Friday, September 7, 2012

Am I Really a Natural Parent?

Welcome to the second edition of the "I'm a Natural Parent - BUT..." Carnival This post was written for inclusion in the carnival hosted by The Artful Mama and our feminist {play}school. During this carnival our participants have focused on how mainstream society has affected their natural parenting and how they have come to peace with this.

For the first "I'm a Natural Parent, But . . ." carnival I shared what I thought was a pretty exhaustive list. Here's a link to the entire post. To summarize my non-crunchiness: I had a planned induction with an epidural (and liked it), we vaccinate (on schedule), we don't wear our babies (and use a stroller), and we love television and computer games (and don't stress about it).

Today's post outlines several other things we do that would be considered slightly more mainstream. (Okay, we may actually be swimming in that stream.)

This is one half of our play room (with a slightly dazed Agent A)
We have a play room full of toys, and not the natural, wooden, sensory, battery-free kind. I mean toys . . . plastic, loud, musical, TV- and movie-based, made in China, toys. We also have bookshelves overflowing with stories and two giant bins of dress up clothes, along with a play kitchen, a child-sized table, a rocking horse, a whole village of stuffed animals and baby dolls, and enough art supplies to fill ten preschools. Thank goodness we have the space to devote an entire room to this stuff, because that's what it takes. 

We recently ditched cloth in favor of disposable diapers. We used cloth diapers (the same set) for all three Agents. Once we got to our last baby they started to literally fall apart in the wash. We were down to maybe eight in decent condition. Then we moved and switched over to disposables while they were in shipment. By the time they arrived, I realized I just didn't care anymore. Agent A will be in sposies till he learns the potty. And he's not even two yet, so this could be a while.

We do all sorts of other random not-very-natural-parenting stuff every. single. day. I forget the @#$% ^& reusable grocery bags about 75% of the time. I prefer the cheap, plastic disposable razors you can buy for like $2.00 a dozen. We buy fruit at the grocery store without caring if it's organic and often we don't even wash it before we eat it. Sometimes I grab a paper towel even if the reusable clean-up cloths are sitting right there next to them. We eat all sorts of non-wholesome store-bought snacks. Goldfish crackers? We buy the biggest box they sell. Graham crackers? Check. Frozen fruit bars (aka, glorified popsicles)? Sign me up. 

And let's not forget the huge list of things I do that might kill me.

I mentioned at the end of the last carnival on this topic that I hesitate to even refer to myself as a natural parent because sometimes that label feels, well, unnatural. To me it conjures up an image that I just don't fit. 

Now I can't help but wonder: What exactly makes a parent, a natural parent? And is it possible that I've just been kidding myself and maybe I'm . . . not?

To tell you the truth, I'm not sure anymore. 

I'm a Natural Parent — But … Blog CarnivalThis carnival was created by The Artful Mama and Natural Parents Network. We recognize that "natural parenting" means different things to different families, and we are dedicated to providing a safe place for all families, regardless of where they are in their parenting journeys. Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

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20 comments :

  1. Oh thank you for this post! I consider myself a "natural" parent... but then I think... hang on - I bottle feed (homemade formula), I buy baby food from the supermarket (the organic stuff), I gave up on cloth nappies cos I was sick of touching poo, my baby sleeps in a cot because I like space in the evening for myself and my partner.... so how exactly am I a natural parent??

    I think for me it comes down to how I approach parenting - I follow my instincts, I have a gentle responsive approach, I do babywear often, I bottlefeed in a breastfeeding position... I might not follow all the "rules" but I make use of the "tools" in ways that feel right to me. If that makes sense?

    Besides which, I don't vax, so I guess I'll always be in the "kookie hippy" category :-P

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    1. I feel the same way about it being more about the approach . . . perhaps "responsive parent" is more fitting for us than "natural parent"?

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    2. I like that!... responsive parent. :) I think what most of us do is natural to us, to our children. I think at the end of the day it matters most how loved and cared for your children feel, and how you feel about yourself as a parent.

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    3. I like the idea of "responsive parenting" - to me it means, rather than imposing adult-driving "routines" etc, you just follow the baby's lead, trust your instincts and go with the flow - which has always worked for me :-)

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  2. Love that you're so honest and able to put it all out there. And I'm totally with you - I cannot, for the LIFE of me ever remember to bring those reusable bags!! The last two weeks, I was REALLY good about it - but have been driving myself batty since there are now no plastic grocery bags in the house, which is what I use for garbage when I'm tidying up the house, not to mention it's the only type of bag we use in the washroom trash. I've learned my lesson, no more reusable bags, I need the plastic bags - I do reuse them!! That's a form of recycling isn't it?!

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    1. We re-use them, too but we still somehow end up with a zillion of them. They multiple once I put them in the cabinet. I've asked my 6 y/o to remind me from now on about the bags. Her memory is way better than mine.

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  3. I think it would be unnatural to have a rigid definition of what a natural parent really is. Some things feel natural to us as a parent, and some do not. And that varies from parent to parent. You're doing great as a mama! :)

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  4. Haha I really loved this post as well as your first. Your confession is exactly what parents in our natural parenting community need to hear. There isn't a one size fits all mode - you might do nothing "natural" except love and respect your children and you are still a member of the club!

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  5. Love your post! And I'm a Navy wife too! Except we're on the other coast. Sunny California. In a part that really isn't sunny all that often...

    Stopping by from SITS! Have a great weekend!

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  6. Great post! I am so NOT a natural parent. We used disposable diapers, no wooden toys, non-organic foods...

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  7. Thanks for your honesty! I think you may have just given me permission to buy those goldfish crackers that have been taunting me. Or Cheez-its. Yum!

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    1. I craved white cheddar cheez-its throughout one of my pregnancies.

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  8. Haha! I can totally relate! Happy SITS Day!

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  9. I've had people call me a hippy mom, which I though was strange. I did do a lot of the 'natural' things, but then I did a lot of non-natural things too. I just wish we could get rid of all these labels that separate us as mothers and work together to be the best moms we can be regardless of our differing choices.

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  10. I think this is great. The term "natural parent" can mean so many things. It's really more of a spectrum isn't it? It's important to be open and honest with each other, because I think it will encourage mothers to try parenting naturally in even just one area of their family's lives when they realize it doesn't need to be all or nothing! Ooh, I see a post in that!

    I'm here from SITS...HAPPY SITS DAY!!!

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  11. OK. I love this post. I try really hard, but still the fast food toys are in my car.

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  12. Very nice post. There are so many reasons to do things but sometimes convenience wins--and it should. Enjoy your SITS Day.

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  13. Great post! I so want to be a "natural" parent and I try hard but it is impossible to be perfectly "natural" whatever that means. I try to babywear, and I breastfeed but have to supplement. I cloth diaper and love it. It is hard to come to terms with not being as "crunchy" as I would like. Thanks for making me feel better about it though.
    Enjoy SITS day!

    www.hoppybottoms.com

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  14. My kids have all the same toys as you expect we don't have the space for an entire room. I did the drug free birth, breastfeeding, organic etc, but it takes way too much effort. First thing I dropped was the cloth diapering, then I try to eat healthy, but not organic and the list goes on. Great post. I can so relate. Happy SITS DAY. Definitely following

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  15. The only "natural" part of me in this parenting gig is the smell that permeates when I don't shower!!! Almost every day... ;) Enjoy your SITS day!! GREAT blog!!!

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