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The Mother Magazine, Editorial

Issue 35, Jul/Aug 2009

Sunshine on their faces, by Veronika Sophia Robinson

Ah, the joy of basking in sunlight these past few weeks. My skin will never forget its Australian upbringing, and the pure pleasure of sunkissed warmth I still feel every time I step outside into sunshine. My family and I have enjoyed soaking up every second of it. I never take the life-giving properties of the Sun for granted in England, and always make the most of its appearance. I’ve no doubt that one day it will lure me back to the southern hemisphere permanently. I was raised on strong doses of sunshine and undiluted love, and I live each day ever thankful.

We’ve pottered in the garden, prepared vegetable beds, tended fruit trees, bushes and canes, and spent long hours sitting in the sun ~ Eliza practising saxophone, me talking to the plants, and watching the birds and bees come to visit; and Bethany reading the Twilight series over and over again, fully alive and immortal in the world of teenage vegetarian vampires. Paul’s dad was a gardener, and he reckons the gene skipped a generation, but he’s quite happy to pitch in to my gardening plans, and do all the ‘boy’ jobs without fuss.

Countless beautiful cards, letters, gifts and phone calls have come my way over the past seven and a half years ~ all are expressions of joy, delight and gratitude for The Mother magazine. You’ve written from the heart. This sustenance, respect and appreciation is the lifeblood of this magazine ~ it helps us to know we’re making a difference.

I’m always deeply moved and humbled, particularly so because I’m fully aware that this is no ‘one woman job’, even if, on a day to day basis, it feels like it. I steer The Mother ship, but I’m surrounded by a team of more than capable mariners without whom she wouldn’t leave the harbour.

We’ve had regular columnists come and go over the years, and many of their names will be familiar to longer term readers. To be a regular writer on this magazine requires not only an ability to meet due dates, but a dedication to the issues at hand. Without this commitment it would be very challenging to put together a frequent publication. The occasional writers, artists and photographers all add their touch to this publication. But what about the names you don’t see appearing as bylines? The names which don’t get any so-called glory, or have sunshine on their faces?

At Reeds Printers, I’m always greeted warmly at reception by either Louise or Pat; and Simon ~ my ‘main man’ ~ is responsible for taking my work to the printing stage. I’d be lost without him. To this day, I’m a techno-dunce, and he patiently deals with my queries and frustrations. Dene, the manager, is always available and helpful. All the people in the printing and packing department ~ most of whom I know only by face, and not name ~ play a role, no less important than the other ~ right through to Graham, who cheerily delivers each issue right to the door of our tiny cottage, rain, hail or shine.

When I first decided to publish The Mother, I went into Reeds Printers and met one of the last of the breed of true gentlemen: Malcolm (sadly, now deceased), the manager, who carefully guided me through the publication process. He always showed genuine interest in The Mother, and I never felt like this was just another printing job to him. He gave definition to the expression: excellence in customer service.

I could have had quotes from other printers, but I didn’t feel the need to. In business terms, it would have been the sensible thing to do, but I’ve never once regretted not doing so. What I never expected, in all these years, was how many other printers would come knocking on my door trying to seek out my business. These people never seem to understand that their quotes are about money, and not about relationships. I have a relationship with Reeds Printers that I value ~ something which was earnt, not bought, even though I do pay for their services ~ and even a competitor’s half price quote won’t have me betraying this monogamous relationship!

This isn’t just about business ~ it’s personal, and reminds me of the attachment parenting journey. Many people think that the AP lifestyle ends once the baby is out of arms, out of the family bed, or fully weaned from breastfeeding, but it doesn’t work like that. Attachment parenting is about trust ~ and that’s a lifelong commitment. Just because your children become teens, make independent choices, disagree with you, get married, have babies, or head off to college, it doesn’t mean your job as a parent is done. And likewise, with my printer, just because TM is up and running it doesn’t mean I take off and find another printer. My public gratitude to the staff at Reeds Printers is long overdue, but nevertheless is heartfelt and ongoing.

In love, parenting and business, my husband, Paul, (this Captain’s First Mate) has always stood shoulder to shoulder with me. He truly is the wind beneath my wings ~ as immortalised in Bette Midler’s haunting song, which always raises me to tears. Not only does he ensure I’m well cared for throughout the day, he supports my decision making, and questions me if necessary. He keeps me on track. To say he’s my rock doesn’t do him justice. He’s my Terra Firma, and my whole world would fall away without him.

Paul holds the space for our children while I mentor subscribers, and navigate my way around deadlines, mailouts, mountains of emails, and, oh yes, editing! His keen Virgoan attention to detail as proof reader and assistant editor (and maker of hot drinks!) is such an asset to my computer-weary eyes, as you can tell if you compare early issues of The Mother to those of the past couple of years.

Paul’s a daily example of the difference fabulous fathering can make, not just to the children, clearly, but to the mother and how she goes about her day. I can’t even begin to imagine how I could have parented these past 13 plus years, or edited this magazine for seven and a half, without such an empathetic, considerate, humorous, kind and caring soul by my side. They don’t make men like him every day, and I still keep pinching myself. His dedication and commitment to me and my life’s work go way beyond the requirements of a soul mate and business partner.

Two of the faces which need the most sunshine cast upon them are my daughers ~ Bethany and Eliza. I wonder how on Earth I managed to put together a magazine when my girls were toddlers (and how they managed to let me!) ~ especially given that Paul was working outside the home full time. They’ve sacrificed a lot of their mother in order for me to put out The Mother. The irony doesn’t escape me, and I can only pray that in all these years of bringing the message of natural parenting to others, my children haven’t felt betrayed and abandoned by me. I’ll never know the full impact this work has had on them, though I’m left with no doubt that their parenting instincts are already intact. They get as twitchy as I do when we’re out in public and they see babies and children not having their needs met, and ‘parented’ by synthetic substitutes of various forms and/or otherwise ignored and their cues misunderstood.

Nowadays, Bethany and Eliza help pack up the magazines, and are always gleefully counting down to their bi-monthly pay day. Most importantly, they always ‘ooo’ and ‘aaa’ appropriately at all the delightful photos which come into the office.

Richard House deserves special mention, for he has written for us in every issue since TM2 ~ that’s dedication! I’m honoured to have such a committed and passionate writer on our team. Thank you, Richard.

Thank you to the women who actively help get The Mother out to new families through their committed networking: Amanda and Ruth. Thank you to Cindy, Laura, Lynda and Jody for all the work you’ve done in bringing TM to New Zealand and America ~ your friendship, love and support for these messages are deeply valued; and to the team at The Art of Change for managing the administration of The Mother for two years, I thank you.

Our beautiful new website is thanks to Karen Arnott, who willingly took over the long-term role of web mistress from Shazzie. Thank you to both of you lovely ladies for sailing us far and wide on the big world wide web.

Thank you to the financial angels who’ve gifted The Mother to keep the cogs turning when my faith was way higher than the finances. Thank you for believing in the children of this Earth. Your kindness brings me to my knees in gratitude.

My friends, near and far, seen and unseen, provide a lovely emotional support team ~ thank you.

Another face which must be raised to the Sun is my gorgeous mother. Her essence is on every page and in every issue of magazines sent all around the world. She’s no deckhand, though, but the water upon which this brave and bold boat sails. Her ocean has always nourished me, and still does, even though the Earth’s oceans are literally keeping us apart. This magazine exists because of you, mum, and my life’s work is a testament to how you confidently, yet quietly, raised your eight children.

As parents, we are the wind beneath the wings of our children, and oftentimes it can feel as if the Sun just doesn’t shine upon us. Parenting can feel like such a thankless, unrecognised job ~ like a long English winter, depending on family dynamics, life circumstances and how many times your child has vomited on you in the night. Don’t let this deter you from wholeheartedly doing the best you can.

Our children fly because of the strong foundational roots we give them. It may take decades to feel the full rewards of our work, but that’s not why we become parents. As Kahlil Gibran writes: “You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The Archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the Archer’s hand be for gladness; For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.”

We most easily find sunshine in our parenting when we learn to live in the present moment, rather than waiting for some future time ~ either an imagined time of prosperity or well-being, or a fixed social event. We only ever have this present moment. It is here, in gratitude, that the Sun shines ~ even when it’s obscured by heavy clouds, it’s always shining. To the children of this world ~ thank you for making us strive to bring beauty and respect to your world, and this one life we all share. Your innocence is the only currency of true value.

For all the people, near and far, who bring life to The Mother magazine, and to you, the reader, I send you a Summer full of glorious, life-enhancing sunshine to warm your days, the scent of honeysuckle to fill your soul, and a daily dawn chorus to put a song in your heart. If you’ve never heard me say thank you before, please hear me now ~ for my gratitude to you is the soundtrack to my life. Thank you! Go in peace. Veronika Robinson

Extracts from the lyrics of Wind Beneath My Wings
It must have been cold there in my shadow,
to never have sunlight on your face.
You were content to let me shine,
that’s your way.
You always walked a step behind.

It might have appeared to go unnoticed,
but I’ve got it all here in my heart.
I want you to know I know the truth,
of course I know it.
I would be nothing without you.

I could fly higher than an eagle,
‘cause you are the wind beneath my wings.

Fly, fly, fly high against the sky,
so high I almost touch the sky.
Thank you, thank you, thank God for you,
the wind beneath my wings.

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