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The Mother Magazine, Editorial

Issue 30, Sep/Oct 2008

My Wooden Clothes Pegs, by Veronika Sophia Robinson

My favourite household chore is hanging out the washing. In those peaceful minutes down at the bottom of our garden, I’m immersed in the vibrant, life-enhancing energy of the Cumbrian countryside ~ hooting owls; bees entranced by Starflower, Lavender and other deliciously tempting flowers. Brushing past the Honeysuckle, on my way down to the clothes line, the heady scent draws me back to my childhood in Australia ~ I used to stand for the longest time, sucking ‘honey’ out of the ends of the flowers. Life was slow, sweet bliss.

Birds go about their business in the treetops near my head; insects navigate dizzily in the rising heat of the summer sun. Grass grows long at my feet, daring me: ‘catch me if you can’; blackberry thorns warn me away from fruits so ripe you’d think they’d be patented. Here, I’m a different person. In this place of natural noises, I’m able to go within, and reflect on this journey through life. Why am I here? How can I serve? Where did I fail to do my best? How can I take the clarity and answers of this peaceful moment back into the busyness of family life and the working world?

Each wooden clothes peg that I use to hold up the washing, reminds me of my purpose and that of this magazine: at the most grassroots level we all have the power to change the world. Our clothes pegs show us, in the most simple form, the footprint we leave behind on this glorious Earth. Are the pegs wooden, from a sustainable source, or are they made from an ancient source of sunlight, and formed into plastic and then shipped across the world?

With each piece of my family’s damp clothing, I reflect on its journey and arrival into our home. Was it from a charity shop, or friend: recycling someone else’s clothes? Was it fair-trade, organic? Is it made from natural fibres, such as cotton, hemp or ramie? How do the clothes we wear, day after day, affect this planet, and the people who made them?

And then, I can’t help but wonder about myself as the peg: round peg in a square hole? I’ve no doubt that many readers feel the same, due to their parenting and lifestyle choices.

Each conscious step and decision we make defines the journey we’re on. Society screams to us that we must rush, must have this, must do that.

The Mother magazine asks, “Why hurry? Why have that? Why do you need this? Why not try it this way? Is that really what makes your heart sing? Have you ever thought of looking at it this way?” Such questions can be incredibly challenging, but they’re no less worthy of an answer just because of a cultural mind-set which doesn’t ask the big questions.

This publication is a deliberate antidote to consumerist, fast-paced, soul-less living. Our most fundamental message is: create time and space for your family, and discover the simple pleasures and joys of life.
Empower yourself through discovering skills and talents which bring meaning to your days. Slow down. Savour the moment ~ it’s all you have. Sew a dress, knit a scarf, carve a knife or clothes pegs from local wood, tend to your herbs, brew your own tea from fruits or herbs in your garden; plant fruit trees, canes and bushes (in pots, if you have no garden). Sing with your children.

Instead of investing in the Heinz tinned soup coffers, invest in your family’s well-being: make your own soup.

Harvest root vegetables, and store them for the winter. Find ways to be resourceful that help you and the planet.

Wearing your baby in a sling increases health and well-being for both of you, and saves the resources needed to make a pram. Babies were born needing at least nine months in-arms after birth; they need their mother’s heartbeat to bring about bonding synchronisation.

Sleep with your baby, and you won’t need a cot, crib or cradle. The family bed is a beautiful, nourishing and free place in which to share sleep with your children. And you and your children will be healthier and happier for it! There is no price you can put on your connections with other people.

Feed your baby naturally, from your own body, and save yourself hundreds and hundreds of pounds in the first year of his or her life ~ and that’s just on milk! Babies who are not naturally-fed are ten times more likely to need hospitalisation. Clearly, this affects the baby most strongly, but the resources needed for treating ill people, young or old, take a huge toll on the environment and economic stability. Natural feeding does not leave a carbon footprint.

Despite cultural pressures to purchase ready-made baby foods, the most delicious and healthy foods for babies are ones which haven’t been processed or cooked.

Avoid vaccinating your children, and find ways to develop their natural immunity ~ watch them live vibrantly and free from chronic immune disorders and other disturbances.

Offer your children natural toys ~ either hand-made or second-hand. Avoid plastic toys ~ they’re toxic ~ and go for wood, as it is antibacterial, not to mention a wonderful heirloom for generations to come. My own girls had simple, beautiful, wooden blocks (with bark still intact), wooden dolls’ carriages and hand-carved animals. Their dolls are made from fabric. Rather like good, organic wholefoods, the simpler and more natural the toys, the more precious and valuable they are. Indeed, natural toys are more nourishing to a child’s imagination and spirit.

Human-scale education offers countless opportunities for our children to see the world in a new way, to not repeat history but to create a future worthy of every human on the planet. Autonomous and child-led learning is a lifetime away from institutional learning, and allows a child to develop their own way of thinking and being.

As our children grow into teens and young adults, it can seem as if our influence is small, and in some cases, an impotent force. The years we’ve spent with our children are made up of moments. It is these moments, now invisible, which live inside our children for the duration of their journey on Earth. The most powerful forces of this world are invisible ~ just like the love of a parent. My wooden clothes pegs remind me of everything I hold dear and precious, and of the road that lies before me, before us all. At the heart of our magazine’s ethos, the meaning is clear: live simply, so that others may simply live.

Rather than the cultural pressure to keep up with the Joneses, we ask, “Hey, why not step back with Nature?”

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