Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The myriad ways to be a good mama.....

I feel the need to speak again! To make peace with you. My last post felt rather feisty, and I don't want this space to be somewhere that people feel attacked.

The post was intended to be a poke at myself as much as anyone. It most certainly wasn't aimed at anyone specifically, not at close and much loved friends, any more than the world (non-specifically)at large. No ma'am.

I don't intend to make enemies of mamas who define themselves as natural. I too consider myself a natural mama, and as I said, I too have breastfed my tribe, carried them in slings, co-slept, done the cloth nappy thing, home educate, don't vaccinate, and a whole bunch of other earth mama type things to boot. They were important to me, those things remain so. Not all the things I tried came off but that's fine. I have no problems whatsoever with any of these lovely practises or any of you dear readers doing those things! Some of you do all of those and I think you are beautiful!

When I think about it, I just keep being reminded of those who can't do those things so easily. Of mothers around this country and round the world, in dramatically different cultures, situations, religious settings, medical and financial predicaments etc. Women on the breadline. Women who are starving. Women who are grieving. With broken spirit or body. I think about them a lot, and wonder how they survive. I think of women who have to do incredible feats just to survive every day. And the definitions of what it means to be a good Mummy get wider and wider. There have gotta be many millions of kick-ass mamas out there doing the exact opposite to me in terms of parenting and schooling choices, and who am I to judge them?

I picture a woman who has to work as a prostitute so her babies don't starve. I picture a woman working four jobs to feed her family. I picture women oppressed by their families at large, by the politics of their country,by a cruel husband or partner, by x number of things. I think what a hard job it must be for so many mamas on this planet, and wonder how the hell they do it. How they survive with so few luxuries. With so few labour-saving devices. In a different world from this middle class comfy world I inhabit with all my right-on luxuries.

And then I read a blog or website which tells me I'm bad unless I parent in a very precise manner according to a very strict code of behaviours which someone has deemed to be exclusively and solely 'the right way'. And more and more, instead of agreeing, I am finding myself thinking 'Really?' 'Can that really be true?' I come back to thinking about those mamas all over the world again. And then I get angry. I feel annoyed that someone has the nerve to tell everyone exactly how they should parent. Instead of being inspiring and positive, they can present their case as if only they and small few have understood the true meaning of being loving to their children and making choices for them in a spirit of love. Nobody needs to be lynched for how they raise their children unless they are molesting or actively mistreating them or something really awful like that. Love has many different faces and isn't a fixed checklist of behaviours or choices.

This doesn't mean I don't admire, or aspire to live more like my role models, either within the home ed world, within the natural parenting community, or the wider world at large, or that I don't see the wisdom of my peers, or my elders and betters. I'm not so arrogant to think I have all the answers. But neither do they. They too are human. They too are fallible. They too are interpreting the world according to their own wisdom - by the time it reaches me though.... It's kinda second hand. It's not necessarily a pertinent insight anymore but rather something that made sense to them - in their situation. and that works both ways - my own wisdom and observations are entirely subjective!

I can see there are so many millions of ways to be a good parent, ways that contradict one another because of people's massively unique circumstances, geographical location, idiosyncratic situations. What may be a loving choice in one country/ family/ etc etc.... may be the opposite in a different country/ family etc etc....

We have so much to learn from one another in the myriad of different ways we show love to our children, and the choices we make on their behalf. There is no one true and righteous way. Simply loving our children and trying our best using the best of our own personal judgement and working our circumstances IS enough. Hurray for all the mamas of the world who kiss their children goodnight tonight and worked their asses off to do right by them. I love you all!

Xx Motherfunker xX


  1. There is only one right way to be a mama and that is your own...

  2. MF you entered new year blogging on FIRE! You're finding your blog voice. And I love it!

  3. Thank you! Was in a cafe chatting with a friend today and a lovely (and clearly rather mad) old boy turned to us and said to me that I should be a preacher! Very weird!