Motherhood - Changing Beliefs
Since I became a mum so many of the beliefs I held about child-rearing have changed. I never thought I would be breastfeeding for 2-3 months let alone 2-3 years. I thought co-sleeping was a dangerous and bad habit, children should be self settling through the night, alone, by 6 weeks! And I thought homeschooling was for people who kept their kids home because they wanted cheap labour!
To explain -when I was a kid the only children I saw stay home were farmer's kids! So I thought they just wanted them to work. Now I am understanding that these agricultural families who grew close to the earth and tracked the seasons perhaps knew something other parent's didn't! About sending their children to school that is.
So where on earth did I get these beliefs.
Of course many came from the way I was parented. I believe I am a product of 'cry it out' and hence the sleeping on my own around 6 weeks. Self settling was all the rage back in the 80s, along with the naughty step, formula feeding (which was becoming increasingly popular so mums could actually work) and a schooling system filled with exam after exam in order to prove your self worth. Seriously exams were everything!
And look what has happened
The consequences of the 'system' described were devastating to my being. I suffered with extreme anxiety and post traumatic stress. And I kid you not (trust me I've looked for ten years) my parents did nothing that society would claim hugely abusive for me to suffer PTSD, they only followed parenting advise of their times. I would say 99% of other parents copied this same advice and yet my friends have not suffered in quite the same way I have.
I put this down to three facts
-I have a low pain threshold! In a system designed to break a child's spirit I was never going to cope very well. I kept my head down as much as possible, avoiding as much pain as I could, yet picking up scars left right and centre, surviving the childhood phase of my life until I was 'old enough' to be 'worthy' of a voice so that I could start reparenting myself!
-My parents are secretly free thinkers! Suppressed and bought up by the same system that I found myself in, my parents did what they could to help me survive, mainly sneaking in as many films and stories as they could, where the main character transcends their families and societal beliefs to change the outcome of a shitty start - think cinderella and Aladdin! I was given the gift of hope by my parents.
-I am TOO WILD to be tamed. The truth is the system didn't break me, despite its best efforts. I reparented myself for ten years. Neuroscientists will tell you that in ten years every cell in your body has renewed itself! That means there isn't a cell in my body that exists that lived through my childhood or school system anymore!
Ha take that schooling system and parenting of the 80s books!
The Reparenting Adventure
During the last ten years I have learnt to say no!
I have learnt to ask for help.
I have learnt that every single one of us, no matter our age (child or adult), race or religion are all equal. We all have a right to live peacefully and happily in the world.
I have learnt to honour my soul, my body, my spirit and my emotional life.
I have learnt to walk away from relationships that don't serve me and stick to the ones that do.
I have learnt to walk away from messages and behaviours that no longer serve me and find new ones that do.
The Parenting Adventure
The greatest test to my recovery of self was to have children and see what I made of that!!! Would I just repeat or would I redefine the realms of it all.
At the beginning of this blog I laid out the beliefs that I previously had. I found myself frowning at people on trains breastfeeding children that could talk. I found myself judging mothers who would bring their babies into beds and rolling my eyes at them when they said they got no sleep - thinking it was their own fault! It is embarrassing to admit that despite learning how to reparenting myself as an adult and training for seven years in child psychotherapy I still had no concept of the reality of child rearing until I had a baby.
And then everything changed..........
What I think now
Despite the poor education I had around what it really was to raise a free autonomous wild and thinking/feeling child when my baby came I used the instinctive parenting skills I had learnt from my own repairing and re-parenting models and the education I had received in therapy and from therapy and it all clicked into place straight away.
Put it like this I still breastfeed and co sleep (when required) with my daughter (who is now 2) and don't blame myself that she doesn't sleep well. I let her have her own voice and she chooses the time she goes to bed, often after me! Thankfully my husband can stay up late as she is a right little night owl! She owns the house equally to my husband and I and everything in it is hers. We guide her to keep her safe but she has just as much say about what we do in a day as we do.
And I am seriously researching and thinking about what route to take for schooling her. I have huge concerns about schooling the traditional way and yet homeschool doesn't quite seem to meet all of our family needs either. I think it will end up being somewhere in between.
Whatever it is thank God for evolution and the ability to grow from past experiences.
LET US CHANGE