Saturday, August 7, 2010

Totally Hooked!

I tried a number of times over the years to learn to crochet but had never been successful until recently. A blog that I read started a granny square a day challenge and that inspired me to try learning again. With the info from the blog and the help of a friend who patiently sat by my side and talked me through it I finally began to get the hang of crochet and before I knew it I was addicted! I undid more than I made at the beginning but I'm finally getting to the point where I can complete something that looks halfway decent.

I've got two big projects on the go at the moment. The first is a rainbow blanket for baby Lemiwinks. I'm about 2/3 of the way finished so far.

I chose to make it a giant granny square and not try to do anything too complicated because it was the first big crochet project I embarked on and I didn't want to stuff it up or give up halfway because it was too hard.

The second big project I'm working on is a blanket for myself. It's going to be made up of lots of smaller squares that when put together look like a waterlily pond in a garden. Here are the 7 squares I've completed so far. There will be 142 squares all up:-0

This blanket has been really challenging but in a good way. I feel like I've really been improving my crochet and pattern reading skills while working on it. I'm estimating it's going to take about 6-12 months to finish if I keep working at the pace I am now.

I'm trying to resist the urge to start anymore projects until I have at least finished Lemiwinks blanket but I swear I have crafting ADHD and find it hard not to lose focus and start something new every second week.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Single Attachment Parenting

My situation is unique, well, I haven't met any other attachment parents who are single and planning to homeschool their children. I'm lucky that I have supportive family and friends nearby, but it's still really difficult to meet my children's needs and take care of myself enough to remain an attachmed mum.

For Lou, being an attachment mum mostly means co-sleeping and breastfeeding on demand. For Iris, who has only just self-weaned and is a very sensitive child, it means trying to stay connected with her, and to meet her needs in a gentle way.

Some days after trying to meet my children's needs from dawn until dusk I just want to run down the street screaming "Get away from me! Stop touching me! Stop having needs!" ;P But at the same time it has still been worth the work because the impact of having their father move out has been cushioned by the fact that I am connected to them and have worked hard to remain connected to them, through attachment parenting.

In the process of trying to meet my children's needs, on my own, and not taking care of myself properly while I was doing it, I almost gave myself a breakdown. It's also very hard being a single parent to two young children who need me so much, because sometimes I have to make a choice between which child to care for first, or who needs me the most.

As supportive as family and friends have been, it's really been hard when I've been struggling, basically the only suggestion I received was to put my children in childcare and "let someone else deal with them." While I was having a really, really hard time, struggling with the kids, there was a while there where I struggled to get out of bed, someone told me that I should put my girls in childcare and that they would be "better off with someone else" than to be at home with me while I was struggling. It really hurt to hear that somebody who I thought cared about me thought my children would be better off in the care of stranger than with me!

Putting them in childcare would not have solved my issues or theirs! 1) How would it be better for them to be detached from me when they had already lost their Dad in the past few months? And 2) how would that solve any of my mental health issues? All that would do would increase my guilt because they would be in a childcare situation that I didn't want them in. And for them it would mean being separated from their full-term parent who they have spent everyday with since birth.

All the judgments on my ability to parent my children didn't just come from friends and family, they also came from medical professionals. Despite seeing that my children were well loved and cared for they still questioned why I chose to parent the way that I do. When I had to take Lou to hospital the staff were shocked to see that I was an attachment parent and a single parent. They tried to treat me like a dumb stereotype of a single mother, like I couldn't possibly know what was best for my child. They spent hours lecturing me on the "risks of co-sleeping" and breastfeeding my baby to sleep. It must be awful for other single parents who go in there with a sick child, who don't have the supportive people that I had with me, or who aren't as well informed or prepared to stand up to the staff. They also gave me attitude, asking me where my child's father was, despite already being told that we were separated.

I continue to attachment parent because I know it's what's best for my children, especially when their lives are being turned upside down. This is when they most need to feel secure attachment. Being an attachment parent has always been important to me. But now that I'm a single parent, the principles of attachment parenting are even more important!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Choosing To Unschool My Children

When I first heard my friend Sazz mention she was going to homeschool I thought she was crazy. What would she want to do that for? Her kids would turn into unsocialised freaks! The funny thing was that Sazz had had a successful schooling experience and was not going to send her kids to school, but I had had a traumatic schooling experience but was still going to send my kids! Gradually the more I learned about homeschooling, or unschooling in particular, the more it all started to make sense to me.

I started reading stuff online about homeschooling, but I still thought it was something I couldn't do. I wouldn't be able to cope with my kids at home all day. Then I read a blog post by Currawong describing the start to their day. They eased into the day with no rush to get to school. She wrote about how she'd missed out on those moments for years. That one post made me go "oh!", something just clicked and I started seeing it all a bit differently.

I started thinking what sending my kids to school would mean: six hours a day, five days a week with an adult that I might not trust, who they might not get along with. I thought about rushing out the door every morning and being away from them for that long.

Then I started processing my own schooling journey and realised just how much damage it had done to me. I was worried that if I homeschooled that my children would finish up with gaps in their education. But I realised that I had gone to school and still had massive gaps in my education, so there was that excuse gone. I was also worried about homeschooling on my own.

I never wanted to do schooling at home, I knew that wouldn't suit my children and the way our family works. The idea I had had of home schooling was us sitting around a table with me being their teacher and I knew that I couldn't do that. But the more I learned about unschooling the more it seemed possible and suited to our family.

I love the idea of my kids being able to follow their own interests for as long as they want. If they're interested in numbers then they can follow that for as long as they want, the whole day or the whole week, there's no point at which the maths lesson ends. Or if they want to spend a month learning about monkeys they can. They have freedom and autonomy, two things sorely missing from my education.

I didn't want Iris to think that she couldn't learn something just because it wasn't the right time for her to learn it. I had a discussion with my Dad where he remembered the exact moment at which he stopped bothering with maths. He was learning long division in grade three at school and he couldn't understand and he remembers a wall going down in his brain. Forty years later and he hasn't bothered with a single piece of maths beyond that. After that discussion and thinking "what if he was meant to learn it a week or a month later? He might have discovered that he really enjoyed maths and kept learning it. Maybe he would've ended up being a maths teacher instead of a music teacher?" I knew I wanted them to have the chance to learn things when they're ready.

The older Iris gets, the more I realise unschooling is the right choice for her. She is very sensitive and I just don't think most schools and teachers have the times or resources to deal with a child like her. I've been that sensitive child in that school environment and it is not nice! I struggle enough with Iris, having enough patience on a daily basis, and I'm her mother who loves her. I hate to think of how she would be treated in school because the people there don't have the same feelings for her that I do.

Now that the decision is made I'm really excited about our future! Because we're not restricted by school hours or school terms, we're free to travel or spend the day wandering around a museum or digging holes in the dirt in the backyard. Whatever takes their fancy! The possibilities are endless!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

WBW - Top 5 Breastfeeding Moments

Here are my top five, best and worst breastfeeding moments for World Breastfeeding Week:

1. Trying to breastfeed discreetly in church for the first time. Iris decided to de-latch in the middle of let-down and I had a really strong let-down at that point because she was only about five weeks old and I had an over supply of milk. So milk goes squirting to the right and hits my Dad in the shoulder. Luckily it was Dad, and he found it funny!

I put her back on and she came off again, this time the milk goes shooting off to the left and hits the person sitting next to me! Then she did it a third time and this time the milk went shooting forward and hit a friend of mine sitting in front of me, who thankfully has four kids and thought it was hilarious. At that point I gave up and went and sat somewhere else to finish feeding her.

2. Feeding in the rain at a homebirth rally. I was standing in the rain, under an umbrella, on the steps of Parliament House, protesting, surrounded by thousands of other women wearing their babies in carriers and breastfeeding their children too. Very cool.

3. Feeding Lou walking through the airport. After the rally on the way home I was feeding Lou walking to our flight, I passed Tracey Bartram who gave me a big grin.

4. When that stupid woman at Centrelink told me they could offer me a private room to do "THAT!" in. I said with a big grin on my face "no thank-you, I'm perfectly fine here." and she glared at me, huffed and stormed off.

5. Realising when Iris was about five months old that she had been existing soley on my milk. I had grown her for nine months inside me and then another five months. She hadn't needed anything else but me. It was magic.
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