Saturday, May 19, 2012

flow: a simple way of parenting


Hello, Readers!
I am pleased to introduce you to talented writer Megan Massaro, who co-wrote the book (The Other Baby Book). The authors of the book are conducting a virtual book tour, where they pop in to blogs and guest post. The Other Baby Book is linked up to my blog in my sponsorships sidebar. As with all the other "sponsors," I gave an ad spot and post to Megan because I like her and her blog and think you will too. Be sure to read through to the end of the post to see her bio and other links.

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“Balance” is a buzz word for women, and mothers in particular.

As in, “It’s important to have balance in your life.” “Babies, career, friends, partner—it’s a balancing act.”

There’s even a book called The Balanced Mom: Raising Your Kids Without Losing Your Self. (I have not read this book, BTW. Just mulled over the title.)

Balancing sounds nice, but it’s better left to pilates classes, not moms of babies. Balancing can be scary. If you don’t hold things in exactly the right way, something’s out of whack.

Enter: Flow.

Flowing, on the other hand, is a gentle, simple way of living, mimicking nature. Like, an ocean’s tide, ebbing, flowing, surging, calming.

Sometimes you’re rushing forth, swallowing everything your path (like, kale smoothies and other only semi-yummy super foods), knocking out loads of laundry, feeding your baby while talking your little sister out of that bad relationship, and whipping up chicken stir fries with your third arm, like it’s your job (well, for many of us it is…).

Other times, the tide recedes. Your ringer is on silent. No playdates, no errands. The day’s agenda? Spending hours nursing or cuddling, inhaling a bowl of popcorn for dinner, or trying to figure out how many days in a row you’ve worn yoga pants.

Most days, we’re somewhere in between the two extremes, focusing more on one aspect of our life for a season, and moving on naturally. Regardless of how this plays out practically in your life, it’s pretty clear: we all need mental space. Margins in our life. Who wants to read a book that bleeds off the page? Similarly, no one wants to be (or be around) someone who’s teetering on the brink of collapse, balancing cultural- or self-imposed expectations that really don’t get at the heart of a joyful, connected relationship with our baby.

So how do we flow instead of balance? We mulled this over for a year…well, for a life-time really. As a life coach (Miriam) and a writer (me, Megan), we’re always engaged in deep thinking, pondering, playing with and talking out ideas. We sought the wisdom of newly minted moms, seasoned moms, child-development experts, and ultimately, our own gut. Our final chapter, Flow, is our guide to living a flexible, simple, vibrant life with baby.

Letting the baby lead sounds nice. (Or maybe not, depending on your perspective.) But how does it work? First, throw out any and all expectations of yourself and your baby. Unsubscribe from those Babycenter.com emails if they’re driving you crazy with unrealistic ideals. Here are some of the most common expectations that new moms tend to internalize: He should like the car. We should be able to get out of the house on time. He shouldn’t cry in public (or really, at all). I should be able to manage the housework and take care of my baby. See a common theme? Yup, the word “should.” These “should statements” will drain the life right out of you.

Instead of yearning for what isn’t, the best way to flow with motherhood is to recognize what is, and work within its parameters. More than that, find what you love about being a mama and focus on that. Your baby won’t nap on his own? Make snuggling part of your daily ritual. He hates the car? Bundle him into a carrier and share an adventure on public transportation. He cries when you leave the house? Host playgroups in your home.

It’s all in how you look at things. If you think a baby “should” fill-in-the-blank, which clearly he’s not doing, you waste precious energy arguing with reality. And you can always find a friend or relative to back you up on that stance. The “shoulds” are where the disconnect happens and when we begin creating situations that don’t respect a baby’s unique needs. Crying-it-out, for example, was created as a “solution” to the statement “he should sleep through the night.”

As Naomi Aldort, author of Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves, likes to say, “the baby is always right.” He cries when left to fall asleep at night? Something’s not working for him—he’s expressing a valid need. Contrary to popular opinion, babies do not manipulate. They aren’t capable of it. So don’t worry about getting hoodwinked by your little one. Instead, nurture your own soul by nurturing him. The thriving relationship you’ll share, and the joy of being in sync and being able to nurture your baby is unlike any job satisfaction we’ve known.”

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 Megan McGrory Massaro is a mother, freelance writer, travel junkie, and author, living in Boston. She wrote The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year to empower women to make the best choices for their families. You can find The Other Baby Book on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and the TOBB Blog.






Editor's note: I did try the "cry it out" method with Charlotte. I once wrote an eloquent post with my thoughts on it that I then proceeded to delete accidentally, and I have never been able to rewrite it because I am so bitter about what I lost. I'll give you the short version here. I don't glorify or denounce it, but I certainly think you can't go wrong with a gentle approach. I also agree with Megan that babies are not manipulative. No matter what method you use, your child will probably sleep through the night by 8 or 9 months. To moms who might be struggling right now: It gets better!


This post is part of Simple Lives ThursdayFrugal Days, Sustainable WaysSeasonal Celebration Sunday, The Homestead Barn Hop, and Natural Parenting Group's Monday Blog Hop.

5 comments:

Jacqueline Pointer said...

While raising, Justine, I was advised to let her cry when she wouldn't go to sleep at night . I still cringe thinking of it I'm sure it was my mother's advice but it was based on the "eight kid method" she had of handling such a large family . She could be brutal .Good luck to all during this "trial by fire" method , it surly is harder on the parent than the child .
Many times we parent in a way that we think is acceptable to others and too often solicit another person's advise about our parenting . As I look back , I think following your own instincts on child raising is a better idea . For the the most part I did and I am happy with the results , a very calm , well adjusted adult . Those few times that I followed advise that I didn't feel comfortable with bother me still , today . You know what is right for you , do it that way .

Kate @ Boomerang Mama said...

I think Megan and Miriam totally have the right idea. The word "balance" is so intimidating. To me, it implies and reminds me of everything I'm not capable of doing or fitting into my day. Whereas the word "flow" allows me to meet my family's needs as well as my own on a day by day basis. This post is a great reminder to drop the internal supermom struggle and joyfully embrace the beauty of life's imperfections.

The Other Baby Book said...

Thanks, Kate! Flow lets me leave the laundry for another day, or eat cheerios for dinner, guilt-free. It's a little more complicated than that, but I feel much more at peace knowing to everything there is a season, and thankfully I have very understanding friends! Not hearing from me for a month or two isn't a personal insult. =) ~Megan

The Other Baby Book said...

I think every person finds what fits for their family! Our bigger concern is not necessarily that people parent in one certain way, but that they are educated about what their options are, and how those options affect both mom and baby. Of course all mothers want what's best for their babies and children, so you're right - following your instincts, and not trying impress, fit in, or blindly follow another's advice, is almost always the best way to go! Kudos for raising a happy person. We need more of them in the world. =) ~Megan

Rebecca said...

I like the idea of flow, it's somehow so much more accepting and fitting as a description of early motherhood. Rebecca@ Natural Mother's “Seasonal Celebration Sunday.” x

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