I took these on Friday while the morning sun was shining bright in the guest room. Miles plays with this toy endlessly, sometimes color coordinating the shapes to the pegs and other times not. Off and on, on and off the wooden pieces come. It was great for him at about one year old when he was still finding the dexterity in his fingers. I've had to gorilla glue two of the pegs in as you can see because the toy gets so much use. Many toys that he has are very noisy or do not really stimulate his brain's wiring function.
I like this one, among others, because he is building, counting, creating, sorting, organizing, and deconstructing all to his own liking. Maukilo has some great building sets that we can't wait to get him when he's older.
I am currently exploring Zero To Three, an organization that educates the public and professionals about what babies and toddlers really need (and deserve) in the first years of life. They do address the childcare controversy, and I am not exactly certain where they stand, but I'll find out and report back. I am certain that they have found a nicer way to explain that it is detrimental to place a child with rotating caregivers or daycare that has not been found to fully meet each individual child's ever-changing needs than I have here.
As one reader here put it, we live in a regressive feminist climate. I have been turning this over in my mind since her comment was left and I am putting together in my mind that there may be a collective wound to the western female unconscious in which we feel a drive to have children, but then leave them to the care of others. My head is heating up, which tells me I may be crossing boundaries again. While I never intend to judge a mother's sacrafices nor creative choices, I want to ask my readers to softly, vulnerably, please take another look at this issue.
I know that individual moms have vastly varying needs and economic situations. I do very much respect our differences. I am a liberal. Not some Laura Bush robot who pours bourbon at ten and denies her dreams and authentic self. I don't know what it is like to be a single mom, or to live at or below the poverty level. I can't imagine raising a child on my own. I'm not equipped with the coping mechanisms to do it gracefully at all, I promise.
It is not my job to teach anyone or declare that individuals are wrong in their parenting. I've not said that here before, and this seems like a good time to put it out there. My impetus for bringing attention to this matter again and again is because I am continuing to see babies and children whose attachment and development are being sacraficed to the perceived needs of the parent. This confuses me deeply.
Previously I have reacted to this common phenomenon by sounding judgemental and angry. Today, I want to be curious. I want to know more. I want to look at my own earlier in life drives to fill a more masculine role and work, work, work fifty hours a week for someone who never respected all of me-but only the part that functions like a slave for the company. I want to look at how, thirteen years into that, I couldn't do it anymore. I want to look at the shift I made into self-employed businessperson, then to stay at home mom, and what that transition felt like. At times throughout this journey something has caused me to feel wholly inadequate because I'm not "Bringing Home a Paycheck" anymore and can't as long as I want to be my son's guide.
I want to look at how that value of BHAP has trumped almost every other drive in me, how I fight myself in order to make staying home during his early years my highest priority. I want to look at how I define my
self-worth. Before Miles, the sky was the limit, I could play on a male-oriented corporate field or not, my choice. I previously only defined myself by the K's, and that felt really validating.
Now that I am a parent, I do not get to be my partner's equal in the same way I was accustomed to being. I feel so vulnerable. I feel...unentitled to spend without asking or explaining and that gives me a pain. But I also had a child with the intention of making sure that he is safe and secure enough in his identity before he faces the world on a regular basis without me. I know I am blessed to have this choice. If I hadn't been interested in doing that, I wouldn't have brought him here. Truth be told, it took me eight years from "Hmm, I wonder if I might want to have kids?" until I gave birth. I TOILED.
I want to give him what I didn't get as a child: Full working knowledge that he is adored, cherished, more important than anything else in the world-even my bullshit identity hang ups, that I will do anything to procure his safety, his spirit, his divine right to existence. I do not want him to have to guard or defend his heart from lack of trust, and then unlearn that as an adult to be authentic. As I see it, he didn't ask to be born. It is my job to make his life as safe as possible, and to go there: into my shadow and face whatever it is that might prevent me from doing my job as his protector and guide. My love for him is not enough on its own. I owe him dedication. I need to ask myself again and often, what does that look like for me?
I also want to look at my rigid thinking, not always known for serving me well. Am I holding myself to such a standard that it will harm me, Miles or our family system? To answer that off the cuff, I would say that I am willing to make big mistakes (note that I could not previously allow this as I am a staunch perfectionist) with my son. I feel empowered with the knowledge that I can correct any pain I cause him, especially if I catch it early. I know that I will cause him pain. This brings me anxiety, but I know that I can make up for my mistakes and keep his heart safe.
If I don't allow myself to make mistakes, (a perception) then when I do make them, I suspect I will go into denial about it (too painful too acknowledge when you are a perfectionist) and then I won't correct them with him and the damage will remain unhealed. This I cannot have. I did not become a parent to leave these things to chance.
I am stumbling in the dark at times, and it can be lonely here. I am healing my caged heart, breaking down the defensive walls and finding my truth and hopefully my humble, messy, acceptable, humanity. Parenthood pushes me to open: open when it hurts, open when I think I can't open any more, and then open still wider. This persistent healing and opening cycle is my very favorite of all of the gifts of motherhood, second only to the cheeks often featured in this little corner of the universe.


Anonymous Melissa said...

Thanks for a link to the research. I'm having my first baby in March and I feel quite conflicted about work -- something I really love doing -- going back, etc. I'm lucky that my husband and I are in a position where I can stay home if I want, but I can't help but feel like I'm battling guilt and questions of self-fulfillment from both sides of the fence I'm riding right now.

Also, I really enjoy your blog :)

1/22/2007 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger pinkcoyote said...

Melissa, I hear ya. I want to believe that I will know beyond a shadow of a doubt when Miles is ready to go to a little preschool or something, but I also doubt that will be before he is four years old. My husband and I do a split shift now, where he comes home around 4 and I do by appointment only work beginning any time after that. It helps me to ground myself and air out my need to hang with adults and gives him valuable bonding time for a couple of hours before M's bedtime. We began this at about 8 months, slowly, and I can say with confidence that it was a bit rough on both me and M in the beginning but has worked out really well for us. After the first year, things loosen up a bit. It seems like we are constantly evolving and creating new boundaries for exploration. The very gradual nature of shifting a bit after the first year of bonding and attachment has helped us all immensely!

1/22/2007 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger Wendy said...

oh pixie, i so relate to this. especially the part where you realizes after 13 years of working like a slave for someone else, you couldn't do it anymore. i SO know that feeling having always had a day job to supplement my art income. then one day i too said, "i can't do this anymore. i thought about going back to college and make a career change and every time i got close, the door would close, i.e. no evening classes or lack of funds etc. then someone said to me , "did you ever think that maybe what you're REALLY suppose to be doing is making art". it was painfully obvious.

AND the decision to be a SAHM for satch does make me feel unequal and i do feel awkward about spending because i feel like it's not mine to spend.

oh you've given me so much to ponder and i adore you for this.

1/22/2007 12:20:00 PM  
Blogger Ally Bean said...

"At times throughout this journey something has caused me to feel wholly inadequate because I'm not "Bringing Home a Paycheck" anymore and can't as long as I want to be my son's guide."

But maybe you're bringing home something more important than money? You're bringing home balance and health and love? Our society doesn't seem to focus on these variables, yet they are as important as money-- if not more so. imho.

1/23/2007 10:06:00 AM  
Blogger pinkcoyote said...

Ally, of course this is the logical argument that makes the most sense to the rational mind. But when I'm in my pathology (dependent, insecure, controlling) I feel "less than". Because nurturing, teaching, cooking etc, has not been quantified in our culture as being equal to money-earning-work, it is ingrained within me to feel less self-sufficient. Being a SAHM is a vulnerable position which is DEFINITELY what I want for the next few years, but not simple on the mind. Family, by definition I think, can mean all things are equal and in balance though two people are not doing the same things. Getting out of my head and into my heart about it can perhaps guide me. Thank you for prompting me to think more about this! :) p

1/23/2007 11:09:00 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

Just wanted to say thanks.. not that it matters or it should but thanks for always being open and honest whether I agree with everything you believe in doesnt matter. You still have so many qualities that I truly admire
Also, thanks for saying things here you haven't said here before.

1/24/2007 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger penelope said...

I am not a parent, but i am a soul-searcher like you... many times thinking myself into a swirl until I don't know which way is up anymore. For me, listening to my heart is what pulls me up. Disconnecting and just listening to me. And I think you are definitely doing that when you go through all these thoughts of what it means to be equal as a SAHM, and a partner, and an artist... I see you always coming back to what your heart says no matter how tangled your mind gets. And that's really inspiring. Even if you make mistakes with Miles, you are watching yourself with owl eyes and a great big heart. can't go too wrong...

Also, I read The Secret of Happiness with the Dalai Lama a while back and this really stuck with me: The author was taken aback by how quickly the Dalai Lama was able to step back from his own views (prayers and meditations he'd been practicing for YEARS) to try on a new idea. He would look at new issues with an open mind and objectively and try to get a true perspective on it.

I think asking these questions and being curious is much like that... willingness to try on new routines and ideas.

I hope that all made sense... It did in my head, and then i started writing. Never comes out right. hee.

1/25/2007 05:04:00 AM  

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