Welcome to the April 2015 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Family History
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories, lore, and wisdom about family history. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
As my son gets older, I hear him sounding like a mini-me, making up songs with kooky words, singing out loud about adding 28 plus 6 while he figures perimeter on his math homework. It can be a delight to see your child reminding you of yourself. Other times it can be embarrassing. It can also be anxiety-producing.
What worries me most is when he takes things too deeply to heart, and I worry he will follow in his parents’ and grandparents’ footsteps of holding on to hurts. With such a strong history of depression, and having lost my brother to suicide, it’s hard not to feel some anxiety about my intense little guy’s emotional well-being.
In January 2009, I had a piece published in the Journal of Attachment Parenting International (before it became Attached Family magazine) in an issue about “healing childhood wounds.” I talked about my parenting choices and some of the holistic health choices that I pursued first with myself to heal from a thyroid disorder and regain my fertility and then with my son to try to undo some patterns of thinking I’d grown up with. It was really important to see my son growing up with a sense of optimism and not dread or depression. Sharing the piece with my mom was its own kind of healing.
Then, a few months after the 2010 birth of my daughter, my health declined. I’m still trying to figure out what all went awry so profoundly and how to address it, but at a minimum it’s safe to say that I was pretty severely adrenally fatigued and that my leaky gut had caused big problems. It’s taken a lot of time and energy these past four years.
Then my mother’s health declined, and after I read Wild by Cheryl Strayed, I decided I needed to spend time with my mom on my own, without my kids. So I flew out on Valentine’s Day 2014 and again in November. We had some great talks, and I learned a lot both times. One thing I’ve come to realize is that I am or have been turning into both my mom and my dad. From my dad I get the desire to write and to have my handle in multiple pots. And yet at the same time I felt a kinship with my mother around our bodies breaking down. Those are not exactly complementary simultaneous realities!
Just this past weekend, I was talking with another mom who said her tendency to stay home and not get involved in a lot of things comes from watching her own parents be so busy and be miserable (and not very involved in her kids’ lives even though they live close by).
I’ve been working since I became a mother to try to eliminate or lessen some of the health hurdles and emotional hurdles for my children, but I’ve become aware in the past few years that it’s just as important that I also teach them about moderation and balance. But first I have to learn that for myself!
Some of the things I did pre-conception and have done with my children from early on to mitigate the impact of trauma and to build a healthy immune system include:
- Craniosacral therapy and osteopathy
- Flower essences
- Essential oils
- A diet with no gluten, artificial colors or dyes, or high fructose corn syrup and little processed food
- Most of our time screen-free
- Muscle-testing and energy work
- Yoga (though still only occasionally with the kids)
Other things I’ve tried myself but either not integrated often or not used much with my kids
- Emotional Freedom Technique
- Breathing techniques
- Gratitude journals
- Have unscheduled days and don’t overschedule activities
I would like for us to spend more time
- strengthening our bodies
- connecting to the earth and beyond
- cultivating compassion and gratitude
- broadening our minds
- View and make art
- Get more independent in our garden (coming along!)
- Do yoga and breath work
- Give thanks
- Do service work as a family
Some of those things are dependent on me having enough energy, which is dependent on a whole bunch of other factors. But all of these things would feed that energy, if not physical, than emotional.
The trouble for me is when my self-care seems to run into conflict with the experiences my kids want to have or that I want to have for them.
But the key might be to teach myself – and my children – not to view things as conflicting!
How do you balance what you need at this moment and what your kids need for a lifetime?
- They Come Through You — Aspen at Aspen Mama shares what her late-discovery adoption means to her and her family.
- The Shape of Our Family: Musings on Genealogy — Donna at Eco-Mothering delves into her genealogy and family stories, observing how the threads of family reveal themselves in her daughter.
- Hand family stories down to the next generation — Lauren at Hobo Mama asked her father to help her son learn to read — never expecting that Papa’s string of richly storytelling emails would bring a treasure trove of family history into their lives.
- Saving Family Stories — Holly at Leaves of Lavender talks about why she thinks it’s important to preserve fun and interesting family stories for future generations.
- Serenading Grandma — When Dionna at Code Name: Mama started playing violin in the fifth grade, her grandma and mother were the biggest part of her musical cheering section. Her grandma urged her to keep playing and reminded her that someday she’d be thankful for her talent. As was so often the case, her grandma was right.
- Family legacy ambivalence — With a family history of depression and suicide, Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama frets about her children’s emotional health.
- Seder and Holy Week: Family Traditions, Old and New — As an Episcopalian whose children’s ancestry is five-eighths Jewish, Becca at The Earthling’s Handbook values the annual Passover seder that connects her and the kids to family traditions.