I was invited to an event the other day, because as a ‘natural parenting expert’ they valued my opinion. Well, the event came and went, but I’ve been thinking about that whole ˜natural parenting expert’ thing a lot. Here’s a confession for you:
I’m not a parenting expert, I’m not a natural parenting expert and because I have mentors who seem to have it all together, I’m painfully aware of where I fall short of the mark.
The problem is, because there are these women and mothers I look up to, I sometimes feel ashamed of my own short comings. So much so that I often can’t write or contribute where I’m supposed to because I feel like a fraud. So this is my confession. Here are the places I fall short of my own mark.
We watch TV.
Not all the time, and Ameli doesn’t watch kids channels. But, we have a TV and we watch it. More than I’d like, it’s more Martin and me, not Ameli, but still, we watch TV and sometimes we have the food channel or similar on in the background.
We love Disney.
I know. Don’t pounce all at once. I preferred Pixar, but now they’re one, I like Disney. We don’t watch the Princesses stuff, and so far we’ve managed to keep all the true love, fairytale, girls want to live in palaces and be saved by boys stuff out of our lives, but we adore Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan and a few of the others.
We don’t always eat organic.
And while I’m on it, we eat more sugar than we should. And because I’m not all that organised with food, sometimes Ameli has to eat pre-packaged food, like shop bought quiche. We don’t have five vegetables a day either. Sometimes we do, for a few days in a row, then we don’t for a few days in a row.
We don’t wear organic clothing.
I wish we could, and if any of us do, it’s Ameli, but we simply can’t afford it as a routine thing.
Some of our toiletries are full of chemicals.
Actually, mine are. Ameli’s are carefully selected chemical free, organic and all that. It has to be, otherwise she breaks out in welts or eczema all over. But mine are whatever’s on special.
We have plastic toys.
Only about six or seven, and I really do love wooden toys and my preference would be to have only wooden toys but that’s not how it’s worked out. When other people buy toys Ameli ends up loving and they are plastic, I don’t have the heart to get rid of them. We keep the plastic toys along with the wooden toys, the brightly coloured toys and the ones that make noises downstairs in the play room, away from the desired calm of her bed room.
We have lazy days.
In fact, at the moment I’m so tired, we have more lazy days than active days. Even on lazy days I get Ameli to dig around in the garden, play at her play kitchen (one of the plastic toys) with her wooden food toys, or get her involved in the kitchen when I’m making food. But still, some days we don’t go out or have any interactive play with other children. And I’m not sure that a lazy day should be ruined feeling guilty about not feeling well, being a little tired, or simply not feeling like going out in the rain.
I’m sure there are plenty other things I can add to the list, but I find it a little disheartening.
The thing is this I don’t believe in ˜okay’ parenting, or ˜mediocre’ motherhood. When I worked I believed in doing my best, as I think the way you work is a reflection of who you are – this is my new job, and I’m working for so much greater a cause now, why would I want it to be okay or mediocre or ‘good enough’ at it?
I do believe my child is worth striving to do my best, but I do not believe that that should include beating myself up when I have ‘down days’, when I don’t have enough money to have the things I’d prefer (organic clothing, only wooden toys, and so on) or when I’m just not able to be the mother I want all the time. Even in a ˜full time’ job you have evenings and weekends off “ in motherhood, you don’t, so ‘down time’ is to be expected.
I’m not sure yet, how to feel about others in the ‘natural parenting’ community, because the truth is that I feel so inferior, sometimes, to the other parents in my network who seem to have it all so much more together. In the meantime, however, I’ll just continue doing my best, and learn to cut myself slack where I need to.
Confessions Of A Natural Parenting Expert
Thank you for this post! I wish I could be the perfect natural parent, but it’s overwhelming if I start to think of all the things I’m not doing. I prefer to think of it as a journey towards the ideal, always striving and working to be better, but not beating myself for those things I can’t (whether for financial reasons or time constraints, etc) do.
You sound like a pretty healthy, normal mama in the 21st century! I like to think that just being conscious of these things brings us closer to where we might like to be. Your kids know you care and love them; so what if you microwave a quiche?
So you’re not perfect…so what? I can relate. I try to be a perfectly natural, organic family, but I’m certainly not perfect. Some days, I feel guilt about it, some days, I can accept it. At least we use cloth diapers and my breast is my daughter’s only pacifier! Try to remember everything you’re doing well rather than focusing on your shortcomings.
a part from the toiletries and the plastic toys (well there are some at the grandparents, but they remain there), I’m right there with you. Don’t know why that would make you less or more of a parenting expert. Each of us works and decides how to integrate a wholesome life in a modern world. For one that may be video games, for another TV, for someone else something entirely different.
I <3 you! Thank you for writing this. It can be so hard to admit these things when we do what we do. But hey we are human and sometimes the 'best' isn't always affordable or sometimes you just need a break (I say this from the couch, watching some reality dancing show, while my toddler plays on his own with whatever he has found in a box).
This is funny, because *I* feel that way too, and *you* are one of the moms I look up to in the community. I’m sure your role models feel inferior too! Everyone has their own bits that are easy and things that are hard. My husband is better than me at not using paper towels but he sucks at getting things rinsed and into the recycling, for instance. Every family is different too.
I think that I am going to write my own post like this. 🙂 Thanks for the inspiration.
I love your honesty, but I would never fault you for any of these things. We can strive for ideals, but we’re not superheroes – just normal human beings. I don’t know if any of us can say we don’t do these things. You’re an awesome mama!
Those seem like really tiny “flaws” to me! And maybe it’s just that you’ve been keeping your priorities on more important things.
No one does every single natural parenting thing there is. We pick and choose what’s most important to us, and do what we can.
Let me tell you, I do a heck of a lot fewer “natural” things than you do!
Love it. Great confessions momma. I think we can all identify. I’m inspired to write my own post of confessions. 😉 I think that’s a tricky field, is those that practice natural/gentle parenting might come across as intimidating or judgmental towards those that don’t. Being real might help break down some of those misconceptions.
I always react like that when asked for advice – why me, what qualifies me as a role model when I fall short of my own ideals *all the time*? I never ever set out to give advice, and what wisdom I do feel I have to dispense is usually something I’m working on rather than something I have all worked out.
I think I’ve come to the conclusion that people don’t ask me – or you – because they have a false idea of you as perfect. They ask because they see something that interests them. You are entirely and rightly qualified to talk about your experience, and what you have to say is important and valuable. Not because you’re perfect, or have a better way, but because you alone have your story and your experience. Be proud of it – and glad that other people resonate with your words.
(And I’d even suggest that the people we hold up as better than us are often either less self-doubting or less inclined to share their worst moments! Holding the idea of anyone as having everything perfect is probably not all that healthful for us or them…)
What a wonderfully honest piece of writing. Its hard to admit we are not perfect and it takes strength to do so. Fantastic post and exactly why I love your blog!