Friday, June 24, 2011

A Blog Break

With Summer hitting full swing, I'm going to be taking a bit of a break from this blog to enjoy this special time of year more fully.

Enjoy your days!

Sunday, June 19, 2011


What about Bedtime you ask. Surely you don't let your 2 year old decide for himself when he will sleep? Won't he just stay awake all night? And then sleep all morning?

Well. Yes to everything.

I'm not sure if K has EVER been a fan of bedtime though...or sleep really. I mean, he LIKES his sleep in the sense that he GOES to sleep, but he was never one of those babies that takes two and three naps a day and then go down for a 12 hour night sleep. In fact, I distinctly remember sleep as being a huge question mark as far as I was concerned on the parenting spectrum.

There's sooo much hype about the amount of sleep children need. It can get to a person. It had me convinced for a while that I was somehow failing in the mothering department because my kid (if compared with the research, parenting books, and advice I was receiving) LITERALLY never slept.

I distinctly remember it starting back when I was pregnant. As part of our Bradley birth class, N and I were asked to fill out a rough schedule of a day with a newborn. It was supposed to show us that a baby was ridiculously time consuming and to prepare us for what lay ahead. Frankly, it was terrifying. But, what I remember most is that the baby was supposedly doing nothing but nursing, pooping, and sleeping. NOTHING else.

And then we brought K home. *sigh* He didn't really seem to sleep that much. He was wide awake half the night, most of the day, and I remember walking around the block in the snow because there was nothing else to DO with a wide awake infant in the middle of winter.

It wasn't detrimental to N and I at all. I mean, it was unexpected given what we had been told, but I just wore K wherever we went so he slept when needed and watched the world around him when awake. To tell the truth, I didn't give it much thought except to wonder how other babies were sleeping all the time.

When K was around 6 months old, I began to get worried. He was crawling. He was in to EVERYTHING, and he didn't nap. AT ALL. (I'm really not kidding.) He woke between 10-11am, and stayed up wide eyed and bushy-tailed until N and I collapsed around 1am. I had started going to a few Mom groups, making friends, and doing a good deal of parenting research and suddenly it seemed as though K wasn't sleeping enough.

I read a few books on night sleep training.

I commiserated with a fellow Mom friend who's child honest to goodness never ever slept.

I thought that I needed to instigate a  Bedtime.

I started up a routine, warm bath, massage, bedtime stories, nursing, ect...the whole works. But nothing worked. K wouldn't sleep unless we ALL went to bed, and somehow N and I always seemed to stay up late irregardless of the Baby.

We moved to Puerto Rico when K was 12 months old, and suddenly he was taking a nap in the mid-afternoon and crashing for the night at 8pm. Just like that. I didn't change anything. He was walking and running and spending every day at the park, the beach, and out in the hot sun, and he was actually needing more sleep.

Imagine that.

Of course, we weren't unschoolers just yet. We were still struggling with our own hang-ups about parenting without authoritarianism. N and I were, essentially, still deschooling ourselves from what we thought represented a 'good' child.

So, I ignored what was probably THE most obvious indication that my child was perfectly capable of deciding his own sleep schedule and became a bit rigid about bedtime and naptime. I won't lie. It was WONDERFUL to KNOW that the baby would be down at 1pm, sleep for two hours, and then go down for the night at 9pm.

But at some point in those next few months, K stopped needing all that extra sleep. It started getting REALLY hard to get him down for a nap. And 'bedtime' became an unbearable battle of wills that left me stressed out and frustrated at the 'wasted' hour of nursing that resulted in nothing but a recharged toddler.

Even as recent as 3 or 4 months ago, I was struggling with my issues regarding K's sleep.

I was more lax. I 'let' him stay up until I saw signs that indicated he was tired and then I would scoop him up and settle down in bed for a long nursing down. Which, often didn't work.

But, for the past two months or so, we've been trying a less stressful approach. N stays up late. He's just a night owl. I stay up mediocre late...about midnight and then I really need to lay down, chill out for a bit, and go to sleep. K varies. Some nights he's asking for milk and stories in the bedroom at 8pm, some nights he stays up until 5am perfectly content. (TOTALLY not kidding!)

So, now, I go to bed when tired. That's just it. I have released whatever last resolve I had about bedtime for K, and I worry about myself. I respect that he's done NOTHING but show me he can choose for himself when he needs to sleep, and I have stepped back.

Nighttime is a LOT less stressful. I play with K without dreading the hour or two of nursing that may or may not get him to sleep or nagging him about whether or not he's tired. N and I have lost some bit of our 'alone' time, but we can still talk and cuddle. N and K get some quality time together that they both enjoy. We all seem a bit more chill.

And, yes. We all sleep late. It's rare that we're all up before 11am, but we are aware of that and make sure not to schedule anything for the morning.

It's not a bad deal.

It's funny how some of the hardest things I've had to do as a parent involve letting go of my own perceptions of what constitutes a childhood, a 'good' parent, and a 'good' child. Sometimes I wonder if K will have a much easier time of raising his children. Will life be more fun and games right from the beginning because he can't remember or imagine any other WAY to raise a child?

This post was part of Unschooling Monday sponsored by Owlet Designs.Make sure to check out the rest of the participating posts!

Park Parenting

We go fairly consistently to one particular park. Not only does it have a fairly adequate play structure in terms of fun, but it's also a dumping ground for everyone's unwanted toys. There are bikes, cars, play kitchens, ect... all over the place and, one would think it ought to be a place you could sit back and let your child run rampant.

One would think.

I tend to sit back on a picnic blanket and read, write, or knit. I trust that K will come find me if he needs my assistance, and I trust that he's not some sort of mean-spirited child who wants to hurt others.

It's rare that I see any other mothers doing this. I really and truly don't get it.

I don't really WANT K to be dependent on me for his protection, his fun, his creativity, ect... Those are all great parenting qualities, and I DO hope that I provide them when needed, but at the park? When there's something like a hundred other little children to play with? And toys? And sand and water?

The thing is, I DO play with K at the park if there's no one else there. Or if I can tell he's bored or if he asks me to participate more directly. But I don't see other parents doing that.

Instead, they come to the park with the intention of following behind their kid and intercepting whenever there's the slightest indication of...well...anything.

You can tell that the kids would rather their parents disappeared for a bit. Especially as one of the most common spots to play is underneath the main play structure where adults CAN'T reach them.

The parents even acknowledge that their children have just run under a wooden play structure to get away from them and they STILL don't sit back!


It probably shouldn't bother me as much as it does except that it makes me feel as though I should be on guard. If K falls...which does happen...other mothers SWOOP in ( can feel the breeze!) and start  offering all sorts of comfort and calling around for his Mum. Meanwhile, K is frantically trying to get away from them but they WON'T physically let go of him because, to their eyes, he has just had a horrible fall and certainly can't be alright.

I'm not kidding this has happened several times.

One time, K came running toward me from across the park with THREE mothers following on his heels. He was a bit frantic, I gave him a hug, and he managed to say, "Make Ladies Stop". At this point, the other women had come up on us and one asked me, fairly rudely, if this was my child. I said yes, as K clung tightly to me looking away from them. She then announced that he had fallen. I turned to K and asked if he had fallen, and he nodded yes and described REALLY WELL how he had fallen. I asked if he was alright and he said "Yup" and ran off to play. The other Mothers were APPALLED that I didn't do more.


If my kid isn't upset, then I'm not going to MAKE him upset by making a bigger deal out of a fall than it is!

But, more often, I have to be on guard about the whole sharing thing. Which is ludicrous. This park is filled with toddlers who are being CONSTANTLY yelled at by their parents to share this and give take wait for turns. K shares more often than not, but everyone gets so uptight about it that I feel as though I need to have an eye open for ANY and ALL altercations that involve some other parents perception of what constitutes 'good' sharing.

And, lastly, there's the whole thing where everyone treats their child as though they're incapable of fending for themselves. Sometimes K is rough about grabbing toys, or playing in the sand near smaller children. The parents WIG out because god forbid their child get any sand in their hair...

Idk, whenever I talk about this it sounds as though I'm advocating a Lord of the Flies situation, which I'm not, but I strongly believe in first giving children the chance to work through whatever presents itself as a problem. EVEN if one of the children is much younger.

And by that, I mean, before I jump in to smooth out a toy situation where K was the aggressor, I expect the other child to let me know that what was done to him or her was undesirable. Even a baby can speak up for themselves with a cry or a sad face directed towards K.

Because, it's very hard to explain why something was a not so nice thing to do when the other involved child isn't displaying ANY sign of being bothered. Instead, it's their parents who are taking the role of protection a bit too seriously (in my opinion) and speaking for their child because it seemed like a bad thing IN THEIR EYES.

So, in sum, going to the park is not as chill as it really should be. It's a lot of work even when I'm sitting back knitting, and I can't help but attribute it to my uncomfortableness with mainstream parenting.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Legalize It

Today, I noticed a man wearing a black t-shirt with "Legalize It" written in bold white font. (We're talking about Marijuana here.)

To be clear, I personally think there's nothing wrong or dangerous about using pot. It's a weed. It has medical benefits. And, most importantly, I don't really care what others choose to do.

I have smoked it, and I have enjoyed every occasion.

I have known pot dealers, growers, and users. There was nothing extraordinary about any of these people that would have given an indication as to what they did in their free time.

With all that said, I can't get behind the whole "legalize it" movement. Not because I don't support one's right to use marijuana. In fact, it's just the opposite.

When does something even BECOME illegal? When the government declares it punishable by their law...which, in case you missed the memo, not EVERYONE signed up for.

To make something 'Legal' is to regulate something into accordance with the State. Legalizing pot would hardly mean free and ready access to everyone who desired it. Rather, it would mean, thousands of dollars paid annually to the State for the RIGHT to buy and sell. It would mean licensure in accordance with strict regulations. It would mean age limits, quantity limits, and quality specifications.

Right now, there's a threat of force against my person hovering over my head, but I CAN walk next door and buy some quality pot off the guy who's growing in his backyard...for one fee. No questions asked. No papers filed. No paper trail as to what I do with my time.

It's a tiny bit like freedom.

There's a really excellent essay by Emma Goldman that always comes to mind whenever I overhear people ardently in favor of legalizing or regulating something. Emma Goldman is not quite a hero of mine (I think she's a bit of socialist) but this particular essay always struck me as rather important.

Back in her day, women were pushing for the right to vote. They wanted equal rights as their fellow men, and that meant having the right to cast a vote. Emma couldn't quite see eye to eye with her fellow feminists...not that she was AGAINST them having the right to vote, rather, she couldn't understand why they wanted to join up with the people she saw as enslavers to the entire human race! An anarchist by all definitions, Emma thought that women might do better to withhold themselves from the State.

At first it boggles the mind.

It takes some thought.

When women joined to the State through the right to vote, they lost their right to exist outside of the State. We welcomed the State into our lives thinking it preferable to living as the chattel of Man. Instead of a husband or father telling us what we might and might not do, we welcomed a much more demanding master. Government is not something you can lightly shake off...or run away from, or dissuade.

 Nowdays when people talk excitedly about getting something legalized or regulated, it makes me cringe. Isn't something like that going on right now?...Obama's healthcare plan that 'regulates' insurance companies and makes it 'illegal' to go without a healthcare plan...under THREAT OF FORCE.

There are movements all over the country to make homeschooling a 'legal' option for parents. Where it is 'legal' there are massive amounts of paperwork and regulations that infringe upon the very freedom people think they have received.

The same is true of homebirthing. There are still states where it is illegal, and midwives operate under threat of fines and imprisonment. They hope for legalization and state regulation. This all means paying hard-earned money INTO the very State that has been punishing your actions for the RIGHT to NOW do those actions legally.

WITH more restrictions than when you were just going ahead and doing the damn thing illegally.


This happens ALL the time.

I just can't support it.

It's sort of like nursing-ins. I admire the women who go do these shows of force about breastfeeding, but I will probably never join one. If I want to breastfeed my child, I will. I will not wait for the State to approve my action. It might make a larger statement if everyone just did what they wanted to do anyway...without aiming for any sort of 'approval' or state sanction.

*sigh* Do you know that at the most recent nursing in, the woman running the thing actually went down the city office to file for AND receive a PERMIT for her protest.

Getting a STATE PERMIT to protest AGAINST  the State????!!!!

That's another blog post ;-)

I have no idea what the law will be in whatever state we happen to be in when K reaches 'school age', but it just won't matter. He will be home with us no matter the law because it's absolutely within my right as a parent to require the best education possible for my child.

The next baby will be born at home. I don't care if it's illegal. It's my body, it's my child, it's not something anyone else can tell me is legal or illegal.

So, in conclusion, I DO wish that pot were legal...meaning, I wish there was no THREAT OF FORCE preventing me from buying some off of that guy down the street, but I can't get behind the "legalize it" movement...or any such moment really. I don't support the State...nor do I look to the State for support or permission to go about my life as I see fit.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mainstream Media and School

Have you seen this video? Or, better yet, read this book?

Is it funny? Or just disturbing? how books and movies so effectively illustrate the spirit-crushing tendencies of structured schooling, without intention?

It's satisfying for me, as a mother who would prefer her child to never enter public or private school, to see  these examples so widespread in mainstream media, but it's sort of like the anarchism thing in that I just can't understand why people accept this as normal so...passively.

I mean, how is this video NOT disturbing? (outside of the fact that the little pup appears to have a happy home life!)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Motherhood Moments

Taken this past week, these photos share what it means to be a Mother. Love, Laughter, Happiness, Fulfillment, and Pride in my little one. 
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