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Showing posts from June, 2012

The Art of Stillness: Breastfeeding Statues

An artist in search of a model to sit for them could do a lot worse than ask the mother of a breastfed newborn. Never in my life have I sat so still for such long periods as in those first few weeks of my eldest daughter's life. At first, it seemed an impossible task: my body, tense with the fear of not getting it right, ached; my mind, used to the constant stimulation of my former life, fidgeted and paced restlessly like a caged animal. In a way reminiscent of my many attempts at meditation, I have learnt, or begun to learn, through breastfeeding, the art of coming to stillness, and - harder still - accepting it. Even now, four years on, I have nursing sessions filled with frustration and resistance, when my mind and body together refuse to accept that it's time to just be there, to just be. Sometimes, difficult feelings, dark thoughts arise, and, as in meditation, there is no easy means of escape. On other days I relish the chance to spiral inwards and float around in the de…

'What's Good About This?': Reframing Our Post Baby Bodies

Children are natural visionaries, but life tends to whack this out of us as we grow up. Those people who are able to retain or rediscover their childlike ability to dream constantly and create unapologetically usually make a big and positive impact on the world. One such visionary was R.D.Laing, a Scottish psychiatrist, who published several works on 'madness' or 'psychosis' from the 1960's onwards. At a time when most people viewed mental illness as a shameful blight that was best kept hidden from view, Laing 'reframed' this, comparing episodes of mental ill health to a shamanic journey, from which it was possible to return a wiser or more insightful person. "Madness need not be all breakdown. It may also be break-through", he said, and he even famously suggested to a patient with chronic catatonia, 'I hear you are very good at sitting still, have you thought about getting work as a life model?'. This she did, and through seeing her condi…

Babies Don't Need 'Attachment Parenting', But They Do Need 'Responsive Parenting'

Everyone is suddenly talking about Attachment Parenting. As the world recovers from the shock of a mother breastfeeding her three year old on the cover of Time, the media spotlight is being shone on this parenting approach, and it seems like everyone, even Alanis Morissette, has got something to say. As someone who breastfeeds toddlers, has a good sling collection and shares her bed with a two year old, it's great to follow the debate, but it also makes me wonder - what do babies really need? In an ideal world, would all children be 'attachment parented'? Is this what we are aiming for, all babies snuggled into their Ergo's, a sort of 'mass conversion', a 'de-buggying'? Would this make the world a better place?

Parenting websites, Facebook pages and forums are consistently bogged down with people debating the right and wrong way to parent, and never more so than now, as we all wonder what we need to do to be 'mom enough'. People can get pretty e…