Those familiar feelings of being hopeless and overwhelmed set in after a call from my mechanic this morning when he told me that I needed to clean my van. I knew that.
I can laugh about it now but at the time I looked around and scaled the enormity of everything to be done if I wanted to live a respectable life.
And I do, most of the time.
I want to know where stuff is and not have everything destroyed because it’s piled together with food and sand.
I want to be able to walk across the floor without a serious toy impalement to the foot. I’d like to limit the clumsy trips across the room over slippery craft materials with baby on back.
Are other people dealing with this too?
Do you ever feel the enormity of it and think “what’s the point?”.
After Michael left for work, I sat on the couch and let it sink in. I wanted to stare at the wall, sob and rip my heart out for all my failings and stinky messes.
I let myself feel it without bringing in more thoughts of examples on for reasons I should be totally depressed. There’s always proof if you look. but…I’m not going there.
I reminded myself that I have important work to do here if I’m open to it. It matters. But it sure didn’t feel like it at the time. I felt like I could go into blame and lashing out. Probably at the kids since they are small and here.
And then it hit me…
What can I do of great importance? What can I do that would have the largest impact?
I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately.
Where is my time most valuable and what is the most efficient thing to be doing right now. I’ve discovered that with exhaustion of a sleepless baby, efficiency can look like the food network in a dark room.
At this time though, I realized that it would be easy to tackle Michaels laundry and it would be a big deal for him. I could focus on it and get to it quickly before the repulsive front loading machine mildew sets in. I could fold them and have them all put away and ready for him. I could put his favourite essential oils on them. I can clean socks and have them all paired with fresh underwear. These things are truly an amazing thing to live.
Have you ever gone without?
So that’s what I’ve done and it feels so good to have this ready for him while he’s away and on someone’s roof in the cold so we can have money to buy boning knives and 200 lbs of honey and pig fat.
I sometimes forget the huge impact that I can have. I think myself down to nothing as I forget that we are all worthy and capable of something grand.
I don’t need to do it all. I just need to access my situation and do something. As a bonus, while doing that, I get better at everything. I gain more skills, many for organization and efficiency. I’m happy to be alive and not ranting over spilled everythings.
Yesterday I stared into nine month old Aayla’s potty of her morning excrement. A bright pink balloon was staring back at me as if saying to me again “what are you doing?”.
Even though we were careful, she had somehow found and eaten and thankfully pooped out a balloon.
It reminded me of the video I watched of The Midway Project where they photograph carcasses of birds decaying, exposing their insides full of plastic. This video really affected me as I thought about all the plastic trinkets we have had at birthday parties, festivals, camping and on and on. A party often feels like an exception to be less mindful as we bring out the plastic toys and disposable cutlery to celebrate the event.
I think a lot about discontinuing my use of plastic as a way to support the earth. I know others are doing it and I could too but I haven’t yet.
But this post isn’t about feeling guilty. It’s about finding what inspires you to be better and do better as it leads towards our ultimate fulfillment.
Stick with me.
I have been sitting with these feelings for a while. I ponder them as I haul out massive garbage bags to the back to magically be taken away and be buried into the earth. I can see the overflowing dump from the edge of town. It is surrounded by fields of food growing around the massive heap. Garbage that has flown in litters the wheat and peas and barley and we see each other at the post office and smile as if it doesn’t exist.
This is only a small drop of polluted sand in Saskatchewan compared to the other problems like the chemical runoff into fresh water which is also the water we drink.
My neighbour doesn’t live there anymore but she comes back once in the summer to douse her yard on a windy day with chemicals. It’s just a few feet away from where we grow food. What are we doing?
I’ve sat with this for a long time, waiting to feel empowered by love and not my anger.
The time has come.
I love watching my children playing with such easy joy in the sand. We went to the lake yesterday. I sat with Aayla while she slept. I watched our future unfold as Michael walked around picking glass and other garbage out of the earth where they were playing. I noticed the children begin to follow him around and Nova even began to help him pick up. She came to me curious about things that biodegrade and things that don’t. She began putting various collected garbage in water to see what would break down.
These events inspired in me the thought
One day I decided to stop lying to my children about what they were eating. I would always try to sneak in a little hemp hearts or cod liver oil or whatever my newest fad food was at the time. I started to wonder if this practice may have been hurting them more than helping. I thought about this deeply and realized that it didn’t feel honest and authentic to me. By lying about their food I was sending them the message that I didn’t trust them to want to nourish their bodies. I was also creating a relationship of distrust in such an intimate way. Food is something that we put inside our bodies. How could I be all gung-ho for food labelling yet not allow my children to know what they were eating?!?!? I’m amazed by my own level of narrow minded thinking but we grow and learn better, right?
Another thing I thought about was how powerful it is to associate what we eat and how we feel. I wasn’t allowing my children that opportunity to make the food/body connection because I assumed that I knew best. I assumed they wouldn’t want to do the best thing for themselves. That’s crazy talk (or thought). All humans want the best.
So, I swallowed my fear and clenched my butt a little, when I said ” there’s hearts and livers in that chili.” and “Yes, I added some raw egg to that”.
When I first started being honest they would often decline to eat because I had trained them that health foods were to be hidden and mistrusted. Things are much different now.
My oldest son was sure that he HATED kombucha because I didn’t tell him that I added into jellos and soups and other things, but once I started telling him, then he knew he liked kombucha and was more willing to try stuff. Everything, he was more open to trying everything!
We are actually coming to a place where the previously hidden ingredients are now prized treasures. My daughter often asks if something is good for her as she knows the value of it. My son looks up recipes for new healthy things to try. He can be heard saying such things into google search as “heallllthy marshhhhhhmalllllows.”. I believe that this honesty has improved our relationships (and our lives) in so many ways. I feel like I can openly talk about what I am fermenting and making with it and they are interested and happy to try it, most of the time. They are still human though and sometimes I wonder when I will have gone too far. The boys did try the authentic headcheese I made last week even after seeing the “ingredients”. 😀
Do you sneak foods into your kids?
WARNING: Rambly and inspiring post.
We all have different priorities when it comes to parenting, when it come to life.
I think a lot about what I want my children to learn, to know when they are adults. It’s often met with curiosity and concern when I tell people. Most just don’t get it and that’s ok. It seems that my goals are quite different than what most people think about. If you’re still reading, hooray! I’ll tell you more about me…
I want my children to be able to take care of themselves physically, mentally and spiritually regardless of circumstance.
What does it mean to me to be able to take care of ourselves physically?
To me this means that as humans we can produce, source and prepare our own food locally. This sounds like an incredibly daunting task but it doesn’t have to be especially if you can connect with other people interested in this. (I will be blogging a lot about how to do this in the very soon future.) My children have followed my lead to real food and take great interest and pleasure in growing and harvesting food, going out to farms, hunting, butchering our own meat and being in the kitchen with me. I see a great value in being able to provide nourishing and convenient foods for yourself. If your food is hurting you, all other areas in your life will be harmed. It’s amazing what people that are well nourished can accomplish. It improves morale, motivation and energy for life. Many, many people do not know how to feed themselves anymore. One of the saddest things I experience is when I go to the grocery store and see elderly people or busy parents with grocery carts full of processed convenient foods. I don’t feel judgmental (anymore) but rather I see what they are missing out on; Flavour and harmony within their bodies. It feels amazing to be nourished by a steaming bowl of homemade soup or stew. It’s something that I wish for everyone. If you’re in need, come over to my house for a bowl and a cuppa. With eating well, we are more aware of our bodies and our needs and it leads us to be able to access alternative forms of health care with great success. It also means that we trust when we need medical advice/help from a doctor.
What does it look like to take care of ourselves mentally? To me this means that a person owns and takes responsibility for their life. They don’t blame and they don’t go looking for external things to make them anything; happy or sad. That’s right, people do that, I do that! I go LOOKING for situations to make me upset so I can limit the good in my life because I’ve hated myself so much. No more. I’ve been saying no to that now and it’s working.
Taking care of ourselves spiritually to me means having purposes that remain a touchstone in our lives to bring us back from our own despair. I often need to re-commit to the process of growth, of love, of good food, sustainable living, peaceful parenting and all the other new age hippy cliches. It’s wonderful to remind myself and rediscover the beauty and the magnificence of my purposes after a spell of momentary mommy insanity. It’s sweetness in action.
Are my actions coinciding with these goals? I ask myself that all the time and often it’s “no”. But I move on, growing and getting closer and seeing the beautiful results. More importantly, I’m enjoying this one life. What else is there to do but enjoy and take it all in?
What are some of the things you think about for your children?
Five children and thirteen years later, I feel like I’m just starting to get it. There’s been school, spankings, homeschooling, AP, general hippyness, Unschooling and then there is radical Unschooling. What does it all mean and which one am I? We’ve experimented a lot with which labels best define us and I really feel done with that. The uncertainty has been fading or it’s being met with an acceptance of the uncertainty. I know the flow of ups and downs, happy and sad, ok and not ok. It’s all encompassing in this life and one bad moment does not negate a life of beauty. That bad moment is transformed by my state of mind into the beauty itself. I find myself able to enjoy being a parent while tantrums, poop messes and unbelievably extreme unhappiness are occurring. When you’re a parent without expectations and stories, it opens you up to just enjoy being guardian to these tiny beings. It allows you to be an amazing support to your child and to think reasonably about solutions that are loving and patient. Don’t get me wrong, I still experience myself yelling and frustrated. I noticed the other day as out slips things like “what the fucking fuck?!?!?”. But I forgive myself immediately and move on. Does that make me a bad parent? I use to think (unconsciously) that guilt made me good. I thought it meant that I wanted to be better and I should feel bad for being such an ass of a human being to such innocent beings. What a waste that was. Moving on makes me better and ready for what’s next. I’m addressing the stories I’ve told myself. Turns out that I don’t need to worry about raising illiterate criminals who abuse the welfare system and I also don’t need to worry about what other people think. How many times have you told yourself not to, and then went and did it anyways? Times are changing and worry be a fadin’. Now I look and see what is next…what is mine to do?
Did you know that traditional people and much of the world’s people now have used or do use elimination communication to take care of their infants needs to eliminate waste? Can you imagine what would happen if China suddenly all started using diapers? Oh, the horror!!! The mountains and mountains of diapers would kill us all! Anyways…
Here is my first video on how to start using EC (elimination communication). I am going to keep it simple, because EC is just that; simple. I will also provide tips and ideas (below) about how to easily EC. I’ve read many books on the subject and have experience with my five children. I have often found the books to be confusing and overwhelming. EC is not confusing or overwhelming at all, it’s easy and very natural.
I’ll give you the video spoiler, in case you’d like to avoid watching it.
How to begin EC? offer the potty. That’s basically the premise, plot and climax of it.
Why use Elimination Communication?
Everyone will have their own reasons but here are mine:
No diaper rash. This is a big one for me. A diaper rash is not only unbearably painful I imagine, but it’s unhealthy. It upsets their natural flora and could be setting them up for a lifetime of problems. Without being exposed to their waste constantly, babies that eliminate in the potty most of the time, do not get diaper rashes.
Another reason is that baby is happier going in the toilet! I’ve experienced this as have others when they start using EC. Some parents discover that their babies “fussiness” is really just them communicating their need to eliminate.
Connection. I remember a distinct strong connection with my first daughter as she stared into my eyes and easily pooped while sitting on the toilet. It was like she was thankful for the opportunity at only six months old.
Less diapers! EC also makes using cloth diapers a breeze as they are soiled less ad fewer diapers. Also I can usually catch the poops, which are the worst to deal with in cloth.
I find that I am more aware of their elimination needs when doing EC even when I miss one. I notice right away an promptly change her.
I noticed that when I began pottying Aayla at 3 weeks old, I was offering her the potty when before I was offering her a boob. It turned out that she did just need to pee those times when she was complaining.
Using less diapers means less money spent and a healthier environment.
Less money spent means less time required to work or more money for tv, junk food and video games. 😛
EC also means that baby is less exposed to chemicals that could be in plastic diapers. Think, chemicals combined with acidic urine and feces. Not good, me thinks…
My tips for EC:
Newborns go a lot more often in the first month of life. Like every fifteen minutes at times. Offer the potty as much as you and babe are comfortable with. The point is for baby to associate the potty with happiness and your desire to help them eliminate. When they are very upset, I hold off until they are a bit more comfortable being naked in a squatting position. I started at 3 weeks old with Aayla (our youngest) and 2 months with Nova.
Some people use a cueing sound like “shhhh” or “psssss”. I did that with Nova and it worked well. I’ve heard of people shushing their babies and getting peed on though. You may also want to avoid “sssss” if you have snakes.
We have been using a cueing song and it’s so much fun! When I put her on I sing the song (which I will post later on YouTube). When I see her going I make a “psss” sound. Once she associates that with her going, I will use it in the future to prompt her.
Aayla’s cueing song.
You can use sign language to cue pottying. . You can use it just as you do the vocal cues.
*When baby is in the wrap, I take her joy when she starts to squirm and I pot her on the potty. I put her back in the wrap immediately and many tem she will go right back to sleep. It’s quite surprising and amzing.
*I did mean that I take her out of the wrap when she starts to squirm. However “taking her joy” was such a funny auto-correct that I couldn’t stand to fix it*
Possible times you would offer the potty:
-When waking. I find sometimes it’s best to offer her the potty before she becomes too fully awake and realizes she is hungry. This could change though as she gets older and you will figure it out as you go along.
-before a feed and after a feed. Sometimes during a feed, but only when necessary because I don’t want her to associate pooping with nursing!
-when diaper has been dry for a while.
-when baby squirms and makes faces, you will begin to recognize these.
-when baby is changing positions. It usually isn’t until I stand up that I realize I need to pee!
-when going to Tim Hortons. I take my baby out of her car seat when she wakes and I offer the potty over a toilet even when traveling.
Dressing baby for easy EC (matching not required):
Long sleeve shirts (winter is coming) and leg warmers. You can buy or make leg warmers. You can buy tube socks and cut them and hem, or not. I’ve also used the sleeves of felted wool sweaters and I used the rest of the sweater as a vest. She is also wearing a diaper with the inserts removed making them like a small pair of padded underwear.
Split pants! These are what they use in china. When you position the child
In squatting, the pants open up. My friend Andrea made these pants adjustable split pants. I’m thinking that if you contact her, she can make you some too. I’ll provide her info at the bottom. If you’re crafty, there’s lots of tutorials online. A good pair of split pants can fit newborn to 18 months or more.
Having easy access to the diaper area makes me not so lazy about taking her to the potty!
Close up of split pants, these ones are fleece as winter is here:
Important things to remember:
There is no one way or right way to EC. You will develop what works for you and your baby.
Remember that EC is effective even if only offered once a day. It is ok if you’ve been unable to offer the potty. It’s important to be happy and not to stress about when missing your babies need to eliminate. A miss does not mean they will never learn or it won’t happen or that you’re a horrible, rotten parent. Just change them immediately and start again. It will get easier and they will use the potty more and more as you offer it. 🙂
Ways (positions) to EC, that I’ve tried:
My favourite position is sitting in bed with the potty between my legs and baby on potty. It’s so lazy and comfy!
I also like sitting on a stool in front of potty, holding her over. Or standing with the potty on the counter on top of a towel to prevent potty sliding all over.
Oops. You caught us…. I washed that sink out before you came over…
What are people saying about EC?
My dad, from Cranbrook:
“Awww, wish somebody would EC me, many a flower bed suffers for the foolish antics of old guys that drink wine. I feel a song coming on so later …..”
“Bunka”, my mom in Gravelbourg:
“It’s very cool and environmentally friendly. I like how you do it too. As soon as she’s upset, you take her off.”
Arielle from Gravelbourg:
“I love that he is happy. Before we tried EC he would cry and squirm. Now if I see these signs I know it’s his way of telling me, “I have to pee!!”
Thanks for reading and remember, people… I’m funny!
~Nadine LeBean the ECing machine.
This blog is provided free of charge and free of advertising, mostly because I can’t figure out how to advertise. 😛
If you’d like to support more stuff like this, you can!
Your donation goes to support my years of research and my having many babies and my reading of tons of books and compiling it all into one silly, little, informative blog post just for you.
I’m also available for free EC consultations and quick questions. You can email me or contact me on Facebook under “Nadine LeBean and the life humblings”.
For donation On paypal or by email transfers (preferable):
Andrea’s split pants, on Facebook.
Your children have become ill, maybe an incredibly sticky wet mess has been made or possibly the incessant screaming over seemingly nothing will surely cause your head to explode. Now is your time to shine. Now is the time in which life is built. Maybe your so absolutely exhausted that you can barely work your muscles enough to pick up your new baby or your children are acting violently towards one another and no amount of talking, separating them or punishing ever pulls them out of it. This is your moment to shine. It’s your opportunity to embrace your loved ones when they need it most and express what matters most.
We’ve been told that we need to react and control the situation. It’s not true. Or at least, it doesn’t have to be true. You can wrap yourself in their little arms and kiss their wet cheeks even when they’ve “misbehaved”. It’s ok to indulge in their love and it’s bottomless. And I think you’ll Find that your own capacity to love is endless too. They really just want to be with us and be loved and accepted. But don’t we all?
Being a mom of five has offered me many of these challenging opportunities. Sometimes many of them all at once while on a car trip far from home, looking for a gas station after our bumper was destroyed by a fender bender. And those words came to me:
This is my moment to shine.
Deep breaths. Warm eye contact and gentle, meaningful embraces gets us through. I’m done with the frustration and the desperation. I’m not doing that anymore. I’m choosing understanding, kindness and love. Living this way was harder to find and at times I could not fathom it. I’m so grateful for these opportunities and life is so much better. It’s heaven to sink deep into my exhaustion not trying to will it away with coffee, worry or regret. I allow my body to feel heavy and the children to be on top of it with my heavy eyes and an open heart. For I know this moment comes but only once. And I want to enjoy it all.
What is your moment to shine?