If you know me, you know that I like to talk. I think one of the most difficult transitions for new moms or for moms who move from working to staying at home is the decrease in adult interactions. I have been lucky enough to have a slow transition period - I worked part time from the time Peanut was 4 months old until Pumpkin was born, and had a slow taper in my hours at the end of my pregnancy. I've also been able to make amazing friendships through the Holistic Moms Network, that keep me talking and thinking and learning all the time.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to talk about my passions. Although I am a holistic, green, natural parenting mama, I don't like to push my views on others - if you ask, I'll tell you. If you seem interested, I'll venture there, but the minute there is an inkling of discomfort or resistance, I'll back off. It is a lot of time and energy trying to read people and be PC about so many topics, so when I get the chance to talk, it feels great! That's why my mom's group is so wonderful - I don't spend all that energy trying to be gentle with my views. I can put them out there and people can agree or disagree without hurting or being hurt.
So while the kids were napping (hmmm, one was just "resting") I was interviewed by a columnist for Northern Virginia Magazine. She asked some really interesting questions that made me think about things more deeply than I had in a while. Not only did I have the opportunity to be passionate, no holds barred, but I have been thinking about her questions and having the most interesting dialogue with myself!
We talked about the things that are most important to attain and maintain health as a mom. Of course, if you don't take care of your own mind, body and spirit, how will you have the energy to care for your partner and children? Immediately, I thought of our difficult transition to a family of four, and the change in my attitude being the deciding factor in my own mental health. Once I let things go a little, prioritized and centered myself, the juggling became easier, the guilt lifted, and I was genuinely happy to be home with my kids. Long ago, I would have thought daily exercise, time for myself, meditation, eating well were at the top of the list. That's all definitely still on the list, but the mindset is tops. I may not have the neatest, cleanest house, and I may be wearing the same jeans as yesterday but we are all happy and healthy and having a good time together.
How do I get my information on the cutting edge "green" or "holistic" issues? I pondered that one too. There are some go to spots for news, but more often than not, another parent has been focusing on one aspect of health or parenting or environment, or something and they share what they have found with the group. Then I can go to the links they have posted or websites they site and read and determine for myself what I think or how I interpret the information. Sometimes, one parent will bring something up and another will refute it with other research. It is always interesting, and always new. To me, it just is. I'm honestly surprised when what I know is not common knowledge. I had a whole conversation at Peanut's dance class the other day about lead in artificial Christmas trees and lights and was surprised that this was news to most of the moms there. I think I had learned of this last year or the year before. I just know these things because that's the news I follow. If you are interested in baseball (like Honey) you know the stats, who's injured, what each teams chances are of getting to the world series...you just know. There is filter that jolts your brain when something of importance is on the radio or in the paper. I can be listening to NPR and barely paying attention and Kojo will bring up an environmental study as an example and I'm zeroed in.
I was asked about policy. Gosh, I haven't thought about policy in a long time! In another life, it was all I thought about, but now the day to day is what I'm after. How interesting to consider though what policy should be in order to push the natural or "slow parenting" agenda forward. Again, my personal life took center stage - policies that acknowledge the tremendous importance of parenting and allow families to parent as they see fit, rather than force them to stay home or go back to work based on finances, transportation, day care options, etc. Families should be able to parent in the best way that works for their family and children and be supported in that endeavor. Birth options of course are high on the list too. The idea that we should regulate where and with whom someone gives birth is ludicrous. Birth policy should allow that birth is a natural process that can be peaceful, powerful, intense, and calm all at once. We should not have policies that continue to reinforce the idea that birth is a painful medical procedure. Now that I think about it, some of the regulations on toy production, food labeling, farming, and marketing of pharmaceuticals are probably high on my list of policy issues as well.
One of the most interesting questions was "what do [I] get out of volunteering as a chapter leader for the Holistic Moms Network?" When it began, I was seeking out like minded people with kids that could have a play date with us and not roll their eyes. Remember - we started when it was weird, not cool to be "green". All the moms groups I tried when Peanut was born might as well have met at McDonald's. The talk centered around foreign made plastic toys with batteries that thwart imaginative play, getting on the preschool list by 6 months of age, and the wonderful "deal" on sweatshop produced Walmart clothes that week (it's no deal - we pay for it somewhere). I didn't think I was asking for much - just a few mom's who questioned conventional wisdom. I have come to realize that this community is so much more than that. The information we share, experiences we can relate to, challenges we bring to each others thinking, and support in our varied choices are irreplaceable. For every questioned asked there are several answers. My involvement in this group helps clarify my own path, and validate my life and parenting choices. It feeds a need for me too in that it allows me to be a part of a larger community, to feel like I fit in somewhere in the world, that I have a role to play here. I enjoy the work I do to coordinate the community, and like being able to use my work world skills in my mom world. I feel like all of my degrees and training are being used for a good cause.
I sure hope the column turns out well, but either way, my thoughts have been stirred up by the experience. How enjoyable to think about the day to day in a new way. Thanks for sparking my brain a bit Renee!