Saturday, September 02, 2006

one in a million mum

Brew of the Day ~ Apple and Cinnamon.

What does it take to be a one in a million mum? I ask this because a chat show in the UK is looking for one.

Isn’t such a quest demeaning? We’re all unique. How do we judge what makes someone a fab mum anyway? Is it by what we do or by who we are?

Surely any mum who nurtures her child is worth celebrating. It’s easy, far too easy, when you have strong views on parenting styles to simply dismiss other mums. But you know, ultimately, it all comes down to love. It’s a rare mum who doesn’t love her kids. Granted there are many who do, yet don’t show it to their kids, probably when until it’s too late to make a real difference. And then of course, there are the mums, like the one I saw yesterday, who drive their car with kids in the back, all windows SHUT and puffing on their fag. Where’s the love in fumigating your kids?

I know as I write that, I’m being judgmental. It’s just that such demonstrations of ‘consciousness’ (NOT) always stop me in my tracks. Good mothering is about thinking (and acting) beyond your own needs and desires. If you want to smoke and inhale all that stuff, fine! ~ but leave the kids out of the picture. I find myself (unhealthily) sitting in judgement of people like that as quickly as most of this country judged me to be an *unfit mother* for breastfeeding full-term.

During the week there was a big hoo haa about whether lesbian mums and overweight mums should be allowed IVF.

Good lord! Whatever next?

I do wonder though, if we can’t conceive naturally, then perhaps we ought to consider other options, such as adoption. That aside, who on Earth are we to judge whether someone is suitable to be a mother because of sexual orientation or body size? Because that’s what we’re asking, in essence.

We certainly wouldn’t stop an obese woman conceiving naturally, so what right do we have to suggest she can’t have IVF? I’ve been gobsmacked by the levels of discrimination in this country.

The first ‘marriage’ I officiated as a celebrant, was for a lesbian couple. One of them already had two children ~ and she’ll forever remain in my heart as an amazingly loving mum.
There are women are thin as sticks conceiving, who aren’t actually much, if any, healthier than overweight people. No-one questions their right to become a parent.

One of the most loving, beautiful, caring, sensitive, divinely wonderful mothers I know, is overweight. I would think any soul who chose to incarnate through her physical vehicle to come Earthside would be blessed beyond belief in a family of extraordinary love. To me, she’s a one in a trillion mum. She’s one of those people, that whenever she crosses my mind, a tear always comes to my eye. And it is because she is so giving, caring, loving, thoughtful. All perfect ingredients for mothering.

But we don’t measure stuff like that do we? We measure things like looks, career, body shape, husband’s career …how shallow our society has become?

There have been times in my parenting journey where I’ve wondered if my daughters would have been better off with another mum! Clearly, that was on bad days only. And then there are other times where I silently thank Her Upstairs that she brought these precious creatures my way. I feel so blessed and grateful that they didn’t journey their lifetime with another family. I’d have missed so much.

I think to my own mum ~ as unique as they get. And I cannot begin to imagine how different I’d have been as a person had I not had her influence in my childhood. And yet my 7 siblings walk such a different path through life, seemingly uninfluenced by her at all. I realise that conception is no accident. It’s not random chance that we end up where we do.
Recently I was at an event where I knew quite a lot of people. Chatting with a friend, I pointed to two of the children we know and I said, “Aren’t they just the greatest kids?”
She agreed wholeheartedly and then added, “but what do you expect? Their mum is a fantastic mum.” My friend started beating herself up as she compared how patient and kind this mutual friend is.

I stopped her short. “It’s easy to be fantastic, enthusiastic and patient when you don’t see your kids for 30 – 40 hours a week! I’d even look like mum of the year if I wasn’t with my kids 24/7.”

We don’t do anyone justice by comparing our parenting. Each of us is different. Some of us have more challenging kids. Some women have crap partners which make it like parenting another kid, and then some. Some families have huge financial burdens which make every day a challenge, as they wonder how to put the next meal on the table. Some women sleep with a stranger every night. Some women have kids with permanent health problems. Some women live with unfulfilled dreams. Others live every day as a compromise, just in order to exist. Some parents have extended family around who bring huge blessings to everyday life.

Who are we benefiting by comparing our own unique situation to someone else’s?

It’s so, so easy to compare and then belittle ourselves.

When I first came to England, I met a home-schooling mum with four children. I was mesmerised when I entered her home. It was amazing. It really felt like a home...lived in, loved in…REAL.

Someone was in the kitchen making chocolate brownies, another child was practising flute, another was reading, another was drawing. It was winter. The fire was on, everything was cosy. The memory of that visit will stay with me forever because it represented what I imagined our homeschooling life would become, once our toddler girls grew older.

In the seven years since, I’ve often felt like I’ve fallen short of being a ‘good’ home-schooling mother (whatever that actually means!), because of the memory I had in that family’s home. I tend not to factor in that it was a ‘snapshot’ in time…and that not every day was like that for them.

Each of us brings something magical to our family. We do so in different ways. Another friend of mine, who loves being a stay at home mum, often says she wonders if she should be doing something ‘more’. She watches all her friends doing volunteer work or campaigning, etc. And yet, to go into this person’s home, to me, is always a transforming experience. It reminds me of how children ‘should’ be brought up ~ that is, in the heart of their mother.

Her youngest, at two, helps put organic flour in the bowl to make their daily bread. A candle sits flickering on the long, wooden farm house table as another child draws a dinosaur. In the far corner of the room, another child is dancing. There is a sense of connectedness, of love. Children don’t get that in a day care centre.

This friend is a one in a million mum. But then so is my friend who, with her husband, made the most incredible cubby house for their kids. It’s totally awesome and had ME wanting to play in it.

Then there is my friend living with her three children in a yurt amongst cherry trees. When I arrived, by chance, a few hours after her youngest child was born in there, and stepped into that magical space, I knew she was one in a million.

Another friend of mine drives her daughter a hell of a long way to school because she was incredibly unhappy at her local school. Doesn’t that make her a one in a million mum?
I’ve another friend of mine, with eight children, who are all home educated. She manages to make them fresh, wholesome foods every day. They practise attachment parenting, so all their kids have been raised lovingly in slings, and sharing the family bed. Another one in a million!
Can you see what I’m saying? We’re all special. We’re all unique.

It’s funny, but just when I have finally got to a stage where mothering feels easy-peasy (for the most part!), I’m very aware that a door has opened to a new chapter in the journey. Who will I be when I get to the other side? It’s not something I can predict.

My girls always want to hold my hand when we’re out walking the roads around here. Usually they want me to stop and have a cuddle too.

The other night, as Bethany and I were coming back into the village, we noticed a bunch of the village kids a little way down the road. She ever so subtly slipped her hand out of mine. My maths might be shite, but I straight away put two and two together… She didn’t want to be seen as ‘a baby’.

I smiled at her and whispered, “It’s ok honey, I understand. I used to be embarrassed about being seen with my mum too.”

“I do love you though mum,” she said.

“I know.” And we shared a smile to seal our secret.

I just wonder how long it will be before she won’t even want to walk near me. Or talk to me.
Bethany is the Queen of Dress Ups…she’s spent her whole walking life being one character or another. Yet last week, when Eliza was desperate to wear a (to me) hideous Disney princess dress to town, Bethany rather lost the plot. “She can’t wear that to town!”

About a month ago she wouldn’t have even noticed. Call it hormones, call it awareness of others her age...whatever it is, it means changes for all of us. There’ll probably be many occasions where she’ll wish I wasn’t her mother. Remembering my own teenage years will give me empathy, I hope.

Don’t go looking for the mum in a million on the tv, or in the newspapers or on the radio. Don’t get sucked into ‘not good enough’ when the latest Celebrity Mum of the Year is announced, because the Mum of the YEAR, every year, can only be found in one place. And she’s in your home. She’s you.

Autumn has come early. I’m starting to feel the chill in the evenings. I can’t quite snuggle up close enough to my beloved at night. How is it that men’s bodies can generate such warmth? ‘tis a mystery to me!

I’ve concluded Autumn is quite a cunning season really. She dresses up all fancy in gold, red and yellow ~ bearing gifts of apples and pumpkins ~ puts you in a party mood and subdues the lighting a wee bit, and somehow you get caught up in it all while she’s sneakin’ in the colder weather!

Enjoy your apple and cinnamon tea ~ a gorgeous combination, me thinks! Next week’s blog will be on Sunday morning…shall we make it brunch?


Joanne B said...

I agree with your post especially about smoking around children,thats disgusting..I met up with my non-breastfeeding sister-in-law and she appears to be such a "loving" mother, very affectionate towards her children, making healthy food choices, but why dosen't she breastfeed ? ..because she's embarassed about her body and dosen't like to show her body in public!... she's quite a shy person, but thats not a good enough reason..probably more to do with a Society's view of breasts, etc, that they're sexual objects. LOL
Re Obese women being refused IVF,- I think they are right to refuse obese women IVF because being overweight just ISN'T healthy and it would be harder for her to concieve and have a healthy child and surely it would be more difficult for her to give birth naturally.. and there is also evidence that obese people have obese children and this in turn could cost the NHS millions of pounds as obesity can lead to High blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease,.. so the key is education about diet and exercize,

Mines a Nettle tea,

Kath said...

Breastfeeding full term - mmm, thanks for bringing that phrase to my attention. I hate how people refer to it as "extended". Full term is just right somehow.

Ren said...

"Surely any mum who nurtures her child is worth celebrating."

Yes, I agree. Unfortunately I see a lot of parents not acting very nurturing these days. It's so nice to read about you and all your friends, that sound like such nurturing mamas.

I find that I can really hang out with ANY kind of Mum, as long as she's nice to her kiddos. That's the key for me.

Veronika said...

hi Ren ~ you've absolutely hit the nail on the head for me.

My 'mum' friends come from all walks of life and have very different parenting styles...and yet some of the more 'natural' ones are more capable of pressing my buttons by the way they 'treat' their children (which seems to me to be way out of line with their parenting philosophy)

Hazel said...

Joanne B.
I am obese and have a lovely 'normal' sized 7yo daughter. She eats lovely, fresh, healthy vegan food. I have seen plenty of slim people with vastly overweight children. They live on McDonalds and other crap 'food'. Just to say that you can't tar everyone with the same brush.

Veronika said...

I have to say Hazel, of all the so called *obese* people I know (male and female) NONE of them have kids that are remotely over weight.

I know so called healthy people with sickly looking kids.

My point in the blog was not about whether overweight people are healthy enough to focus was on the point that GOOD mothering isn't about body size or sexual preference.

A loved and welcomed baby will happily find itself in the womb of an emotionally open and loving woman. Healthy conception goes way beyond what our body looks like.

It's not uncommon for 'very healthy' women to not be able to conceive...there is so much more to the conception issue than meets the eye.
love to you Hazel.

Joanne B said...

Hi Hazel,

I know some people have some very good reasons for being obese, through lack of mobility brought about by illness, etc,-and I'm glad to see that you have a healthy slim daughter,- and thet you're vegans! but the majority of obese people that I see normally have overweight children,- even some vegans that I know.
I don't want to get off topic now, but Veronika , I suppose underfeeding is just a big problem as overfeeding,( but not as common as overfeeding a child!)
I hope you're well : )

Victoria said...

Hello Veronica,
Mum-in-a-million should go to you and your beautiful magazine. How many babes (young and old) are that much better off, from their mums being that much more sure of themselves and their ability to be primal mamas!
Love and thanks to you, (from us all I'm sure.)

Joanne B said...

Yay! Well said Victoria!

Hazel said...

Verokina, I wasn't commenting on your blog (which I agree with.) It was Joanne's comment that obese women should be denied IVF that rattled me slightly. There are so many 'normal' weight women popping kids out one after the other who are neglectful or smoke throughout each pregnancy, etc. I have lost a LOT of weight recently and am finally pregnant again after five years of trying. I am still overweight though, but this babe will be just as nurtured and loved as Romy who is one-in-a-million ;o)

Joanne B said...


But I still think overweight should be denied IVF,- Its terrible that some women neglect their children and smoke throughout their pregnancy,.. but don't you think the money would be better spent educating people about healthy eating and exercize,
and also about the dangers of smoking?

Veronika said...

A person convinced against their will
is of the same opinion still!

Look, a gentle reminder that this is NOT an egroup or a forum for thrashing out various belief systems.

The comments section is literally to make a comment on the blog and is not for ongoing debate between readers of the blog. If you wish to do that you're best to join an appropriate forum.

Joanne B said...

Veronika,- I have sent you a pm ,but I think its unethical to give anyone that dosen't follow a healthy lifestyle IVF...and women over 45...(or donated eggs) I could go on and on about this! (and this is not a dicussion forum!)