Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The one I feed.....

Dear friends. I've been wrestling with some demons for the past day now. I feel the need to get it all out, and I thank you in advance for your open minds, comments, and wise advice.
Little W was taken to the ped. yesterday after I noticed a rash on his hands and feet, as well as some marked crankiness. Doctors weren't too concerned with the rash, but told me that he was underweight. In the same sentence, Dr. asked me what I was knitting; she didn't seem overly concerned. A prepared drink was recommended, and we were on our way.
Bear in mind, my son is almost 12 months, and 19 lbs. I am small boned myself, and daddy weighs a mere 145 lbs, soaking wet. W is a charming and wonderful baby; constantly exploring, making us laugh, thriving in every way. He loves his mommy milk; he doesn't have much of an interest in solid foods as of yet, although they are offered three times a day. Fresh, organic fruits, veg, and grains are always on the menu. If he isn't hungry, food is not shoveled into his mouth.
A few hours later, my mother called me. Surprisingly, I was given a firm "talking-to"...notable snippets of conversation include, "I saw him without a shirt the other week, and I was concerned," "you let him chose his sleep schedule", "you're an inexperienced mother", "there's something wrong with a baby who wants to nurse every hour or so", "You aren't feeding him enough and he is very hungry", and (my favorite) "what are you doing? Are you going to move into the woods, make all your clothing, and homeschool your children??" (....heh, heh...)
My mother is a supposed supporter of the natural and holistic health and medicine movement. She is a trained natural chef who resided in Berkely, CA for a short time--the mecca of all things natural and organic!! Why I received a nasty earful from someone with her qualifications is beyond me...
Anger and control have never found a good place in my life. The household I was raised in was hardly ever a peaceful one. I recall lots of red faced screaming, crying, frustration, and helplessness. My mother, raising us on her ownas a young woman,faced a lot of challenges, financially and emotionally. There have been bits of time in the past where we have not spoken...I recall many fond childhood memories, but in the end, I remember a lot of anger. In the past years, she has done quite a lot of work on "herself" to be at peace...to look past being angry...leaps and bounds would be an understatement. So, where does this leave me?
I am an attached parent. My child has never been left to cry. I have cared for him at the breast, and will continue to do so. We practice a "rhythm", rather than a rigid schedule. I favor natural materials over anything plastic or artificial. I share sleep with my son in the most cozy and comforting family bed. My parenting style differs vastly from that of my mother. In the end, she pays me many compliments, but unkind words sting and are not easily forgotten.
While on the phone yesterday, receiving this criticism, I felt the urge to yell back. Scream, shout, hang up, curse....write her off for a good long while. Deep breaths. Recognizing the anger I felt inside of me, and willing it to leave. Understanding that this was akin to a storm that would pass. Listening to someone who felt the need to be heard, overall, as a concerned grandparent and mother herself. The conversation eventually slowed....apologies were said and plans were made for the next day. In the end, I know that my new found ability to remain calm and collected saved me from speaking out in anger; something everyone in my family has done for years and years.
My son inspires me every day. He challenges me to grow as a woman, mother and wife. I look to him and somehow understand that my actions will eventually become a part of him. I am worthy and in need of change and growth....for my family. This was a first step.
How do we deal with the anger that wells up inside of us? The frustration, envy, greed? I went to our local health food store last night to peruse the aisles and get lost for a bit. As I entered, I looked at the community board...at once, my eyes focused on this wonderfully ironic short Cherokee story, which was posted:
A grandson told of his anger at a schoolmate who had done him an injustice. Grandfather said: "Let me tell you a story." "I, too, have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do. But, hate wears you down and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times. It is as if there are two wolves inside me: one is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way. But the other wolf is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights with everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of then try to dominate my spirit." The boy looked intently into his grandfather's eyes and asked, "Which one wins, Grandfather?" The grandfather solemnly replied, "The one I feed."
I felt instantly revived. The written word can do such wonders for the mind and soul. I returned home to feed my son, in any way his little heart so desired....



  1. It's really hard to hear someone so close to you judge you like that. Good for you for staying calm through it though. Just follow your mommy instincts and keep doing what feels right. It's never going to please everybody as long as you stay true to yourself, it's all that matters.

    I too grew up with a very angry mother. She always yelled at me, talked down on me and was rude to me. THAT is why I'm working so hard at finding a balance in our home and within myself. I just crave being surrounded by peacefulness. You (and your blog) are very inspiring to me :)
    Stephanie xx

  2. Hi, I think your child's digestive system will pick up when it is ready. Offering food three times a day is a good thing at that age. Mother know best what is needed for her child,one gets advice from lots of people. Sometimes you are meant to listen to things coming towards you ( like the unexpected trip to the doctor ) and sometimes you are meant to see something ( like the written word in the health shop) neither of these events are random. but need to be taken up by you,sometimes it only takes a small thing for a shift to accrue. It is your journey that you are on, not your Mothers,and good on her for realizing and trying to change and put right, things in her past that need working on, we all have things that need working on, its on going in life. You are a wonderful Mother and family. Love and light Marie

  3. You are a wonderful mother and obviously a wonderful daughter as well. W is a beautiful and perfect little boy. No worries. <3

  4. I have 2 little boys that have always been underweight by the charts and I wasn't able to breastfeed. So I admire what you can do for your little W, that being said a Mother knows best for her wee ones. Keep strong Mama you have plenty of support out there.

  5. I am so very appreciative of all the thoughtful comments!

  6. I can truly see what a good loving mother you are, and as you are so willing to grow and learn and give all of yourself to your child, surely you both will thrive!
    Both my daughters nursed for several years, but my youngest was exclusively breastfed for her entire first year. I'm sure that her growth was just fine, though it's not like we ever saw a pediatrician... Then again, I do make my girls clothing, and homeschool, and live in the forest...
    Renee :)

  7. We had the same kinds of reactions when our oldest was little. Our families were up in arms about everything from cosleeping and extended breastfeeding to the fact that we didn't use babysitters. Plus we're vegans, so that didn't help. The negativity wasn't easy nor fun to deal with, so my heart goes out to you. What I've found in my own family is that eventually they get used to it. It takes a little while, as it's all foreign to them. But eventually they might even be among your biggest supporters as they see your little one grow up and display all the benefits of your wise parenting choices.

  8. Oh Mothers!!! They have the best intentions with their unsolicited advice!
    My mother was pretty darn miserable to live with, and when I had my own babies, it's like she took out every single one of her own parenting insecurities on me! From breastfeeding, (i was bottle fed) to co sleeping, (i was in a crib 2 rooms away), to homeshcooling, (she was a teacher...needless to say i went to school)!
    Good for you for not submitting to your anger...I know how difficult that can be!
    xo maureen

  9. As a rough guide they say that by roughly 12 months a child "should" have roughly tripled his/her birthweight. I would take genetics into account as you mentioned. It seems what is more important is that he is happy & alert.

    I remember my youngest was 9 months old and not even rolling over. He was the kind of kid who slept for 5 hours & then I'd wake him up to nurse & he'd most often fall right back asleep. I had friends with children of similar ages who told me everything he "should" be doing by that age. He seemed fine to me, but eventually they managed to shake the trust I had in me that all was well & I took him to an anthroposophic doctor.

    Well, and she gave me the blurb above. She said she understood my concern, but that he was happy & alert... She recommended just waiting another month or so. That month he ended up rolling over & learning to sit up & started pulling himself up on things. Ever since then he has been the kind of child who does things or learns things just when you get the feeling he never will - that ranges from cleaning his room to learning to read. :-)

    After seeing this doctor, we moved back to the U.S., but we happened to be back in Germany where he was attending Waldorf 1st Grade & she was the school doctor. She still remembered him & there was always this karmic connection between them. It was amazing. He once fell off his bike and had a huge wound on his head. She had very limited office hours & I wanted to head to the ER. He begged me to call her first to see if she was still around & you know what, she was...


    I also know that it is hard when our mothers aren't supportive. My mother decided to step out of my life a couple of months ago because of my pregnancy. The way I look at it is that we live in a time where family ties are loosened for some, but when that happens we are usually surrounded by a supportive community-circle of like-minded people. It still hurts, though.

    Anyhoo. Sorry for the rant. I'll add you to my blog list.


  10. Oh, it's there. Google told me my response was too long, but it's there. Phew.

    Gotta love Lucifer & Ahriman. Life without them would be so boring. :-)

  11. You are doing everything you should be...and everything will BE as it should be.

    Thank you for your comment on my blog as it's led me to yours.

    Looking forward to your Kimberton post. I just finished my first year of Foundatin Studies. Where are taking your teacher training?

  12. My second born son, Oscar only weighed 18 lbs. at 12 months! He was always the smallest, from birth on ( and the easiest birth). My other three boys, including my current babe weighed the same at only 4 months. Oscar was tiny and super, super active but incredibly strong.

    It sounds to me like you are an incredible mother and daughter! Besides, in my book co-sleeping, extended breastfeeding, homeschooling, and living in the woods all rock.
    Peace, Love & Understanding~

  13. I love to read when other's are listening to their hearts. No doctor, or other person (not even your mom) knows intutively what is best for YOUR child. They are all well meaning, but it is confusing to get treated like you are not the mother. Nurse your baby, do everything that your heart tells you to! As for the rashes. My littles were/are "underwieght". My oldest had rashes on her wrists and the tops of her hands, as well as insides of elbows and knees. I would try to cut any dairy and ALL gluten out of your diet. I would be more than happy to email you with more info and my personal story if you'd like.

    :)Lisa (earthmama101@yahoo.com)

  14. i see a beautiful and inspiring mama who is taking great measures to do what she knows is right for her child. my son (just turned 3) has always been on the small side, too. he was exclusively breastfed for the first year only because he just wasn't interested in solid food, though i offered it to him.

    i know how it feels to be judged as a parent, by your own parent. my own father stopped speaking to us over a year ago because he finds us to be such awful parents he would rather not be a part of our lives at all.

    i am so glad that you visited my blog and that i found you here! :)

  15. You'll know if your child is healthy or not better than anyone and it sounds like he's healthy nursing, happy, eliminating... all normal. (Plus he looks just fine from the pictures), People forget that in order to have an average you have to have those on either end of the scale. Not all babies (or people) should look alike.

    I wouldn't be too worried about offering food beyond having your food available to share if the interest is there. Babies with food sensitivities and allergies are sometimes suggested to bf only with no solids for 2 years. It's completely normal for babies to not have interest until closer to 2 as well....

    I'm so glad you are looking for inner confidence despite the lack of support around you! Family may not agree with your choices but they should respect them.

  16. I think you are the best mum your child could have wished for!

    I love your blog. And I have a question: Can I use the picture you included in this post? I would love to put that on my blog!

  17. You are a wonderful mother, with your child's soul being feed daily.

    Try not to worry about what others say (even though its not easy) since you know what your child needs better than anyone else!

    Keep doing what you are doing, love that baby and everything will come together in its own time!

  18. Thank you. I needed to hear that story - yours and the old man's.
    and it is a pleasure to meet you too :)

  19. That story was very helpful to me too. It's so interesting to read of your passage through the early stages of motherhood as I emerge at the other end with newly adult sons. Too close to appraise my own methods accurately, too far to comment on yours!

  20. yes indeed the written word can do wonders. i too grew up in a home of quick tempers and yelling. i struggle to overcome my upbringing and raise my children in peace. your brave example was filling to my soul...thank you.

  21. Oh My My... I'm reading this post now and so could have used it a when it was written! Our son is just a tad old than yours. At his 12 month check up he weighed in at 20 lbs. They told us he does not weigh enough and pretty much said my breastmilk not having enough fat is to blame... They told us to start giving him Pediasure every day to put some weight on him... I have sooo many issues with this!
    First of all, my son has the best diet of anyone I know (organic, whole foods, breastmilk, etc). I've read several books and done a ton of research on nutrition for little ones. We give him plenty of nutritious food with good fats, but he's just so busy! He's newly learned to walk and has so many wonderful things and places explore! :-) Although we make the most of our family mealtimes, eating just isn't always O's top priority. We really couldn't do anything more than we are.
    I nearly fell over when the NP had the nerve to suggest there might be something "wrong" with my breastmilk! You see, O has never latched. I pumped all of his breastmilk from birth until a very recent weaning... The pumping was a lot of work, but I did it because I believe with all my heart that breast is best... and we want our babes to have the best, right? Then there's the pediasure. The second ingredient is sugar. Sure there are a lot of calories, but there isn't anything wholesome about it. Surely there must be a better way to consume calories?
    I just feel so torn. I want my boy to be healthy more than anything, but I question a practice that would say anything against breastmilk, or suggest a sugary substitute might be better somehow. When I asked them what exactly they were concerned about, they just showed me a chart and how O wasn't measuring up compared to his peers. Breastfed peers? Formula-fed peers? I tried to get the NP to further explain, but she really just kept showing me the dot on the chart.
    My son, my beautiful, healthy, active, imaginative, smart boy is a whole being. He is more than a mere dot on a chart. Yours is too!
    Also, last night I was showing my husband another post on your blog. He mentioned that W looks about the same size as O and perfectly healthy. How funny now to read we've been having similar issues.
    It's obvious you are an extraordinary mother. Warmest wishes to you.

  22. I got the too long message too! Happy to see my comment is here anyway (typos and all)! :-)


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