I've been thinking a lot recently about motherhood.
I don't like children, and never wanted children. Yes, I do like my children, but that's because mother nature created a thing called bonding, and with the exception of certain circumstances, bonding makes us love the thing who put us through months of discomfort, hours of pain, weeks of bleeding, and for the really unlucky, years of broken sleep. Very devious of mother nature. If I wasn't bonded with my children, I'd probably think they were rather annoying and wished they would shut up for Just. 5. Minutes. Hell, I already do wish they'd shut up for just 5 minutes.
Generally speaking though, I really dislike children I don't know (because obviously you can't say you dislike friends children because then that friend gets offended because you hate their offspring and then you are down a friend).
I find it so curious that I can feel such immense love for two annoying, smelly, dirty, stubborn chatterboxes. If they were a husband, I'd have put myself out my misery long ago.
What I also find strange is the way my 'values' have changed slightly. I always veered towards the 'earth mama' side of the fashion and values scales. I always felt naturally was better (and had a lot of debates with male friends about how I didn't wear make up and would therefore never find a man *roll eyes*). I don't wear make-up, don't dye my ever-going-grey hair, I wear what I want regardless of where or when it is from (with the exception of shoes because I only find Doc Martens comfortable for more than a couple of hours). I don't try to look cool or up to date with fashion. I rarely pay attention to what's hip and what's not (and yes, I do know that saying hip is just not hip). I am the complete opposite to my next-down younger sister in all of that. Growing up, my mum breastfed us all, and having younger siblings I saw and do remember her breastfeeding and co-sleeping when she had to.
Breastfeeding was such a natural thing growing up that I had no idea about formula feeding. And I mean no idea. Whenever I thought about it, I couldn't understand why anyone in their right mind would want to buy milk, so assumed that it was prescription only or you had to show proof of extreme circumstance. Sounds silly, right? I got a big shock when I had Oliver and they offered us formula! I was like 'why on earth would I need formula, I have working boobs!'. But is it really such a silly thing for someone to grow up in a place where breastfeeding is the way it's done?
I never ever thought I would become a 'lactivist', and I am definitely not hard-core - I think educated woman with the means to buy formula have a right to make an educated choice. However, I also thinks pushing formula into countries where sterile safe water is hard to come by, and formula is a luxury people cannot afford, is morally wrong. My big issue in this country is women who do not educate themselves, are not supported in breastfeeding or believe the big misconception that a lot of women just can't breastfeed/don't have milk.
I have become more passionate about a lot of things since becoming a parent. We use cloth nappies 99% of the time, even at night, not because we think they are more environmentally friendly (which I do believe and has been proven, though many naysayers will point you to an old study which showed they weren't, which has since been updated to say they are), but because the thought of hundreds of thousands of plastic nappies containing shit sitting in a dump somewhere for the next few decades is quite disturbing to us.
Same with co-sleeping, and the family bed. Same with recycling, and becoming more aware of what we use and how we use it. We create very little household waste compared to some families - one small bag a week, with 3 small bags of recycling a week and filling up our composter. We don't turn on the heating until we can't feel our toes. Water is a valuable resource, and we don't forget it.
I also believe we should hold our children close for as long as possible. The best way to teach them to world is to show them it, to let them see how you interact with it.
We carried Oliver until he was a few months younger than Rose, but it was 80/20 buggy/sling use. When I was pregnant with Rose, we were struggling financially and could not in a million years stretch to a double buggy, and Oliver walking or standing on a buggy board was not an option (he has a habit of running into roads, running into shops, lying down and playing dead, and was actually a danger to himself), and so my only real option was a sling. I bought a mei-tai, and made a moby style stretchy wrap. When she was 3 months old, I bought our first woven wrap (something I saved up hard for). I can count of 1 hand the number of times she has been in a buggy, and she was a different child each time - she was subdued, and just didn't seem happy, whereas in a sling she can speak to me and Oliver, she interacts with people on their level and is so happy. It wasn't until we were in Amsterdam and I had to take her out in a buggy (I couldn't bend over to get her on my back) that I really realised how annoying buggies are. I've not used one in a year almost, and it really is amazing how quickly you forget. Streets are difficult to navigate, shops are impossible, markets are awkward.
I have become one of those weird mums who go on and on about her hippy ways as if they are the best, but I really do think they are. I have learned so much about physiology and development through babywearing, I know why crotch danglers are bad, and why facing out isn't all that great.
At almost 2 years old (in October, don't ask me how old she is now because I do not know) she is still carried 99% of the time, and usually every day she gets carried for an hour, most days longer and more often.
There are a lot of things I hadn't thought about before becoming a parent that I now am so very passionate about, and I think that's been the best thing about motherhood. It's opened my eyes to new things, and different ways of seeing the world. Just as my children are learning, so am I. I may not be the worlds best parent, but my mind is always open to new suggestions, new thoughts. For me, to have a closed mind would severely limit the chances of my children reaching teenagerhood - it is the learning of new thoughts and ideas that make me better equipped to deal with new situations that arise and understanding why it may be this way.
Well done if you got to the end of this ramble!