The value of pets

Ewan and Otley looking out at our local pond, June 2012

Welcome to the July edition of Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Pets and children.
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by The Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic Parenting. This month our participants are sharing their thoughts and experiences with pets and children! Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

A game of fetch

My toddler son squeals with delight as his two favourite dogs wildly whirl round him and away, racing blissfully together at top speed around the pond. Ewan, a twinkle in his eye, shouts at the top of his lungs ‘Otley!’, ‘Eva!’ as he throws a stick for them, commanding them to play fetch. He attempts to chase after them, unperturbed by their agility and speed. This is a typical walk for my son, who absolutely adores dogs.

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The day of the improvised sling

Reprinted with permission The Natural Mothers Network

Published on 23rd April in Natural Mother\’s Network Mothership magazine

We are walking on the Isles of Lobos, a small, uninhabited island close to the island of Fuerteventura in the Canary Isles. Following the islands way-marked paths, my twenty-one month old son, Ewan, is growing heavy in my arms. My brother and Dad have already carried him on their shoulders for some time, now it is my turn. Regrettably, my Boba sling lies in our chalet, forgotten as we packed in haste for our day-trip. As a baby-wearing advocate, slings are an essential piece of equipment for us which I have used almost every day since I discovered them when Ewan was small. This is why I am missing the sling so much today, wondering how we can improvise in order to still explore this island thoroughly, with a sleeping toddler in tow.

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Stepping out onto the path of motherhood

The path

At the age of twenty-nine I became a first-time Mum. In my twenties I struggled to carve out a place for myself in the world, navigating along a complex path which at times led me to a feeling of clarity and purpose, but more often to stress, confusion and uncertainty.

Pregnancy provided me precious time to reflect on my childhood and early adult-years, as well as the opportunity to look forward to the kind of world I wanted my son to be brought up in. On the cusp of motherhood I experienced a kind of epiphany. I suddenly felt with all my being my role in life was to take unending care of my son. The path appeared inviting and bright, yet cluttered with demons and traps to set me back.

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Bedsharing: one way of letting our children in

Our young children are our most vulnerable members of society. It seems somewhat crazy that as parents we go to such lengths to separate them from us, buying and using a myriad of plastic containers to achieve this. Why do we own so many containing devices? Are we afraid of letting our children in?

Reactions to bed-sharing

We don’t own a cot. If friends ask about Ewan’s sleeping habits I am open and honest about where he sleeps; we bed-share. Whilst some people respond with understanding and support, the look of horror on some people’s faces is almost comical (yet also upsetting). They ask questions such as ‘how do you cope?’, ‘aren’t you scared he’ll never leave?,’ doesn’t he wake you squirming in the night?’, ‘how do you maintain an intimate relationship with your husband?’, ‘it must surely be only for comfort?

People are simply curious and interested in what we do, often unsure of how or why we practice bed-sharing. These comments reveal some of the commonly held myths prevalent in the West surrounding bed-sharing, a lack of understanding and awareness around this most natural of human behaviours.

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