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.

How to Bore the Children by Charles Eisenstein

“Here is how to make a child bored: first and foremost, keep him indoors so that the infinitude of nature, its endless variation and chaotic messiness is replaced by a finite, orderly, predictable realm. Second, through television and video games, habituate him to intense stimuli so that everything else seems boring by comparison. Third, eliminate as much as possible any unstructured time with other children, so that he loses his capacity for creative play and needs entertainment instead. Fourth, shorten his attention span with fast-paced programming, dumbed-down books, and frequent interruptions of his play. Fifth, hover over him whenever possible to stunt his self-trust and make him dependent on outside stimulation. Sixth, hurry him from activity to activity to create anxiety about time and eliminate the easy sense of timelessness native to the young.” Read Entire Article Here

After reading this article, I am reminded how I think the urge to shop/consume is a poor substitute for our urge to create. When I feel like shopping, I get out my craft basket or make a meal or write. The desire to shop disappears every single time. The author of this article also wrote one of my favorite heavy books, the Ascent of Humanity and I am currently reading his new release, Sacred Economics. He will be my guest on Front Porch Radio next wednesday. Here are more thoughts on children & education in a chapter called Back to Play.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, you wanna have a painless childbirth?

It IS possible. I did it, I’ve met other women who have done it, and you can do it too! What makes a painless birth possible? Total lack of fear & deep trust in your body & self is the basic premise, getting to that state is the part that takes some deep work.

The essential elements of a painless birth (for me, anyway):

  1. Following the process outlined in the book Painless Childbirth
  2. Practicing self-hypnosis (I used Hypnobabies, but there are several programs out there)
  3. Being loved & supported, especially by my women friends
  4. A cooperative & well positioned baby

Today I had the opportunity to interview Giuditta Tournetta, author of Painless Childbirth (you can listen to that interview here) for an entire hour and we scratched the surface on the teachings that she will be bringing to Central Florida in September when she does a three day workshop for expectant parents & birth professionals. (For details on the workshop, please click here & tell your friends about it!) I’m stoked to be able to attend this with my gal Amber, who is due in early October.

The wisdom Giuditta has gathered through her years of doula work (and her own painless birth years ago) is of tremendous value to bringing the sacred back into birthing.  She correlates each stage of development in the womb with a chakra & basic human right. Her insights are illuminating, healing, unique and very accessible to those who desire a more conscious birth experience.

I hope to see lots of you at the workshop so we can bring this wisdom into our birthing practices in Central Florida. If you register before 9/20, you will get $50 off.

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.

Lessons 1-20 From Maya

  1. Take Naps
  2. Eat When You Want, Stop When You Are Done
  3. Be Curious
  4. Look To Your Mother for Guidance
  5. Show No Fear, But Exhibit Some Caution As You Learn About Dangers in the World
  6. Move Your Body Any Which Way You Want
  7. Laugh Often
  8. Celebrate The Little Things
  9. Wake Up With a Smile
  10. Enjoy the Moment
  11. Go Outside, Be in Kinship with all Living Things
  12. Be Fascinated by Light & Sound, Fully Experience a Soft Breeze
  13. Explore
  14. Learn by Doing
  15. Express Yourself – If you don’t cry, how will others know there is something wrong?
  16. Know no shame, harbor no resentment.
  17. Make people earn your love & affection, don’t just give it out without due consideration.
  18. Once they’ve earned it, love them with laughter.
  19. Cuddle and hug and kiss the ones you’re closest to often.
  20. Play

Children Educate Themselves III: The Wisdom of Hunter-Gatherers | Psychology Today

For hundreds of thousands of years, up until the time when agriculture was invented (a mere 10,000 years ago), we were all hunter-gatherers. Our human instincts, including all of the instinctive means by which we learn, came about in the context of that way of life. And so it is natural that in this series on children’s instinctive ways of educating themselves I should ask: How do hunter-gatherer children learn what they need to know to become effective adults within their culture

Read More: Children Educate Themselves III: The Wisdom of Hunter-Gatherers | Psychology Today.

Dancing for Birth

Dancing for BirthA sweet soul in our community, long-time doula Cynthia Koerner is bringing Dancing for Birth(TM) to Central Florida.

It’s this Saturday, March 27th at 2pm, and you need to register in advance. Learn More & Register

The prenatal/postpartum dance classes incorporate dance moves from around the world that best prepare you to give birth. You’ll become stronger, more agile, more at ease with your body and both mentally and physically ready to embrace your unique birth experience. Participants report experiencing low levels of discomfort, few or no interventions, brief labors and high levels of satisfaction during their births.

Lucky for all of us, Amber Melendy, owner of Shine On Yoga is expecting, so she will be a student alongside you!

For Amber

Amber, my soul sister & owner of Shine On Yoga keeps yabbering on and on about the psoas muscle. What the heck is a psoas muscle, you ask? I’m not quiet sure, but apparently I shouldn’t interfere with it by encouraging Maya to walk (or stand) prematurely. Now, I claim Maya initiated standing all on her own, and believe you me, I’m all about having mobility take it’s sweet time. She’s been holding her head up since she busted into this world, was sitting pretty at five months and now at six and a half has plenty of floor time to start crawling, which hasn’t quiet taken hold, but looks as if it could at any moment. But homeskillet reaches up and WANTS to stand, so I follow her cues (as if on cue, she just interrupted this post for just this reason) and lo and behold if she didn’t take a few steps. I instinctively just kinda held her shoulders or trunk loosely, sometimes her arms, but always at their natural level so she could find her center as naturally as possible and she takes these big ole strides with confidence like she knows what she’s doing. Like a proud mama, I was showing this off to Amber, when, I got the psoas speech. It went something like this. Since I trust Amber with all things related to the body (and most other stuff too) I think I’ll lay off the supported walking for a bit. If Maya lets me.

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.