No, rather telling me I am ruining his chances at happiness early by giving him a secure and happy infancy and toddlerhood. Grrrrr.

I really should not be surprised and I should not let it bother me. But it is just so disrespectful to twist circumstances against me. I am sure that if my son were timid and shy I would have been told that it is because he is not in kindie.

For the record, I do not think children at home equals happy chilled out children and children in care equals stressed out unhappy children. Personality has so much to do with it, and the quality of the home and the quality of the care are obviously important.

Anyway, FIL is a very limited person despite his achievements in his career (I am following his published work on pubmed, which is a bit weird, but interesting). And I will have to work on myself with regards to not taking it personally when he finds opportunity to point out my mistakes in parenting. This from a man who has been father in name only to his son (my DH). Well, he has tried to guide DH into not getting married, not buying a house, not having a family. Any sort of choice that involves a committment and demands of DH to be a responsible adult freaks him out. And his type of fathering is to tell his daughter her mother has cancer, it does not look good and then follow this with instruction to not come and be with them, but to study?!

So yeah, this man clearly has emotional issues which are not about to resolve themselves any time soon.And they haven’t. It really upsets me how he relates to his wife and father as medical statistics – but that is a whole other issue. And also to a certain extent none of my business. Neither of his wife nor his father have a problem with his attitude from what I can see, and it is working for them. They adore him and he can do no wrong.

In the mean time I need to get to grips with our daily/weekly/monthly/annual rhythm. It’s so not happening at the moment and I am certain much of our sleep issue would be resolved with more of a structure to our time. I need to be more proactive and less responsive.

Probably when it comes to that set of IL’s too.

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Parenthood and conforming

I can’t remember where I read about the study, Parenthood Makes Moms More Liberal, Dads More Conservative, but I was reminded of it yesterday when out with DS and DH in Tel Aviv.

Another family with a little boy were taking an interest in the cloth diapers and wooden toys. DH struck up a converstation with the mum while I ate my brunch and the father of the little boy chatted with his friends. The mother confided that she doesn’t want to put her son into a kindy and her husband does.

And so me and DH chatted about how mums often don’t like the kindy option and dads often do. And why. Why mothers are more likely to not conform on such issues and why fathers are more likely to conform. (Where we live it is the norm for children to be in a kindy by one year of age, often earlier. The reasons cited are improved overall development in language and social skills)

DH shared that he feels more of a tendency to conform on issues like health care and education since he became a father. And I know that my tendency to not conforming has dramatically increased since becoming a mother. I am definitly more interested in what is right for me and my family and not really interested in what ‘the majority’ do, unless of course it fits for us.

When looking at issues to do with child welfare, it is mothers who are making the most noise when it comes to making a choice on the vaccine issue, to searching out the best care for their children and to deciding how best to nourish their children. Fathers *are* there too. My DH is finding his personal way of relating to the changes being made in our home. But I think it is largely mothers who are prepared to initiate the challenge to the consensus when it comes to the health and well being of their children. This is very broadly speaking.

In my circle, including myself and my DH, the fathers are much more inclined to convince the mother to agree to putting the child into daycare/kindy. Often with the very best intentions. Some mama’s question some of the reasoning and wonder if starting day care at such a tender age can really be in the childs best interest. Ie I am prepared to challenge the conventional wisdom of putting lots of little children into group daycare with 6 children to every carer. I am also prepared to challenge the conventional wisdom of injecting my baby with mulitple vaccines. I had to become a mother to go the extra mile when it comes to challenging these social epxectations. And for now our choices are working for us – despite being very unusual.

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Woo hoo

I met another like minded mama and her two boys. I am so excited to have found such a gentle and creative family so close by. This is big big news for us. DS had a grand time exploring a new home and getting to play with new toys and meet new children. And jump on a trampoline, visit the neighbours hens, share a mango. Just have a most excellent time, while two mama’s had real conversation. Chatting about Waldorf, Enki, Israel, mothering, crafting, IL’s. 🙂

This comes a day after I had been tested for my patience with DS testing his boundaries, and mine. My 3 minute walk to the local fruit and veg place became more than a half an hour meander as DS found his own route through the public garden. His latest love is climbing anything and everything. The rock monument proved to be irresistable, and he was climbing up and walking along the large rocks, while I practiced patient breathing. I turned my attention to observing how he makes decisions and how he does know his limits. He knows when he can step from rock to rock and when he needs my help, and does not hesitate to ask for it. But he will only hold my hand as long as is necessary, and then he is off again. On the issue of holding me hand, I am trying to instill a ‘tradition’ of taking my hand when we cross any road. It is proving difficult, as he will take my hand to make the curb, but then wants to run in the road. Practice makes perfect I hope, and for now I am always right by his side when we are  near a road. But I do wish he was a little more reticent about crossing roads by himself.

E, I am very much looking forward to our next play date. A puppet show sounds wonderful. Glorious. Perhaps we can felt some puppets together? Hugs to Y and little E. Lyla tov

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Life is full or surprises

I have two mother in laws. And both of them have played an important role in how I have developed as a mother. Until recently I was mostly defending myself to them. And yet, I have come to appreciate both of them in different was and for different reasons.

One of them has just been diagnosed with cancer. Hence my absense from the blog. It has been an emotionally draining time as we waited for news and results from tests. It is looking good. It looks like she will not even need chemo now after the surgery. And this is the MIL with whom I have a strained relationship to say the least. And yet we were able to talk honestly and openly about life and about me loosing my mother and her being diagnosed with cancer. It is a cliche, but such life changing experiences really do put things into perspective. And I have gotten over my anger that my SIL did not have to deal with loosing her mother unexpectedly. The reality of loosing my mother was brought home to me when I saw the panic around me with my SIL thinking she *might* loose her mother.

My 2nd MIL is a woman with whom I have had my differences with regards to parenting choices. Yet, essentially she has tried to be supportive, even when she has called me extreme.

And it is this MIL who took the time to tell me how admiring she is of how I have chosen to mother my son. How I inform myself on the importance of nutrition, preventative measures for health, discipline that empowers my son, not belittles him etc. She really spoke from the heart about how much she admires me for doing what I feel is best for my family. We also spoke about my relationship with her son. And how much DH and I have learned and grown from each other and from being parents together. She respects our relationship so much and appreciates me in a way that I did not know. It felt so good to know that I am so appreciated and respected.

In turn I could be more open with her and explain why I am concered about plastic in my sons environment and that I am still trying to decide where ‘the line’ is that will inform me on decisions regarding having plastic in his life. And to share a bit more about why I chose organic foods where possible. We actually had a non threatening conversation on such charged issues.

Today is Yom Kippur. I still have not decided how I want to observe Yom Kippur. I’ll get there. This year is not the year for me to honestly consider what this day means for me.

But I did want to share my experience of a softening in relations between myself and two women who are significant in my life, even if we don’t see eye to eye.

I look forward to posting more frequently again. I am sewing a wonder box and look forward to posting pics and experiences.

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Why am I comparing?


Not having many friends who are mothers around me and living far away from my good friends who are mothers, I rely quite heavily on the internet for my support and inspiration. I have learned a phenomenal amount from other mothers on discussion boards and through blogs.

I was reading A Small Tribe, a blog I found through the Waldorf forum on MDC and was really struck by a post written about the reality of a Waldorf Inspired home – behind the scenes so to speak.

I do aspire to have a TV free home, eat orgnanic food, use cloth nappies, rely on lifestyle to support immune systems rather than vaccination to create immunity, have open ended toys made from natural non toxic material, etc etc etc. I work really hard to make this happen for my family.

However, we do have a 3 computers for 2 adults – one lap top each and a large computer that is used as a media centre for late night movies and music. And DS is very attached to a black 4X4 look alike toy that was given as a present some time ago.

But what got me thinking is that perhaps I am not being honest with myself in my portrayal of my life, both online and in my own head. I often wonder how it is that I have managed to cut TV out from our lives and ensure that DS has tasted sugar once, maybe twice in his almost 18 months. And keep the branded, electric, plastic toy fest out of our house.

I read about other mama’s who only eat home made orgaic local food – EVER. And I know that will never be me. We do go out to cafe’s and even order pizza on nights where I am just finished. I like to think that we will only ever have local fresh organic made from scratch meals on our table – but I also know that that will never be possible 100% of the time. If I can get 18 out of 21 meals a week made from scratch I am achieving my 100%. And even that is a strech. In all honesty, I reckon 17 out of 21 meals is more realistic. And this is with DH doing most dinners.

I also read about other mama’s who keep a very strong rhythm in their homes and I cringe inwardly. I have read enough to suspect that rhythm is very important – but I just can’t get the kind of rhythm going that I have read about in Waldorf Homeschooling materials. I might get there one day, but for now it is work in progress.

Pictures that I take invariably show the mess in my house and I rephrane from posting the pics It’s crazy, but I worry about the bag of rubbish hanging from the cuphord handle in the backround or the litter of objects that DS has taken out of the cuphoards or brought in from the yard… This is perhaps the most intimidating thing for me. Other blogs from mama’s who have the richest most vibrant photos – and I feel so bland in comparison.

It is quite intimidating having glimpses into other families lives and wondering what my choices say about me and my life. Although for the most part, I take inspiration from the women I come across on the internet. I feel a little less lonely and isolated.

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