Monday, July 7, 2008

Meditation on Meaning and Mothering

I had an insight this morning. Or a couple. Yes. I had two poignant insights that might be important only to the mind of a mom who was awake no fewer than six times to nurse her toddler then had to go to work.

My first insight was a little diagram image of my priorities that popped up all visual and organized in my head. It went Tiny Her, Him, Work, Art, Housework, Money.... on downward in increasingly small fonts until the tiny, squeaky-meek little 'me' box at the bottom of the pile was microscopic. Oh, I thought. The "oh" of the dawning realization variety. Mentally I tried to imagine a pretty graph of overlapping circles where the ME section was a warm pale color- possibly peach- that gently blended in perfect graph harmony with all the other neat little divisions of life. It fell apart a little bit because immediately the next epiphany slapped me and was more grounded and more describable. (It came with a blog post fully written and edited, and almost hit the publish button for me.)

Weary Hippie Mother in Appalachia Insight the Second:

Here's what bugs about my own little parenting zeitgeist: it's the lack of value given to my choices. I've never encountered hostility directly in my family, neighbors, or out in my town. No one has asked me to cover my nursing child or reprimanded me about the dangers of co-sleeping. Instead I get these amused little reactions like I am the most adorable little eccentric- just about completely harmless- when people find out the barely-touched crib was Freecycled before the baby was walking, or see us nursing, or ask me if my handmade sling is safe. I'm thrilled that I've had a comfortable time of it- I was braced (after too many hours of web-based mamadrama) to be assaulted with judgmental people.

My complaint, now that my new insight has helped me articulate it, is that my parenting choices are seen as indulgent. (Also, I can hear people scoffing: 'parenting choices' is a phrase full of pretentious over-thinking.) It's in the way doctors presume that breast milk is of no nutritive importance after six months or a year. It's the way people just warn sleep sharers that the kids will never leave the bed. It's the convenient loss of the history of midwives. and ignoring C-section rates.

I won't pretend for politics or good press that night nursing isn't exhausting me, or that my husband isn't dying to have me back in our bed full-time. I just want to own my reasons. I want to say, yes my mother-milk is important to my small picky-eating baby. I want to acknowledge my belief that small children need a warm, comforting body next to theirs at night. Now that I'm moving toward a new phase with weaning I need to express that nursing for two years has been a gift to Molly. My waiting to wean at an age that's radical in my neighborhood isn't a sentimental avoidance of choice- it's a real decision. It's all so complex with ideas of sacrifice (and motherhood culturally is far too tangled up in that for me to even scratch the surface) but my reasons, and my choices, are expressions of love and of careful thought, and of intention.

1 comment:

Lexie said...

Oh my g-d-ss, if I didn't already love you before, I LOVE you now.

BOOM. You hit the nail on the head with that second one, grrl. Shit.

And *that's* why it pisses me off so much that I got the standard, "Maybe it's time to start setting boundaries" shit assvice from my (former) IRLSF yesterday. UH-HUH.

LOVE YOU! This is going to spawn some hippie mama in AL ephiphanies, too...