Category Archives: Identity

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What’s New Wednesday: Unique Selves

Annabelle showing her uniqueness with a creative self-chosen ensemble.

I wrote last week about how, thanks to my pregnancy affirmations, Annabelle talks about our, “new baby, unique unto itself” or rather our, “new baby ‘nique self.” This week, I have really been struck by how much Annabelle has come into her own unique self. The idea of nine months in and nine months out really rang true in our case as, despite Annabelle’s eagerness to explore from a very early age, she maintained a strong need to be near me most of the time. Suddenly, she is showing her ability to pass many happy hours without me.

Many weekends, I take a morning to work in the library or my favorite coffee shop while the daddy takes Annabelle to the park or the aquarium, or just hangs around with her at home. I used to hate leaving. He would stand at the door waving goodbye, with her in his arms, face all wrinkled, crying and reaching in my general direction as I drove away. Sometimes I would get the call, “Are you almost done? She’s been asking for you.” She has always loved her daddy, but having me around as well was important. As for leaving her with someone other than the daddy, that was always a rarity.  Continue reading

Finding Out Who I Am

Welcome to the I Love Me! Carnival!

This post was written for inclusion in the I Love Me! Carnival hosted by Amy at Anktangle. This carnival is all about love of self, challenging you to lift yourself up, just for being you.

Please read to the bottom to find a list of submissions from the other carnival participants.

Like many mothers and many people, really, I can be awfully hard on myself. Don’t get me wrong – there are things I do well and I know this, but I’m frequently compelled to focus on my imperfections rather than my strengths. Just when I was in a place of reflecting on the state of my life and finding myself to be especially lacking, I participated in a great discussion in which my friend Amanda led me to an “a-ha!” moment.

Amanda walked us through an exercise she had participated in during a recent class, encouraging myself and a few others to write down the names of a handful of people we admired. Then, she had us write down the qualities they possessed that we thought were particularly admirable. Of course the people most of us chose had several things in common with one another, which we noted. We listed the qualities that appeared multiple times and used these to come up with a brief list. As we went through this exercise, I found myself reflecting even more on how far I had to come in developing these noble qualities in myself.

Then came the conclusion of the exercise. Continue reading

Like Mother, Like Daughter

Photo used be Creative Commons License
Credit: dreamglowpumpkincat210 on Flickr
Like most mothers, I want my daughter to grow up to be a strong, confident woman who is comfortable in her own skin. I want her to be so happy with who she is, that she doesn’t feel the need to cover it up or alter it for anyone or any reason. The trouble is, I am her first role model. Like it or not, I will be the first person to model confidence, or a lack thereof, for her – to show her what a woman should be like. Lately, I have given a lot of thought to the discrepancy between what I believe and what I do, which will be the message I send to my daughter.
Culturally, women receive a lot of pressure to be feminine. While we are certainly given a fair amount more liberty in the clothing department than are males, we are still expected to dress the part. Additionally, the majority of American women wear makeup, and shave our legs and underarms. We groom our eyebrows. We polish our nails. We often take on specific roles in the home, and there are many career fields in which we are grossly underrepresented.
Personally, I feel that it’s all a load of garbage. There is absolutely nothing wrong with women doing any of the above if they want to, but no one should feel pressure to fit another person’s ideal. If Annabelle never wants to wear a dress, if she doesn’t care to put on makeup or shave her legs, I happen to think she’ll be lovely all the same. If she enjoys working with her hands and chooses a career as a contractor, far be it from me to suggest she reconsider. Above all, I simply want her to be comfortable being herself, and I certainly don’t want her to feel that she needs to dress a certain way, or to paint her face to be beautiful.
I legitimately feel quite at home in a dress or a frilly skirt, and I actually enjoy my role as a stay-at-home parent. Before my daughter was born, I worked in early childhood, another field that has stereotypically been female-dominated, and eventually I intend to go back to teaching. I shave my legs, wear perfume, fix my hair, and put on makeup just about every day. Personally, I enjoy these things, and I think that’s okay. At the same time, I wonder if I won’t be sending mixed messages to my daughter. How can I protect her from the pressure to fit into the cookie-cutter female mold when I fit inside it quite nicely myself?
I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. How can we protect our daughters from the pressure to fit someone else’s ideal?

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: 

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:

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?