15 May 2008


I have two daughters. (Disclaimer: I do have a step-daughter, but I am only 14 years older than her, and I was only 23 when we met (and she was 9), so I never really felt like a mother toward her. More like a big sister. Plus she spent most of her time at her mom's. She's 25 now, and out on her own.)

So, back to my birth daughters. Currently they are 13 and 11. I really like my daughters. I love them, as I believe most parents do, but I also really like them. I like to be with them. I like to do things with them. I like to hang out with them. This is a big part of why I have them home instead of locked up in some institution all day with people who will not care about them anywhere near as much as I do.

When my eldest was born, I remember not wanting to let her go. I didn't want anyone to hold her, I only wanted to hold her. She had been in my body for 9 months, shouldn't I have been allowed a little weaning time? I got a lot of grief from people when I wouldn't want to let them hold my daughter. I learned with my second. I wore her in a sling.....all the time. When people would ask to hold her I would say "Sorry, she's all comfy in her sling, maybe later". I had a bassinet given to me by a friend for my eldest. I tried to put her in the bassinet the first few nights home. I couldn't sleep. Even though she was in the room with me, I couldn't stop checking on her. I finally decided to bring her to bed. I had never read a book on Attachment Parenting or co-sleeping, but that was what I was doing. I trusted my gut, my instincts. I knew perfectly well what my daughters needed. It was only after I found out I was pregnant with my second when I got some books on AP and co-sleeping. I wasn't part of the lunatic fringe as so many thought, lots of people do this. Hooray! I felt proud of myself for following my heart and not what other people said.

I nursed both of my children. My first unfortunately only 4 1/2 months because I had to have major back surgery. But I let my youngest self wean. Oh imagine the grief I got for that. "When are you going to stop nursing her?" "Will you still be nursing her when she goes to Kindergarten?", etc., etc. I never had anyone in public ever say anything to me, but I did get some stares. Especially when she was around two and wanted to nurse by straddling me upright and lift my shirt for the world to see. And of course when she could talk and would ask for "Boo"! She did finally stop at 3 1/2 years, and it was all of her own accord. I also never pushed my children out my bed before they were ready. And much to many other's disbelief, they both did finally decide on a time when they were ready.

Here are my girls when they were little:

Even though I had been Attachment Parenting, I really hadn't considered homeschooling. I was surrounded by people who had their kids in pre-school, so that seemed like the right thing at the time. I did end up at a Montessori, which I believe wasn't as bad as if I had put them in regular pre-school. I did miss them though. So I started working at the school. I could peek in the little window at them whenever I wanted.

After their early years in Montessori, we started homeschooling. As I said in an earlier post it took us a while to get into unschooling. But even before then I often would just say "Let's go do something fun or adventurous". We have a beach in town and a wonderful park. The park has a playground as well as hiking trails and a pond with a bridge. My girls loved to go to the park. When they were younger mostly to play on the playground and feed the ducks at the pond. Now my youngest likes to go on hikes with me. We recently went on a short hike to a pine forest area in the park and ate lunch. It was lovely to be out with my daughter. We hiked and talked and ate our lunch, then she wanted to walk around the pond. It made me realize how quickly these girls of mine are growing up. My oldest doesn't care to do that kind of stuff anymore. She is more than happy to have me sit beside her on the computer and watch her play some games. Or to go into the basement and watch her do DDR (Dance Dance revolution). She also likes it when I lay on her bed at night and play with her cat. (He's always on her bed). That's when I can really get her to open up and talk to me.

I try to practice respectful living with my girls. I don't want to be a home dictator, and everything I say doesn't necessarily go. They are allowed to voice their opinions, they are allowed to disagree. I am always willing to discuss something with them, even something I want them to do. And I often change my mind, or let them change my mind. We are all just people here, trying to live harmoniously together. I am not them, and they are not me. Why should I force them to be like me? Just because I can't stand some of their music or TV shows doesn't mean I don't have to allow them to watch them. I don't have to watch them, but they can. I may not like everything they choose to wear, but it's them wearing it, not me.

I know so many parents that dictate every hour of their children's lives. What time they need to wake up (this is homeschoolers I am talking about, not people that necessarily have to be somewhere), what time they will eat breakfast, (whether they are hungry or not), I know one mom who even schedules bathroom breaks into her "homeschooling" day. How is that respectful of your child's needs? If they are not even allowed when to decide they need to use the bathroom? I feel eating is the same way. I grew up in a home with a mother who had some serious food issues. I have spent most of my life battling the bad things I learned from her. I was determined not to let the pattern repeat with my girls. Who decided people need to sit down and have breakfast at 8am, lunch at noon and dinner at 6pm? Why is it not ok for people to just eat when they are hungry? Isn't that listening to ones body? Isn't that a healthier way to live than someone else telling you when you must be hungry and must eat, which then forces you to suppress your own hunger urges so you never learn to feel them? I try my best to let my girls follow the feelings of their own bodies. When they are hungry they eat, when they are thirsty they drink and when they need to use the bathroom they go. Isn't it unbelievable some people don't allow these little liberties to their children?

I think my girls are growing into fabulous young women. I am not waiting for them to "become" something. They are already wonderful today, the way they are. So many people "raise" (what are they vegetables : ) their children for the outcome. "I want them to go to college, or be this or be that". Why not just enjoy each moment. Each stage of their life. Looking to the future is good sometimes, but if you live constantly in the future wondering or worrying about what will be, you are missing the present. The wonderful memories that can be created right now.

I look forward to just continuing on this path with my girls. We love the summer and the beach and going to the pool and that is what we looking forward to the most in the next few months. We take things day by day. What I appreciate the most is that they want to do this stuff with ME! And I really like doing with it them. Like I said, I really like my girls, and I love them too.
Here's what they look like now: Carley, 13

Catherine, 11

A daughter is a miracle that never ceases to be miraculous...full of beauty and forever beautiful...loving and caring and truly amazing.
- Deanna Beisser-


Stephanie said...

Once again I'm right there with you from day one I listened to my baby, fed them when hungry, slept with them, held them all the time and used my gut instincts long before I heard of AP, I always called it *common sense*

Jenny said...

I was hoping you would have a current picture of them right under the one of when they were little!