When it comes to parenting little ones, I have literally done it all. In over a decade of parenting, I have followed the Baby Whisperer, joined the Huggies subscription at Target, used Similac, had an induction and an elective C-Section, and used every type of hormonal birth control available. If this is you mama, I’m not hating. We all have our preferences. There are also those of us who’ve had decisions made for us. Without our consent. Against our wishes, or without giving us the proper information. It’s happened to me. And it may have happened to you or someone you care about. That’s not fair. And there is where I find my mission with my own mindful parenting now: to be present in every decision that’s made regarding my children and my family; to get as much information as possible for making decisions that I feel comfortable with, without feeling pressured by others, regardless of their authority.
After two hospital births and several visits with an OB/GYN who couldn’t remember my name, or that I had actually read more than What to Expect When You’re Expecting, I’d had enough. By the time I was 34 weeks along with baby #3, I decided I wanted a natural, non-medicated VBAC, and when my doctor refused, I moved on. I found an amazing midwife, and had an absolutely incredible experience. So incredible, that I did again a little more than a year later! It’s not for everyone, but I had no risk whatsoever and was the picture of health, so it was the perfect option for me. You can read about my home birth experiences here, here, and here.
Now I homeschool, use cloth diapers, follow baby-led weaning, don’t follow a feeding or sleep schedule with my boys, and use the Fertility Awareness Method of birth control. Yep- it’s super crunchy and has probably made my mama cringe more times than she’d care to admit, but friends, let me tell you. I feel completely liberated by all of this- no one makes the choices for me or my children but me. (Of course I include my hubs, but that goes without saying right?)
And while all of those things sound like the makings of a perfectly crunchy mom, I can assure you they fit much better in the world of mindful mothering, that is, they are distinct lifestyle choices that make sense for our family, based on our own research and understanding, and on living in our current season of life. Baby-led weaning works for us because it means I’m not buying extra food at the grocery store, or spending a lot of time making separate meals for the older kids and the younger ones. Cloth-diapering means less garbage and less money invested from us over the long term, and it means those times I forget to buy diapers at the store don’t give me unnecessary anxiety. Fertility Awareness vs. the pill means I don’t have to deal with side effects like mood swings, headaches, weight gain, and worse.
That’s not all. In the last year, we’ve ventured into minimalism, with a goal of reducing everything we own by half. And in the world of being mindful, it’s not just having less stuff that we’re after…it’s having room for what matters. So we don’t do big birthday parties or holiday celebrations- just minimal versions of those. That doesn’t always make me feel like the superstar mom at the neighborhood block party, but it absolutely makes me happy with how our little family is coming along. We’ve done something similar with discipline, toilet-training, and homeschooling, and ultimately the tactic is the same: what feels right, given all the information in the situation, for our family in this season of life? It’s not always popular, it’s not always successful, but it’s definitely the best way for us to live in the moment with our children, without feeling that we’re less than the other parents around us, who are probably in the same boat.
So here’s to mindful parenting- may we feel as present, as equipped, and as strong as we actually are 🙂