Welcome to Part 4 in this Nature vs. Nurture series, a parenting journey with lessons learned, toes stubbed, and victories celebrated.
And if you need to review, go back and read Part 3 on our website.
Truth is, this new parenting journey wasn’t easy. It was extremely hard the first couple of years when we started practicing these new – yet authentic ‘parenting ‘laws’. My husband and I were not exactly the routine kind of people, always having lived a very footloose and fancy free life.
We loved to do things spontaneously and that is how we have been doing things all of our lives together. We also enjoyed the fast-paced life and we loved socialising!
I was a working mother at the time, who had a nanny looking after our daughter during the day, in order for me to be the ‘expected-new-age’ part-time bread winner who had to work away from home during the day. So I felt horrid the first time I was told that a child is best off with a full-time mother in the formative years. Although I was told that a mother may work from home, she must be physically and mentally present for her children in order to guide and teach them what they need to learn during these times.
When I was first informed about this news, I initially thought: “How could Aleksandra even dare tell me that a child needs its mother full time in the first 7 years, when I have to go to work and earn a living. Who does she think she is telling me such nonsense? I mean seriously, this is the new age and here, we do things OUR WAY! And besides, she didn’t even raise any children to have the cheek to tell me I must stay at home and raise my own kid.”
Now I didn’t actually tell her that, but I did think it out very LOUD because her advice just did not fit in with my pre-conceived idea about how things were going to pan out. Because I had it all figured out, alight! I had a proper little inner tantrum and verbal inertia vomit with my self-talk about this woman and her suggestions about how I should change my life as a mother.
But, then I remembered my very wise and late consciousness emergence teacher, Stephen Norval’s words: “Consciousness is not for sissies!! You have to be willing to be as small as you are willing to be big.” – if you wish to create things with different and positive results and outcomes in life. I was still adamant, to ensure I raised a strong child (physically, mentally and emotionally), which would never need medication, psychological help or any form of therapy in her life as a result of feeling neglected, unheard, compromised or whatever could lead to a child needing such help in life. It may sound a bit far-fetched, but I am someone who always believes anything in life is possible. So that’s when I decided to Woman-up, stop being so self-pitiful by pretending that I was a victim to my own circumstances by blaming Aleksandra for giving me an honest message about what was absolutely required in order to manifest my desires.
That’s was the moment I chose to adjust, instead of blame the messenger and instead become in charge of my own creations and circumstances as a mother.
It was a very tough adjustment!
Not only did we not have to adjust financially and grow in our new way of being and thinking, but suddenly, we weren’t able to just get in the car whenever we felt like it and go sky diving for a weekend, or just hop in the car and be mallrats for the day – or quickly take a drive to go meet a friend for a braai and leave at midnight. Oh no…! We had to plan everything in order to ensure we honour our daughter’s routine in the process and maintain a calm and stable environment for her at all times. Everything had to be planned.
We stopped buying take away, junk foods and ready-made meals, cool drink in a bottle etc. and instead, I started making fresh food from scratch, baking sourdough bread, biscuits, rusks, ginger beer and juice and fermented foods for us to consume and to sell for extra income. It was a huge shift for me from being a business woman, a sky diver with almost 200 jumps on my belt and a fearless fire and poi dancer, to suddenly being a mom who spends her days in the kitchen, feeding everyone fermented health foods and wiping of a toddlers snotty nose all day long.
But we embraced the new way and were ready to let go of our modern ways for the sake and benefit of our new family, even if the adjustment was overwhelming and felt uneasy at the time. The adjustment was worth the benefits I knew we were going to reap. It was just a matter of time before we would see it.
We were living in Cape Town at the time, we had no family support and we were not going to make use of baby sitters either just to go out on date nights and so on, as we just did not feel comfortable leaving our child in someone else’s care. The responsibility on our shoulders was massive. We were literally doing parenting in the complete opposite manner than the common way things are done in today’s times – without a drop of support.
We were all alone.
Not an easy task, alright!
Then of course there was the other challenge: people and friends, even family, always put pressure on us about how we were handling parenting. If fact, we still get the occasional ‘glare’ from time to time.
But there was a plus side which kept us going on this new journey we discovered, and that was that we had a wonderful opportunity to scratch up on our ‘planning’ skills and to start finding new ways of being and doing things we loved, without compromising our daughter’s wellbeing.
It was a new opportunity and challenge for us as parents and we were ready to embrace it wholeheartedly, come hell or high water.
I found myself – during this time of adjustment – able to create fantastic ways to do the things differently than what I used to, like going to church for instance. We would all walk to church by foot every Sunday morning. So Sunday family walks to church and back was our new ritual. Now we are not the typical ‘church going’ family, but I do believe in always being of service to the community, so we used to go and help out at the Sunday school to look after the toddlers, whose parents wanted to attend church. This not only created an opportunity for our daughter to learn a way of serving her fellow human beings, but it was a wonderful way to connect with other children as well and I myself, having done plenty of charity work with children in my life, was right there where I loved being most – amongst the children. So this ritual supported a very authentic way of living for us. We would often go to the shop and back as well and our daughter would take her scooter and ride there, while I walked behind her during our ‘exercise time’. It was always fun!
We were basically discovering ways of doing things ‘our way’, instead of the mainstream way of being.
We managed to disconnect from the rat race of life and started to live a more authentic, balanced and natural way, which I could see was very supportive to her development. All in the midst of the rushed city life.
I only ever truly needed a Sunday or Monday to do my planning for the week, then the rest of the week would flow easefully. I also arranged all which I needed to do, in such a way that it would synchronise with my daughter’s routine. It soon became the norm as we all adjusted and it was simply second nature to us as a family unit by the time our daughter turned 3.
Initially, I did not know where to start with a routine, so Aleksandra suggested that I start with making set daily meal times and milk feeds and ensure they remain the same time every day. Then learning times, play times, exercising times, bath and bed time etc., always needed to happen at the same time daily. That way, the sequence of every day’s activities would remain the same and our daughter would always know what to expect next, which allowed her to feel secure in who she was.
I found that routine meant that I could easily pinpoint the cause of a problem easier with my child, when she wasn’t being herself. So when I knew she had food one hour ago and she would suddenly become unhappy, then I knew for sure she wasn’t hungry and that it was something else niggling her spirit. I would then look to see if there were other possibilities, such as her not having enough mental stimulation (which was more often than not the case), or if I was being too accommodating with her and not offering strong enough boundaries (leading to her feel unsafe and insecure as a result of my own lack of discipline). Too many times I felt like being a playful friend to her, which was not what she needed. She needed a mother who was strong in guiding her and she needed to feel that, in my presence. I carefully needed to balance when I was being too playful with her and when I offered sound discipline and guidance. She wanted to feel my strength and roundedness as her mother. This was her safety net.
The routine allowed a balance in all of what she needed as an emerging little human being, as well as offered clarity for obvious causes for certain effects we experienced.
It was a solid growing experience for all of us. We, as parents, got to see ourselves and where we needed to grow and expand, in order to give this child the best possible start to a successful life. We got to witness our daughter develop well in the process.
Through this, we got into a natural rhythm as a family unit, with dedication and consistent practice.
Of course, we weren’t always well behaved. I mean, a mother needs to loosen her plaits every now and then and let her hair down right, while dad needs to let the wheels fall of every ‘oh so often’? So there was the odd occasion when our own rebellious natures surfaced and we attempted to stray from this routine. Just to have a little taste of what it was like back in the day when we were still footloose and fancy free…Never more than a day or two though, because the results was horrendous every time! We would be facing the most ghastly and frightful toddler tantrums and meltdowns, which never allowed for any joy or freedom to be experienced in our home, for at least 3 days on end, before getting back into routine started to balance our daughters wellbeing again.
So after a couple of attempts to stray, we simply decided to stick to the ‘boring’ program instead and keep on doing what works, as often as we can, in order to avoid the side effects of doing the old things that pleased us, but made her feel insecure – resulting in everyone feeling unpleasant! Lesson learned. Emotional meltdowns was simply not going to be part of our reality.
Even though we lost a lot of friends along the way, our priorities were focused ultimately on our family, and that was what mattered the most: creating a joyful and stable home life for all of us.
In our next installment, I will be sharing what spectacular surprise emerged from our commitment to practicing this new, yet very authentic, way of parenting.