I was reflecting with Hannah the other day on how, as your family grows (and you as parents learn and grow with it), perspective and experience gradually clarifies your approach to how you live out your values. Some ways of living, you get even more and more confident and sure you need to do as time goes on. Some preferences, though, turn out to be more situationally dependent than you realize, and when you find yourself in a different situation, you may make different choices than you imagined you would. Other times, a tension appears between two values and you must choose between them or somehow make the best balance you can.
And then, of course, occasionally you turn out to have been simply wrong-headed about something.
At age 25, I was a fairly crunchy, "continuum-concept"-minded mother-to-be. Four children and twelve years later, which of my crunchy practices have I stayed committed to? Which have yielded to a less-crunchy (or perhaps differently-crunchy) lifestyle?
Still Committed, Still a Believer, Still Going Strong
- Breastfeeding past toddlerhood
- None of that "baby food" stuff
- Co-sleeping nightly, well into early childhood
- Asserting our authority as parents, and striving for modeling and firm discipline that hopefully doesn't require "punishment" (caveat here is that I have always lost my temper a lot, so we have never been a yelling-free or attention-getting-swat-free house)
- Natural family planning (yes, I have reasons besides crunchiness, but it is pretty crunchy, and we are still with it)
- A parent at home full time
- Babywearing young babies
- Avoiding strollers
Even More Confirmed Than I Ever Thought I Would Be
- Actually being the parent at home full time. (With every year that passes I am more comfortable and happy in that role, and more certain that the delegation is right for our family.)
Theoretically Committed, But No Longer Able To Figure Out How To Do It, Ergo Constant Feelings of Inadequacy
- "No TV or videos for kids under six"
- "We don't eat that much sugar or packaged food"
Level of Commitment Has Waned, And I Don't Feel As Bad About It As I Expected Because Competing Values Have Grown Important
- Cloth diapering. (With each child I've relied more and more on the convenience of disposables when out and about.)
- Babywearing older toddlers. (My back can't take it.)
- Rarely leaving a baby with a babysitter. (This would have shocked the younger me with only one child, to discover that I would use babysitters more than was necessary. It turns out that my younger kids were greatly comforted by the presence of their older siblings. Also, I now value getting regular exercise, and my older kids need attention from us too sometimes. I couldn't have taken my big kids skiing, for example, without relying on the hourly child care there for the baby.)
Getting Lazy or Busy, and Aware That I'm Paying the Price
- Elimination communication/infant potty training. I had #2 and #3 out of diapers by eighteen months. I was so proud of myself. I totally dropped the ball with #4, at 19m he doesn't even know what the potty is for, and now I have traditional potty training to look forward to. It's my own damn fault and I know it.
- Patiently teaching very young children kitchen safety skills. By the time #1 was 19 months old, he was well on his way to safely use various pointed and otherwise sharp or hot objects. Not having invested that time yet with #4, it will be longer before I can be less vigilant in the kitchen.
If I think of any more, I'll add them in updates to the post. How about you?
Added: Jamie posts a response to this post. How could I have forgotten homebirthing? (selfdopeslap) Yes, homebirthing FTW.