The Mother Magazine, Editorial
Issue 33, Mar/Apr 2009
Jigsaw puzzles and old coats, by Veronika Sophia Robinson
About fifteen years ago, I left my adopted country of New Zealand, and headed to the northern hemisphere to travel around. I came to England, and also journeyed to Belgium and North America. When I arrived back in New Zealand, six months later, I had $10 to my name.
I was offered a job in a jigsaw puzzle factory to help me get back on my financial feet. I only lasted a few weeks because I can’t bear repetition of any description ~ even though, according to my learning style, that’s how I learn best.
Second after second, minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day of packing jigsaw puzzle pieces into boxes nearly sent me to an asylum. I’ve never quite seen jigsaw puzzles in the same way since: they no longer hold that nostalgic appeal of sitting for hours with loved ones and quietly creating a picture together by the fireside in the depths of winter. And, I now know, many puzzles don’t come with all the pieces. Why? Because the bored people who had to put them in boxes back in the factory usually got so fed up that they pulled one or two pieces out of the pack!
I was reminded of jigsaw puzzles recently when we had The Mother magazine’s editorial ‘mastermind’ meeting. This is our weekly get-together, where we talk about our current publishing programme, and what articles we’d like to publish, and the direction of this publication.
We were discussing what makes The Mother magazine different from other natural parenting magazines, and the key thing, we felt, was that we’re not like a comfortable old coat ~ at least not necessarily for those new to this way of living. A comfortable coat feels like a second skin. You almost don’t know you’re wearing it.
The Mother magazine was never designed to be a ‘one coat fits all’ garment, but rather, a pattern to modify and make one’s own. Its purpose is to ask parents to question their life, their choices, and, to first and foremost, honour children’s biological needs without compromise. And of course, not everyone wants to do that. Our culture certainly doesn’t encourage it, so of course, The Mother magazine can feel ‘bloody uncomfortable’ when you first try it on. In terms of the general parenting population, The Mother magazine is a comfort zone for very few people. Why? Because the ethos behind this publication is very much like a huge jigsaw puzzle, with so many different pieces that it is rare for a parent or family to have them all joined up together at the same time. Indeed, it can take a lifetime to put all the pieces together and see the ‘whole picture’ of what it means to live ethically, consciously, holistically, honestly and mindfully. It’s a big ask, but we believe families are worth it.
Sometimes we pick up the pieces of nutrition and full-term breastfeeding, and run with them, because we identify so strongly with them; and yet we haven’t found the puzzle piece on cotton nappies, or the one on elimination communication.
Some people pick up the piece on baby-wearing, but haven’t found the one on ethical clothing. Another family may have found the piece on human scale education, and yet can’t see that every baby is born expecting to breastfeed. Some families religiously put out their compost, and grow their own vegetables, but haven’t connected with the importance of honesty in communication. Sometimes people pick up The Mother magazine and think they should have all the pieces together. Life doesn’t work like that. It’s an evolution, and our lives ~ personally, and as a family ~ are also an evolution.
I was reminded of this jigsaw again when I received a lovely letter from a woman who questioned why she felt challenged when she saw images of an older child breastfeeding. Very few people reject ideas and then go on to ask themselves why they’re uncomfortable, insecure, frightened or confused. It’s too easy to dismiss an idea, practice or belief as crazy without wondering what it is showing you about yourself. It takes great strength of character to go inwards and look beyond the cultural cobwebs which veil our conscious thoughts. Too few people ever wonder if they’re compromising themselves or their children. It’s irrelevant whether this lack of inquiry is for reasons of habit, convenience or ignorance.
When most people pick up a coat from the rack in the clothes store, they try it on for size, style and colour. Our culture hasn’t taught us about redesigning, reinvention and imagination. You see, although you can’t make The Mother magazine fit you, you can try it on for size, comfort and style, and make modifications. Who says the collar has to stay on? Why not add pockets? And that darn lining, go on, rip it out if you don’t like it. Sleeves too long? Trim them down. Sleeves not long enough? Add a few inches of different fabric and make jazzy sleeve extensions. You might find one day that your friend is in need of a coat, but you wonder what she will she think about those patchwork purple pockets. It’s highly likely that you’re convinced she’ll judge your ‘style’ as faulty or a bit too eccentric. And will she wonder if the tartan collar is too much? If you give her your coat, do it without conditions, and let her decide the redesign features. Funny thing is, sometimes we’re sure a friend couldn’t possibly like tartan, only to discover it’s their favourite pattern!
Redesigning a coat, and wearing The Mother magazine, are the same thing. They take creativity, imagination and a willingness not to simply take a coat off the rack and assume the status quo is right just because everyone else is wearing the same coat.
Learn to love your coat, no matter how different it looks from all the straight-off-the-rack coats.
The Mother magazine coat is a celebration of family, an honouring of a child’s biological needs and expectations, and the core values that must sit in the rock of culture’s foundation if we want peace and love to make our world go round. Our materialistic society is going through a massive shake-up in consciousness. Suddenly, people are finding themselves without jobs, without incomes, and their houses are being taken away. If their values weren’t in place before this happened, they may not psychologically survive.
The family which has honoured love, kindness, simplicity, honesty, and living from the heart, will ride through the turbulent waves. We have one goal here at The Mother magazine: to offer you a coat which is warm, snug and will keep you certain of your important role in the world: encouraging you to listen to your instincts and honouring your children’s needs. We can’t promise that it comes in your colour or style, and we’re definitely NOT fashionable (Shock! Horror!), but we know that you’ve got the imagination, courage and wisdom to jazz it up just the way you like it, and even make your own version of Dolly Parton’s Coat Of Many Colours.