Talking to Myself; Dear pre-parenthood me

Welcome to the June 2015 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Talking to Yourself

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 written letters to themselves. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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Dear Pre-Parenthood me,

Below is some helpful advice about what is in store for you in the first five years of parenthood. It will serve you well as you enter the most exciting, rewarding, challenging and beautiful journey you are ever likely to make in this lifetime;

believe in the power of yourself as a strong woman and mother. You are doing the most amazing job anyone could ever do, raising the next generation. You know being a stay at home mum when your children are young is right for you, regardless of its status in our society. Be proud and stand tall.

trust your intuition when you are birthing your first-born son. Demand the right to be both active and left alone in labour, to be monitored safely from a distance. Be strong and proud even when this birth goes terribly wrong, far from how you envisaged it. Write and talk as a form of therapy to help you mourn the loss of a natural birth. Believe that next time around you are capable of birthing naturally, because you are. You achieve this almost three years later, your daughter born naturally at home. By becoming in-tune with all mothers, spanning the millennia, you trust in your body’s ability to birth, blocking all non-constructive chatter from reaching your ears. This will only contaminate you. Congratulate yourself in this second birth, for you have proved that you could do it, your inner strength won. You know you are capable of doing so again, if you so wish.

mother through breastfeeding. Nothing could be simpler, but more challenging at first in our culture. Be a confident, open, proud nurser who has the strength to develop her own nursing style, feed in public with your head held high, whilst gathering experienced, full-term nursers around you. Join and attend La Leche mother-to-mother breastfeeding support. Rise above your cultures bottle-feeding culture. Advocate and normalise breastfeeding. You will have nursed every single day by the time your first-born is five years old, with no end in sight. Nursing is a way of life for you and your children. Let it remain that way as long as this feels right for you all.

give time to your children. This may sound simple, but it can be difficult in our busy lives. Cultivate mindfulness in your actions, slowing down, stopping, getting on their level, empathising, listening, living in the moment, feeling the joy in that moment for what it is: yes I am smelling my daughter’s skin, I am walking with her in the sling in the woods, I am basking in my son’s smile, I am hearing him give me another long account about a building. It is true that our children grow so fast, too fast, so do not rush it, savour it. Life with your young children is fleeting and precious.

turn off or leave your phone and the internet behind once in awhile. Be vigilant about this. Stay connected to your children, not to the net. It is virtual, whilst your children are real.

give elimination communication a go, it will amaze, surprise and delight you. It will help put you further in tune with your daughter. Trust you are able to read her signs and that she is able to communicate to you. By the time she is eighteen months old, she is dry day and night.

gather friends around you for support and choose them wisely. This is essential. Form a close and unique group of local friends, who prove invaluable in the first early years. As the years go by and your lives start to diverge, meetings with these friends will become less and less frequent, but the bonds you have developed ensure when you do meet it is just the same and is as important as ever for support as you all grow along your mothering journeys. It really does take a village to raise a child, a village not in the traditional sense but still a village of like-minded people spread over a wide geographical and virtual area.

set aside some time for your husband. Be creative and find ways to bond. Maintaining a healthy relationship with your husband is compatible with attachment style parenting, ignore remarks to the contrary. In fact this brings you closer together over the years as you share the extra closeness bed-sharing, baby-wearing and natural breastfeeding can bring.

the generation gap and difference of culture with your parents surprises and saddens you, causing much heart-ache and soul-searching. Over time you learn to accept the differences, instead trying to show empathy with them in appreciating where they are coming from. The relationship they have with your children is priceless, so you must move on, seeing the good in their interventions and support. You must let them be with their grandchildren in their own space, whilst reminding them that you have the right to develop your own way of parenting as you mature as a mother.

baby-wearing is a way of life, so embrace it! It is simply amazing, opening up the world instead of restricting it, bringing you closer to your children and more equipped to go on adventures with them. Embrace the new found freedom nursing on the go also brings, even when your daughter is twenty-seven months old you are still able to do this. However, do at times nurse her in a quiet space with your feet up!

spend as much time in nature with your children as possible, for here you are all free from the distractions of modern life. Go an adventures together and start to learn about nature as a family. There is so much to learn about this wonderful, rich and life-giving resource, which we are so lucky to have right on our doorstep. Fortunately, having a young dog means it is is easier to go out everyday on a walk. Sadly, your children are an endangered species in nature, for most are indoors.

keep life as simple and natural as possible. Aim to de-clutter periodically, as it is inevitable you will accumulate a lot of stuff, which tends to get in the way.

listen to your heart and to your children, allow yourself to slow down and follow your children’s lead by moving at their pace. Breathe and let go, see the wonder of life through the eyes of your children again, it will amaze you and open up new possibilities to you. Together with your children you can learn so much more about the world. Your children truly are your greatest teacher, they will teach you more about who you are and more about what life is about than you ever realised. 

time is the richest resource available to you, make and value it as life gets busier and busier the further down the mothering path you go.

spend time and thought researching the right learning settings for your children at the right time for them. The perfect setting will be found, after much research, one which nurtures your children in the woods and allotments and in a small indoor space. This playgroup will change your life and your children’s lives in very positive ways, opening up new paths and relationships, as well as ultimately a new career for you in forest school. It is worth the long drive to get to the playgroup for all the benefits.

you will spend years debating about school age education for your children. This is not easy. Believe that home education is the right path for your children in their early years, once they have left playgroup at age five, because no education provider in your area can offer the personalised education you can. Trust yourself that what you’re doing is right for you at this time, as you evolve as a parent and learn more about yourself and your children.

be strong in your convictions as other people often feel they have the right to criticise, advise and comment about how you’re bringing up your children. Be patient with other people and realistic about whether it is worth trying to educate them about the way you parent.

let other new mums you know forge their own way. Listen to them and make suggestions if they ask for it, but never dictate or judge them. They must also find their own way.

it is important to nurture yourself so you can also nurture your children. Try to take time out to forge your own identity, to learn who you are, even when this means writing or studying at midnight, doing yoga early in the morning and going for long walks in the rain. It is worth the sacrifice to be with the children as much as possible, but also maximising the minimal free time that is available to you. This is a challenge!

you do not have to give up your hobbies and interests because you have had children, although you will often hear this. You simply have to adapt your interests so that you’re learning and doing things together on your children’s level. However, be prepared for challenges, as well as looks of incredulity from others. Remember, nothing you do which is worth doing is easy, but it it still worth doing!

you will improve your health and awareness of the environment and start to consider your place on the planet from your children. They will bring you ever closer to the earth and to mother nature.

be a role model to your children, for they are your mirrors. At times viewing their behaviour is a truth you do not wish to face, for you are looking at the negative sides of your own character, but at other times their behaviour will make you swell with pride.

live each day with joy. Enjoy this time as a young mother, for it can never be repeated.

your life will have changed beyond compare a half decade after giving birth the first time. Mothering has caused you to shine, you have blossomed; you are healthier, happier and more self aware than ever before, having found yoga, forest school, outdoor learning and writing, which has unlocked your creativity.

having a daughter after having a son is a rich blessing; what will the next half decade hold?

 

you would not change being a parent for the world, what a journey you are part-way through

to close this stream of advice, think of this; when your son is only four years old and your daughter 20 months old, you trek to almost 5000 metres in your beloved Nepal Himalayas. This would not have been possible without all of the above falling into place and being. It is testament to both you and your husbands amazing capabilities as parents.

well done, you are doing a amazing job. Now, how rarely do we as mothers give ourselves a pat on the back for the amazing work we do every day of our lives. For once you are giving yourself ten out of ten, instead of your usual self-deprecating five or under, because you are looking back over the magnitude of your achievements. Shred the mum guilt once in awhile, it is not helpful. This self-congratulating is yet another lesson to carry forward into the future, the next wonderful half decade of parenthood. What shall it bring?

With much love and best wishes,

Your self in mid 2015, proud mother of Ewan and Tessa, your beautiful children 

 

Just see what we'll be capable of; Our family at the top of our world, Nepal, 2014
Just see what we’ll be capable of; Our family at the top of our world, Nepal, 2014

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit 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:

  • Dear Me. — Meegs at A New Day writes to her decade-younger self offering a good reminder of how far she’s come, and she addresses some fears she wishes future her could assuage.
  • Reflecting on Motherhood with Parental Intelligence: A Letter to Myself — Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. at Parental Intelligence writes about raising her two loving, empathic sons with Parental Intelligence and finding they have become industrious, accomplished young men with warm social relationships.
  • A Letter to MyselfThe Barefoot Mama writes to herself in the moments around the birth of her daughter.
  • A Letter to Myself — Holly at Leaves of Lavender offers a missive to herself in the past… three years in the past, to be precise, when her little one was only four months old.
  • Dear me: Nothing will go the way you’ve planned — Lauren at Hobo Mama gets real with her just-starting-parenting self and tells it to her straight.
  • A Letter to the Mama Whom I Will Become — Erin from And Now, for Something Completely Different writes a letter to the Mama whom she will one day be, filled with musings on the past, present, and future.
  • Dear Me of 7 Years Ago — Lactating Girl at The Adventures of Lactating Girl writes to her pre-baby self telling her about the whirlwind she’s about to enter called parenting.
  • Talking to My 18 Year Old SelfHannahandHorn talks to herself as she is just entering college.
  • Dear highly sensitive soulMarija Smits tells a younger version of herself that motherhood will bring unexpected benefits – one of them being the realization that she is a highly sensitive person.
  • Talking to myself: Dear Pre StoneageparentStoneageparent enlightens her pre-pregnant self about the amazing transformations life has in store for her after having two children
  • Dear Me: I love you. — Dionna at Code Name: Mama wrote herself a few little reminders to help her be at peace with who she is in the moment. That may give her the greatest chance of being at peace in the future, too.
  • My best advice to the new mama I was 8 years ago — Tat at Mum in Search shares the one thing she wishes she’d figured out earlier in a letter to her 8-years-ago self (that’s when her first baby was 6 moths old).
  • A Letter to Myself — Bibi at The Conscious Doer sends a letter back in time eight years to her darkest moment post partum.
  • To me, with love — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama makes peace with her past and projects what a future her will need to hear.
  • To Myself on the Last Day — Rachael at The Variegated Life tells her panicked last-day-before-motherhood self not to worry.

20 thoughts on “Talking to Myself; Dear pre-parenthood me”

  1. I love all you said about being strong and trusting yourself. So much of early motherhood can be spent in doubt. It’s when you listen to your child and that still small voice inside of you, the one that speaks out of love for your child and yourself, that we should be the most confident. Beautiful letter!

    1. Hi Dionna. Thanks a lot for your insightful comment and your support. I agree, a lot of early mothering seems to hinge on doubt, but over time this doubt can be transformed into strength and security as we learn to trust ourselves and know what we are doing it right for us and our children.

  2. “…the generation gap and difference of culture with your parents surprises and saddens you, causing much heart-ache and soul-searching. Over time you learn to accept the differences, instead trying to show empathy with them in appreciating where they are coming from. The relationship they have with your children is priceless, so you must move on, seeing the good in their interventions and support. You must let them be with their grandchildren in their own space, whilst reminding them that you have the right to develop your own way of parenting as you mature as a mother. ”
    The above paragraph was one of the things that really jumped out at me. It can be really challenging to forge a new relationship with one’s parents when they become grandparents, can’t it? Like you say, you need to respect the differences, but also assert on your own behalf. And every family has its own unique quirks, so sometimes it can be a real minefield. But it sounds as though you’re doing really well. Thank you Caroline for such an inspiring and sensitive post 🙂

    1. Thanks Marija for your comments and support, glad you found took something from my blog, I agree every family has its quirks and we must try to smile and accept them whilst asserting our own beliefs too, a fine balance.

  3. Great advice! Its so easy to doubt ourselves when we suddenly find ourselves completely responsible for these amazing little lives. It sounds like you have a good head about it all!

    1. Hi Meegs, thanks for your comments, it does sound like an enormous task when we have responsibility for precious little lives, but we are all doing our best and that is all we can do.

  4. Wo.
    This post was amazing.
    I hope that one day, I can be half the mama that you are. You’re honestly so awesome, and your kids are so lucky to have you!
    There are just so many cool things about this post. It’s so affirming. I want to keep it somewhere and read it every day. Your writing is beautiful.
    That picture of your family in Nepal is breathtaking! It’s so beautiful, and it is so cool that you shared this experience together, as a family. When you travel, you are giving your kids a very special thing. I can’t wait to travel with my kids one day.

    1. Hi Erin, thank you so much for your very encouraging, positive and affirming words, your comment almost made me cry, it is comments such as this that keep me writing. Thank you so much for saying what you have said, I want to keep reading it as it’s so affirming.

  5. You wrote the note to myself that I couldn’t write. I love that you didn’t/don’t fear traveling abroad with your children; too many people follow advice about leaving children home when traveling. I look forward to hopefully being able to travel abroad with our son soon.

    Your advice is something that I am going to earmark and share. Thank you.

    1. Hi Hannah, thank you for your comments. It was amazing the comments we got from people when we said we were taking our kids to Nepal and when we were there so many people were also utterly amazed. It was a courageous thing my husband and I did and I am so glad we did it, it changed our lives and gives us hope for many more adventures to come. You can do it too, you just have to have strength in your own convictions and believe in yourself. Good luck and I hope you also manage to travel with your family.

  6. Good on you for hiking as a family! That’s super impressive.

    I really enjoyed all your points. I was thinking during the birth paragraph that, even though I wish my birth with my first had gone differently, I still don’t wish it away. It taught me so much about what I needed to do differently the next time, and who I am and what I want and how I need to grow.

    I also really appreciated your paragraph about the grandparents as well. In my early days parenting, I felt they were criticizing me more and I was much more sensitive to it, and on the other side of the coin, I was more critical of how they’d raised me and was trying to do everything “better.” As they get older and I get older and we all get a little wiser year by year, I recognize these few years my children have left with them as the precious memory-making moments they are, and I think we’re all willing to step back a bit and let the grandparents and grandkids interact without as much judgment on either side. There’s more mutual respect and just allowing the relationships to happen, and I really like that.

    1. Thanks for your comments Lauren. I agree with what you say about grandparents. As we age I am appreciating them more and trying to step back and let them interact with their grandchildren, let them be instead breathing down their necks. There’s been a lot of hurt and pain and judgement and I need to let that go, it is beautiful to watch them interact together and it is a precious, fleeting time, I only have to remember time with my late Nanna to realise that. Thanks for affirming my thoughts on this and for your support and sensitive read of my post.

  7. Love this post! Your very first point resounded well with my frame of mind today. I’ve been fighting myself all day about whether or not I’m being selfish by staying at home with my kids, if I’m putting my family in a bad financial situation and if that wins out over me being home. You’re right though, this is the place for me. There’s such a short period of time where they’re small and I need to be here to see it first hand.

    1. Hi Claire, thanks for your comments, I’m glad that I’ve helped you to feel that being a stay at home mum is the right thing for you to do right now. It is for such a short period, already my little boy turns 5 tomorrow and I wonder where the years have gone. I never doubt for a second that what I did was right, it was never a sacrifice.

  8. How lovely to hear a mom praising herself for all that she has done right! It sounds like you’re doing a good job so far heeding your instincts. A lot of the points you made really resonate with me. I sometimes worry about my decision to be a stay-at-home mama, even though I know deep in my heart that it is the best one for our family; I think it’s the outside pressure from society that makes us doubt ourselves.

    1. Hi Holly, thanks for your comments, I’m glad that you also feel that being a stay at home mum is the right choice for you. It is the many outside pressures which sometimes influence us to doubt what we know deep down is the right thing to do. Well done for recognising this and listening to yourself. Thank you.

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