Sometimes I feel so tired. (Right now I'm tired because it's 4 am, but that's another story.) I'm talking about a different kind of tired - a weariness. This week I'm feeling this weariness - but it's not in a bad or depressed way - it just is. In fact, sometimes when I'm tired (like this week) I'm actually more present and making better choices - more in line with my true values.
This fatigue stems from years of thinking and reading. Sometimes I realize, "Man, I don't want to research every little decision I make!" I don't want to think about all the chemicals in our food, fillings for our teeth, whether I'm an optimist or pessimist and what that means, organic bed mattresses, what words I use, how what I'm doing might impact my child years from now - and on and on. I just want things to be easy - for someone (anyone!) to give me the answers that no one can.
Unfortunately, that is not the world we live in presently. Things have gotten complicated. We are disconnected - from nature, from our own biological instincts, and from each other. We have more "choice" than we ever have had in our evolutionary history, but many (most?) of the choices are unhealthy for us and the earth to some degree.
There is an upside to the way things have unfolded. We have a lot of free time to do things that we enjoy. We can see a lot of the world in a short time. We can keep in touch and meet new people oceans away. Many of these new developments boil down to two things: convenience and comfort.
I dig both of these things. Convenience and Comfort make life enjoyable. But life often feels ironic and like one big contradiction when you are trying to get back in touch with all that you are disconnected from. Many decisions based on convenience and comfort are not ideal (fast food, SUVs, Lysol sprays come to mind). With TV, more sitting (at the office and on the couch), food in the fridge, lots of "free time", and way more choices, Life is both "easier" and messier every day.
In this tired state I find myself yearning for simplicity and times of the past (loooooong past - I'm not talking the good old 1950s here or even the 1800s, I'm talking about our evolutionary past when we lived on the plains and were one with the earth.)
Of course, if I actually got my wish and was transported back in time I'm fairly certain that I wouldn't be all that happy. (I probably would barely survive a day - getting eaten by a lion - oh wait, I did learn that lions might leave me alone usually, and maybe I'd be lucky enough to land in a tribe that would care for me. But, I'd probably be a whiner and my body much too soft... hmm... well I guess I'll try to be optimistic and say that maybe I'd eventually adapt! I'd sure miss "America's Got Talent" though! And pillow-top mattresses. And air conditioning.)
As a new mom, articles, Facebook pages, and blogs about why "African Babies Don't Cry" have always had a certain appeal me. I believe in babies' biological drive to be held, to breastfeed on demand, to sleep close to parents and to generally get their needs met. I also believe that most parents possess instincts (although sometimes buried) to meet these needs.
But I also know this phrase "African babies don't cry" is very misleading and even harmful to modern parents and babies. When Marisol was a baby if she wasn't happy I felt some pressure - *why* was she crying if I did everything "right"? (Oh, I had a long ways to go!) I think that maybe this is why many parents are turned off by Attachment parenting - it's too much pressure to be perfect and do things "right" (even though at it's heart, that's NOT what it is at
But these two societies - the one we evolved in and the "civilized" world many of us presently inhabit - are extremely different. So making any comparison is like comparing Apples and Oranges. Our world is fast-moving with gas powered engines, high speed trains, and planes in the sky. In our world we live in multi-storied homes not a simple shelter in the wide-open plains. In our world we go to the grocery store to hunt and gather. If we run out of time to make dinner we can throw something in the microwave or order a pizza.
Babies are going to cry in our world sometimes (I hear my mom and dad's voices ringing in my ears as I type this) - in their car-seats or carriers (or -gasp!- strollers), when their mamma goes to a movie and they are safely held in their Aunt's or Grandma's arms, when they poop in their diaper (disposable or not).
I'm not saying that I've changed my philosophy or what I believe in at all. I still believe Attachment Parenting is best - by meeting everyone's needs in ways our bodies and spirits are made for - and that by doing so we will largely be happier and more connected. BUT I'm also saying that it's not always as simple as we sometimes think. And that because it's complicated, our best response is always Love. I'm saying that we need to be soft with ourselves and others when we are trying to figure out this modern parenting gig, because "figuring out" the answers does not mean perfection - no parenting path will make us immune from meltdowns or sleep deprivation.
So much of what we do is as a protective measure, limiting screen time,
eating organic, wishing for simpler times and choices. We've seen the HUGE
changes that have occurred and are happening before our eyes, and we KNOW this has to have an impact. So we retreat into fear. We think we can stop things from changing and even go back in time.
It is so tempting to think that if we could go back - to less stuff and living closer to the earth and in tribes, things would be better - easier. And there are thing we can learn from the past - about how we parented, how we nourished our bodies, how we lived and thrived. But the truth is, in most present situations, thinking, "What would a Hunter-gatherer do?" is hardly relevant. They wouldn't know WHAT to do in our world because they wouldn't ever have deal with most of our situations (like Toys R' Us meltdowns and refined white sugar). They would probably be so confused and scared in our modern world that they would be worse off than we would be in theirs! (I take comfort in this thought, and mostly think "WWAH-GD?" to remind myself to slow down, be present, and respond from a place of love.)
Our challenge is NOT to return to the days of our past (whether that be the '50s, the 1800s, or the days of Hunting-gathering). Our challenge is to simplify NOW. How? By prioritizing what is important RIGHT NOW and letting a lot of the other stuff go. By living by Principles NOT Rules (because it's human nature to break the rules). By recognizing the contradictions in our life and embracing them (like wanting the best for our earth and future and loving electricity, for instance). We may have a strong desire for simplicity while our kids want every new toy they come across and THAT is our present reality. We may have big dreams of being catalysts of changes (that look like "going back"), but the most transformative changes will use our past and present strengths. Simplifying today may look like less time on Facebook and more time playing "TV-tag".
Yes, I'm tired, but in a good way. I know all of the reading and analyzing and thinking and debating was worth it - it's all part of me. But I'm more ready than ever to think a lot less about everything and just BE. Right here, right now - with the people who mean most to me.
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Wife, mom, information and peace seeker.