You might notice that I’m experiencing a bit of conflict about our journey. I’m not embarrassed by this, not worried. I’ve talked with my friends who have their kids in traditional school settings and I know that they experience tough transitions and conflicts as I do. Bless all the parents. This job is cray!
I recently listened to a homeschooling podcast, passed on to me by a friend who is much more organized than I am when it comes to assembling her homeschool thoughts and dreams. In it, Ainsley Arment, homeschooler and founder of the online community Wild and Free, is interviewed and asked the $1,000,000 Question: What piece of advice would you give your younger self?
Her answer struck me because of her use of one word: Intuition. Ainsley’s piece of advice centered around not worrying if you, as the homeschooling parent, are doing enough. Trust yourself to know yourself, and your kids, and what they need. Trust that you are doing a great job and that you don’t need to stress out about this, that, and the other thing.
Before you get your number 2 pencils and throw them at me, know that this is not actually a persuasion piece to get you to homeschool. What I want is for you to really get in touch with this idea of trusting your intuition.
Natural birth advocates often talk about how women have been birthing for a bajillion years and our bodies know what to do. I’m a firm believer that - no matter the birth you choose (biting a stick in the woods by yourself, or hooked up to Every Machine Ever & All The Drugs) – your intuition can be your best companion – if you’re able to tap into it.
Intuition, to date, has not been scientifically figured out, and this causes all sorts of trouble.
At some point our culture became fixated on trusting “the experts”, and somehow birthing women lost the title of “expert” when it came to their own bodies.
Similarly, as a homeschooling parent, we may encounter all sorts of thwarts as we attempt to remain the experts on our kids. “Are you a teacher?” “I could never spend that much time with my kids!” “How do you even know they’re learning?” “It’s really hard, you know!”
With Ainsley’s advice, I was so encouraged to hear intuition being lauded as “enough”. When we are in the practice of knowing ourselves (or our bodies or our kids or [insert any area where the status quo is to hand over the reins to “an expert”]) I believe our capabilities expand. Don’t misread this as advice to eschew what anyone else, especially the experts, suggests, because they’re knowledge is important as well. But don’t be afraid to check in with yourself and what said self is saying to you.
Consider the following as they pertain to your birth and early parenting decisions:
Does this test/intervention/preventative measure make sense with what I understand the circumstances to be? If not, what information do I need to make a decision?
Do I feel like I have been part of the decision-making process and my voice has been heard and respected?
What do I feel in my gut and how does that confirm or deny the other factors of my decision making?
Let me give you some concrete examples. A question that often comes up with my doula clients in prenatals is, “How will I know when it’s time to go to the hospital?” As a doula, there are some markers that I’m on the lookout for that suggest it’s getting close to time to go. But often, it’s the birthing woman that makes a declaration, sometimes sudden, that “It’s time!” I’ve repeatedly seen how this is spot-on, whether because the baby is very close to being born or because the shift in environment is a needed element to the labor.
Here’s another example. In talking with people about placenta encapsulation I am often asked about the evidence to its effectiveness. To date there is no hardcore scientific evidence to convince someone that is looking for it that encapsulation is worth it. What we do have, in addition to evidence that supports aspects of encapsulation (such as knowing that iron supplementation is helpful for fatigued women), is literally countless anecdotes of women that have ingested their placenta and experienced benefits. Science loves to discount the experiences of women but that doesn’t make it right to do. My intuition tells me that the experiences of so many women (myself included) regarding encapsulation make it something that is at least worth exploring. If it’s something that speaks to you, wonderful. If it’s something that makes you gag, your tuition might be suggesting you move on.
Intuition will serve our parenting as well. There are so many decisions and choices to make, though one of the most common illustrations I see has to do with baby sleep. Have you ever read comments on chat boards that a parent tried this or that sleep method, but it was so hard and they –the parent! - ended up in tears? It is my strong personal conviction that there is no decision to be made in early routine parenting that should induce a parent to tears. This is, if I may be so bold, a telltale sign that the decision bringing you to your knees is not right for your family at this time. Don’t make the tears your bar, however. If something still feels off to you, take a step back, ask yourself the same questions from above, and try again.
Dear mothers, bless you. This job is not for the fainthearted, so it is a good thing that you are not that. Trust your inner compass and reach out to your tribe. Intuition is here to guide us, if only we can take a breath and listen.