Monthly Archives: December 2016

A Holiday Guide to Talking to New Families

Holiday parties are in full swing and with them, the attendant judgment of parenting decisions both overt and more subtle. I really believe that in many cases the sidelong glances or offhand comments come from a place of love and genuine concern, but there’s something deeper at play here that I feel needs to be addressed.

At the moment someone finds out that they are expecting, the list of rules grows exponentially. Rules about what to eat, how to sleep, what activities are and are not considered acceptable, how much weight you may to gain while gestating a frigging human life- I could go on, but I won’t. This paternalistic attitude extends to birth (so many  of my clients wonder if they will be “allowed” to birth in a particular way and I gently remind them that they are the bosses of how that baby comes into the world) and into parenthood. But who does it serve, and where do these rules come from?

As a doula, non-judgement is my jam. What I think, what I have done as a parent, is irrelevant. When a client asks me about a particular option available to them or way of doing things, my job is to provide them with evidence-based, up-to-date information and then support whatever choice they make, even if it’s not in line with that information.

Why?

Because my clients are adult humans and I respect their right to make whatever damn decisions they please about their bodies and their families. If they choose to ignore the five studies I have described to them in detail and do the other thing anyway, I support that choice, because it is theirs to make.

This is a spirit that I encourage all of you to carry in your interactions with new and expectant families (and really, all people) through the season and always. If you feel the need to offer advice, be sure that advice has a solid foundation in fact. A lot of the “shoulds” and “should nots” common in our culture come from outdated information. For example: according to Canada’s foremost breastfeeding expert, drinking while breastfeeding is totally fine! Be guided by the assumption that the folks in question are doing what works best for them. If you’re hoping to help, a great way is to ask lots of questions and let them tell you about the joys and challenges of the parenting experience from their perspective. And of course, “What night is best for me to bring dinner over?” is always a welcome query.

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A Venn Diagram Theory of Love

I met my husband when I was 21.

At the time I was sort of specifically trying to avoid romantic entanglements, having just ended a serious relationship, changed jobs and moved across the country. On the drive from Vancouver to St. John’s, I stopped in on an old friend in Halifax and together we ironed out what I like to call the Venn Diagram Theory of Love.

Plato discusses one theory on love in “Symposium” which considers the union between two people as a convergence of two halves of the same thing:

“Love is born into every human being; it calls back the halves of our original nature together; it tries to make one out of two and heal the wound of human nature.”

Not to say that I’m smarter than Plato, but I disagree on this particular point. To me, in ideal circumstances, the best of love is when two wholes converge to share a part of themselves with one another, thus making a:

venn-diagram

See what I mean?

Both separate, both equal, both retaining a part of themselves, but joined at the middle, creating something together. This kind of love is less frantic, less striving, than the kind Plato describes. Rather than wandering around incomplete, the ideal seeker of this kind of love is doing their thing, feeling fine, practicing santosha (contentment) and then BAM- along comes another complete circle and they see where they might like to overlap.

So there I was, minding my own business, and into my life wandered this man. And we found we had a few places where our circles crossed. And five years later we had the clearest delineation of our shared love enter our lives:
13422983_147077849045230_900707576_n

I think the theory works.