Saturday, February 25, 2006

Thorn in their side!

Brew of the day: Organic Peppermint Tea made from whole dried leaves and steeped in my late mother-in-law’s teapot! The aromatic difference between peppermint tea like this and the pre-packaged stuff in bags is almost incomparable. Delish!

This morning, my good intentions of getting up early to write Saturday Morning Cuppa, my weekly blog, were somewhat hampered by a string of comedic events …my womanly urges to be with my husband for a lazy Saturday morning in bed kept being interrupted. First, by the girls putting the cat in our bedroom to play pounce and scratch and to wake us up fully; then a call from a dear friend in New Zealand talking about matters close to my heart; and then the cat vomiting in the dining room. And then Bethany and Eliza opening our door to keep saying ‘goodbye’ before they went off looking for firewood!

It was the phone call which has prompted today’s blog. We’re both wombyn who feel it is part of our destiny to be a bit of a thorn in the side of convention. And it is an interesting thing, I find, that the further your thoughts are from the mainstream, the more painful your thorny habits can be!

I know I will always be a loose cannon in terms of speaking out against what people consider ‘normal’. Those who share similar views quite clearly find comfort there, whereas those for whom my thoughts are alien find my words abrasive to say the least. Abrasion is a funny thing. Sometimes it can clean away grime (the grime of mass consensus, for example) or it can just cause pain. The one thing that is becoming so clear to me, the older I get and the more of life I see, lies in the wise words of The Talmud: “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”

I saw this message so incredibly lucidly in the wake of the documentary on Extraordinary Breastfeeding. How incredible that people can have so many different reactions, and yet it is still the same set of events. Eg, some people find the scene of Dolores expressing breastmilk onto a teaspoon for her newly adopted daughter utterly repulsive, selfish and harmful. Many people, like myself, didn’t blink twice at it. It is something we would probably have done in the same circumstances. Some of the people who reacted negatively were, astonishingly, fellow breastfeeders. One can only hope that in time, the abrasion will wear away the thoughts that breastmilk shouldn’t be seen.

England went wobbling at the thought of a grown man having breastmilk to help his wife overcome a leaking milk supply. Again, many people have experienced the same situation. And yet, for the vast majority of people, it is ok for a man to suck on a woman’s breasts for sexual pleasure, but by gum, if he dares to help his wife get relief from engorgement, they considered it sick. Sick? Sorry, I’m lost on that one.

Many people were relieved that Sophie, the mother of two year old twins, abruptly weaned her babies. These same people felt it vital that Sophie’s husband was able to resume a sex life. As we saw from the glamour model on the Trisha Goddard Show, sexuality MUST come before nurturing our children. Well, it seems in the mainstream that that is the case. And yet many other mothers wrote to me deeply upset that the children were weaned like that.

Can you see? The people in the film haven’t changed. All the actions, in one sense, are neutral. It is our reaction, the lense through which we view life, that determines how we see life.

I made the ‘mistake’ of going onto a mainstream forum to see the views of mainstream Britain….a very scary world out there which considers itself ‘normal’. So glad I’m NOT part of it. One of the things that came up a few times was that people who’d seen me on Richard and Judy and discovered the girls were home-schooled and didn’t watch tv, were even more horrified by that, than by the fact they’d been breastfed so long! Seeing, in black and white, the mindset of so many narrow-minded and ignorant people who are happy to keep recycling their own prejudices, has made me so glad our children are NOT part of that world on a daily basis.

Despite all the ongoing education and media support of home education, people still assume it is socially crippling for children. I’ve marvelled at how often in the last couple of weeks Bethany and Eliza have said, more than once in a day, what a great day they were having. How often do school children say that? As for no tv, well, all I can say is that if you haven’t clicked on intuitively about its dangers and pitfalls, then read Set Free by Martin Large (Hawthorn Press). I have no aversion to kids watching a bit of tv, it is just that I firmly believe it needs to be strictly monitored rather than a plug -in -drug.


Recently, the US publisher of the Compleat Mother,, Jody McLaughlin, wrote an endorsement of The Mother in her editorial suggesting readers of her magazine might like to augment their maternal reading with TM. I was absolutely touched by her generosity of spirit. She has always been very supportive of my publishing venture and for this I’m so very grateful. I’ve long believed the world is big enough for everyone and their dreams and this makes her support even more invaluable for it would be very easy for the publisher of another natural parenting magazine to feel threatened. And yet, yesterday I was in a situation which would appear to be the complete opposite of what I’ve just said.

The editor of a magazine which touts itself as being a natural approach to parenting, contacted me yesterday to put an advert in The Mother. Normally I wouldn’t have a problem with such a thing. However, in the past six months I’ve been inundated with people (men and women) complaining that the back page of that magazine has a full page advert for formula milk and the four babies in the photo are in disposable nappies ~ a complete contradiction of natural parenting. Apparently, in one issue, this advert ran while they had a large editorial on why to use cotton nappies!! It doesn't give any credit to the intelligence of their readers, in my honest opinion.

It just doesn’t strike me as being authentic when commercial greed turns people blind to their self-touted ethics. All publishers have to make money to stay in business. But at what price? I know I caused upset by my reply and no doubt my email will be winging its way around her circle of friends so they can all gasp at how ‘mean’ I am, but I will never compromise my principles, personally or professionally, to keep someone else happy or endorse their incongruency.

I can only hope that she has woken up today, perhaps a little brushed by abrasion, and has the courage to let go of that advert and re-honour the principles which she claims guide her magazine.

My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is Heaven

My road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few,

my Guide is reliable, my mission is clear.

I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned away,

diluted or delayed.

I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I will not give up, shut up, let up or slow down.

Author Unknown


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