This post is for everyone who tried to tell me how life "Had To Be". I'm here to tell you - YOU'RE WRONG (That's right - I used the correct "You're", as in: YOU. ARE. WRONG. I did have to stop and think about it though. Those homophones and contractions can trip all of us up, no matter our "intelligence" level.)
It's also for the people and parents who aren't sure who to listen to. I'm here to tell you - listen to YOURSELF and YOUR CHILD. No one else can tell you how YOUR LIFE "has to be".
So here we go:
To my nurse practitioner who pretty much laughed at me, "My parents tried that! Didn't work out so well," when I informed her of my intention to use NFP - YOU'RE WRONG. NFP can work beautifully for some people - both for preventing pregnancy if that is what you desire AND for achieving pregnancy when it is right for your family.
To my former administrator who advised me a week before my daughter was born "GET THE EPIDURAL," and anyone else sending the message to women that childbirth HAS TO BE scary and painful - YOU'RE WRONG. Birth CAN BE completely joyful and empowering - some women (like me!) even look forward to doing it again.
To the people who said, "Eventually you have to let them cry. They'll never sleep through the night/in their own bed/get out of your room." YOU'RE WRONG. They do and they will - in their own time.
To the OB/GYN who insisted I HAD TO wean my daughter when I was pregnant with my son. YOU'RE WRONG. Most women can continue to nurse their babies through pregnancy with no complications or risks to themselves or babies.
To the society who tried to convince me that the only way to raise a child was to use punishments and rewards - YOU'RE WRONG. Punishments and rewards are not only unnecessary, they are detrimental to optimal human development (aka raising a decent human being!) and to our relationships.
To the "experts" who work to convince parents that babies and children will only learn - to walk, to talk, to read, to multiply, to "not be a bully", to... whatever skill or new bit of knowledge that is deemed CRUCIAL to all humanity - if they are taught by a "teacher" with the proper training using the right "instruction techniques" - YOU'RE WRONG. Children will learn everything they need to with love and adequate support ON THEIR OWN and in their own way.
To parents who believe that the ONLY WAY is to force their children to do things (whether it is often or rarely) - wash their hair, brush their teeth, do their math homework, read a book, go to school, eat their vegetables, say "please" and "thank you", go to bed, get outside, apologize, and on and on... I must tell you that, you're wrong. But I will not tell you, dear parent, in ALL CAPS, because I do not wish to raise my on-line voice at you. I know that you are doing your best and I know you love your children. I also know that our culture - full of "experts" and multimedia propaganda - has a very powerful influence over all of us and it is very difficult to break the spell that most of us live under.
I'm also NOT telling you that YOUR WAY IS WRONG for your family. I'm NOT trying to tell you that you HAVE TO do things MY WAY. That is not my intent at all. My only point, is that all of those above messages - that WERE DIRECTED AT ME at one point or another - have turned out NOT to be True at all! We are in the act of proving or have already proved every single one of them wrong. If you think that my kids must be spoiled, dirty, lazy, rude, children who are going to grow up to be terrible citizens of the world... Well I can say with complete confidence that none of that has turned out to be true yet and I can add with a fair amount of confidence that you are wrong about any future predictions as well. I've been reading about unschooling families long enough to have confidence in this punishment-free, child-respectin', partner-relationship-focused way of living.
Truth be told, I feel pretty bad for parents, families, and kids who believe all of the above is True. Recently, an acquaintance posted on a local group that she and her kids were going to miss the weekly park get together (something that is probably a really fun, regular part of this family's life) because there were lots of tears that morning over the math lesson. I feel sad that this is accepted as normal. I feel sad because 1) Many believe that math has to be taught/forced on children (my multiplying, adding, and counting children beg to differ!) and 2) This belief causes distress in children and families that is entirely avoidable and unnecessary! I wish people could open their minds to these ideas so they and they children could suffer less and enjoy life more.
But as we all know - you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink. The information is available; people are sharing and the alternatives are out there. But I have to remember that people can choose to keep believing in whatever they want to. So yes, I feel sad and bad for people but I also want to shake people a little bit. Even if it means making them uncomfortable or losing a few "friends" along the way. Because these are CHILDREN we are talking about and the future of our whole world.
I know that no matter how I say this people will say I am being judgmental. They're probably right. But please know that I always try to see all people with love in my heart. I UNDERSTAND why people think and do and believe what they do. I get it. For most of those things I wrote above, I used to believe exactly the same things! But I have realized that the only thing I can do is to keep nicely saying, "You're wrong - your life, your children's life, THE WORLD, doesn't HAVE TO BE the way you keep saying it does. It's not true. You can keep believing and acting any way you want, and it will not change this Truth."
I also want to be very clear that I am not arrogant to believe that I can predict the future. I do not know what challenges the future may hold for my children or family. I do not believe that "my way" will make us immune from pain or difficulties. I have no idea what paths my children are going to choose in the future or what mistakes they or I or my husband will make in the future. In fact, I don't believe there are ANY guarantees in life and I know there are no "re-dos". And that is EXACTLY why I choose every day to buck the norms even though it may seem crazy to some (most?) Because we only have today and the relationships that we have built up to this moment and carefully continue to work on. I actually know someone who got hit by a bus and died last year. Let me repeat that - HIT BY A BUS, and DIED. That's it - her life is over. Her daughter is only a couple years older than Marisol. I used to remember that expression to remind myself to live in the moment, "You never know! You could get hit by a bus tomorrow!" and now I can't really use it anymore, because it hits way too close to home. But it's true. This is why we MUST change if we are to feel any happiness and peace in our lives.
I know I'm rambling. I'm pretty good at that. Maybe I've annoyed some people. Maybe some want to argue with me about why I'M WRONG. That's ok. But maybe I've helped someone see a new perspective. Maybe someone is curious about how this way of living can possibly work - because they haven't seen anyone do things this way. And if that happens - then it's worth it.
Please consider your choices very carefully. You will not get a chance to go back and parent your children a different way. You only get this one time.