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My Boring Rebellion

A few days ago, someone named me as one of their favorites for natural and/or unconventional parenting.  I was flattered, of course, but it got me thinking.  Why should what we do be considered unconventional?  I think it is sad that the way we raise our children mark us as “different” amongst our parenting peers.  I never set out to be some kind of “alternative” mama.  My evolution into a “crunchy” mama has been slow and mostly unintentional.  The things that push me into that category are done because they make my life easier.  I am just doing what makes sense for my children and myself.

The more I sat and thought about this the more it bothered me.  Really?  What I am doing, which developed in the most natural way possible, is considered “unconventional” by most people.  Which I find odd because things that deem us “alternative” and “unconventional” should in fact be the norm.  We should be considered terribly boring parents.

I’ve been called a breastfeeding advocate as well.  Is it really unconventional to use your breasts for their intended purpose?  Breastfeeding should be the normal way to feed a baby. Formula should be the exotic alternative, the choice taken because you can’t feed your baby any other way. It should be weird to see a baby bottle, and when a child sees a woman feeding a baby a bottle on a bench in the park she should be asking her parents “what is that mommy doing with that baby?”

It should be normal to breastfeed as long as the mother/child collective chooses to.  It should be weird to hear someone say they weaned their baby before they can even crawl.  And you know what?  It should be completely unheard of and horrifying to cut bits off of or poke holes in another human being without their consent. If it was it would save us a whole lot of regret and heartache. 

It should be normal to want to spend as much time as possible with your kids.  It should be completely average to think that your kids are awesome and unique people that will learn and grow in their own individual ways.  It should be weird to hear someone say “I would go crazy if I had to spend all day with my kids.” It should be downright strange to think that all kids learn the same way and at the same pace.

I don’t understand why I am a weird parent because I research and agonize over whether or not to vaccinate my children, or because I want to keep my eighteen month old rear-facing in the car.  Or even because I prefer to snuggle and wear my babies instead of keeping them in a little plastic bucket that is transferred from house to car to stroller.  And most of all, the fact that I worry about our parenting decisions, that I think about how my words and actions will affect my children, the fact that I choose to devote my time and energy to help my children grow into good, kind, responsible people should not make me “different”.



45 Responses to My Boring Rebellion

        • Bingo. I’m just not out there under a name like Witchy Mama, but it doesn’t mean I consider it any less applicable to myself as well. :)

          And honestly, I agree that it should be normal to try to do the best you can, with research and some self-sacrifice.

    • Hey, I’m not being judgemental, I’m just saying I don’t think being a witch is a “conventional” choice as in ho-hum, ordinary, who isn’t a witch?

      I agree with you that gentle and natural parenting should be the norm, I would like that very much.

      I disagree with you in the sense that I don’t think “unconventional” is at all an insulting term. In fact, I think if someone called me “an ordinary, very conventional housewife” I’d throw a frying pan at them.

      • Again, you miss the point. I never mentioned religion in the post. I was talking about parenting choices. My religion isn’t a choice. I never said being called “unconventional” is insulting. My post is about my regret that the choices I make are not considered conventional.

  1. “I always thought being a rebel would be more fun.”

    More fun? More fun than spending your days with your littles, watching them learn and grow, and nurturing and connecting? What’s more fun than that? 😉

  2. I was contacted by someone a couple of years ago by someone doing an article on “alternative” Mommy Bloggers (back when I actually blogged about more than what books I’m reading lol). I had the same reaction! What moght seem alternative or non-conventional to some was status quo at one time and IS the norm in other parts of the world.

  3. Oh…wait – you mean they might have just thought I was “alternative” because I’m a witch,too? Damn.

    Also, I meant “might”, not moght 😉

  4. While I agree that many of your points should be the norm, I don’t know that we’re all built like you and that it would be normal or feel right for everyone.

    While I want to be the best person I can be for me and for my future children, I know that for me, I need adult interaction and would in fact go nuts if I just interacted with kids all day every day. Maybe there’s a better way to ask for adult interaction than to say “I would go crazy if I had to spend all day with my kids.” but if a parent needs that to be the best possible person then why can’t that be normal for them?

    We’re all a sum of our experiences and individual personalities influence decisions about what’s best for our families and while I really appreciate that you’ve put this out there (and I do agree with many of your points) it might not be the norm for others – because it doesn’t work for them.

    I think the new Normal should be to accept that as long as people are doing what’s best for their families and them selves that we let it go and worry about what’s right for our own.

    • I feel the need to add… Spending all my time with my children does not mean I have no interaction with adults. We get together two or three times a week to hang out with other people. I also have friends over for lunch, tea, dinners and craft nights.

      You can be a stay at home mom and still have a life. This image that people seem to have of a lonely, depressed woman covered in snot and baby poo with children climbing all over her really annoys me.

  5. I don’t think there’s anything “unconventional” about you! You seem to be a mum, like most of us, who wants the best for her children! There’s nothing at all wrong with breastfeeding, homeschooling and being nuturing! It’s very easy for some to sit behind a computer and be judgemental, however it would be nice if people would be bit more open minded, they might actually learn a thing or two!

    I think on the same note you can understand how a mum who’s unable to breastfeed or who went the opposite route you mention would deserve the same respect you’re asking for.

    As far as your religion goes… I say do whatever makes you happy! I’m the last person to stand in judgement! I think some people still assume the stigma attached to the word “witch” is that of cauldrons, broomsticks and potions! I don’t think you count yourself in that catagory at all! I would call you more earthy, natural, etc…

    Anyway, enough of me nattering away! Live, laugh, love and all that! :-)

    • I would never say anyone who makes choices different from mine is undeserving of respect!

      My post is about my regret that the choices I make are not considered conventional by more people.

  6. You’ve got many great points! However, i’m not built the same way. I do need adult interaction. i’ve felt i’ve lost some of myself as i’ve been a SAHM for the last 9 years. Part of that time was spent homeschooling. Due to uncontrollable circumstances i’ve had to put my kids back into a public school, and unfortunately because of the pace..my 8yo had to “go back a grade” because her math skills weren’t the same as everyone else’s and the way i was teaching her was working fine, but she’s not allowed to do it that way anymore since she’s been in school.
    I’ve seriously been contemplating pulling her from school again because i don’t like the changes in her behaviors since she’s been in school.

    Anyway.. there is no “Normal” You do what’s best for you and your family, if that makes you “crunchy” because you want whats best than that’s on everyone else. I do my research when and where i think it’s best for my kids. I believe there are too many *lemmings* or *sheeple* they are the ones that need to wake up and break the mold of society.

    I think what you’re doing for you and your family is awesome and it’s what’s best for you. I agree that breast fed babies SHOULD be the NORM! Formula should be a last resort. Doctors and others should keep their noses out of mother’s business if they want to nurse. unless it’s unconditional support they’re offering to new moms. they don’t know what’s best for your child only you do.

    You’re doing a great job and don’t let anyone tell you or make you feel differently. ♥

  7. I resonated with this post so much. I agree that all parents are doing their best loving their families. Without judgment of families, I also wish that the norm were crunchy and it wasn’t seen as oddball in this country. There seems to be this societal message that reinforces and encourages different ways to detach or separate from one another in families. I’m not saying that mainstream families or crunchy families are any more or less loving and involved. I’m saying that the majority message encourages and rewards detachment and views crunchy parenting as unhealthy enmeshment

  8. I don’t often comment on your blogs Joni, but I feel the need to on this one.
    I’m saddened by some of the responses on here and also about “norms” in society.
    As parents, the needs of the children MUST come first. You see this in every other species of mammal on the planet. It involves sacrifice and discomfort but above all it comes from the innate understanding that we as parents have to put that role above all else that might be happening in our lives.
    As a quick side note to this- putting the child’s needs first in no way translates to pandering to the childs’ every wish. They *need* to learn to compromise, occassionally the *need* to learn that certain behavior is unacceptable. it is better for their long term good. Ever notice how those who let their children grow up without boundaries of behavior are the first ones to complain about their “rude’ co-worker or shop assistant?
    But that could all be for another day and another post….
    Back to this one. Classifying you as “unconventional” and by the comments of others “I couldn’t spend all day with my kids” etc
    both are barometers of society in general.
    As we “evolve” (if you call Souffer’s the new home made as Evolution) as a society we are presented with a greater number of options as to how we CHOOSE to raise our children.
    Now how we must, or what we could or couldn’t possibly manage to do, but how we choose to.
    And it seems that the choices that take us further away from the traditional roles as parents are now considered the norm.
    So not being able to live without adult intereaction or not having enough time to breastfeed or any other comment you care to come up with is simply a smokescreen.
    A self affirming smokescreen designed to ease the minds of those who have CHOSEN to parent in a certain way.
    No one makes us stick our kid in daycare. No one makes us leave them in a pack and play or car seat 24/7. (Do you believe they now have a special pillow designed to prevent “flat head syndrome”?)
    These are CHOICES that we make as parents- pure and simple choices, not forced, unavoidable circumstances.
    What makes it easy for those who choose this route to justify it? Because it is now the norm! Apparently it is now more than acceptable to shirk the resposibilities of fatherhood or motherhood in favor of our OWN needs.
    That to me is the saddest part of all this. That society’s view of the parenting “norm” is moving further away from the need of the children with every passing generation.

    • Brilliant! And so very true. I think parents need to be comfortable with their own decisions and accept how other people have decided to parent. If you feel the need to make excuses or put other parents down because they aren’t parenting the way you do then maybe you aren’t as comfortable with your own decisions as you thought. 😉

      I have always felt this was the “normal” way to parent. I’m ok with spending my days with my babies. I chose to have them, I choose to take care of them, I choose to home school them. I will parent like this until they move along and become parents themselves. Even then I’ll still parent them the way I always have. :)

      • “I have always felt this was the “normal” way to parent. I’m ok with spending my days with my babies. I chose to have them, I choose to take care of them, I choose to home school them. I will parent like this until they move along and become parents themselves. Even then I’ll still parent them the way I always have.”

        I was going to post my own response, but you said just what I feel! 😉

    • It was an awesome post and a great comment :) Your husband and you think much like my husband and I. It’s heartening to know there are others out there who feel the same. And like you said, I didn’t make the EXACT same choices as you, but every choice I made with the intention of my child’s best interest and did my best with what I could at the time.

      For instance, I regret circumcising my son, but at the time we felt convinced of the “health benefits”. Now, his foreskin as reattached and honestly it’s like he isn”t circumcised at all. I feel like we put him through an unnecessary procedure and his body is telling us he was fine before by “fixing” it. I won’t do that again if we have another boy. When he gets older, because his skin is shorter, we will have to apply a cream to gently separate the skin. Ugh, it’s just a big mess.

      I breastfed as long as possible, which wasn’t as long as I would have liked because I had serious problems getting him to latch. Even though I had SO MANY people trying to help me. People from nurses to LLL to doctors to friends and family. No one could get this kid to latch. NOW I’m pretty sure he is tongue tied (like his Daddy). My husband is tongue tied, but not in a debilitating, needs surgery kind of way. I had one doc check our son and they said he was fine, but I want a second opinion. I know it’s too late now, but it would be helpful to know for next time. Anyway, I exclusively pumped for 7 months, but being completely alone all day while my husband worked (we live NO WHERE near family and we hadn’t lived here long enough to make good friends) I couldn’t keep a good pumping schedule and I eventually started to dried up :(

      Not only THAT but I had a horrible case of PPD. I wasn’t a danger to myself or others…but I wasn’t far from it. My husband and OB said it was because I was wearing myself thin and beating myself up. I was trying to be absolutely PERFECT- clean house, lose the weight, make only the RIGHT decisions about motherhood. My MOM said it was the breastfeeding. When I started to dry up I thought stopping at THAT point was best. BOY was I WRONG. I thought I was bad before? That was nothing. I got even worse. I started being mean to everyone- snapping and yelling. I wanted to leave because I truly felt they were better off without me. I hated myself. It was the worst time in my life.

      What eventually helped me was taking my husband’s (and OB’s) advice- recognize how much good I do, how I am a great mom and human being, and be happy when I get SOMETHING done (instead of beating myself up for not getting 100% of my crazy To Do List done). I eventually focused on resetting our routines and learning to love what I COULD do, not what I failed to do. And, funny thing is, when I did that I ended up being able to DO more. It took a few months but that really helped so much. Also, my husband is beyond supportive. He helps whenever he can- there’s no “Mama” duties and “Man” duties. Only parent duties (LOL, except when I pumped, or when ever I breast feed in the future 😛 )

      NOW I know so much more about breastfeeding and multitasking (something I have always been very bad at, I have a form of Autism called Asperger Syndrome. Actually both my husband and I have it. We do great when focused on ONE thing at a time). Now I know about the truly “hands free” pump bra, but at the time I didn’t. Now I KNOW from experience that stopping breastfeeding can make you really depressed.

      Again, had I known (or rather had the experience), these things would have gone differently. But that’s parenting, right? Especially with your first. You have to experience it and figuring things out. You make mistakes, but your INTENTIONS and effort are what matter. I read SO MUCH about EVERYTHING, but I really didn’t know what I was doing. My intentions were for the best and we all have to learn what works for our family- as long as we put the kids first :)

      Anyway, thanks for putting up with this long-winded post 😛 The short version is I totally agree with you 😛

  9. By my standards, you are absolutely normal – and these are the standards I grew up with.

    One thing I’ve been working on lately (and this is NOT meant as a snark at anyone here, I’m just writing it because this is my first chance to) is getting the idea through my stubborn head that ALL parents want what’s best for their children – we may have differing ideas of “what’s best” means and how to get there, but that doesn’t mean that our love is less. ..I’m not sure where to go with it, but there it is.

    Also, slogging through (thankfully moderate) PPD, I’ve found myself making choices that I don’t necessarily consider optimal – like using paper diapers instead of cloth, or having the baby spend the morning napping in the swing instead of on me – so that *I’m* functional enough to take care of my kids… some of those compromises life is so full of… :/

    • Katie, don’t beat yourself up. I know how easy it is to judge yourself and make yourself feel like you aren’t being a ‘good’ parent. But, as I’ve been told repeatedly over the past 6 months or so “if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of your child”. As long as your baby is healthy and happy, having him/her nap somewhere other than on you or using disposable diapers instead of cloth is nothing to be ashamed of. Be gentle to yourself and don’t judge to harshly.

    • Nothing is set in stone. You aren’t a bad mom if you don’t wear your baby every moment of the day or use disposables or whatever. My post isn’t about how every mom should do what I do, its about my regret that some things are no longer the norm. That’s all. I’m all about doing what works for you.

      I just wish more people saw that this “unconventional” parenting isn’t as strange or difficult as they think.

      <3 <3 <3

      • Thank you both.

        I don’t beat myself up (much); I’ve actually come to quite a place of acceptance about doing what I need to do to keep functioning – and to rise above mere functioning, too! For example, I don’t like how much TV the toddler’s watching, but if it’s how I can keep her entertained without screaming or swearing at her, we can cope with it. It’s not completely trash TV (always “educational”), and with the weather starting to warm up, I’m planning to get us out into the ‘sun’ (lolOregonsun) as much as possible.

        I like doing as much as possible the old-fashioned way. The work of your hands is satisfying, and as someone commented on a blog I read last night, it’s the more affordable option, too!

  10. Sweetie I think you are on the top five of the most awesome mommies I know &I know A LOT of mommies. I find time for adult time too but I agree being a good mom does mean putting your child first. There are a lot of things I have to give up but they don’t compare to having my daughter. :)

  11. I love your post!!! And how timely… hubby and I were just talking today about how so many changes in our life and in our lifestyle have taken place over the last several years, and how we’ve made sacrifices in some areas, yet have clung to our beliefs in others.

    I would wear the badge of being considered alternative or different with much honor… recognizing that it means that I look, *really look* at what is best for my children and my family, and not follow the “ordinary” route. :)

    Just my two cents…


  12. OK I read your post as a male, a parent, and a witch and unless you deleted something real good I see no reason for the flying monkey’s to be as P.O.’d as they are unless the fleas are back.

  13. Great post! I have made a lot of the same choices as you have and it boggles my mind that more people don’t make these choices, since it seems so clear to me that they are the best choices for the children, and as your wonderful husband pointed out, the children DO need to come first. However, I can also see, to a degree, people’s point about needing to take care of themselves. A stressed out, isolated mommy isn’t going to be able to give the kids all the love and attention they need. There must be a balance, with some alone mommy-time and adult interactions in there, which most AP moms DO get, but I don’t think most non-AP mommies understand that.

  14. I’ve been in conversations when another mom said to me “I’d be bored as hell if I was home with my kid every day.” Sorry, I’d be guilty as hell if I missed every milestone like she has while her kid’s plunked in daycare for 10 hours a day. And if you’re bored, you’re missing the point! Staying at home isn’t a punishment for me, it’s an enriching experience for me AND the boy.

    I am especially irritated by the fact that some family members think I can run their errands for them while they are at ‘work’ and I’m at ‘home’. Look, I’ve got arrangements four out of the five days that I’m ‘home’ and no, I can’t wait around for your UPS package to be delivered.

    My hubby comes from the same camp as yours, thankfully. 😉

    What a refreshing take on things. Well-put.

    • I have to say this, not all parents who put their kids in daycare misses the milestones. I certainly never did.

      People need to stop making assumptions about what it’s like to be a working mother or a sahm. I have been both and both have their pros and cons. Neither is better than the other overall. What we each have to do is decide for ourselves what fits best for our families and stop being judgmental of each other.

  15. I also think it’s sad that being a mammal is considered unconventional, lol. Mothers of every other mammal breast feed their offspring [or abandon them to starve]. Mammal mothers also stay with their young as long as the young need to be stayed with, and since Human behavior is much more complex than most other mammals, little humans need that attachment far longer.

    We’ve changed into a culture of “now” and I think that makes many mommies want their littles to be grown ups right away that can take care of themselves. It doesn’t help that we’re advertized to that formulas are better, disposable diapers are better, c-sections and induced labor [when not necessary] are better, that being a sexy skinny teenager forever is better than being a lovely lucious momma… When I was a kid (and that was only in the early 90’s) I remember seeing moms breastfeeding all the time, in parks, in malls, on the bus… it didn’t seem to bother anyone then… how, in 10 years, has it become so taboo to provide a child with nutrients the way mammals always have?

    I don’t think you’re unconventional Joni, I think you’re wonderful. The way you supported Hannah through the play-group drama, the way you allow your children to be exactly who they are and let that be a great thing… I really envy your children to have such a mother.

  16. I enjoy this post, it resonates with me and my decisions thus far. I have followed the advice to parent with my gut… and I love the road it is leading me down. I research the heck out of my gut decisions… but it always brings me full circle to my crunchy path… and it always surprises me when it’s viewed as unconventional. Which it shouldn’t… because that has often been my moniker.

    Really liking your posts and tweets. And the artwork!

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