Wednesday, May 6, 2009

On Mothering


So it seems that there is no other topic more polarizing than mothering. What I mean is that, it seems no other subject can make us as defensive of our own beliefs, or as judgmental of others, as the way by which we choose to raise and rear our children. At least among me and my peers.

And really...its probably a good thing.

We all want to be good mothers. We all want to do all the things we think are absolutely best for our children. And based on our own personalities, experience, knowledge and examples, we all come to slightly--or in some cases, drastically--different conclusions on what that means. And so we feel threatened when an alternative is suggested because it could mean that possibly...if a different way exists...a better way exists. And we feel guilty. Or Critical. Because we all believe that our way of doing things is the best way of doing things...or we wouldn't do it. Right?

I often shy away from talking about some of my mothering practices or philosophies. Because although philosophically I think I am basically on the same page with most mothers I know, in practice, I find myself often in the minority when it comes a lot of the fundamental, day to day goings on. So I try to keep my mouth shut (although if you know me you might seriously disagree) Partly because I don't want to have to defend my parenting choices (especially ones I hold dear and sort of sacred), and partly because I don't want to make those mothers around me feel like they have to defend theirs.

However, I think that sometimes people mistake my hesitancy to discuss, as me being hesitant or haphazard in my decisions or beliefs. On the contrary I have pretty firm and deeply rooted fundamental parenting philosophies and practices to go a long with them. And although I am perhaps later than most women my age to have started having children, I don't feel that makes them any less valid.

So lately it seems like I have been getting a lot of questions about some things I do as a mother (really, as we do as parents). Most often I get asked about co-sleeping. Although I would guess there may be even close friends of mine who don't know that we co-sleep. We do. And I really am happy to answer questions about it.

In fact I set out to write a blog about it...not to defend it or say its what everyone should do, but to explain it, so that it (and we) will more fully be understood. I think that some people who know me are honestly concerned that I am making a horrid mistake. I'd like to set their (very well intended) minds at ease. And I think some people are honestly just curious about it and can't imagine how it would work.

The thing I realize though as set out to try to write about co-sleeping, is that its hard to really address that one isolated part of my parenting practices without delving into my much broader parenting philosophies (if that's what you want to call's what I am calling it...several times already actually).

So I am going to.

Since its almost Mother's Day, and since it's been on my mind, and since its really the "thing" that I am most passionate about,

and because I want you to know that about me.

And I know I can talk about this stuff and we can still be friends...right? (Or feel free to ignore it all and spend your time enjoying the beautiful weather instead!)

Because the last thing I want is for you to feel judged. Or that by me saying what I believe to be true, makes me think what you believe or do is any less valid or correct.

OK so that's settled.

So over the next week...maybe two (I am not a rigidly scheduled person...something I'm sure you'll realize as this gets going) I am going to write lots and lots about mothering.

I make no promises of profundity (or even proper grammar). I am not an expert on any of it (except in my own mind). And I can't guarantee that in a year from now, I won't have changed my mind (although I doubt it).

It should be fun (for me anyway).


  1. I'm excited for this! I think we are actually quite similar in our thinking. I look forward to hearing your thoughts in more detail.

    ps... asher is sleeping in his crib more and more and it actually makes me sad. he just sleeps better now in there. :-(

  2. I am excited to hear what you have to say! Danielle I think you are a wonderful mother. You're such a great example of one who truly loves and cherishes her role as a mother. I'm sure i will come to you and rely on your advice throughout years to come. I've always thought Trav is one lucky guy to have married you.
    And i'm glad you're willing to stand up for your beliefs, regardless of what they are or how they are received.

  3. Oh I can't wait to hear you let it all out...I love hearing your opinions on parenting! I always think you are rational and wise to trust your gut over the latest trendy parenting book.

    Also, I've been meaning to tell you that I think one of the best things about the videos you put on Avery's blog is your laugh in the background! Ha ha. It is so funny and sweet to hear--it is so obvious that you just adore everything she does. I love it.

  4. Oh, yay! I can't wait. I've thought about doing a similar post on co-sleeping, mostly because I have surprised myself by doing it and I remember all the things I used to think about it. But I'm glad you're addressing it in a broader context. I'm excited.

  5. Yeah! I am exctied to hear what you have to say. I also co-sleep untill they want out, I nurse untill they quit, I also cloth diaper, make my own babyfood and practice attachment parenting. And now that I am ready to deliver my third I can honestly say that I could care less what anybody thinks about any of it, and an added bonus is that all of those things drive my mother in law nutty!!
    Did you see my feedback on your tree pattern. Thank you so much! I LOVE IT!


  6. Interesting! I'm excited to read your blogs this week.

  7. ooh this is going to be fun. can't wait!

  8. I love your thoughts; can't wait to hear them.

  9. Well, I hope you don't find this too inapropriate but I've always wondered how the intimate element of a marriage can survive when you are co-sleeping? I've known several people that do co-sleep but I've never been brave enough to ask.

  10. I love it. I can't wait. And I agree that most of us hold our mothering roles sacred, and personal, and protectively. I have heard so many times how I need to read this or that book, or do this or that with sleeping, nursing, disciplining, etc. I'm happy, my kids are happy, and we are well adjusted (I think), so that's what matters.

    I understand what you mean by being intimidated by so many different ways of parenting. Jeff and I have had so many discussions on it, most of them starting with me saying, "But what if their way is right, and mine is wrong?" He tried to convince me once that blogs are the devil for making so many women insecure, but we came to the conclusion that it's all about perspective and confidence.

    Phew, that being said, I can't wait to hear all about your amazing mommy skillz.

  11. I think co-sleeping is how it should be--just like nursing your baby till he's three (like most cultures do without batting an eye b/c it is the best shot of antibodies/million dollar vitamin/weight loss for mom/amazing bonding time)...but so much of those philosophies, as appealing and logical as they seem, don't seem practical or functional.
    Please, do share your secrets with us! I am anxious to hear how you make things work.

  12. P.S. I sleep with Andrew every night. He sleeps better and longer, and he loves to sleep by me, so we cuddle and drift off. I love it.

  13. I love your blog - the tutorials are addictive! So, I know you have gobs of talent I don't, but I LOVE your photos. In hopes of coming close to your pics, can you tell me what camera you use? THANKS!

  14. Yes, I agree that every mother is quite passionate about her child and her methods of parenting. I have thought about this a lot. And I often wonder, "Is one way 'right'?" I try to follow my gut and I get kind of annoyed with the couple of books I have read saying "you have to it THIS way," so I ignore them, and do things my way, until I get stumped with a problem and I'm not sure where to go. So I look in the book and decide if their suggestion fits with my "beliefs" and give them a try if they do. I am in the middle of one of these things right now. Then I worry that my baby will not turn out to be confident and independent if I don't do what this book or that book says. I think it's kind of like how Joseph Smith felt when so many churches claimed to be right. Although, in this case, I don't think there is necessarily one RIGHT way to parent, there probably is a lot of guidance to be found in prayer, huh?

  15. I have adored and admired everything you have done as a mother. You are phenomenal and its so apparently clear that you are full to the brim with unconditional love. Avery is a blessed little girl.

    I'm very eager to hear your thoughts.
    I miss you guys. We need to hang out sometime.

  16. It is really nice to be Danielle's mother in law. Really nice. It is amazing to me that we have many of the same opinions on things. I totally agree with and support her way of parenting. It is actually how I raised my own children.

    I think today it might be called attachment parenting, but I always called it my cave man theory. The cave man theory goes like this: If I were a cave woman would I put my baby in the next cave over, to sleep all alone? Heck no. I mean there might be a saber tooth lion over there. Or a snake, or a huge bat might swoop in and scoop him up. No, I would nestle my baby next to my body, under my wooly mamoth skin blanket, next to the fire in my cave. I mean how in blazes would I ever get any sleep wondering and worrying about what was going on in the next cave over. And during the day I would keep my baby close so he would be out of range for dinosaurs, and falling off cliffs, and that kind of thing. And if I had to go out and gather roots or what have you the baby would be in a sling over my shoulders because it would be easier to keep an eye on him that way.

    You may think I am joking, but no. I really did reduce my parenting to comparing it to the cave days sometimes, just to help me figure things out, because it would remind me of what is basically human and natural.

    So there is my two cents. Can't wait to hear more from you Danielle. And post a few more pictures would ya!!!!! Just sayin" I am having Avery picture withdrawal symptoms. I think I will need intensive care soon.


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