Outsourcing the Family

So, I stumbled across this very articulate article, which pretty much sums up my thoughts on the subject of daycare/preschool (really, any school). This, as I am researching preschool for Maya:

Here is another take on the lessons our day care center child may absorb: Her learning and play, her growth and development, need to be structured and facilitated by professionals. There are no mentors for her, nor are there any young ones that she can in turn help usher through the months and years. She will not get a sense of her intrinsic worth as a member of a community that has a reason for being and a set of daily tasks that have varying degrees of meaningfulness, and that incorporates her at whatever developmental stage she might be, provides a variety of models for her, and invests her with a sense of the rhythms of everyday life. Instead, she gets the rather profound message that her role is to be entertained (educated, enriched, etc.) until someone picks her up and takes her home for some quality time. The lesson is an early one in consumption: She may be missing out on finding meaning in organic relationships but she can always come into the day care to consume some stimulation and entertainment instead.

Furthermore, she learns about class position and hierarchy. Rather than absorb the needs and values and cultural norms of her community, she integrates herself into an institution—learning to please the caregivers, compete with her peers for attention, divvy her day into structured activities, accept the rules and guidance of the authority figures, and mark time by her movement from the infant room to the toddler room and on to the pre-school room. Just as the U.S. educational system produces young adults schooled to take their place among the powerful, or in the office, the factory, the service sector, or the permanent underclass, so early childhood education will help produce the workers we need. Yes, some day cares promote cognitive development, teach positive social skills, and empower young minds, but you can be sure that class position is a key determinant of who learns what.

The author suggests the alternative of home-based care, not exclusively by mom’s: but dad, extended family and friends too. You know, COMMUNITY care. Until now, I’ve been blessed with home based care for Maya between myself, her grandma, and a friend with a four-year old boy. Now, I am called to return to more hands on work at Dandelion and other special projects while my friend heads off on a year-long adventure in November. Grandma is out of town indefinitely.

I can’t do it by myself, and I don’t beat myself up for that. Yet I do worry about outsourcing Maya’s care away from the home while also recognizing that bringing Maya to work with me as a three year old is not the best solution either. At least not in this paradigm where she is the only kid being brought to work (and I am lucky to have a business that is very vibrant and diverse and a great example of the kind of place I would be proud of her to work someday, unlike, say in an office on Wall Street or god forbid a BigAg lobbyist or something twisted like that). If most people brought their kids to work in our community, and children were more integrated into the workplace, that might work better as we would create space for them. While she would have many chances to interact with adults at the cafe, she needs and desires relationships with babies, kids, teens and elders too. You know, the VILLAGE, the one it takes to raise a kid, the one that has been dismantled, right along with families and tribes in this long slide from a creative existence (by that I mean, each person creates/produces food, clothing, household goods, equipment, art, music) to a consumer existence where all those things are “outsourced” to other people, like childcare.

But it’s not about just mom staying at home in isolation from the rest of society either in order to raise my child. Where’s dad? At the office. Where’s grandma? In the nursing home. Where are all the people, for goodness sake? Everybody is busy earning money to afford someone else to take care of each other.

First, men were enticed to leave their homes for war, then jobs “in town.”

Then, women said, “Hey you can’t leave me here, I want in on that too!”

For a time grandparents took over the role of parents, but now everyone has scattered across the country in pursuit of a better opportunity and grandma is no longer next door.  Now that mom and dad are at work, and grandma is in a nursing home, children as early as six weeks are forced to leave their homes and families as well.

Okay, it’s past two in the morning and I must end rant which is only half thought through. Sigh.

Thoughts on Babies, the movie

So, I went to opening night of Babies, and unlike the Weekly I give it four stars, I would give it five if they had shown more of the births.

First, a synopsis of the film:  Babies simultaneously follows four babies around the world – from birth to first steps. The children are: Ponijao, who lives with her family in Namibia; Bayar, who resides with his family in Mongolia, ; Mari, who lives with her family in Tokyo, Japan; and Hattie, who resides with her family in the United States, in San Francisco. It’s kinda like Baraka, showcasing different cultures and their customs side by side and, like Baraka, I think this is one to watch over and over to assimilate.  (OMG, I just found that the Baraka creators are doing one on birth, rebirth & death called Samasara, due out in 2011 – awesome!!!)  Most first time viewers, especially non-parents, might think it a cute and charming film and get a vague sense that there’s something important being revealed here, and indeed there is.

I have to mention that not even five minutes into the film, a dude sitting several rows in front of me, whipped around all annoyed at Maya’s sweet excitement she was exhibiting over the film. She was not crying or being loud, just kinda babbling and grunting her approval. He ran out of the theater and came in moments later followed by a movie staffer, who came in to check the scene out and had wisdom to leave it alone. The moment she started to get fussy a bit later on, I took her and calmed her down so no one would be affected, but I thought it was a bit short sighted of this gentleman to come to a movie about babies and get in a huff about sweet sounds when the movie was littered with a good bit of crying and other other baby noises. I hope his lady friend does not sleep with him tonight.

Anywho…

As a new mom who is instinctively uncomfortable with books, toys, hand sanitizer, tv, baby food, bouncers and a lot of the other trappings of the modern day parent, I’ve looked to the wisdom of indigenous cultures whose children seem happy & whole to challenge the assumptions my culture has ingrained in me about parenting and children.

Go see this film. It’s an important study on degree of connection/separation, depending on the kind of lens you view things through. It compels us to question our assumptions of what’s best for babies and ourselves. It’s a perfect companion to my new favorite book, Ascent of Humanity.

The most connected baby is also the happiest & brightest – it’s hard to separate her from her family or environment, as it all blends together like one complete system. The more material goods and modern technology are introduced, the less each baby has an opportunity to connect and engage with people, animals and nature and the more confusion, stress and crying occur. I think it’s also interesting to note that the most connected baby has no involved adult males, but the least connected baby has more contact with her dad than her mom.

After you go see the movie, please come back here and add your comments, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I know I came home and immediately had the urge to purge my entire house of things and started dreaming of rolling in the dirt with Maya.

Mamamorphosis

The article below appears in the March/April edition of Velocity Magazine which was dedicated to the topic of the Divine Feminine. I had a dickens of a time writing it, as alluded to here and this post helped validate and clear-up my thoughts on the whole domestic issue. Anywho, here’s the article in full. I recommend you grab a copy around Central Florida as there is lots of good insight on this topic! (Or read it online, should be up soonish).

Photo by Cristy Nielsen

I flicker between realities, between times, between belief systems. I am immersed, surrounded, confounded by the Divine Feminine. The elusive lady finally allowed me to slip into her divinity in the timeless moment my daughter slipped into the birthing waters beneath my gaze this past summer. The metamorphosis of me has gone unexplored by my thinking brain as I’ve simply just allowed myself “to be.” Observing my daughter’s awakening into being has been fascinating enough without taking a moment to observe my own self emerge anew. As I watch her come into her body, I integrate the resonance with which all parts of myself came together in order to bring her into this world. I finally understand through this experience what it means to be the embodiment of the divine feminine and it is really turning my perspective of what it means to be female on end.

My thoughts on being female are so tied up with myths of feminism in my learning, I’m really having to reshuffle and review all that I have assumed to be true. Lets start with the first thing I learned about being a woman, direct from the Bible: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children” (Genesis 3:16) In the past, I certainly questioned almost every aspect of this statement, but I never questioned if childbirth hurt. Everyone knows it does. Except… it didn’t, not really (read this for the full story). And a small minority of women in the United States have a similar experiences. Along with a lot of women who belong to cultures which do not fear birth. And every animal I’ve ever seen has quietly, calmly, matter-of-factly done the same. Interesting.

My mind sorts through feminist theory rejecting parts of it I never questioned, dives into indigenous cultures and their stories about the goddesses, stomps around American workplaces and mass media, peeks into natural childbirth culture and finds myself agreeing that a woman’s place is with her child, should she choose to have one. I’ve always been a radical conservative, and now I’ve got the sewing machine to bear witness to the revolutionary epiphany that being “domestic” is not a bad word, as I’ve always gotten the sense. It’s so closely associated with the phrase “domestic violence” and is synonymous with being a servant, and everyone knows servitude is THE WORST. Except for those who understand true service, of course. Very few present domesticity through the lens of nurturing and tending to the home for the health and well being of the self, families and into the community. I am shocked this is so revolutionary and wonder how the heck I bought this most basic myth of all. The result of being a child of the 80′s, I wonder?

But none of that stuff has anything to do with the divine feminine, I suspect. It just keeps interfering with the practice of being divine. I’ve been writing this article for six weeks as all that and more wanders through my head. And yet, I have no words to define or discuss what this new reality of mine is like. My old reality finds it egotistical to claim direct knowledge and experience with the divine feminine. The new me knows better. In fact, the new me just knows. I am more: sensual, graceful, present, playful, appreciative, purposeful, cunning, nurturing, loving, intuitive, grounded, neutral, sure. I am less: fearful, doubtful, confused, hesitant, victimized, self-deceptive, self-depreciating, manipulative, controlling, overly-apologetic. I am less concerned with what other people think and more concerned with what my own counsel tells me. I know when to speak my truth & when to hold my tongue. I’m even beginning to practice discipline.

Yes, I’ve met Lady Divinity. She’s empowering & inspiring & authentic. And she’s rising up all around these parts, big time. Chances are, she’s the lady in the mirror, looking back at you.

Meet the Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes — YES! Magazine

Yes!!!! The article I’ve been waiting for, from my most favoritest magazine – aptly titled, “Yes!” I had no idea there was a name for the movement I yearned for. Radical Homemakers. I like it!

“Long before we could pronounce Betty Friedan’s last name, Americans from my generation felt her impact. Many of us born in the mid-1970s learned from our parents and our teachers that women no longer needed to stay home, that there were professional opportunities awaiting us. In my own school experience, homemaking, like farming, gained a reputation as a vocation for the scholastically impaired. Those of us with academic promise learned that we could do whatever we put our minds to, whether it was conquering the world or saving the world. I was personally interested in saving the world. That path eventually led me to conclude that homemaking would play a major role toward achieving that goal.”

Read the whole article:  Meet the Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes — YES! Magazine.

Need your input on the role of community in birthing!

Hey ya’ll. So, I need your expertise. I’m writing an article with a central theme of the role of community in birthing (thanks Amber for the idea!) and while I have some serious ideas of my own, of course, I’d like to ask ya’ll your opinion on the subject.

I’d like to see: how sharing my birth online has affected your views on birthing, as well as: what you think the communities role should be like to support expecting parents on their journey and/or postpartum, and, perhaps: how community supported you during your babytime. Other random thoughts that come to you are welcome as well. Please just comment to this post, or on facebook or send me a private message through the contact page.

Please don’t be shy, your voice or thought is important, no matter how small you may think it is :p Thanks in advance!

‘Motherhood Politics’ Hijacked Healthcare Debate | RHRealityCheck.org

‘Motherhood Politics’ Hijacked Healthcare Debate | RHRealityCheck.org

I was just thinking this: “I don’t think it’s a “who” but a how many of us are willing to say this. Motherhood is sacred. How many of us are willing to get out and say this is not at all about abortion. This is about whether we’re going to be mothers. For men to understand this all of us need to join in on it. Too much of the rhetoric is about abortion and not enough about women and our roles in this country. And we better get off of it or we’re not going to have a country left.”

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Breast-feeding: Orlando-area moms form nonprofit to provide donated breast milk to needy babies – OrlandoSentinel.com

[My Dandelion Cafe is one of the drop-off spots for breastfeeding mom’s.]

Amanda Pacheco didn’t intend to start a movement.

But in September, when one of her friends died suddenly, leaving behind a 6-week-old baby, Pacheco rallied dozens of breast-feeding moms to donate breast milk to her friend’s daughter, baby Sara.

Before long, Pacheco had more donations of breast milk than little baby Sara could use. Orlando moms donated dozens of packets of frozen breast milk. Four local businesses volunteered to serve as drop-off locations and provided freezers to store the milk. One woman drove from North Carolina, delivering a cooler packed with eight gallons of frozen breast milk.

Read more here: Breast-feeding: Orlando-area moms form nonprofit to provide donated breast milk to needy babies – OrlandoSentinel.com.