Friday, November 11th, 2011

In The Beginning…

In every phenomenon the beginning remains always the most notable moment.Thomas Carlyle•

One thing I’ve learned, through both painful and positive experience, is that the successful flourishing of any project, product, event… or person, is seeded right at the beginning. Imagine setting off in a boat with the intention of sailing to a distant island, but having miscalculated your route by even just a tiny degree: everything will seem fine and dandy for awhile, maybe even for days. But as those tiny degrees of misdirection exponentially add up over many miles, you will at some point realize you are ending up far from where you wanted to be.

A mantra from chaos theory goes, “Sensitive dependence on initial conditions.”

This applies whenever something new is brought into being: cookies, crops, houses, stories, songs, sweaters, people. Read the rest of this entry »

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

The Trouble with Time-Out

The Trouble with Time-OutSo there you are one afternoon, at the end of your rope with an out-of-control three-year-old. You know you won’t spank him, and you have become mindful of avoiding shame-based measures, so what’s left? Is “Time Out” the answer? At risk of bringing on the wrath of parents everywhere, my answer is no. Time-outs were conceived as a more humane alternative to spanking, but the problem is, they land a blow to the brain and psyche rather than to the bottom.

{Find out more about problems with & alternatives to Time-Out at Natural Baby Pros…}

Saturday, July 19th, 2014

5 Out-of-the-Box Ways to Make Your Child “LISTEN!!!”

MotheringBigImage

One of the most frequent questions I get is, How do I get my child to listen to me? What lingers in the roots just beneath this question is, How do I get her to respect me? The two are intimately entwined. As so often happens with Life’s sticky questions, sometimes we can unstick things a bit by turning the question around: rather than How can I get my child to listen to me, we can get far more traction with How can I make myself more “listenable”? {Find out how by reading the 5 tips at mothering.com}

 

Images:
epSos.de under Creative Commons license

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Are You REALLY Independent…In Your Birth Choice?

As long as our country continues to show up so poorly in world rankings on maternal health, I continue to run this article every year on America’s birthday, hoping to illuminate issues around our perceived birth choices. Am I naive in thinking that individual independence around these issues can help pave the way to us being a safer nation for mothers and babies?

LaboringWithEFMIt is sad enough that the U.S. sits so poorly in world infant mortality rankings, but a new report published in the prestigious medical journal Lancet and reported in the Washington Post points out that our childbirth-related maternal death rate continues to rise and is at nearly its highest point* in twenty-five years. [*Aside from its sharp spike in 2009 due to the H1N1 influenza virus.] American mothers die in or around childbirth at double the rate they do in Saudi Arabia, and triple the rate of the United Kingdom — and at statistically the same rate as in Iran.

In terms of where it is safest and healthiest to become a mother, America — land of the free and the brave — ranks 60th of 180 nations. In that context, is there any real birth choice?

Okay, now that I’ve totally bummed you out so you feel like you’ve got to reach for an early margarita with a little flag in it, let’s talk about what individual Americans may be able to do to improve the situation. (And even if it doesn’t improve the national situation, it cannot help but to improve your own birthing and parenting wellbeing!) {Grab your marg and read the rest at mothering.com}

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Preparing for Baby: What Do You REALLY Need?

Since August is the month with the most babies being born, let’s talk about what you really need when preparing for baby. It’s probably not what you think!

I remember the fun of “shopping for baby.” All that pastel was sooooo appealing. But truth be told, most of what we think we need to buy in advance of baby’s arrival is an illusion conjured by our shop-happy culture, an alluring but costly response to the most natural of pre-parenting instincts—to nest.

What Not to Buy (Yet)

MamaBabyBlueSlingWhat you don’t need—at least for now—is a crib.  If you go the family bed route you may never need one; otherwise, a cradle by your bed will provide the closeness you both need for many months. While attachment parenting doesn’t mean wearing your baby 24/7, on-body carriers like snugglies and slings can be wonderful. If possible, borrow some to try; together you and baby will know which to buy.

Radical but true, there is always time later to purchase what is needed! In fact, waiting is a great way to begin developing the essential parenting tools of intuition and discernment. YOU will become the expert on your baby, discovering if she prefers sponge baths to “real baths” in the plastic contraption, or… if the sound of Velcro frightens him, or… if she is enchanted by the color purple. {Find out what you REALLY need by reading the rest of this post at Natural Baby Pros}

Image (through a Creative Commons license:
Paulo Rená

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

The Joys of Adult Children

I mean that title as a double-entendre, because this week is steeped in both meanings: I spent a long Father’s Day weekend in San Francisco being an adult child — musing nostalgically around the city and Marin, the landscape of my early childhood — and am now spending a couple of days responding to my grown daughter’s call for Mama time. Childhood is never really over for any of us!

Feeling fancy with John at the Opera House

Feeling fancy with John at the S.F. Opera House

While up north spending time with my stepfather, John, I was struck by how vividly present our child-selves can become at any time. The uncannily specific, shockingly reminiscent salt-and-flora scent that wafts through Sausalito and Tiburon… the unmistakable noise-skein of San Francisco streets (cable cars, electric buses, foghorns in the distance)… and the “this is home” sound of John’s bass-baritone voice… all conspired to snag me back to my youth.

I say it often: the trip-wires we all have back to our childhood can be one of the biggest challenges in parenting. We can easily find ourselves responding not as the adults we supposedly are, but as the teen… the tween… the toddler that is suddenly and unexpectedly awakened in us through proximity to reminders of our own past — the most powerful of which is our own children.  Read the rest of this entry »

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

A Precious, Radical (& Free!) Gift for Fathers

EllyTaylorHS2This post features a personal story illustrating what I call “counter-intuitive brilliance.” It’s the story of an interaction between a new father and a new mother. It’s about how to diaper their baby. It’s a conversation that surely takes place alongside the changing table in virtually every home where there are new parents blessed with a newborn. But this conversation went very differently.

First, by way of setting the stage: I recently had the best, juicy conversation with relationship counselor and Becoming Us author Elly Taylor. We talked about some of the common ways that new parenthood takes a toll on marriage. And more importantly, we covered some really practical ways we can ease that toll, and nurture our relationship as much as we nurture our kids!

One of my favorite wise comments from Elly:

“We disconnect in tiny little ways…
we reconnect in tiny little ways…”

Click on the orange arrow for a quick snippet:

You can read & hear more of this post at mothering.com! 

 

 

Saturday, June 7th, 2014

Men and Pregnancy: Inviting Fathers In

A mother’s attachment to her baby begins long before birth. By the last trimester many mothers feel like they know their babies, having been enjoying for months their familiar, reassuring movements in the womb.

LPDadAndBellyBabyBut what about men and pregnancy? What are a father’s experiences during those wondrous nine months?  How does the attachment process begin for them? Is a father’s only option to look on with wonder (and sometimes envy) at the beautiful relationship forming between his once-doting partner and this tiny interloper?

We bemoan absent fathers, but do we really nurture the seeds of their involvement from the very beginning, when supporting men and pregnancy may lay a critical foundation for later attachment? {Find out the answers to these questions and more — read the rest of this article at mothering.com}

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

Jeannine Parvati Baker at 65 ~ An Appreciation

Conscious Conception author Parvati BakerThe very word itself… yogini …sounds like the image of Jeannine Parvati Baker in full-flowering asana mastery: lithe stems curling around o-so-full center of heartful breath. At once elfin and elegant. A bold design, a weaver of words. Alive forever in our memory.

This pioneering activist for homebirth, unassisted childbirth and newborn rights would have turned sixty-five this week. Far from retiring, I’m guessing her tireless voice for eco-feminism and reproductive health would be dancing circles with social media. Our wise crone Jeannine Parvati Baker would just be hitting her stride. Read the rest of this entry »

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Her Strained Smile: Covert Postpartum Depression

I&MatWodocCropTo anyone looking in, I was the always-gleaming, highly achieving mom of a darling baby boy. For me looking out, I felt like I was drowning. While inside I struggled, outside I strained to present a status-quo face. I wore J. Crew, prepared organic baby food, went to Mommy & Me, clenched my teeth, and tried to keep it together. I looked good on paper.

I was living what Clarissa Pinkola Estés calls the grinning depression. My mounting inner conflict made me feel like an alien in a world of seemingly happy mothers-who-adored-mothering.

The first person who helped me feel like not an alien? Not any of a stream of therapists, nor any of my studies toward my doctorate in early human development. Not my OB/GYN. I have Brooke Shields to thank for my big ah-hah. {Read the whole post at Natural Baby Pros}

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

Period Power: Rethinking Menstruation

Period Power: Rethinking Menstruation | Marcy Axness, PhDThe spring season is all about ripeness, fertility and the regeneration of life. These are also the qualities of  a woman’s menstrual cycle, and yet we’re not quite as breathlessly delighted for the arrival of our flow as we are for springtime!

But we’d do well to regard our cycle with at least a bit more friendliness: a  woman’s attitude toward her menstrual period impacts how she lives, labors and births. And it also helps shape her children’s attitudes about the intimate ecology of woman-power.

The Missing Vagina Monologue

{Read more about this intriguing idea at mothering.com}