Thursday, May 27, 2010

elimination communication

While I was still pregnant, some friends of mine asked what kind of diapering we'd use. We hadn't thought much about this, but our friends--who were expecting a baby around the same time as us--had done their studies and explained our options. Cloth diapers. Disposable diapers. Eco-friendly diapers. Diaper services.

But nobody suggested we'd have our baby go diaper free till I was just about due.

We picked up Christine Gross-Loh's book The Diaper-Free Baby: The Natural Toilet Training Alternative just in time for our baby's arrival and were just amazed by how sensical going diaper-free seemed. After all, it's how babies have learned to toilet train for millenniums and still do in many parts of the world where disposable diapers are scarce.

As Gross-Loh writes in the latest issue of Mothering, "as mindful parents, we aim to be respectful of our children and to be responsive to their needs. In many areas of parenting, this may not feel like a struggle." But, other areas of parenting "may not feel as intuitive, in part due to the strong and confusing cultural messages that surround us" (p. 70, May-June 2010). Toilet training is one of these areas.

Elimination communication is just not a big part of our culture's ideology. Instead, we train our babies--who're born with an instinct to stay clean and with an awareness of their elimination, which they display through body language and other nonverbal ways of communicating--to be okay soiling themselves and even wearing their own waste for a short period. And then, when they are toddlers, we expect them to retrain and regain an awareness of their elimination and no longer soil themselves.

fake it till you make it

At the end of each practice, my yoga instructor will read an excerpt from various books on mindful living. Two lessons stand out to me in the last few weeks:

1) take your list and cut it in two. I went straight home and took out my to-do list and deleted as much as I could from this summer's to-do list and put it on a new one for next summer or beyond. Fantastic.

2) fake it till you make it. If you're in turmoil, pretend calm.

Both these little meditations help me in my parenting to stay focused on the present and not feel so overwhelmed by all the little things that "should" be done. And when I breath deeply, performing calm, I find that I indeed become calmer. It's like learning to ride the bike. It's wobbly at first, but I focus on the path ahead and eventually, as I paddle along, the ride becomes smoother.

Friday, May 14, 2010


I've never been known to be particularly patient, but teaching forced me to work on that. These days I'm getting plenty of practice opportunities with my toddler. She's officially reached the "terrible twos." And it is amazing, the anger and frustration she can express at the tiniest little thing that's not going her way.

What seems to bother her the most is when there's something she wants to be able to do, but can't quite manage. Or when we tell her there's something she can't do, and she really wants to do it. Often the two overlap. Like yesterday. We'd had a fine morning, though both still sick after a week of congestion and fatigue. But then all of a sudden, as I got up to get some water, things went down hill from there. She too wanted water, but then changed her mind to "juuuch,"and she wanted it from a grownup glass, carried by one hand, while walking or preferably running around the house, into the bathroom, for instance, so she could drink and pee in her potty at the same time. I compromised and gave her an adult hard plastic cup and told her to use both hands and keep it in the kitchen. You could just tell from the immediate mischievous look on her face, that this was play time.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Thanks to Shan, I've discovered another mama writer whose writing is just about as honest, funny, heart breaking and heart warming as Anne Lamott (Operating Instructions) and Catherine Newman (Waiting for Birdy): Kelly Corrigan. Her most recent book, Lift, is written as a letter to her two daughters. It's a short read (80 small pages) and very recommendable. There's an excerpt on her site, which also includes links to her blog posts (that include columns she's written for among other O, The Oprah Magazine) and videos. Among them, a video of Corrigan reading her essay "Transcending," which has received more than 4 million views to date. Here it is:

Corrigan also posted this Mother's day note on her site:

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