The Mother Magazine, Editorial
Issue 58, May/Jun 2013
Growing, by Veronika Sophia Robinson
When I founded The Mother magazine all those years ago, our daughters, Bethany and Eliza, were aged just six and four. Our days revolved around picnics, long walks in our rural valley, handmade paper dolls, washing clothes and trying to grow vegetables in a temperate climate. This magazine has been part of our daily lives ever since, growing as we have grown.
I’ve taken so much pleasure in marvelling at the changes in our daughters, and how they’ve walked through each age and stage of their lives so far. But it’s easy to sit back and witness their changes and not give much thought to those within me. With children, it’s so obvious, isn’t it? A few inches taller here and there, measured by new clothes and a bigger foot size. Or a change in hobbies and interests: dolls at five; boys at fifteen. But the markers of motherhood aren’t always so easy to spot. There has been more to my mothering than stretch marks, wrinkles and silver hair. I’ve gained many things along the way. Alongside my children, I too have grown: fostering my dormant creative self and nourishing my handcrafted life.
Growing right alongside our fruit trees, herbs, flowers and vegetables, has been this magazine, our daughters, my 18-year partnership with Paul, and the inner blossoming of myself, as a mother, a woman, a wife and a friend.
My inner growth simmers away silently against the backdrop of family life, much like soup on the stove on a Winter’s day. And so, once again, Summer is here and my hands and heart are in the soil, and there is sunshine on my skin. Another season for pottering along, tending to trees and teenagers. These are exciting times as I watch our daughters spread their wings into the world.
When I was pregnant with Bethany 18 years ago, I had clear ideas about how my child would be brought into the world, and raised: peaceful pregnancy, gentle waterbirth at home, child-led breastfeeding, wholesome plant-based foods, attachment parenting, family bed, home education, natural immunity. These were practices that felt right for our family even before I gave birth. But I’ve come to see that the initiation into motherhood happened long before I officially became a mother. I learnt about mothering from as far back as when I was an egg inside my mother as she gestated in her mother’s womb: a silent observer of the mother-and-daughter dynamic. I’ve been gathering information from the world around me for a long time, much like the little red squirrels nearby collect hazelnuts. I have collected what I needed for my journey, nothing more and nothing less.
Motherhood is a relay, with mothers passing the baton of nurturing from one generation to the next. The experiences in childhood shape us profoundly, and many of our parenting ideas and ideals can be traced back to what did or didn’t nurture us during the formative years.
I distinctly remember the days when my mother brought my three youngest brothers into the world, all born at home, unassisted by doctor or midwife. No surprise, then, that a couple of decades later, birthing my daughter at home was a given.
My mother grew an oasis of fruit trees, flowers, herbs and vegetables on our land in South-East Queensland, Australia. How could I not be enthusiastic about a plant-based diet when abundance, vitality and edible richness were on my doorstep? When she homeschooled my brother and sister, for a time, it was inevitable that I’d look over at their lives from my sibling vantage point with curiosity, and a desire for something better ~ much better, than what I was experiencing at school, where I was bullied day in and day out for years on end. My childhood self made a mental note that there was another way; another choice.
My mother didn’t take us to the doctor if we were ailing, but chose natural modalities to return us to health. My passion for natural immunity was built on strong foundations; ones built by the mothering I received.
As my children have passed through their various stages, I’ve paused to reflect on how I might have been at that particular age of my life. I left home at 16 years of age, moving 2,000 kilometres from my family home ~ from one side of Australia to the other: far, far away from my parents. How different this seems from my 17-year-old daughter, still firmly nestled within the family home. But as my girls and I sing along at full volume to ABBA hits, I know that I’ll always have a teenager within me, and that no matter what our respective ages, we’re growing together.
The Mother magazine was founded upon the bedrock of all that I hold dear about natural parenting. That fundamental ethos hasn’t changed in eleven years, but as I grow, and our children grow, so too does my passion for bringing children into this world consciously. These pages will always reflect that. This magazine was never intended as a manual on how to be a perfect mother ~ far from it. Instead, we ask the questions: what does the human infant/child need, and how can we best meet those needs?
I’m always learning something new about myself and about mothering. Unlike my school years, I no longer have to deal with bullies in the playground. I’m free to learn with other playmates who, too, are nurturing, aspiring and growing alongside their children.