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My Declaration of Independence

Oh, speaking of independence, if you’re curious about the babe’s first 4th of July — she was quite predictably unaware that it was different from any other day ; )  We watched the fireworks, but were far enough away that we didn’t hear loud noises.  She didn’t notice them, and was content to watch whoever was talking at the time.  Anyway, on to my blabbering on and on for the day…

__________________________________________
I am frustrated.  Becoming a mother changes you, of course.  I think everyone knows that.  I’ve always been a bit anti-mainstream, and now that I have Annabelle to consider as well, I have so many more choices to make.  And all of my choices end up being un-mainstream.  When it comes to things that people aren’t used to, many immediately jump to criticism without really thinking deeply about the whys of the situation.  Others may not be judgmental, but immediately file the person who does these things under, “People who are not like me,” and happily move along.  There are those who also tend to question what has come to be accepted as normal by our society, and they may actually agree with the seemingly wacky decisions of a person like me, or at least find themselves intrigued by their different-ness.  I don’t feel like I meet anyone like this anymore, however, and I am exhausted.  I’m exhausted with being an oddball, with feeling like I can’t talk about most things having to do with my life with most of the people I see, because they’ll think I’m totally nuts.  I am most definitely not going to change things for anyone, however.  I just need to put it all out there, and remind myself why I do things the way I do to get myself back into happy, confident mode again.  I think it’s sad that most of the people I associate with on a daily basis know very little about me, because I don’t want them to file me under, “People Who are not Like Me” straightaway.  It’s not that I misrepresent myself, it’s that I just plain don’t represent myself at all, unless someone asks outright.  I’m beginning to realize that this does not facilitate the building of strong friendships, so I’m at an impasse and am thinking that I need to just be open, and allow people to cast me off as someone they can’t relate to if that’s what they’re inclined to do — because those who don’t are probably people I’d really like to get to know.


The following is my personal Declaration of Independence.  This is the what and why of my biggest eccentricities.  I may be strange, and I may even be crazy, but everything I choose to do and be is well thought out!  I certainly don’t think any of this makes me better than anyone else.  I just want to put it out there — for myself — to work toward openness and freedom in my everyday life as a mom.  
I don’t eat meat, eggs, or dairy.  My husband does, so don’t go thinking I hate on people who do.  Everyone makes their own decisions on these things and it’s not for me to criticize, but this is my choice.  Why?  Meat: It’s flesh.  The idea of consuming flesh makes me uneasy.  Most of the meat consumed by Americans is factory farmed, and the animals it is taken from are treated in a shockingly inhumane way.  I cannot, with a clear conscience, add to the demand for such a product, or use my money to support it.  It also takes a whole lot of work to digest.  I find that my body likes a plant-based diet much more. Eggs: I never much liked them anyway, but the chickens from whom they come are treated just as poorly as the animals I mentioned a moment ago, so I feel better avoiding them.  If we raise our own chickens one day, well, we’ll see.  Dairy: I make milk.  My milk is specifically formulated to meet the nutritional needs of my offspring.  It is a complete food with the perfect balance of protein, fats, lactose, sodium, etc for a growing human.  My milk even has stem cells.  Cows make milk, too, and I suspect that it is just as amazing and perfect and complete a food for their offspring as mine is for mine.  I find the idea of drinking udder milk (or anything derived from it) just as off putting as most adults would find the idea of drinking my milk.  Of course we all know that a nursing human has to be careful about what medications she takes, and most would stay far away from the massive amounts of antibiotics and hormones that are given to dairy cows.  Yikes!

I will never have another child in the hospital, if I can help it, and my next pregnancy will look a bit different from my previous one, too.  I believe that pregnancy is a natural state of being for women, and is not inherently dangerous.  In the absence of complications, it does not need to be a medical event.  By placing normal birth in hospitals, we create fear — the fear of liability on the part of hospital staff, who begin to feel that they need to “manage” a natural process with interventions in order to eliminate hypothetical risks and the fear of these risks and the interventions that are intended to eliminate them on the part of birthing mothers.  Fear is the enemy of the birthing woman.

I am adamantly opposed to circumcision, and if I should be fortunate enough to have a son one day, he will remain intact.  This is something I am unapologetic about and it is, at its core, a human rights issue.  Until I became pregnant and started researching, I, like many Americans just saw it as a fact of life.  However, it is, in actuality, a choice and I don’t believe that ANY parent has the right to make the choice to amputate a part of their child’s body.  There is absolutely no medical reason for circumcision — all of the lies we have been told about it continue to float around, but if we look, we can find the information disproving them.  As many infant boys die from circumcision related complications as from SIDS in this country.  It’s a tragedy. Here is a great article with facts on the subject: http://www.drmomma.org/2010/05/death-from-circumcision.html 

I co-sleep  Yes, I know that this can be dangerous.  I also know that it can be safer than placing an infant alone in a crib if done properly. I will avoid going on and on, but will link you to another great article from the same amazing resource as the above in case you’re up in arms on this one and would like some more info: http://www.drmomma.org/2009/10/cosleeping-and-biological-imperatives.html

I practice EC instead of traditionally diapering.  I discussed this at length already, so I’ll avoid going on and on.  If you missed it and want to know what the heck I’m talking about, look over to the right and find the “labels” in the side column of this blog.  Click on elimination communication and you’ll find more information than you probably want!

I don’t use any bottles.  At all.  Don’t even have any.  Don’t want any.  I have no issue with them, really, and understand that they come in quite handy for some, which is great.  They are, however, merely a replacement for (or in addition to) the breast.  I have no need for a replacement, because I’m always with my nursling.  I’m just that lucky!  I think it’s sad that we’re made to feel like we need to buy a bunch of plastic junk to feed our kids.  There’s enough plastic junk floating around in the ocean and littering the side of the road anyway.  When it’s time for other liquids, Annabelle will use a glass.  Yes, a glass – not a sippy cup, or a plastic cup : )  That’s another Montessori thing that I’m sure I’ll bore you with a discussion of later…

I don’t have a stroller.  Or an exersaucer.  Or a jumperoo.  Or a swing.  Or…  Don’t want any of those either.  I don’t have any of these things because they all restrict free movement.  While some encourage movement, they do so in an unnatural way.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with them, and again, I understand how useful they are for many people, but they’re not useful for me.  I prefer to keep Annabelle as free to move about as is possible, reasonable, and safe. I don’t like seeing infants moved from plastic contraption to plastic contraption.  I feel like it’s more natural to have them close to their caregivers, on a level that allows the infant to closely watch what their caregivers are doing, and to interact with them at will.  

My daughter’s “infant carrier” has never left the car.  Aside from the fact that she hates being in the car seat anyway, there are the reasons stated above.  Additionally, the medical community has come to frown upon the use of car seats outside the car as well, as they lower the infant’s oxygen level and can, with overuse, contribute to plagiocephaly (flat head syndrome).

I don’t have a crib.  I have already talked about this one, too, when giving the tour of Annabelle’s Nursery, so I won’t go on and on. It essentially comes down to the same issue of allowing freedom of movement, and to fostering independence. Oh, and co-sleeping sort of eliminates that need, too!

Fortunately, Annabelle seems pretty content with life, despite mama’s wacky ideas.

How about you?  What are some things that you do, or decisions you have made that have caused people to look at you like you were nuts?







18 Responses to My Declaration of Independence

  • shelley says:

    Hi! I know exactly how you feel!! Luckily I have a supportive network of mamas around me through the Holistic Moms Network http://www.holisticmoms.org I will be moving to Guam w/my dh, and two boys (6 & 3 yo) in August. I would love to meet up once there!! I need to find my tribe all over again.
    Keep being true to your instincts!!
    Shelley
    shelleygbmom@yahoo.com
    I found your blog through the VeganGuam one. :)

  • shelley says:

    Hi! I know exactly how you feel!! Luckily I have a supportive network of mamas around me through the Holistic Moms Network http://www.holisticmoms.org I will be moving to Guam w/my dh, and two boys (6 & 3 yo) in August. I would love to meet up once there!! I need to find my tribe all over again.
    Keep being true to your instincts!!
    Shelley
    shelleygbmom@yahoo.com
    I found your blog through the VeganGuam one. :)

  • Annicles says:

    As Shelley says – trust your instincts.

    My babes are 5, 8 and 10 now so I am a long way away from the decisions you are making. Some I made were similar to you, some different. Some I suspect you will remake as circumstances change. However, I would say – do not be afraid to change your mind when it is the best thing for you and your babe. I would also say that second time around you may make different choices because you are considering Annabelle and a new babe.

    As a mother with the children at the age I have now I stand out because they do not have a DS and their tv and computer time is limited. This makes me different to most other parents I know. I am different because I encourage their interests and am willing to help them follow them rather than feel begrudged because I have to put myself out for them. I stand out because I see my daughter's learning difficulties as an opportunity for all the family to explore different ways of learning, rather than get a tutor and FORCE her into learning like everyone else. I am different because I value boredom. A bored child will find something to do if they are given the right opportunity to exercise their imagination muscles. Finally, I am different because I don't compete with my childrens' friends to be their best friend. I am their parent, guide, responsible parent, good example and sometimes less than good example but I'm only human; we enjoy each others company, they are my best people, they are not my best friend, I am not theirs! I will be there for them forever.

  • Annicles says:

    As Shelley says – trust your instincts.

    My babes are 5, 8 and 10 now so I am a long way away from the decisions you are making. Some I made were similar to you, some different. Some I suspect you will remake as circumstances change. However, I would say – do not be afraid to change your mind when it is the best thing for you and your babe. I would also say that second time around you may make different choices because you are considering Annabelle and a new babe.

    As a mother with the children at the age I have now I stand out because they do not have a DS and their tv and computer time is limited. This makes me different to most other parents I know. I am different because I encourage their interests and am willing to help them follow them rather than feel begrudged because I have to put myself out for them. I stand out because I see my daughter's learning difficulties as an opportunity for all the family to explore different ways of learning, rather than get a tutor and FORCE her into learning like everyone else. I am different because I value boredom. A bored child will find something to do if they are given the right opportunity to exercise their imagination muscles. Finally, I am different because I don't compete with my childrens' friends to be their best friend. I am their parent, guide, responsible parent, good example and sometimes less than good example but I'm only human; we enjoy each others company, they are my best people, they are not my best friend, I am not theirs! I will be there for them forever.

  • melissa says:

    I really appreciate the thoughtful response from both of you! Encouragement from mommas who have 'been there' is just what I need this week. Thanks for the words of wisdom.

  • Annicles, I hope you read this… This is probably the first time I hear somebody talks in the favor of boredom. I cherish boredom!!! People usually laugh when I say that one of the main parental purposes for me is to teach our children to feel comfortable bored. In our competitive modern world I think most adults have completely forgotten that doing nothing might be even more useful than doing everything, any time, when the "what you do" doesn't matter more, as long as you "do it". Which of course leads directly to almost no inner work done, fear of being left alone with yourself, constant search for entertainment and the means to pay for it. It all starts in the childhood, for me, when we are so busy to keep our children busy. Surprisingly, and sadly for me, even in Montessori environment, the quantity might overflow the quality. This is and else – I truly believe, as you said, that being left on his own, with the right amount of encouragement and lots of trust, a child can never be really bored. We always smile that our not yet 3 years old son is the busiest human being we know. It is amazing to observe him – his infinite power of imagination and initiative seams to lead him through his constant doing, planning, creating. And you know what I love not least than that – that sometimes he just lays down, quietly, just starring at something.. if being asked what he does, he just mentions: "I am resting..":)
    Melissa, I am know also as the one with the nuts…:) No bottles here too, still nursing (we about to welcome our daughter in a month or so), no stroller for our son since he was 18 months old (no carriers also – since he started walking, he was just encouraged to walk, and happily did so), floor bed, homeschooling and much much else. Did I mention that we dare to take our child's will into our family consideration, meaning that we are a family of 3 – 2 adults and a child, which doesn't mean that a child is being treated as a puppy…? I remember the times when it bothered me more, but I couldn't be untruthful to myself. Today it is easier – one look at our son remembers me what is truly important…:)
    Well this was a long one… Sorry for that…:)

  • Annicles, I hope you read this… This is probably the first time I hear somebody talks in the favor of boredom. I cherish boredom!!! People usually laugh when I say that one of the main parental purposes for me is to teach our children to feel comfortable bored. In our competitive modern world I think most adults have completely forgotten that doing nothing might be even more useful than doing everything, any time, when the "what you do" doesn't matter more, as long as you "do it". Which of course leads directly to almost no inner work done, fear of being left alone with yourself, constant search for entertainment and the means to pay for it. It all starts in the childhood, for me, when we are so busy to keep our children busy. Surprisingly, and sadly for me, even in Montessori environment, the quantity might overflow the quality. This is and else – I truly believe, as you said, that being left on his own, with the right amount of encouragement and lots of trust, a child can never be really bored. We always smile that our not yet 3 years old son is the busiest human being we know. It is amazing to observe him – his infinite power of imagination and initiative seams to lead him through his constant doing, planning, creating. And you know what I love not least than that – that sometimes he just lays down, quietly, just starring at something.. if being asked what he does, he just mentions: "I am resting..":)
    Melissa, I am know also as the one with the nuts…:) No bottles here too, still nursing (we about to welcome our daughter in a month or so), no stroller for our son since he was 18 months old (no carriers also – since he started walking, he was just encouraged to walk, and happily did so), floor bed, homeschooling and much much else. Did I mention that we dare to take our child's will into our family consideration, meaning that we are a family of 3 – 2 adults and a child, which doesn't mean that a child is being treated as a puppy…? I remember the times when it bothered me more, but I couldn't be untruthful to myself. Today it is easier – one look at our son remembers me what is truly important…:)
    Well this was a long one… Sorry for that…:)

  • melissa says:

    "Did I mention that we dare to take our child's will into our family consideration…which doesn't mean that a child is being treated as a puppy…?"

    Love this ;) He, and his sister after him, will be the better for it!

    I really appreciate both of your thoughts on boredom as well! Very interesting points…

  • I have just remembered something – another day I was talking to my friend. It was Saturday (Jewish Sunday); they just moved in two days earlier, so the house was full with unpacked boxes; and she is 34 weeks pregnant. When I asked her why she sounded so down, the answer was: "I am bored to death". It struck me! I couldn't realize why then, only a few hours later I got it: I honestly don't remember when I felt I was bored, neither I ever heard these words from my husband. We both are very quiet people, and yet there is also so much we need to do. It truly got me thinking of how lucky we are to be in peace with ourselves to feel full from inside of our souls, looking for those moments, when instead of feeling bored, we could just make something really special, even if it was "simply" observing our souls…

  • I have just remembered something – another day I was talking to my friend. It was Saturday (Jewish Sunday); they just moved in two days earlier, so the house was full with unpacked boxes; and she is 34 weeks pregnant. When I asked her why she sounded so down, the answer was: "I am bored to death". It struck me! I couldn't realize why then, only a few hours later I got it: I honestly don't remember when I felt I was bored, neither I ever heard these words from my husband. We both are very quiet people, and yet there is also so much we need to do. It truly got me thinking of how lucky we are to be in peace with ourselves to feel full from inside of our souls, looking for those moments, when instead of feeling bored, we could just make something really special, even if it was "simply" observing our souls…

  • Annicles says:

    I read it, Miri!
    That thing about the child's will is so important and difficult to negotiate. at one and the same time I want my children to develop their will without me diverting it (in Montessorian terms, making it deviated) and yet at the same time learn to be considerate of others and see that sometimes one persons desire has to come second to another persons. When children are little it comes down to situations like, one child would like a walk to the park but the baby is feeding. When it was the first child s/he could feed/go to the park at the right time for them. When there are two children exercising their will and both are perfectly reasonable it becomes harder.

    My eight year old now starts by saying "I know life isn't always fair but I would like to……"! It makes me laugh when he says that but it also saddens and gladdens me in equal measure. Life isn't fair and sometimes there is no way to immediately accomodate everything at once. When they were younger it was much harder because there were things that HAD to happen at set times. We had to get a child from nursery or school. I had to feed a starving baby (no bottles in my house either!). Sometimes I had to put myself first and go to the toilet (god forbid that I should go – EVER!). And that would mean that another child couldn't start an art project or be read a book etc. I suppose that is why Montessori felt that all children should go to nursery – so that they spent some hours each day when they were in an ideal environment for them.

    Sorry – that got very long winded and off subject!

  • Annicles says:

    I read it, Miri!
    That thing about the child's will is so important and difficult to negotiate. at one and the same time I want my children to develop their will without me diverting it (in Montessorian terms, making it deviated) and yet at the same time learn to be considerate of others and see that sometimes one persons desire has to come second to another persons. When children are little it comes down to situations like, one child would like a walk to the park but the baby is feeding. When it was the first child s/he could feed/go to the park at the right time for them. When there are two children exercising their will and both are perfectly reasonable it becomes harder.

    My eight year old now starts by saying "I know life isn't always fair but I would like to……"! It makes me laugh when he says that but it also saddens and gladdens me in equal measure. Life isn't fair and sometimes there is no way to immediately accomodate everything at once. When they were younger it was much harder because there were things that HAD to happen at set times. We had to get a child from nursery or school. I had to feed a starving baby (no bottles in my house either!). Sometimes I had to put myself first and go to the toilet (god forbid that I should go – EVER!). And that would mean that another child couldn't start an art project or be read a book etc. I suppose that is why Montessori felt that all children should go to nursery – so that they spent some hours each day when they were in an ideal environment for them.

    Sorry – that got very long winded and off subject!

  • I am glad you did!
    I think it is always about compromise. I don't know (yet:) how it works with more than one child, but I do know that you boy is right. I don't feel sad about life being not fair, and I wouldn't want my children get any other impression. I look at this like the integral part of life – the question is how you deal with this fact. And I believe it starts from our example to our children, from the way you treat them and guide them treat each other.
    I can understand why Maria Montessori felt it was important for a child to spend time in an ideal environment (even though even there they need to learn to postpone their urges and take others into their consideration – there is only one piece of material, so they need to wait if others work with it, don't they?) What I wonder is what environment would she chose, if a classical Montessori one wouldn't be an option – would she prefer sending a child to a kindergarten, whatever environment it may have, or have him homeschooled, trying to maintain the Montessori approach as close as it might be to the origins, considering the circumstances…?

  • I am glad you did!
    I think it is always about compromise. I don't know (yet:) how it works with more than one child, but I do know that you boy is right. I don't feel sad about life being not fair, and I wouldn't want my children get any other impression. I look at this like the integral part of life – the question is how you deal with this fact. And I believe it starts from our example to our children, from the way you treat them and guide them treat each other.
    I can understand why Maria Montessori felt it was important for a child to spend time in an ideal environment (even though even there they need to learn to postpone their urges and take others into their consideration – there is only one piece of material, so they need to wait if others work with it, don't they?) What I wonder is what environment would she chose, if a classical Montessori one wouldn't be an option – would she prefer sending a child to a kindergarten, whatever environment it may have, or have him homeschooled, trying to maintain the Montessori approach as close as it might be to the origins, considering the circumstances…?

  • I am glad you did!
    I think it is always about compromise. I don't know (yet:) how it works with more than one child, but I do know that you boy is right. I don't feel sad about life being not fair, and I wouldn't want my children get any other impression. I look at this like the integral part of life – the question is how you deal with this fact. And I believe it starts from our example to our children, from the way you treat them and guide them treat each other.
    I can understand why Maria Montessori felt it was important for a child to spend time in an ideal environment (even though even there they need to learn to postpone their urges and take others into their consideration – there is only one piece of material, so they need to wait if others work with it, don't they?) What I wonder is what environment would she chose, if a classical Montessori one wouldn't be an option – would she prefer sending a child to a kindergarten, whatever environment it may have, or have him homeschooled, trying to maintain the Montessori approach as close as it might be to the origins, considering the circumstances…?

  • I am glad you did!
    I think it is always about compromise. I don't know (yet:) how it works with more than one child, but I do know that you boy is right. I don't feel sad about life being not fair, and I wouldn't want my children get any other impression. I look at this like the integral part of life – the question is how you deal with this fact. And I believe it starts from our example to our children, from the way you treat them and guide them treat each other.
    I can understand why Maria Montessori felt it was important for a child to spend time in an ideal environment (even though even there they need to learn to postpone their urges and take others into their consideration – there is only one piece of material, so they need to wait if others work with it, don't they?) What I wonder is what environment would she chose, if a classical Montessori one wouldn't be an option – would she prefer sending a child to a kindergarten, whatever environment it may have, or have him homeschooled, trying to maintain the Montessori approach as close as it might be to the origins, considering the circumstances…?

  • Annicles says:

    I read it, Miri!
    That thing about the child's will is so important and difficult to negotiate. at one and the same time I want my children to develop their will without me diverting it (in Montessorian terms, making it deviated) and yet at the same time learn to be considerate of others and see that sometimes one persons desire has to come second to another persons. When children are little it comes down to situations like, one child would like a walk to the park but the baby is feeding. When it was the first child s/he could feed/go to the park at the right time for them. When there are two children exercising their will and both are perfectly reasonable it becomes harder.

    My eight year old now starts by saying "I know life isn't always fair but I would like to……"! It makes me laugh when he says that but it also saddens and gladdens me in equal measure. Life isn't fair and sometimes there is no way to immediately accomodate everything at once. When they were younger it was much harder because there were things that HAD to happen at set times. We had to get a child from nursery or school. I had to feed a starving baby (no bottles in my house either!). Sometimes I had to put myself first and go to the toilet (god forbid that I should go – EVER!). And that would mean that another child couldn't start an art project or be read a book etc. I suppose that is why Montessori felt that all children should go to nursery – so that they spent some hours each day when they were in an ideal environment for them.

    Sorry – that got very long winded and off subject!

  • Annicles says:

    I read it, Miri!
    That thing about the child's will is so important and difficult to negotiate. at one and the same time I want my children to develop their will without me diverting it (in Montessorian terms, making it deviated) and yet at the same time learn to be considerate of others and see that sometimes one persons desire has to come second to another persons. When children are little it comes down to situations like, one child would like a walk to the park but the baby is feeding. When it was the first child s/he could feed/go to the park at the right time for them. When there are two children exercising their will and both are perfectly reasonable it becomes harder.

    My eight year old now starts by saying "I know life isn't always fair but I would like to……"! It makes me laugh when he says that but it also saddens and gladdens me in equal measure. Life isn't fair and sometimes there is no way to immediately accomodate everything at once. When they were younger it was much harder because there were things that HAD to happen at set times. We had to get a child from nursery or school. I had to feed a starving baby (no bottles in my house either!). Sometimes I had to put myself first and go to the toilet (god forbid that I should go – EVER!). And that would mean that another child couldn't start an art project or be read a book etc. I suppose that is why Montessori felt that all children should go to nursery – so that they spent some hours each day when they were in an ideal environment for them.

    Sorry – that got very long winded and off subject!

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