my baby, my teacher: #3 naked parenting

It has occurred to me that Naomi is going to teach me far more in her lifetime than I will ever teach her. She was teaching me before she was even born… so I thought I would start writing down the gems I’m learning in the hopes I’ll remember all the things to thank her for.

I keep having this dream where I’m sitting on a plastic chair in a circle of people, mostly women. I am listening to someone speak. Eventually I look down and realize, much to my chagrin, that I am naked. It’s all hanging out there as I perch on my plastic chair. For some reason reaching for something to cover myself or getting up and running away as fast as I can is not something that occurs to me. Instead I sit there and squirm uncomfortably in my seat trying to find a creative way to cross my legs and arms in a fashion that will cover my bits so no one will notice I’m in my birthday suit.

I don’t succeed. Sometimes John is also featured in these dreams (fully clothed). I hiss at him impatiently, HELP ME, FOR CRAPS SAKE. He can’t help. My state is unsalvageable.  

I used to have these dreams all the time when I was in school, usually I was giving a presentation in the dream and I would look down to see my exposed bits. I haven’t had them in a long time. This is good because they suck. It’s just a dream but still, my subconcious (unconscious?) self always feels so humiliated. It looked like I might be free of them forever…

… and then Naomi was born.

I know what these dreams are about. When I was in university they were about feeling exposed and vulnerable. Now, as I go through my crash course in Parenting 101 they are, yet again, about feeling exposed and vulnerable. This time it’s about my parenting choices. Just making a seemingly innocent choice can make you a target.

Quick side note:

Naomi and I just got back from an awesome visit with a very happy Grandma and Grandpa (my folks) in Prince George. We shopped and ate and made faces at the baby and we talked and talked. At one point I said to my mom: Just in case it comes up and someone says something to you about co-sleeping… and then I proceeded to give her stats (ammunition) on co-sleeping and SIDS and you can just say this and that and x and y and… Before I really got going she stopped me and said that she wouldn’t be telling anyone anything. She said that it wasn’t anyone’s business. She said that I had to trust that I am doing what I feel is best and I don’t have to explain anything to anyone.

She’s right. I read up so I can be prepared, but really there is nothing to prepare for. It’s parenting, not an exam or a debate. This is an important thing for me to remember.

Sometimes parenting can feel like sitting in a group of faces, some friendly and some not-so, and looking down to see that your tuchus is parked naked in a plastic chair. Exposed. Vulnerable. Where does she sleep? Is she breastfeeding? When will you wean? Do you hold her all the time? Cloth or disposable? Is she vaccinated? Will you go back to work? DO YOU THINK YOU’RE A BETTER MOTHER THAN ME?

It’s hard not to be exposed as a parent. Your choices are right out there. Even if you are careful to never ever bring up politics or religion amongst mixed company it is nearly impossible to avoid making reference to one parenting choice or another. Things you take for granted as normal others do not and BAM there you’ve gone and unwittingly offended somebody. Or you suddenly find yourself feeling defensive over a remark that the author likely didn’t give a second thought to.

I think the mommy wars are bullshit; I really do believe that 99% of us are doing what we think is very best for our little ones and there doesn’t need to be a fight. Although it’s hard not to BE exposed as a parent, I don’t need to FEEL exposed by my choices. I have a happy baby and a happy family and although we’re not always smiling and singing and tap dancing on rainbows, we’re doing good. I wear my baby and breastfeed and co-sleep (let’s be totally honest, we bed-share too) and I’m a vegetarian and I always wear makeup (hello, under eye concealer) and we have dogs… and that’s how we (currently) roll. That’s not a battle cry, it’s just my life. What we have going on isn’t for everyone, but it’s working for us.

Thank you, Naomi, for giving me a chance to own my choices… important choices… and really grow up a bit. And thank you mom, for reminding me to have confidence in those choices, no matter how crazy they may sound to others.

I wonder if I’ll keep having holy-crap-I’M-NEKED dreams. Oh probably. I’m sure Naomi will keep me on my toes with various things to push me beyond my comfort zone… (I’ll be thanking you for that too, kiddo…)

Age: 4 1/2 months, hanging out on Grandma & Grandpa’s deck

More my baby, my teacher

#2 rest after eating

#1 born this way

8 Responses to “my baby, my teacher: #3 naked parenting”

  1. Sonja says:

    I totally agree – there are so many different approaches out there, and it’s so easy to unwittingly offend or call into question someone else’s choices in ordinary conversation! It’s hard too because, as you know, it seems like a crapshoot most of the time in regards to what choices we do make, so even though meeting up with other parents is super helpful and creates a great community, it’s so easy to doubt yourself or compare your babies/methods. Here’s to going what feels right for you and your family!

    • Hear! Hear! 🙂 You’re so right, at the end of the day none of us really knows what we’re doing & we are just doing our very best given the info we have right now… 30 years from now our kids will go, Holy crap, you did WHAT?! and we’ll just smile knowing how different things will be in 30 more years 🙂

  2. Amanda says:

    Thank you, I needed to read this today. I have a 7 week old that is breastfed, we co-sleep, and we have dogs. I feel like I have been in a war defending myself and our decisions before he was even born…as to breastfeed and to keep our dogs. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one that is ridiculed by my choices of parenting, however it is hard to constantly be defending ones self. Thank you for reminding me that I do not have to defend myself and to continue caring for my son as I see best.

    P.S. I love seeing pictures of Naomi and reading your post.

    • I’m so glad this helps! It can be really hard when it feels like we have to put armour on before we leave the house… I’ve been practicing the “I don’t need to defend myself” thing & I really feel better. It’s all good- you’re a good mom, you know you are 🙂

      I’m glad you like the photos!

  3. Sarah says:

    Great post Shauna!!! You’re so smart 🙂 I agree with all your wonderful points…I am continually baffled by constant Opinion Bestowers…especially because i often feel that any relevant/useful/insightful “advice” is overshadowed by a certain superiority that really undermines anything they are trying to say anyway. Love and let love right? You are doing a freaking amazing job in my (extremely sought after) opinion. Ha! xox!!

  4. Trude says:

    Preach on, sista! It’s one of those great human inconsistencies – how people automatically assume we want to hear their opinions, when they would never want to hear ours. Also, you and Naomi look absolutely lovely in these photos. 🙂