Our Unsmothered Kids

I’ve had these photos sitting in Picasa waiting to be posted for a little while now, but just hadn’t been inspired enough to write out a post tying them all together yet.  Then Melissa from Hunt Gather Love, in all of her complete genius, wrote an awesome post titled Yes, we are smothering our children and did all the talking for me.

Now, I can just do a simple blog post about how, in practicality, this stuff actually works.  In all honesty, there’s two things I need to clearly admit  1) My kids are friggin’ active. Like, nobody ever wants to babysit all 3 of them at once for fear of chaos, active. They’re cute, well-behaved, smart little boys – but they never stop; and 2) We’re practitioners of attachment parenting.  As I’ve written before, we breastfeed.  We cloth diaper.  We let babies sleep in our bed.  We make our own baby food.  And, we physically attach babies to our bodies.

I’d like to say that this comes from some sort of superiority complex about not wanting to “push my baby away from me” ala Maggie Gyllenhaal in Away We Go, but really it has much more to do with what feels natural – and ultimately, what ends up being cheap and easy. Because often you could just substitute the word “attachment” for “lazy” when referencing the “way” to do something. How glad are we that we never had to get up at 2am and warm a bottle for a baby!

Along the same lines of our easy parenting philosophy, Matt and I made a promise to ourselves years ago that the boys would only ever have one after-school activity at a time – and even that would not be always.  We’ve had a successful go at that approach.  The last few months they’ve been taking swimming lessons in an indoor pool (to prepare for summer).  Now, they’re in summer camp.  Technically that’s not “after school” but it gives them plenty of social interaction and physical activity. In the fall we’re considering gymnastics or crossfit kids.  But if you ask them, what they love best is getting into trouble and spending time with us.

Shortly after I snapped these photos, Finian fell from this climbing dome.  Onto his belly.  It was about a 6 foot drop and the wind was surely knocked out of him.  He gasped, looked shocked, asked for me to kiss the boo boo on his hand – and then sprinted off to do more stuff. By nature we as people are clearly climbers, explorers, and adventurers.  I see it in my children and it’s something I admire and strive to find within myself.

We go on family hikes through the trails we’re lucky to have in our neighborhood.  We spot deer tracks, look for turtles, toads or snakes and pretend to be trolls who won’t let anyone pass until they solve riddles.

And what’s interesting, is that it seems as though by “letting go” when the children are ready to walk, it brings them back to our bed for morning snuggles.  It’s the enabler to the kiss on the cheek I get every time I come or go.  By letting my kids dig for hours in the backyard and get into who knows what kinds of trouble roaming free in the house (how often do we hear, “WESSSSLEEEEY!”) or letting the big ones try to find snakes in the bushes, I get to see their jubilant faces run through the back sliding door and declare, “I found a baby toad!”

I know as I got older I started venturing out of the yard and into the forests around the neighborhood.  I played flashlight tag when pitch dark would’ve meant staying up into the double digits.  I had competitions to see which one of my friends and I could flip 360 degrees on the pull-up bar on our swing set the most.  My sisters, more troublesome than myself, pulled the trampoline up on the deck and jumped out of their 2nd floor bedroom window for fun. Guest what? I’m still alive! And well! A functioning human being in the real world – despite the fact that I never played a team sport (gasp).

My boys enjoy that outdoor adventuring. They don’t love running in a line or following directions on how, why and what they should and shouldn’t do when trying to “get energy out.”  They love the vacations we take to local caverns or day trips to the zoo, where their little legs walk them for miles as we learn and explore.

And oh boy do they love visiting local U-pick farms! Finding out what real food looks like – growing high up in the trees, in bushes or deep under ground excites them.

Being outdoors, exploring, adventuring and learning has made us (both humans and our own family) who we are today.  And, as much fun as I’m sure organized sports are – all that scheduling, planning, inability to go and do whatever we want, it would drive me batty.  I’d much rather just walk to the playground and see what our bodies can do.

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