I Only Expected to Love…

Welcome to the June 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting in Theory vs. in Reality
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants are sharing how their ideas and methods of parenting have changed.

In parenting, I’ve been lucky, I think, in that I went in with very little expectation of what it would be like.  I knew only that I would love my children, and that I was prepared to be flexible in my parenting, to be able to adapt to what worked for my children.  I read some parenting propaganda, but much of it did not resonate with me.  I knew all along, for instance, that babies did not need all the plethora of baby “essentials” that were touted on baby registry guides, in parenting magazines, and on television.  Any book or article that told me exactly what to do to be the perfect parent, have the perfect child, or handle every situation perfectly was immediately thrown out.  I already knew enough to know that children were not mechanical and that individual results would vary.

I went in hoping to breastfeed, to keep my baby close to me, and to treat my children with respect.  Other than that, I had very little expectation for myself.

My entrance to the parenting pool was more of an unprepared shove from the side than a swan dive, when my first child was born 2 months early, via c-section, and installed in a NICU while I was discharged and sent home for 3 weeks.  But, I was able to recover gracefully and hold tight to my ideals.  I pumped milk for the baby who was too small to breastfeed.  I spent every minute I could with my baby at the hospital, and nearly every minute I had with her when she came home.  I treated her with respect and got to know her, fought for her, and responded to her from day 1, instead of trying to tell her how she should feel.

And we went on from there, growing and bumbling through our relationship as parent and child.  It is funny to me now, looking back on that first chld’s experience.  I did childcare in my home for a few different children the first few years of Sofi’s life, and every now and again I look back at my “rules” for these children.  I’m always shocked by what expectations I had for them!  Sofi herself, at 18 months old or so, would stand by the wall with her nose to the wall when she was “in trouble”.  Walter never had to do this.  Elliott cannot imagine what that would mean.  Sofi didn’t do it for long.  Watching as my own children grew, and being flexible enough to try new things and see what worked for each child allowed me to back out of situations that weren’t working instead of digging in my heels and “winning”.  In reality, both my children and I won this way because we no longer fought most of the time.  I remained open, at all times, to learning new things about parenting that would help me to be a better parent, and my children to have healthier lives.

I am still growing and evolving, nearly 7 years later and with my fourth child on his way.  I still read books and articles regularly, tossing aside the “perfect solution” books and devouring books that offer ideas, support, and open guidance instead.  I still strive to be a better parent.  I still work on the parts of my parenting that I don’t like.  And, I suppose, I am still holding tight to my ideals of breastfeeding, being flexible, and respecting my children.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon November 13 with all the carnival links.)

  • Acts of Service: The Great Neighborhood Clean Up — Sarah at Firmly Planted shares how her daughter’s irritation with litter led to weekly cleanups.
  • Running for Charity — Find out how Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction uses her love of running and a great new app to help feed the hungry.
  • 50 Family Friendly Community Service Project Ideas — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares a list of 50 family-friendly community service project ideas that are easy to incorporate to your daily, weekly, monthly, or seasonal rhythmn.
  • Volunteering with a Child — Volunteer work does not need to be put on hold while we raise our children. Jenn of Monkey Butt Junction discusses some creative options for volunteering with a child at Natural Parents Network.
  • Family Service Project: Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina — Erika at Cinco de Mommy volunteers with her children at the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, where 29% of the recipients are children.
  • Family Service Learning: Advent Calendar — Lyndsay at ourfeminist{play}school offers her family’s approach to some holiday-related community service by sharing their community focused Advent Calendar. She includes so tips and suggestions for making your own in time for this year’s holidays.
  • How to make street crossing flags as a family service project — Lauren at Hobo Mama offers a tutorial for an easy and relatively kid-friendly project that will engage young pedestrians.
  • Pieces of the Puzzle — Because of an experience Laura from Pug in the Kitchen had as a child, she’s excited to show her children how they can reach out to others and be a blessing.
  • Appalachian Bear Rescue — Erica at ChildOrganics shares how saving pennies, acorns and hickory nuts go a long way in helping rescue orphaned and injured black bears.
  • Volunteering to Burnout and Back — Jorje of Momma Jorje has volunteered to the point of burnout and back again… but how to involve little ones in giving back?
  • How to Help Your Kids Develop Compassion through Service Projects — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares service projects her family has done along with links to lots of resources for service projects you can do with your children.
  • Involving Young Children in Service — Leanna at All Done Monkey, the mother of a toddler, reflects on how to make service a joyful experience for young children.
  • A Letter to My Mama — Dionna at Code Name: Mama has dedicated her life to service, just like her own mama. Today Dionna is thanking her mother for so richly blessing her.
  • 5 Ways to Serve Others When You Have Small Children — It can be tough to volunteer with young children. Jennifer at Our Muddy Boots shares how her family looks for opportunities to serve in every day life.
  • When Giving It Away Is Too Hard for Mommy — Jade at Looking Through Jade Glass But Dimly lets her children choose the charity for the family but struggles when her children’s generosity extends to giving away treasured keepsakes.
  • Community Service Through Everyday Compassion — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children calls us to Community Service Through Everyday Compassion; sometimes it is the small things we can do everyday that make the greater impacts.
  • School Bags and Glad RagsAlt Family are trying to spread a little love this Christmas time by involving the kids in a bit of charity giving.
  • Children in (Volunteering) Service — Luschka at Diary of a First Child reminisces on her own experiences of volunteering as a child, reflects on what she thinks volunteering teaches children and how she hopes voluntary service will impact on her own children.

8 thoughts on “I Only Expected to Love…

  1. I think you ate setting yourself up for success when you keep your expectations low…so hard to do when we are constantly being told “what to expect…”! I think your ideals of breastfeeding, closeness and respect are essential and kudos to you for working to uphold them, even if things don’t end up looking like you thought they might!


    1. Thank you! I tend to be a perfectionist, so it can be really difficult for me to toss expectation and go with the flow. I really try to when it comes to the kids, though, because what works with one often doesn’t work for another.


    1. I agree – with all of that sentiment! 😀 I think it is important that we model for our kids that when something isn’t working, we try something else. I don’t think it shows weakness at all to try again, and my kids have never been “confused” by the rules changing.


  2. Low expectations are soooooo important. They’re probably good for our kids’ perceptions of us too. Sounds like you handled the evolution of parenting with grace. My fourth baby was the most laid back one (still is pretty easygoing, even at 5yo).


  3. I love that you watch to see what works and what doesn’t and change things as needed, all the while staying true to what’s really important. Great way to go about raising children! Deb @ LivingMontessoriNow.com


  4. Sounds like you are the model parent, Kellie. You see what works and you change and adapt along the way!I think that’s a great way to be!Thanks for sharing your thoughts! You have a beautiful family. Congrats on the new one!


  5. Love that picture!I think keeping your expectations basic is the way to make sure you stay adaptable instead of entrenched. I love that you were able to learn naturally what worked well for you and your children.


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