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The Mother Magazine, Editorial

Issue 19, Autumn 2006

Relaxed Mothering, by Veronika Sophia Robinson

Occasionally I hear from women who, when they read The Mother magazine, feel as if perhaps they're not good enough mums. This is unfortunate and has made me realise that each issue should carry a disclaimer!

This publication is about an ideal, not a dogma. The highest goal, I believe, of our individual journeys is to aim for relaxed parenting. Showing our kids how to live from the heart, being authentic in all our interactions, and realising that it's a waste of time and energy to get upset about 'just about anything', is the most productive thing we can do as parents.

Editorially, I have certain criteria when deciding whether to accept a submission. However this is to do with my vision of a possible world. It has no reflection on where you should be in your own life.

My vision of a possible world is one where each child is conceived consciously, with love and welcome, and born as gently as possible into the arms of its parents. I dream that children are born into families which value the importance of raising humans with a nutritious, unprocessed wholefood diet; who practise preventative health care; parents who value the right of the child to spend their childhood free of adult orientated pressures. I wish more than anything for a world where children are treated as human beings, rather than a dumping ground for their parents' unexpressed needs.

I create, along with my team of writers, photographers and artists, a magazine which embodies a gift. The Mother is always given in love, and nothing less. How a reader perceives the publication is beyond our control.

Yes, some articles are hard hitting. Yes, some authors will present very challenging ideas. I don't apologise for this. We all need to constantly question our daily decisions. It keeps our lives in check and makes our path through life conscious, deliberate and well-lived. The contents of these pages are not published with the intention of judging families who take a more mainstream path, or who decline the more out-of-the-ordinary ideas we present. Our hope, in actual fact, is that more and more people will feel welcomed into the pages we publish, as society moves away from 'box thinking'.

We can always be good enough parents regardless of the parenting style we adopt ~ we can, in every moment, aim to be conscious of our thoughts, actions and choices. We always have a choice, even if it doesn't feel like it. Embracing choices allows us to discover the difference between enjoying the parenting path and hating it, or perhaps even worse, avoiding it by being absent from our children, physically, mentally or emotionally.

It's a rare parent who can honestly say they've not ever had a bad day parenting.

Have you ever noticed when you're having a bad hair day that brushing the mirror doesn't fix your hair? I find that washing my hair; brushing it, hiding it in a scarf, or putting it up in a ponytail or two plaits usually helps! If all that fails, I call my lovely hairdresser Helen with an urgent plea: "Come quick, before I murder the mirror!" And yet I know the mirror is not responsible for how I perceive myself!
Our kids are like mirrors. They show us the side of ourselves that other people don't tend to see. They manage to draw out our most hidden demons ~ our shadow selves. It may not seem like it when you're in Monster Mother mode, but what a blessing! How wonderful that a human being who loves us unconditionally can provide us with a key to release the aspects of ourselves which need healing the most.

Just as brushing (or hitting) the mirror won't sort out our bad hair day, it's the same with kids. It is ourselves we need to work on; to tend and mend. And when we do that, miraculously our kids will mirror the best that is within us.

My hope is that our articles, especially some of the more challenging pieces, will inspire you to attend to your 'hair', so to speak. Some people feel threatened, for example, when other families have had 'idyllic' birth experiences, while their own journey was downright depressing, terrifying or deeply tragic. It doesn't help any of us to be in judgement, regardless of what experience we've had in the birthing room or at the school gates. We can, however, all help each other to grow and learn. The greatest chains we wear are those that lead us to believe we don't have choices.

I feel the utmost empathy for my mother when I recall the moments in childhood when we'd pushed her too far. As a mother, I'm often pushed to my limit. When I have my 'what a crap mother I turned out to be' days, I pull my socks up again and tell myself I've no excuse not to do better.

I live a life of luxury. I have a roof over my head; my kids eat healthy food every day; we have a computer. This puts us in the top 8% of the world's population. I've been able to breastfeed my children, have a washing machine, and don't have to walk to get our drinking water. Given this, what excuse have I not to parent well? Not much. And yet, on a daily basis, I come up against as many psychological challenges as the next mum.

I've learnt many, many things in my parenting journey. Unfortunately, most of the things I've learnt have come with hindsight! And I can honestly say that the best of those ideas are through what I have learnt from other people in radical publications like The Mother magazine.

I don't beat myself up for my past ignorance. What would be the point? The past has been and gone. It can only hurt us if we let it.

The present is the best place for any of us to be. So if you feel inclined, use the best this magazine has to offer you and go forth and parent beautifully. If you find information here to be at odds with your own intuition, then leave it. The Mother isn't a rule book! We must never deny the innate intuitive wisdom which exists within. It is unique to every parent and is the best guide for their parenting situation.
My goal as editor is to inspire, educate, challenge and motivate parents and would-be-parents into making a lifestyle designed to support a healthy, happy family and a healthy planet. At The Mother we believe they go hand in hand.

I feel my future with this magazine is to redefine exactly what it means to parent holistically and consciously. The holistic path isn't just about using cotton nappies (or elimination communication), or recognising that breast is best. To my mind, these are surface things ~ tip of the iceberg issues. Wholism is a complete package. Mind, body and soul are the themes we explore in these pages.

How we interact with our children and their other parent on a day to day basis is just as important as whether or not we choose to vaccinate, home-educate, dump nappies in a landfill or put our baby in a pram, rather than in a sling. Whatever steps we make towards a conscious life, we need to do so in ways that become natural and fulfilling for the whole family.

When I became a mother, my sustenance was found in the pages of the very radical Nurturing magazine, published in Canada. It pulled no punches and was very clear that children deserved our care, respect and love. (See www.nurturing.ca) Nurturing was brave, bold and daring. I loved it completely! Everything about it was so at odds with the world of parenting that existed around me. It spoke to my soul, mentoring me through my early choices as a mother.

I rediscovered the online version of Nurturing magazine recently, and oh my, it was so like coming home.
Nurturing magazine was born a month before my first daughter was, ten years ago, and I discovered it about that time. I was over the moon when they chose my pregnancy photo for one of their covers and published my waterbirth story. I remember this experience when mums tell me how excited they are to see their photos or articles in The Mother.

My absolute joy in rediscovering Nurturing magazine was dampened when I discovered they were considering stopping publication with their 10th Anniversary Edition. My first (selfish) thought was, 'how can I get hold of all the precious back issues?'

Niche, radical parenting magazines cater to such a minority readership. However, those of us at the helm of such publications also know the importance of existing as a strong and not-so-silent community for those who need it.

Some publications give in to the temptation of diluting their editorials, and slackening their advertising guidelines, in order to pay the printing and postage bills! Nurturing magazine never did this. The sad ending of their publication has been a wake-up call to me.

If you love The Mother, do consider telling a friend or asking your midwife, health care practitioner or health store to make it available. Give a back copy to a friend. Growth is life.

I regret that in my moves between countries, I didn't keep track of Nurturing magazine. The information in those pages was priceless, an honest and passionate advocate for our children.

It is so important to support the magazines which contribute to our growth as parents. There will come a time when our babes and bambini fly the nest, and other families could do with the wisdom and guidance that we've been blessed to have. That won't happen if we're afraid to share our 'radical' magazines around because we think the contents might offend someone, or worse, make them think we've lost the plot.

Sometimes people are just waiting for a torchlight to new ideas, and we'll never know what difference we can make to other lives if we hide the light!

The Mother magazine came into existence because of my love for The Compleat Mother ~ a magazine of pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. (See www.CompleatMother.com).

I was blessed to receive a copy of this gutsty newsprint, grass-roots magazine when I first came to England. It was like having 'family'.
It is still going strong for those who want to learn more about natural, enjoyable vaginal birth and extended breastfeeding.

The Mother is now being published by the Art of Change. Regular readers will already know Anna, Sophie, Barry and Winnie through their regular column on the Art of Change, in The Mother. I'm absolutely thrilled that their involvement will mean I can focus 100% on the editorial side of the magazine. Please note the new address for any enquiries relating to subscriptions, advertising and wholesale orders.

The Mother is now a 'carbon neutral' publication ~ possibly the first parenting magazine in the world to be publicly accountable for its impact on the environment. To offset the environmental cost of publishing and transporting this magazine, we're investing in carbon neutral projects.

For this issue, we're working with a project in India and Sri Lanka which brings solar electric lighting to the people. It is eliminating the need for kerosene lamps, as they produce high CO2 and greenhouse gases, not to mention being very damaging to health. The improved lighting also increases the income for locals, who can earn money from basket weaving and sewing by having better light for working under.

Meanwhile, in southern Mexico, we're investing in a pioneering project to alleviate poverty on a variety of reforestation projects which see the planting of fruit and nut orchards, restoring the land to its original forested state. The trees soak up and neutralise carbon generated activities. Only eco-friendly farming techniques are adopted. The project provides a permanent income for the local community.

From the next issue, we'll be through your letterbox every two months, rather than three. Enjoy! In the meantime, may I wish you the brightest blessings for an Autumn filled with the crunch of golden leaves, invigorating winds, and baskets full of apples, and orange pumpkins. If you're in the Southern Hemisphere, enjoy those first glorious rays of Spring Sunshine.

Wherever you live, remember, NOT perfect parenting, but relaxed parenting!

Go in peace…..

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