Welcome to the May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Role model
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have waxed poetic about how their parenting has inspired others, or how others have inspired them. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
Women, generally, have a hard time saying good things about ourselves.
There’s an excellent reason for this: when we do, we are, invariably, attacked. We are women, and although we are apparently supposed to do all the work that runs the world (except make any of the decisions outside of the house or the market), we are not supposed to be proud. We are always, always supposed to make ourselves smaller (belittling means “to make little”!). We are always supposed to demure. We are always supposed to put ourselves down, beat ourselves up, and point out our shortcomings. We can never be allowed to say something unqualifiedly good about ourselves.
And I know this. I know this, I know this is a function of kyriarchy, I know this is a product of sexism, I know that the crazy in my brain latches on to this social injunction and yells that there’s something wrong with me if I ever so much as hint that I’m good at something without a shrug or an excuse or a “but”.
But I am a woman, and my brain is even more messed up than most women’s, and I find it really hard to say good things about myself. Not because I don’t rock — I do, and I know it — but because saying something good opens me up to accusations of pride (starting with my own damned brain!), to being belittled, to getting knocked down a peg.
So this month’s Carnival of Natural Parenting topic? Is really hard. I want to write about how I’m not all that. I want to write about how I fail so often. I want to write about all the people who have inspired me. At best, I wanted to say “Aw shucks, I can’t do that” and open the thread for y’all to fawn over me and tell me how great I am and how I’ve changed your lives and get you to write my post for me. (Because women are allowed to do that, we’re allowed to blush and say “Aw shucks” and giggle appreciatively when other people say good things about us, but heaven forbid we do it ourselves.)
But y’know what? I am good at what I do. And part of what I do is inspire people.
I figure out what teachers, textbooks, “experts” are saying, and I turn around and help others understand it. I write in language that is engaging, and illuminating, and sometimes heartbreakingly, breathtakingly beautiful. I portray the nuance of life, and this parenting gig, in ways that resonate with people, that show pain without wallowing, that illuminate ideals without shaming, that are, y’know, inspiring.
Y’all sometimes tell me that I’ve touched you. That I’ve made you feel less alone, or I’ve shown you a new way of looking at something, or I’ve helped you understand something that never made sense before. I’ve helped some of you yell less, breastfeed longer, let go of guilt, defy gender dictates, have more fun with your kids, and feel better about yourselves as parents.
And I’ve done it by doing this: sitting here, typing about the crazy in my head and the ideas I’ve gotten from other people, and the ways I’ve failed, and the ways I’ve tried to hate myself less when I’ve failed.
I wish I could come up with a beautiful, specific story of how I inspired someone to nurse in public, or convinced someone not to circumcise their kid, or taught someone to recognize their baby’s elimination signals, or gotten their kid comfortable in a back carry for the first time. And I’m even pretty sure I’ve done most of those things. But I’ve done it by being me, and doing this: I live my life, I parent my kid, and I blog about it. Sometimes people tell me how that’s affected them, but mostly, they don’t. And that’s ok, I’m not in this for the accolades1.
So here’s your homework2, dear readers:
- One, tell me something good about yourself. No “pretty goods”, no “buts”, no “other than”, no “comparatively”, no qualifiers of any kind3. Tell me something that you do well. Parenting, business, school, personal, whatever. It all counts here, even if our culture tells us only some achievements matter.
- Two, tell someone else how they’ve inspired you. No, not me — I already know I’m the bee’s knees. If there’s someone out there who has inspired you by being themselves, by parenting the way they do, or by writing about it — tell them. Tell them in real specific detail, with quantifiers and adjectives and dates and numbers, so that they have a great story to tell that makes them look and feel as good as they are. So they don’t just think they’ve done some good in the world, they know, and next time someone asks them to tell a story of when they inspired someone else, they’ll find it that much easier to just do it and skip all the “aw shucks” and “but I’m not that greats”. You know they rock; tell them.
Go forth. Proclaim your badassery. Proclaim others’ badassery. Change the world.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
- Woman Seeking Inspiration — Seeking Mother’s struggles and joys to find her own path in motherhood have inspired others — to her surprise! (@seekingmother )
- Paving the Way — Jessica at This is Worthwhile makes a conscious effort every day to be a role model. (@tisworthwhile )
- No Rules Without Reason — The Recovering Procrastinator wants to inspire her husband to discipline their children gently. (@jenwestpfahl)
- Creating a Culture of Positive Parenting Role Models — Michelle at The Parent Vortex shows parents at the playground how to do a front wrap cross carry and tells nurses about her successful home births, as a way of modeling natural parenting in public. (@TheParentVortex)
- Making A Difference for Mamas — Shana at Tales of Minor Interest took an embarrassing pumping incident at work and turned it into an opportunity for all the employees who breastfeed.
- Inspiring Snowflakes — Joni Rae at Tales of Kitchen Witch Momma is a role model for the most important people: her children. (@kitchenwitch)
- Paying it Forward — Amber at Strocel.com inspires new (and often scared) mamas with these simple words: “It will be OK.” (@AmberStrocel)
- A SAHD’s View on Parenting Role Models — Chris at Stay At Home Dad in Lansing doesn’t have many role models as a SAHD — but hopes to be one to his daughter. (@tessasdad)
- Am I a Role Model? A Review — Deb at Science@home brings attachment parenting out of the baby age and shows how it applies (with science fun!) to parenting through all of childhood. (@ScienceMum)
- Say Something Good — Arwyn at Raising My Boychick reminds women that it is within our right to be proud of ourselves without apology. (@RaisingBoychick)
- Try, Try Again — Thomasin at Propson Palingenesis wants to inspire like the Little Engine that Could.
- I’m a Parenting Inspiration, Who Knew? — Sarah at OneStarryNight has received several beautiful comments about just what an inspiration she has been, if not in real life then definitely online. (@starrymom)
- That Little Thing — NavelgazingBajan at Navelgazing demonstrates the ripple effect, one status update at a time. (@BlkWmnDoBF)
- How Has Your Day Been? — mrs green @ littlegreenblog inspired her friend to be an active listener for her children. (@myzerowaste)
- No, Thank You! — If you are reading Maman A Droit’s post, you’ve probably inspired her. (@MamanADroit)
- My Top 3 Natural Parenting Principles — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now describes how her family’s natural and Montessori principles inspired others. (@DebChitwood)
- My Hope for a Better Life — Mandy at Living Peacefully With Children hopes her choices inspire her children toward a better life.
- Natural Parenting Felt Natural — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes didn’t plan on natural parenting — but her son led her there. (@sheryljesin)
- Rest. Is it even possible? — Janet at where birth and feminism intersect has found that even role models need rest — and that there are ways to fit it into everyday parenting life. (@feministbirther)
- May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Role model — Lauren at Hobo Mama was the fortunate recipient of a seed of inspiration, and has been privileged to plant some of those seeds herself, though she didn’t know it at the time. (@Hobo_Mama)
- crunchspiration — the grumbles at grumbles and grunts wants to inspire others to parent from their heart. (@thegrumbles)
- No Extra Inspiration Required — Zoey at Good Goog doesn’t think she inspires anyone and wasn’t inspired by anyone in return — except by her daughter. (@zoeyspeak)
- Upstream Parenting — Luschka at Diary of a First Child blogs for that one mother in one hundred who will find her words helpful. (@diaryfirstchild)
- Parenting Advice for the Girl from Outer Space — If Mommy Soup at Cream of Mommy Soup could give one piece of inspirational advice to new parents, it would be to parent with kindness. (@MommySoup)
- Natural Parenting Carnival — Role Model — Sarah at Consider Eden feels the pressure at trying — and failing — to live up to her role models. (@ConsiderEden)
- May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Role Model — Dionna at Code Name: Mama encourages natural parenting mamas to take joy in the fact that they are touching lives and making a difference to children every day. (@CodeNameMama)
- Inspiration Goes Both Ways — Melodie at Breastfeeding Moms Unite! is flustered that people consider her a breastfeeding role model — but the lovely comments she’s received prove it’s so. (@bfmom)
- My Seven — Danielle at born.in.japan has identified seven role models in her life who brought her to natural parenting. Who are your seven? (@borninjp)
- A Quiet Example — Alison at BluebirdMama was one of the first parents in her group of friends — and has come to see almost all those friends follow in her natural birthing footsteps, whether intentionally or not.
- Gentle Discipline Warrior — Paige at Baby Dust Diaries has inspired a gentle discipline movement — join her! (@babydust)
- Change The World… One Parent At A Time — Mamapoekie is more comfortable inspiring parents online than she is in real life. (@mamapoekie)
- Inspirational Parenting — pchanner at A Mom’s Fresh Start has intentionally tried to be a role model but was unprepared for how soon someone would take notice. (@pchanner)
- My Inspiration — Erin at A Beatnik’s Beat on Life has written thank-you letters to everyone who’s inspired her to become the lactivist and natural parenting advocate she is today. (@babybeatnik)