Messy, glorious motherhood

by Jillian Amodio on October 26, 2014

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They say when you become a mom, you change. I am sure just about every one of us has experienced that. It is awe-inspiring to come to the realization that just as our actions shape our children, our interactions with our children also continue to shape us.

My heart loves more deeply, my mind works more creatively — albeit a little slower at times — and my life seems all the more vibrant since embarking on my journey as a mother.

The other day, I had a revelation of sorts.

No mother likes to see her child suffer. A sick child is like a stone upon the heart of the mother. Her heart becomes heavy, and their pain becomes hers. Even as I type this, my child lays sleeping next to me after another night of unrest. It is cold and flu season, and this is nothing new. However, my perspective is.

I have come to find that, even in the most unpleasant of parenting moments, my heart is still full and the moments are nonetheless glorious. Now don’t get me wrong — I hate seeing my child not feeling well, but there is undoubtedly still beauty to be found even when the situation is of less savory nature.

jillian_amodio_-_cosleeping_picYesterday, for instance, I had just gotten my 3-year-old daughter down for a nap. She had slept poorly the night before, and I lay next to her softly stroking her hair, preparing to drift off myself. I said a silent prayer of thanks that she was able to get some much needed rest. I lay there, inhaling the sweet scent of baby shampoo that I have come to love so dearly.

She had been sleeping for no more than five minutes when she began another violent coughing spell. I rubbed her back and whispered words of comfort, hoping it would be over soon and that she would drift back to sleep.

In a matter of seconds, however, I found myself sliding my arms underneath of her and throwing her over my shoulder as she began to vomit from coughing so much. Her eyes filled with tears, she began to sob out of fear and vomit slowly poured down my back onto the freshly changed sheets.

We sat a few moments…both scared and shaken. I rocked and consoled her and then cleaned her up before carrying her to the couch for cuddles and cartoons.

What struck me so vividly in that moment, however, was what it felt like to be so loved and so needed that for a minute: I was all that mattered to this precious child. Her love and need for me is so much that even though my presence may not be able to physically make things better — I can’t take away her cough or her fever — in that moment it was all she needed…to know that because I was there, everything was going to be fine.

What a privilege it is to mean so much to someone.

As she looked up at me with those big blue eyes, arms still clasped around my neck, she said, “Thank you mommy, I love you.” And with that, I knew that this was a moment to be treasured.

Despite the fact that I was covered in vomit and that I had just washed the sheets, I never once thought, “I need a shower,” or “Well, this sucks.” I simply thought how lucky I am to be the one holding my child. How lucky I am to be the recipient of such pure love. How lucky I am to be a mom.

Motherhood is messy, motherhood is hard, motherhood is challenging but motherhood is so very GLORIOUS!

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Developing discipline from the inside out

by API Blog on October 26, 2014

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By Lysa Parker and Barbara Nicholson, cofounders of Attachment Parenting International and coauthors of Attached at the Heart

lysa parkerChildren learn violence in their homes and in their schools from adults whose best intentions are to train them to be obedient, law-abiding citizens. To that end, corporal punishment has been used on children in many societies for hundreds of years.

Attitudes about corporal punishment are strong, but they are finally beginning to change. More than 100 countries throughout the world have banned the use of corporal punishment in schools, and 24 countries have banned it in the home as well.

Sometimes, it takes enacting laws to change people’s belief systems, especially when re-education is provided to young people. For example, recognizing the human and civil rights of African-Americans required changing laws and, as a result, great progress has been made in the last 60 years.

barbara nicholsonGovernments can no longer ignore the evidence that hitting children teaches them to be aggressive and violent. The research is unequivocal in showing the long-term negative effects of spanking and hitting children. Some of these effects include increased child aggression, increased adult aggression, increased child delinquent and antisocial behavior, just to name a few.

How does this apply to you, the parent, in terms of disciplining your children in the home? Many child development experts agree that hitting children does not teach them right from wrong; rather, it makes them obey for the short-term when a parent is present and misbehave when the parent is not present. This means we need to have a new understanding of discipline and what we can do to instill a child’s desire to be good.

Children love their parents and inherently do want to please them. When they feel good in their relationship with their parents, when they feel valued and respected, they naturally want to be good. As they grow, we can help them develop a well-developed conscience by teaching and modeling rather than relying on punishments. The following quote says it beautifully:

“When we use punishment, our children are robbed of the opportunity to develop their own inner discipline — the ability to act with integrity, wisdom, compassion, and mercy when there is no external force holding them accountable for what they do.” ~ Barbara Coloroso from Kids Are Worth It!

The goal of positive discipline is to teach children inner-discipline, which comes from a highly developed conscience rather than the use of punishments that may include external force, shame, humiliation, isolation or coercion.

We help children develop a conscience first through a strong, connected parent-child relationship and secondly, allowing them to feel remorse and teaching them how to reconcile their mistakes.

We must also teach them to be kind, respectful and compassionate toward others, and we do that best by being the example, by modeling that behavior with our children, to “be the change we wish to see in the world.”

There can be physical reasons behind a child’s behavior, too. Some children are sensitive to certain foods; wheat, dairy, eggs, food coloring and preservatives are the most common. Low blood sugar is another common culprit. Active children burn a lot of calories, so offering small, healthy snacks between meals and keeping snacks handy while traveling can help keep moods balanced.

Transitioning to a positive discipline frame of mind takes a lot of practice and re-orientation. It’s helpful to find other parents who either already practice positive discipline or need the support to transition to the positive discipline approach. Getting together frequently to support, share experiences and ideas can be valuable, affirming and empowering.

Steps toward a peaceful home and a peaceful world can begin today.

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Editor’s Pick: AP Month on “Daily Tips”

October 26, 2014
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“We believe in parents. We believe that every parent deserves free access to complete information about parenting and childhood. It need not be overwhelming, just complete and accurate. And leave the blame behind. …We believe it so strongly that we do what few, if any other organizations, do: We provide free support to all parents.” […]

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Who says kids don’t like curry?

October 26, 2014
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Editor’s note: This post was originally published on September 14, 2008. It provides an alternative to commercialized baby food for parents starting their infants and young toddlers on solids. The first time a friend offered my daughter Violet a veggie “puff,” I was puzzled. “They’re healthy,” she explained. “They’re made from vegetables.” Why not, I wondered, […]

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Does Attachment Parenting pertain to me?

October 26, 2014
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Editor’s note: This post was originally published on September 15, 2008, and examines how the author has adapted Attachment Parenting International’s Eight Principles of Parenting as her children grew out of the infant/toddler years. My kids are not babies. They sleep in their own rooms. They don’t breastfeed. If I wore them in a carrier, […]

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Up all night!

October 26, 2014
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Editor’s note: This post was originally published on August 28, 2008. As parents, we engage in nighttime parenting because we know that our children don’t stop needing our care at sunset. The author does well to validate the challenge of meeting children’s needs when they happen at a time that is not so convenient for […]

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Gratitude

October 25, 2014
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I am grateful for many things big and small, grand and mundane. Today, it is the joyful shriek of my girls running in the twilight. And this month especially, I have been thinking about how grateful I am for Attachment Parenting International (API). I learned from the words of Gretchen Levy, a writer on habits […]

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Taking time for self makes me a better Mommy

October 24, 2014
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It was 8:00 at night. I was putting my oldest son to bed, and I realized that I hadn’t eaten dinner. I had made dinner for both of my sons, had nursed my baby multiple times and had even made sure that my husband took food to work with him. But I had completely forgotten […]

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