Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Counter Cultural - Our "little way"

When I was growing up, I had one of the few moms who stayed home during the day. She was our room mother, Girl Scout leader, snack maker. She was there when we were sick, and every once in a while I was allowed to stay home with her, just because. This was during the 70's and 80's when women wanted to 'have it all!". Most of my friends' moms worked. The women's liberation movement was in full swing. They had jobs, homes, kids, cars, vacations. In a material sense, they did have it all.

When I got married, I knew I wanted to be a "stay at home mom". By the turn of the century (can you believe I just used that phrase to refer to new millenium?!), most women were beginning to realize that 'having it all' took it's toll. Divorce rates were over 50%, kids were not being parented, leading to spoiled, rotten, aggressive behavior becoming a new normal. Parents felt so guilty about not being there for their children, that kids were being handed everything, to make up for the lack of parental guidance. The term "quality time" was invented to assuage the guilt. If you spent a quality 30 minutes with your kids every night, you don't have to feel bad about the quantity of time you spent away from them. For heaven's sake, there are commercials on TV, trying to get people to just eat dinner with their kids. How sad.

So, when my husband and I started having children, I began to see our life a little differently. I read some books, talked to other women I respected. We knew that one thing we would be doing differently from most other families is letting the Giver of Life, the Holy Spirit, determine our family size. We, as a Catholic family, would put our trust in the Lord, knowing that He would provide for our family. And He has, always.

Our babies run the show around here, too. We do our own little version of attachment parenting. I nurse our babies for as long as the baby needs it. I surrender myself to the needs of the little babe, knowing that my activities will be greatly curbed for at least the first three months - because that's how long it takes to establish a long term nursing relationship. I nurse on demand, around the clock. I don't try to force a newborn into some kind of  schedule that his little body doesn't understand. So many girls have their babies and can't understand why they aren't successful at nursing, or why the baby won't sleep through the night the instant he hits 11 pounds. All of these things are the result of mothers being in the workplace. If you have to get up and go to work, you need your baby on a schedule. You need to get them to sleep, you need to bottle feed, at least during the day. I often wonder where our understanding of a newborn went? The newborn phase lasts much longer than 6 weeks. You body needs longer than 6 weeks to heal. God has created this perfect timing. So you sit, and you soak up that delicious new baby, while you recover, and let your husband, sisters, older children, mother, neighbors - take care of most other things. You are nourishing your child and building a relationship with a whole new family member. That should take precedence.

So, I sit, and I hold my babies, and nurse whenever they need. I stare hard at their little faces, trying to memorize those little features before they change. Everything else can wait. Nothing is as important as establishing that bond that will grow and change throughout your child's life. I know it's not the way of the world anymore, but it's my little way.


  1. Megan...
    I couln't agree with you more about stay at home moms. Unfortuneately, not all mom's are blessed to get to stay at home and raise their babies. I am one of those lucky ones. I can see the difference in the children whose parent's work and the children whose parent's don't. My son is so well rounded, and healthy, and big because he is not drug around constantly, thrown into daycare and exposed to germs and sickness and no security from loving parents to comfort him when he is sick or sad. I am here, 24/7 whenever he or his sister need me. It's all he knows. I was the same way as a child. My mother did not work. Dinner was always on the table. She as always there if I was sick or needed to go home. That is security. That is hard to find these days.

  2. Yeah, this post was rushed, I had a couple of things I wanted to comment on, and kiddos were starting to harass me when I was posting and lost my train of thought.
    I wanted to say that while our mother's generation wanted it all, I think our generation, as a product of all of that, understands how important it is to be there for your kids, and that if they get to stay home they know they are the lucky ones.


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