Today I would like to introduce you to a great writer, Amazon bestselling author and mama: JL Morse
In all her writing JL Morse is focusing on Natural Parenting, Alternative Education and Attached Families. Very recently she published her new book ‘The World of Wickham Mossrite’ (which I can highly recommend to you) – but more on that later.
Now I want you to get you a nice cuppa or a mug of coffee and enjoy reading JL’s guest post about working together in a family and how we can and should support each other. Because this way life is so much easier and so much more fun!
Celebrating Co-Parents: The Importance of Secondary Care Givers in Attached Families (by JL Morse)
I never wanted children.
I never wanted to get married. No big white dress.
All that stuff you’re supposed to dream about. I wasn’t all that bothered about settling down, about having a family, although I did always want a dog.
One of these in particular…
Here I am at thirty-two, and two out of three ain’t bad – and it’s the unexpected treasures that have been oh so sublime. I’m still waiting for my perfect pooch (husband says yes, when the kids are old enough to pick up poop other than their own), but I’ve gone about as domesticated as Martha Stewart, minus the jail time.
Why the 180? Why the strong, solitary stance in the first place?
Because, coming from an only-child plus single-parent background and knowing how damn hard it can be at times, I just didn’t want that for my babies. And I didn’t think that any man (or woman, I’m all for gender equality after all) could or would put up with me for any significant amount of time. At least the amount of time it would take to make and raise a family.
So, long before I even hit puberty, I sort of wrote it off ever happening.
I’m not saying I had a tortured, fractured childhood. Those sorts of posts are for another blog than mine. I’m all silver linings and happy little clouds over here (fan’s of Bob Ross will know what I mean).
Whatever our circumstances, I did know I was deeply loved – which ultimately, is the best parenting advice I could ever give anyone.
I do remember however, the strong, determined message to learn to support myself. To not rely on anyone else, to get a good education, to get a good job, to never truly be dependent on anyone, especially financially. This was the eighties and nineties, after all. Sisters were doing it for themselves and all that. Girl Power.
So, I did it. And it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be if I’m honest.
And then, life changed.
Friends from my old pre-child life can’t still believe how extensively I’ve gone full earth mother. Not just one, but three children in less time than it takes to renew your passport (ish). We haven’t gone down the nursery or childminder route, as I have zero intention of going back to my previous career. I am a properly 1950s housewife, with the pinny to prove it.
I consider myself to be a Attachment Parent. I babywear, bedshare, nursed on demand, practice gentle parenting (no crying-it or timing-it out for us), and am very needs-driven. As in, what is my child trying to communicate and how can I meet that need? We as a family have adopted Non-Violent-Communication, which is all about engaging at a ‘needs’ level – how our words and actions shape and serve our needs for respect, love, support etc, and how we can interpret others’ communications as desire for their needs to be met.
If your toddler is whining, they likely need a drink, a cuddle or a sleep. Usually all three.
Thing is, throughout my friendships with other families, I’ve noticed a concerning trend – not in any way limited to AP, but perhaps magnified by it as its such a responsive way to communicate with our babies – and that is mothers (in the main) who are admirably giving everything they have to meet the many and significant needs of their babies, and totally neglecting their own needs, let alone that of the significant others in their life.
Dad, this often means you. Sorry.
Women who are so desperately trying to do everything right by their child, that they forget the people that helped make them in the first place. “I’m responsible for their needs, Daddy can sort himself out.” Mothers who feel like they just don’t have anything else to give.
Small people who cannot meet their own, very immediate needs, of course must come first. I wouldn’t dream of making my husband a cup of tea before feeding a newborn. My four year old can get a snack for herself whilst I help two year old totally miss the potty for the eighth time in a row. Sometimes the two year old will fetch Daddy a new loo roll when four year old has used it all for her copious crafting…
But that’s the thing – we’re a family. We all work together. That’s one of the beautiful things about sharing our lives, is we help each other out. And whilst never for a second trying to put another task on anyone’s heavy, sleep-deprived shoulders – through the glorious haze of motherhood, I would from my experience ask you one thing:
Don’t forget Dad. If he’s whining, he probably needs a cuddle too. From you and the baby.
Or perhaps it’s Auntie Jo, or Cousin Freddie – or whoever it is that is there to support you. However well they manage to do it, however frequently, however little they can truly understand what it’s like to not have showered possett out of your hair for the past three days. Even if whoever you do have on hand is really freekin’ annoying at times (Grandma, I’m talking directly to you) – they are there for you.
Let them help. And if you can, help them back.
The way they might offer help, especially as a new mother (and especially if you are breaking from mainstream, or the way you yourself were parented), will may feel totally inadequate, or worse, undermining. Baby wants you and no-one else. Or you’ve been battling for hours and baby settles instantly for smug Daddy. Toddler crying? Only Mama’s arms will do. Picking new outfits, reading together, bathtime, bedtime – such precious fleeting moments you want to cling to despite the delirium. Why give the good bits away?
But these secondary care-givers want to be part of baby’s life too – they want to be part of your life. They are trying to help. Even if sometimes you have to write explicit instructions, in blood, three times over.
Let Dad be the one to do bathtime. Encourage him to get in on the sling action (he might get more addicted than you at churning stash). And especially when babies turn into toddlers, Dad’s are great at playing, at reading, even just being the one who gets to have a cuddle when its quiet time. The more you let them in, the more they can support you. The closer they’ll be to your children, and therefore to this brave new world of motherhood you’ve entered. The closer you’ll be as a family.
Same goes for Granny. Sure, there are times when you just can’t face your mother telling you how it was done in her day – but there are days when all you want to do is sleep. Grannies are good for enabling you to do that, even if its only ten minutes.
Modern life and certain parenting techniques (and especially schooling in my humble opinion) is geared up to teach children to be independent at as young an age as possible. I don’t want to teach my children to be independent.
I want my daughters to know there are good, reliable men in the world – just like their daddy. That they can zig-a-zig-ahh it if they want to, perhaps if they need to, but not because that’s just the way it is. It doesn’t have to be by default. I want to teach my son to be a good father (if his life blesses him in that way) – and yes, he plays with dollies too. I want him to know how to change nappies, to cook and clean, to be compassionate and giving.
I want them to have all the joy they have given me, as part of a unit. A team.
I want to teach them self-reliance and resilience, but that relationships are crucial to our happiness in life. That its not a cruel and solitary world out there. That if you cry out in the night, someone will always come to be there for you.
And secondary care givers offer more than support to you. They offer different perspectives on the world to your children. They let them know there is a network of people out there that love them, and that they can rely on.
For me, the principles of Attachment and Gentle Parenting therefore need to be reinforced with a big giant caveat…
It’s Attachment Families – not just parents.You can do it all alone, Beyonce. Sure. But you don’t have to (In fact, I’m pretty such Beyonce has a pretty large entourage for such an Independent Woman).
Motherhood is not an exclusive invitation-only party. You can have a plus-one. If you’re lucky, two or three or four. They say it takes a tribe to raise a child. Find, and then celebrate your tribe. Even if its a hotchpotch collection of vagabonds and vagrants other than your immediate family. There are literally millions of people in the same situation as you.
As they say, there’s one born every minute. Each of those babies comes with a potential support network for you too, life’s about letting people in. For every one of the people in your life that can’t (or doesn’t) offer the support you need, there are others out there looking for someone like you too.
We are all in this together. I’ve learnt that now.
I still don’t believe that a perfect family has to be a 2.4 – perhaps less so now that I actually have that. For me, it was the biggest risk I’ve ever taken. Actually wanting the life you’re supposed to have after spending so many years renouncing it. I met someone that I actually wanted to rely on.
I’m expecting our third child in four years, have the most wonderful older step children (times another three – so I’ve gone from just me growing up to having my very own Brady Bunch), and a husband that is in every way is my Mr Perfect.
Honestly. I lucked out.
But what about those that don’t strike so lucky long term? My buddhist inclinations remind me that every rainbow has its storm – every joy is amplified by its sorrow. The one permanent thing about life is change, and therefore gratitude with the blessings of the moment is the surest way to hold onto them. How would things be if they were different? What would I do if our circumstances changed? How much would it matter if he (I) hadn’t done the dishes if one day there were less dishes being used?
My life could be very different. So I cherish it whilst I can.
There are times when you flat out want to punch someone in the face for Just. Not. Getting. It. But there are times when you have that little something to give, that extra kiss in the morning, the appreciation of the hard day they’ve had. It’s not always about you, even when they scream at you that it is.
This is not designed to be a post about single parenting – we all take our hats off to every man and woman out there fighting their solo corner. Things happen beyond our control, life turns in mysterious ways; perhaps there is always a plan? I now celebrate the mountains in my life because the view now is so stunning – and I’m better at navigating potholes. I would never have the exact children I have now, or be the parent I am to them, without every single experience along the way.
One day I might yet walk in their shoes, and I know that I would be ok (thanks Mum).
What this post is about, is remembering and celebrating the partners we do have in life – whether romantically, in parenting, in extended or blended families, or just a neighbour that you know always has that cup of sugar for you. Its about Attachment Families.
And as those Blues Brothers told us back in 1980, “everybody, needs somebody.”
And in my case, my Mr Perfect – I need you.
Thank you, JL Morse!
In our families we need each others support and help. We live together, we learn together and we enjoy life together. We feel connected, nurtured and loved. That’s the true meaning of attachment parenting to me. ‘It needs a tribe to raise a child. Find your tribe.’ So true!
JL Morse is an Amazon Bestselling Author, focusing on Natural Parenting, Alternative Education and Attached Families. She is a mother of two (nearly three), and lives on the South Coast of England in her big hippy bubble. Her latest novel, The World of Wickham Mossrite, follows a family a little bit like hers.
You can find out more at www.jlmorse.com or her publishers, www.onetreefamily.com.
Here more about her latest book:
Wickham Mossrite is a reluctant hero for the Natural Parenting generation. A gentle-giant nature boy, raised consciously and living compassionately in an alternative lifestyle. Encounter his thirst for knowledge about who, and why, and what the world is, and how he is to take his place in it. His ever-loving Meema and Papa, and their plans of Great Escape, his strident older sister Miss Salt, expectations of a younger sibling Bubba Boo, and best friend Hes; a girl struggling with her own identity in a world of labels and conformity. As W.C. Fields said, “It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.” Wickham is a boy who stands tall where it counts. Wickham has a refreshing take on life, seeing the connectedness in all things, their beauty and their fragility. These are the stories of his discoveries, his homeschool adventures and touching relationships. His observations of the way the world turns are refreshing and inspiring in turn. For a FREE book trailer – see –> http://bit.ly/1vz1Biy