{Messy Parenting} The Transition to Three

Going from two to three kids has not been the easiest transition; nor has it been the most difficult.

Emily and Andrew interpret nursing time to be house-trashing time.  It’s also, apparently, prime time for trouble-making – like taking baths in the sink, finding and destroying my make-up, ripping books, coloring in books, emptying out drawers, cracking eggs, etc.  Going out of the house requires an inordinate amount of time directing and redirecting the other two with my voice as my hands are usually full.

The infant part is not hard.

Having Amelia has changed my life.  From the very first heart beat to the final push of labor I worried I would lose her.  I couldn’t imagine my body keeping this baby after it had spontaneously aborted 4 previous pregnancies.  As silly as it sounds, I could not convince my brain that the pregnancy would be okay. I suppose having all those losses convinced me that having another baby was impossible.

Yet, here she is.  My miracle baby.

I get the baby stage.  I get her. Our night time feedings aren’t nearly as depleting as they were with the previous two.  Her colic didn’t break me as it seemed to do with both Emily and Andrew.  Every morning I wake up happy to feed her – even if I’ve been awake all night long.  I snuggle her as she smiles and coos at me.  Her brother and sister attack her with hugs and kisses.  We all watch her in amazement.

I don’t feel guilty about missed tummy time.  (Tummy time with a 2 and 4 year-old is very difficult and slightly dangerous anyway.)  I don’t worry about her growth.  I feel comfortable with nursing.  I feel comfortable having her sleep next to me.

So, yes, having a third has been easy in some ways.

I’m still learning the personalities of her older siblings and often feel stumped as to how to parent them.  Emily is now 4 and astounds me with her intelligence.  Andrew is 2.5 and exhausts me with his toddlerness (my own made up word).

I just know that this transition is not as difficult as I expected it to be.  It wasn’t any harder than going from 0 to 1 child or 1 to 2 children.  I have experience regarding infancy – making the baby stage easier – but I am still inexperienced in so many other ways.

I constantly walk that line between comfortable and uncomfortable, thriving and drowning, experience and inexperience.  I suppose that sums up parenting when other kids are added to the mix. Heck, it sums up parenting in general.

MakingtheMomentsCount.com

How about you?  How did you feel about transitions in parenting – whether it was from 0 to 1 child, 2 to 3 children, or 9 to 10 children?

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{Messy Parenting} Jealousy

A friend of mine recently posted a parenting article from Huffington Post on Facebook.  I read it, found some of it interesting, and started feeling a bit defensive.  Why?  Jealousy.

In the article, the author talks about how, through her sleeping techniques, her child was sleeping through the night at 6 weeks and continues to do so as a 3 year-old.  Cool, right?

But the whole article sent me into a depressive, sob-myself-silly, spiral.

None of my babies are sleeping through the night.  And I’ve tried every method!  

After thinking about this for a few days, I came to a conclusion.  My jealousy is okay. It’s also okay for parents to celebrate those moments when their parenting techniques yield successful results.

Being in the thick of newborn sweetness, exhaustion, and incessant crying, my emotions change as often as the weather in my current town (which is to say a lot).   I might react more than I’d like, yet I’m learning lessons a lot more quickly.

Sometimes during these really difficult times – when my older kids refuse to go to bed (coming out of their rooms every few minutes) until after 10 pm, when my baby cries until 1 am, when I’m changing 3 sets of diapers, when I’m cleaning up multiple poop messes during the week, when I subsist on chocolate and cheerios, and when Ben is working 14 hour work days – I doubt my parenting abilities.  I wonder why Sally’s kids are fully potty trained, why Dan’s children sleep through the night, why Julie’s kid eats everything put in front of her, and I think that I must have done something wrong.

Until I remember that their kids are not my kids.  Parenting methods are successful when they fully match a child’s personality.  Some kids thrive under attachment parenting, others through so-called detachment parenting, and others through a mix-and-match of all available methods.  When parenting some kids, you end up writing your own book on how to parent just that child.

That’s okay.

When reading through parenting books, magazines, blog posts, news articles, etc, it’s so easy to think that “if I just did X then Y would happen” and become frustrated when your plans go awry.  Children are as different as the cloud shapes in the sky.  That’s what is so incredibly beautiful and frustrating about parenting, it means finding your own way and can feel lonely at times.

During these moments when everything has seemingly fallen apart and I’m questioning why any person thought I was suited for this job, I have moments when I remember that this gig is as nuanced as I am.  If someone put me in one box, I would feel chafed.  I don’t belong in any personality box, I am me, an individual that exists beyond stereotypes and classifications (except Homo sapien, something that none of us can escape).  Yeah, try to write a book on how to “parent” me.  Good luck.

The same thing is true of children – infants, toddlers, preschoolers and beyond.  Informing yourself is important but pulling your hair out when things aren’t going as the book says it should, is just not worth it.  Shelve that book and try something else.

We, as parents, are too hard on ourselves.  Let’s give ourselves credit today, tomorrow, and forever.

And if you feel depleted, just remember that parenting is messy. Then, join me in my weekly parent validation post (which occurs at any time during the week because my life really is messy right now). I promise, once you give yourself a little credit for things you are proud of, you’ll feel better about moving forward.

MakingtheMomentsCount.com

(You can find my button here.)

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Women Who Run With the Wolves Book Club: Chapter 8

I meant to write this on Monday but misplaced my book.  Naturally, I put it in a safe place that I thereby forgot until today.  I think Momnesia is settling in.

*Ahem*

In this chapter, Estes goes into detail about traps – how to identify them, where they come from, and how to protect/heal ourselves from them.  This chapter is full of treasures in which I will only discuss a few things that particularly stuck out to me.  It goes without saying that to fully appreciate what Clarissa has written would take a million blog posts. (I guess that’s why we read these types of books, right?)

Traps

“If a woman attempts to be a part of an organization, association, or family that neglects to peer into her to see what she is made of, one that fails to ask “what makes this person run?” and one that does not put forth effort to challenge or encourage her in any positive manner…then her ability to thrive and create is diminished.” (p. 244)

In many cases, it’s easier to accept a person’s surface-level characteristics.  It takes work to fully comb out the nuances of a individual’s character, habits, etc.  There is danger in this.  I have been in many places in life in which it was easier to put up a façade of confidence and fulfillment when deep down my psyche was yearning for more.  So much more.  But, as is often inherent in these types of environments, I was forced to hide that part of myself.

“A woman who is starved for her real soul-life may look ‘cleaned up and combed’ on the outside, but on the inside she is filled with dozens of pleading hands and empty mouths.”  (p. 246)

As easy as it is for an organization or particular set of people (i.e. in a church setting) to glance over a person, it is also easy for a woman to keep up appearances by showing forth what she feels society wants from her.  This falsehood she perpetuates is dangerous.  One can feel empty inside for only so long before she seeks for something – anything – to fill her up.

“Overkill through excesses, or excessive behaviors, is acted out by women who are famished for a life that has meaning and makes sense for them.”

I recall when I was in a dark place and how, rather than addressing the real issue (my starved soul) I found solace in (over) exercising, counting calories and, therefore, under eating, and the internet.  I could spend hours poring over blogs and other websites in attempt to forget the monstrous pain that dwelled inside.

“The instinct-injured woman usually gives herself away because she has a difficult time asking for help or recognizing her own needs.” (p. 251)

When I read this sentence, I buried my face in a pillow and simultaneously laughed and cried myself into a silly stupor.  Before this last year, my poor husband would often ask what I needed and I, I just didn’t know.  It’s awful to not know what you need or be able to ask for help.

“Sneaking a counterfeit soul-life never works…It’s better to get up, stand up, no matter how homemade your platform, and live the most you can, the best you can, and forgo the sneaking of counterfeits.”  (p. 256)

I am still learning how to live an authentic life.  With the pressure I face in society to conform, I struggle with allowing my inner voice to sing.

Discussion Questions: 

  • Were there traps, or one trap, that stood out to you?
  • Have you found yourself in engaging in excessive behaviours as you’ve come to know Wild Woman?  How have you stopped this process?  (If you are still working through it, how are you doing so?)

How We are Trapped

“And in this light, it must be asked at each level how it came to be that any individual woman feels she has to cringe, flinch, grovel, and plead for a life that is her own to begin with.  What is in any culture that demands such?”

I am in the process of evaluating the culture I grew up in to examine the layers that produced the intense conformity that exists.  It’s not easy to look at something I loved so much for what it truly is; at the same time, it’s refreshing to recognize that I wasn’t broken, something within my culture is.

Discussion Questions:

  • Has society contributed to your traps?  If so, how?
  • Do you feel that certain religious cultures are more demanding and, therefore, entrapping of its members than other religious cultures?  How about cultures within a country?  Or countries in general?

Healing from and Avoiding Traps

“Regaining lost instinct and healing injured instinct is truly within one’s reach, for it returns when a woman pays close attention through listening, looking, and sensing the world around herself, and then by acting as she sees others act; efficiently, effectively, and soulfully.

“If our own wild natures have been wounded by something or someone, we refuse to lie down and die.” (p. 273)

The symbolism of not laying down and dying reminds me of a parenting method I employ.  When my kids fall or get hurt in some way or another while doing an activity they enjoy, I don’t coddle them and tell them to stop the activity, I provide comfort and encourage them to try again.  Healing is important; and so is getting up.

“One of the most important things we can do is to understand life, all life, as a living body in itself, one that has respiration, new cell turnover, sloughing off, and waste material.

“It is just as fatuous to think that once we solve an issue it stays solved, that once we learn, we always remain conscious ever after.  No, life is a great body that grows and diminishes in different areas, at different rates.  When we are like the body, doing the work of new growth, wading through la mierda, the shit, just breathing or resting, we are very alive. we are within the cycles of the Wild Woman.  If we could realize that the work is to keep doing the work, we would be much more fierce and much more peaceful.” (p. 274)

I think that this idea is exhausting and empowering.  Again, it parallels how I see parenting: while I would like my kids to learn their lessons the first time, to not hit their sibling again, I know I will need to teach them over and over again.  It’s exhausting and sometimes frustrating, but to raise mindful children takes love, dedication, and a lot of repetition.

Discussion Questions:

  • If you are a parent, did you also find many of Estes’ ideas in this chapter mirror your parenting?
  • Are you healing or have you healed from traps?  What has kept you going?

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Memories I Will Laugh About Later (#1)

Things are a bit difficult lately.  You know that adage, you’ll laugh about it later?  Well, I’m placing all my faith into that statement.  To help things, I’ve decided to write about the tough stuff to remind my future self of how funny things were at this time.

Enjoy.

————–

Remember going to your 6-week check-up with all three kids? BY YOURSELF? In that office, Andrew climbed up on the sink, multiple times, and emptied the glove box, the tissue box, and the paper towels all over the floor while you attempted to keep a very fussy Amelia calm through breast-feeding.   The nurse remarked, “You brave woman, three kids and so calm.” You laughed because your blood pressure showed otherwise with its high – for you – numbers.

I think your brain has suppressed the rest of the visit, so I’ll spare you the details.

That was funny.

And the rest of the day, you remember that?  Ben was working a long day (from 9 am until 10 pm) and you were optimistic that things would be okay.  I mean, what could happen right?

You soon ate those words.

While you were in the kitchen making dinner, Andrew found and spilled almost all the salt out of the big container, dumped water all over the floor, and woke up Amelia.  Amelia proceeded to scream as you tried to finish dinner with tears streaming down your face.  It’s no wonder that you burned the dinner, twice, and somehow spilled paint (which fell from the top of the fridge, don’t ask) all over yourself and Amelia.

Yeah, that was funny.

To top it all off, while putting them in the bath (and hoping for some sanity), Andrew pooped in the bathtub.  Emily woke up Amelia, again. You cleaned up Andrew’s poop with Amelia in your arms and dishearteningly listened as Andrew and Emily took out every toy in their room.

Hilarious.

When you finally put the kids in bed, you realized why your left boob was hurting so bad, and why you were starting to feel sick: a clogged milk duct.

Meh.

You continued cleaning the kitchen while trying to ignore the kids that were coming in and out of their rooms.  You seriously considered installing bars on their doors until you realized how complicated that would get.  So you sat down with a box of ice cream instead.

Oh, what a funny day.

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It's Like Swimming in an Endless Ocean

Amelia is very colicky.

Not fussy.  Not grumpy.  Colicky.

(I would encourage you to read about colic to see the difference.)

Colic is uncontrollable crying for 3 hours on 3 or more days a week.  Generally it has periodic breaks. This last week, for instance, Amelia cried for three days straight (it seemed) and then was happy for two.  There is no pattern.  It occurs regardless of what I eat or don’t eat, how much I drink, or what is going on during the day. It’s just colic.

To repeat a common phrase, it is what it is.

I have this phobia of water.  Swimming in pools is usually okay because there are visible edges I can swim to when I get tired and/or the fear sets in.  But in places like rivers, lakes, seas, or the ocean I visibly freeze when my feet touch the water or when I see family members swim past the shore.

I imagine being stranded in the middle of these bodies of water without any visible shores or edges.  My arms paddling, my feet kicking, and my brain sending panicky signals as I realize there is nothing to rest on; no edge to swim to.  My body is sore.  My brain is thick.  I am afraid of drowning in this place.

That’s how colic feels.  On those days when I do reach the edge – when the cries have abated – I find firm footing and stay there.  I get as much done as I can (resting on the shore) before the next bout occurs (swimming in the middle of the ocean).  It’s exhausting for the whole family (including Amelia).

The experience I gained from my previous fussy babies (in which I tried everything from cutting out milk to basically cutting out all foods – which led to major depression, weight loss, and other severe things that I don’t want repeated – and those gas drops, none of which worked) tells me that this period is temporary.  Between 4 and 6 months, it will either cease or reduce dramatically.  Amelia and I will find that shore, get in the car, and drive away.  Far away.

In the meantime, I dance, rock, sing, and sway my fussy baby.  She and I swim together in this ocean with brief rests on the shore.

Through it all, I kiss her cheeks, stroke her head, and tell her how much I love her.  I let her know that she is the miracle we all waited for and that I wouldn’t trade those tear-filled moments for anything (except maybe for a few minutes of shut-eye, just kidding).

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Women Who Run With the Wolves Book Club: Chapter Seven

This guest post comes from Violet.

(If you’d like to submit one, please do! Read the instructions on how to do so, here.)

Chapter  7 – Joyous Body: The Wild Flesh

In my opinion, this chapter can be summed up in two sentences, both of which can be found in the first paragraph:

“They [the wolves] live and play according to what and who and how they are.  They do not try to be what they are not.” (p. 199)

In Chapter 7, we learn all about the significance of the body in fairy tales, folklore, and in the Wild Woman.  We learn that our bodies are too often stereotyped into one kind of beauty, one kind of standard, one kind of ideal.  Can you imagine, the author asks, only one kind of bird?  Or only one kind of tree, or one kind of flower?  The natural world is far too diverse than that, and as members of the natural world, we as women are just as varied.

Estes tells the story of her friend Opalanga, a tall, willowy African-American storyteller who was ridiculed for her long limbs and gap-toothed smile.  As a child, “[she] was told that the split between her teeth was the sign of being a liar.” (p. 201)  Likewise, Estes herself was teased for being rotund, a bit larger than the fashion standard, and consequently, lacking in self-control.  These two journeyed to the lands of their ancestors, respectively, and found a surprise.  Opalanga’s people were tall and willowy, like her, and many had splits between their front teeth as well.  Among Opalanaga’s people, the split was considered a sign of wisdom.  Clarissa Estes went to her ancestral home in Mexico and found her people to be larger than usual, thickly built, and round.  They told the author that she must try harder to become round about the belly, “for women are La Tierra, made round like the earth herself, for the earth holds so much.” (p. 202)

Estes goes on to explain that the standards the world holds to women today regarding their physical bodies, the expectations of beauty that cause all manner of psychological and physiological disorders, such as eating disorders, not only reject and insult the woman, but all of the ancestors who she inherited her physical traits from – and all of the woman’s progeny yet to come; an entire genetic line is slashed away from a woman’s body identity.

I love that Estes explains that trying to adhere to unrealistic standards of beauty keep a woman preoccupied.  How true I have found this to be!  As a woman who didn’t lose 100 pounds until I stopped obsessing over how I looked, I can tell you that the preoccupation with acceptance by a standard of beauty that does nothing to honor your ancestry will not help you conform to it.  Rather, as was the case with me, the body vehemently rejects such a preposterous idea; I gained even more weight when I tried to lose it for the sake of “beauty.”

When we are so distracted with an impossible expectation such as the “perfect body,” we are robbed of creative energy that we could be using elsewhere.  The return of my own energy was slow in coming, though not so much in retrospect, now that I think about it.  My ex-husband was obsessed with the beauty standard, both for himself and for his women.  I spent 7 years trying to conform and growing increasingly fatigued with the effort.  After he left and I began to drop my own baggage, it took me about 4 months to lose 70 pounds, 6 months to lose 80, and finally 3 years to top it off at 100.

(I would like to note that while 100 pounds is a nice, round number, it was ultimately unattainable for me on a sustained level.  I was 100 pounds thinner for about 3 weeks, whereupon I gained about 10-12 pounds and leveled out there.  This chapter comes at an opportune time, as it has been a while since I’ve actually gained weight, and I found my old predator waiting in the shadows for me.  I face it once again, but this time much wiser, for I’ve learned that the body is not only beautiful, but the source of incredible information and functionality, as we learn in the next section of Chapter 7.)

In fairy tales, the body’s abilities are described through symbols such as a talisman, a carriage, a magic carpet, or clothing item such as a cloak or a pair of shoes.  These represent the deepened insight the body gives the spirit dwelling within it.  I particularly like the magic carpet metaphor because the carpet looks mundane at first, but when active by the right words, it comes to life and transports the rider to a new place entirely.  Thus we can transport to other places via our senses, whether it be listening to music, hearing our babies cry or laugh, accessing memory through smells or sights, and other such faculties that our bodies give us.  The sensual world is magical in its own right, and only enjoyed by an object that has the ability to sense – a.k.a. our bodies.

“We tend to think of the body as this ‘other’ that does its think somewhat without us, and that if we ‘treat’ it right, it will make us ‘feel good.’  Many people treat their bodies as if the body is a slave, or perhaps they even treat it well but demand it follow their wishes and whims as though it were a slave nonetheless.

“Some say the soul informs the body.  But what if we were to imagine for a moment that the body informs the soul, helps it adapt to mundane life, parses, translates, gives the blank page, the ink , and the pen with which the soul can write upon our lives?”

I love the above quote because it puts the body as ally rather than enemy.  Our soul works in tandem with our body, each attaining a level of growth and consciousness together that would be otherwise unobtainable alone.

“The body is the rocket launcher.  In its nose capsule, the soul looks out the window into the mysterious starry night and is dazzled.”

It looks like this post could go on forever if I’m not careful, so let me just mention the Butterfly Maiden before I wrap it up.  I loved this story because the woman who dances the famous butterfly maiden dance is described as nothing like what a delicate butterfly should look like, and the people who have come from miles around to watch her are a mixture of stunned, offended, shamed, and appreciative.  She is round at the belly, skinny at the legs, has silver hair that reaches to her ankles, and dances deftly, hips and wide buttocks bouncing to the beat of the drum.

But honestly, if you wanted a butterfly to bless you, would you rather a perfectly crafted, young, flawless girl doing the blessing?  What does she know other than the quest for outside approval?  I am not trying to insult those who are built in such a fortuitous way as to be accepted by the mainstream without effort (though I don’t know how easy it is for them, either; what do you do when you are given the stink-eye just for being skinny?).  What I am trying to say that the dancer as the Butterfly Maiden  shows a body that has seen many years, that knows beyond what we can comprehend as students of her wisdom.  Judging our bodies turns us into ignorance.  It shuts down our right to experience magic as physical beings.

I have a friend named Chelsey who is absolutely gorgeous.  A post of hers came through my news feed about a month ago saying, “Dear skinny girls, the ones who are skinny naturally and don’t have to try to be beautiful.  I hope you trip and fall down a flight of stairs.”

This is what happens when we dishonor our bodies.  I lived in this place of envy for more than a decade, and I can tell you, it erodes the soul.  Let us celebrate our own Mariposas, our own joyous bodies, or own wild flesh.

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Women Who Run With the Wolves Book Club: Chapter 6

It just so happens that each time I go to read, or write, or exercise, or sleep, or eat, or (insert whatever activity you’d like here) Miss Amelia starts crying.  This colic is tough.  Ah, a story for another day.

After reading this chapter I had the thought that while I’d like to create, and my Wild Woman is urging me on, I am stuck in this hard place that each parent knows well.  The place where your life is dictated more by your children’s whims – especially your newborn –  than by your own desires.

Discussion Questions:  Is Wild Woman pushed away when you are a parent?  Is this a bad thing?  

This ties in very well with the chapter.  In this chapter, Estes’ recounts a story that most of us know well: The Ugly Duckling.  In the subsequent chapters she discusses exile, mothers, mixing with bad company, forging ahead, and other insights from this story.  Let’s jump in.

Children that are seemingly unmatched to their families are, according to Estes, especially in tune to their wildish natures.

“Girl children who display a strong instinctive nature often experience significant suffering in early life.  From the time they are babies, they are taken captive, domesticated, told they are wrong-headed and improper.”  (p. 184)

I have some distinct memories of wishing to be an astronaut.  The culture I lived in discouraged this, telling me that my duty would eventually tie in with my husband and children; thus, I needed to find a career path that would allow for that.  But, here’s the thing, it wasn’t specific messages directed at me, it came in general messages – in those that glorified being a stay-at-home mom versus a working mom in ways that left it clear what direction I should take.  (Neither should be disparaged, it’s the message that one is inherently bad that is wrong.)

“Neither the child’s soul nor her psyche can accomodate this.  Pressure to be “adequate,” in whatever manner authority defines it, can chase the child away, or underground, or set her to wander for a long time looking for a place of nourishment and peace.

“When culture narrowly defines what constitutes success or desirable perfection in anything…then corresponding mandates to measure oneself against these criteria are introjected into the psyches of all the members of that culture.  So the issues of the exiled wildish woman are usually twofold: inner and personal, and outer and cultural.”  (p. 185)

In recent weeks, there has been much stir over the culture of modesty and the idea of putting women on a pedestal by admiring their virtue, chastity, motherhood, nurturing side, etc.  If we use Estes’ wisdom, these ideas promote that there exists an Ideal Woman and if we do not fit into this mold, we must change.  I find this very damaging.  In my life, I can remember chugging through the day, going through the motions of what I thought I was supposed to do, but ignoring my inner Wild Woman because She was the Ugly Duckling. As I’ve broken free from this proscription, piece by piece, I have found my heart singing in a way it hasn’t sung before.  The song is powerful.  It fuels my wild fire. If I had to pinpoint when the change started, it was when I took an astronomy-focused physics course during my final semester at BYU.  That fantasy I had of becoming an astronaut? It still remained.  And when I gave into Wild Woman just a little bit, my appetite for Her presence grew.

Discussion Questions: How does/has culture affected you in your search for Wild Woman?  Do you agree with my assessment of our society’s current fascination with the Ideal Woman and how damaging this is? 

“It is not uncommon in punitive cultures for women to be torn between being accepted by the ruling class (her village)  and loving her child, be it a symbolic child, creative child, or biological child. This is an old, old story.  Women have died psychically and spiritually for trying to protect the unsanctioned child, whether it be their art, their lover, their politics, their offspring, or their soul life.  At the extreme, women have been hanged, burned, and murdered for defying the village proscriptions and sheltering the unsanctioned child.” (p. 187)

After reading this passage, my mind jumped to the many women in history and in present society who have faced persecution for their ideas, their causes, and their children.  Joan of Arc.  Betty Friedan.  Margaret Toscano.  Mary, mother of Jesus.  I thought of my friends who have been told their ideas are wrong, their art was too risqué, their writing too…whatever.  An old story indeed.

Embedded within this particular section came the perfect description of the pro-life/pro-choice debate and it’s true roots.

“One of the least-spoken about oppressions of women’s soul lives concerns millions of unmarried mothers or never-married mothers throughout the world, including the United States, who, in this century alone, were pressured by cultural mores to hide their condition or their children, or else to kill or surrender their offspring, or to live a half-life under assumed identities and as reviled and disempowered citizens.

“For generations women accepted the role of legitimizing humans through marriage to a man.  They agreed that a human was not acceptable unless a man said so.  Without that “masculine” protection, the mother is vulnerable.”  (p. 190)

Certainly gives perspective to that false dichotomy of pro-choice and pro-life, doesn’t it?

Discussion Questions:  What was your reaction to this paragraph?  Have you or do you feel oppressed because of your child (be it spiritual, creative, biological, etc)? Have you overcome that? If so, how?

Finally, Estes talks about the importance of finding many mothers to guide us on our journey to find Wild Woman.

“In olden times, the blessings of the wildish nature normally came through the hands and words of the women who nurtured the younger mothers.” (p. 191)

And further on,

“Your relationship with todas las madres, the many mothers, will most likely be ongoing ones, for the need for guidance and advisory is never outgrown, nor, from the point of view of women’s deep creative life, should it ever be.” (p. 193)

I have many creative mothers, women who probably don’t realize how much they’ve meant to me in my journey.  Women like D.A Wolf and Rebecca. The many women on blogs like Feminist Mormon Housewives, the Exponent, and Zelophehad’s Daughters.  Women who have encouraged me in my life to pursue my dreams.  Women who have laughed, cried, and encouraged me when I became a new mother.  So many that to list them would take hours, but I hope you know who you are.

This reminds me of the importance of community, whether it’s on-line or in real life.  Community helps build women up when outside forces would like to see them fall. At the risk of tooting my own horn, one way I try to build a community is through my Messy Parenting series.  A way for all of us (be you male or female) to laugh and cry through our parenting wins and losses, triumphs and failures.  This book club is to encourage all of us as we read this powerful book and find new insights or find encouragement for our old insights.

Discussion Questions:  Do you have any women who you would call your Pack Mothers (by they young or not-so-young)?  How important are communities in your life? What communities do you participate in and how have they helped you in your journey to find Wild Woman?  

And to conclude,

“Do not cringe and make yourself small if you are called the black sheep, the maverick, the lone wolf.  Those with slow seeing say a nonconformist is a blight on society.  But it has been proven over the centuries, that being different means standing at the edge, means on is practically guaranteed to make an original contribution, a useful and stunning contribution to her culture.

“When seeking guidance, don’t ever listen to the tiny-hearted.  Be kind to them, heap them with blessing, cajole them, but do not follow their advice.

“If you have ever been called defiant, incorrigible, forward, cunning, insurgent, unruly, rebellious, you’re on the right track.  Wild Woman is close by.” (p. 212)

Discussion Questions:  What did you like about this chapter?  Were there things you disagreed with? What were they?

(Click over to Chapter 7)

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