Mama Madison: Natural vs. un-natural parenting

It's never too late to learn a new approach

It's weird to admit this, especially in a city surrounded by as much outdoor beauty as Madison. But frankly, I'm just not that into nature. I'm more of an indoor kind of gal. Give me an afternoon at the Chazen or the Wisconsin Historical Museum over the Arboretum or Olbrich Gardens any day. I don't hike or camp unless it's absolutely necessary (which as far as I'm concerned is never). And I've rarely used the phrase, "Just let nature take its course," not even in parenting.

During the birth of my oldest son nearly seventeen years ago, I briefly considered going epidural-free. But when the very sweet and perceptive labor and delivery nurse told me the closest thing she'd ever witnessed to natural childbirth at the downtown Chicago hospital was a mom-to-be without a pedicure, I blissfully caved to the spinal block. I'm pretty sure she had noticed my bright pink toenails before putting in the pro-medication plug.

And while I went unintentionally went drug-free during my daughter's very speedy delivery in Madison five years later, I would be lying if I didn't say I wouldn't have minded a little bit (okay a lot) of something to ease the pain. Even another outrageously long needle in my back.

Sure, I nursed my kids. But mostly because it was convenient and cheap. I fully embraced the use of disposable diapers. And despite owning just about every small kitchen appliance known to mom-kind (I was a very early adopter of the George Foreman grill), I never owned a baby food grinder.

But I can't say my avoidance of the natural parenting movement has had any particular benefit for my family. My kids, and just as importantly maybe I, might have really benefited from deliberate baby-wearing, the willingness to explore more herbal remedies and a little more time outside (with a non-chemical sunscreen, of course). I just never really took the time to explore more thoughtful, and natural, parenting options when my kids were little.

But for those of you who still have the time to check out the latest in going "au natural," I'd recommend heading downtown this coming Sunday, March 23, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at Monona Terrace to check out the Madison area's second annual Natural Parenting Expo . As part of the event, the Aldo Leopold Nature Center will be giving a demonstration on how to connect your "Knee-high Naturalist with the Natural World." And there will be a panel discussion on alternative school approaches, as well as a session on homeschooling.

For those interested in learning more about natural childbirth options, there is both a screening of the film "The Business of Being Born" as well as a presentation by Dr. Leila Midelfort on "Strategies for a Natural Birth in the Hospital."

And because we all know laughter is the best (natural) medicine, don't miss your chance to see stay-at-home humorist Ann Imig, creator of the nationally renowned "Listen to Your Mother" show, perform live on the IsthmusParents.com stage. Her reading, entitled The Children Ate My Gratitude, is sure to increase your endorphins (or whatever it is that's released when you laugh). Ann is one of the most naturally funny writers I know.

No, I guess it really is never too late to become a more natural parent. Even for me. But still, I'm still kind of glad the Expo is taking place inside Monona Terrace's Exhibition Hall. You know, indoors.

comments powered by Disqus

More to read

Loading More Articles
No More Articles

Mama Madison: Talking about race with Families for Justice

Like many parents, I look at the wide world around my kids and do my best to prepare them for life. We talk about working hard, being kind and responsible, Internet safety, stranger danger, and the (gulp) birds and the bees. But what about a topic such as race?

Mama Madison: Checking it twice

If you're like me, looking around your house in the weeks before Christmas will probably have you convinced that the last thing your kids need to find underneath the tree is a pile of new toys.

Mama Madison: Managing holiday lists

I spend a lot of time talking to my kids about how lucky we are to have what we have. Though our house is tiny and our van is unequipped with automatic doors, we have all we could ever need, and a lot of what we want.

Girls on the Run of Dane County marks a decade of changing young lives

On the evening of Nov. 6, a throng of people gathered at Monona Terrace. They were there to attend an impressive anniversary shindig, but the real buzz of excitement centered on the event's guest of honor.

Mama Madison: Mom dates are hard

You may call them "play dates," but I like the term "mom dates," especially since my kids are still too young to really care that there's another small person to squabble over toys with.

Mama Madison: No judgments with No Excuse Mom

If there is an excuse for not working out and eating healthy, I have used it: I don't have time. I'm too tired. I'll start tomorrow. I'm no good at this, I give up. I don't know where to start. Yes, I have used all of these and more.

Mama Madison: Introducing kids to your CSA box

At almost a year old, my kids are in the blissful stage of life where they'll eat nearly anything that I put in front of them (at least as long as it doesn't require much in the way of molar action).

Mama Madison: Changing tables, changing times

My family recently went through something that we have not experienced in over eight years. We have become a household that no longer harbors a crib or a changing table.

From museum to school with MMoCA

"There really is no wrong way to do it." That's how Madeline, age 13, describes creating artwork. She and her classmates at Prairie View Middle School in Sun Prairie are honing their artistic skills by participating in the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art's Art on Tour program.

Mama Madison: Coping with toddlers in a Wisconsin winter

I'm having trouble enjoying the season, because I can't keep myself from thinking about the miserable weather that's sure to be following close on the heels of the crisp, pleasant fall we've been having. I am not at all emotionally prepared to be the parent of two toddlers during a Wisconsin winter.

Mama Madison: Melissa Wardy pushes positive messages

I've always been a supporter of companies that empower women and girls, and when the creator of such a company is a fellow Wisconsinite, I get even more excited. When Melissa Wardy of Janesville got fed up with stereotypes found in clothing for girls, she started her own company.

Mama Madison: Three cheers for reading at the Wisconsin Book Festival

Do you have a little reader or an aspiring teenaged writer in your house? If so, you may want to venture to the Wisconsin Book Festival this weekend, to whet their appetite for wonderful words as well as your own.

Mama Madison: What's in a name?

When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I had two names picked out. Upon her arrival we had not yet come to a conclusion on what that name would be. Everyone told us that when we saw her we would just know. We didn't.

Mama Madison: Eugster's is more than just a visit to the farm

At age 10 months, my kids have seen the zoo a lot already. I was a zoology major in college, and I have something of a zoo addiction still, so the twins (and their dad) are more or less condemned to a future rife with zoo visits.

Help for home-schoolers at the Madison Mentor Center

Home-schooling can be a lonely proposition. Even as a college professor, Juliana Hunt remembers struggling to find support to home-school her now-grown daughter. "I was always hoping to find like-minded people who were in the same position as me," she says. "I know that children learn best through a give-and-take, question-and-answer process of teaching and learning, but where do you find mentors who can make that happen?"

Mama Madison: Yummy Sprout is a wonderful resource

After sleep patterns, I think the next biggest parenting concern I have and hear about revolves around the topic of food. How can I make sure my kids are eating enough vegetables? Did I pack them a lunch that is healthy enough? What can I feed them after school that doesn't come from a box? How many gripes am I going to get about the dinner I'm about to prepare?

Mama Madison: Tips and tricks for baby air travel

As far as places to embark on Baby's First Air Travel go, Dane County Regional Airport is a pretty sound choice, especially at 6 p.m. on a Saturday night. My biggest fear was that my nine-month-old son would start screaming in the airport; my second biggest fear was that my son would start screaming and some of my former Epic colleagues would be around to hear it.

Mama Madison: Apple-picking time

The recent shift in the weather is just another sign that autumn is fast approaching. That means one of my favorite activities is just around the corner -- apple picking. My husband and I have been picking apples every fall since before our kids were born.

Mama Madison: Baby feeding recommendations

I have a lot of questions about what to put on my eight-month-olds' plates -- and, if I'm honest, a deep and abiding fear of putting the wrong thing there. Did I start them on solid foods at the right time? What's the deal with baby-led weaning -- how much self-feeding should they be doing? At what age should I give them potential allergens like shellfish or nut products?

Heartland Farm Sanctuary helps animals that help kids

Lily the potbellied pig arrived at Heartland Farm Sanctuary blind, lethargic and too overweight to walk. The children of Heartland's summer day camp program took it upon themselves to put the curl back in her tail.