Saturday, April 11, 2009

What is a Clever Mama?

Hi. I'm Jill, and I think I'm a pretty clever mama.

You see, I used to be a high school teacher and write and direct short plays in my spare time. Before that, I was a pretty clever and creative university student. Now, I stay at home all day with a four year old and a two year old. Since I moved six weeks after the birth of my son, no one here knows me as a university student, a playwrite or a teacher. They know me as a very tired, droopy looking woman who smiles vaguely and can hardly put a coherent sentence together. The woman whose house is always turned upside down and who always arrives late and looks frazzled. That woman whose kids are wearing second hand clothes and cloth diapers and who are still buzzing in for a nurse at 18 months. Yep, that's me. The one in the corner of playgroup or library story time who just does things differently.

I do these things, but I don't talk about them much. Not in real life, anyway. I have decided that if people are interested in my ideas and opinions, they can ask me. If they're not, then its not my place to foist my ideas upon them. Terribly Canadian of me, I know. But I just don't have the energy to argue. I'm too busy trying to wean my toddler, convince my preschooler to put on his own socks, and figure out how to get all the laundry folded and put away within a week of washing it.

But I still consider myself to be a clever mama. Why? Because I try to be a mindful parent. I think and read and reflect on parenting in general. More importantly, I think and reflect on my own parenting. And when I see that something isn't working, I find a better way. I follow my intuition, and when it fails me, I pick up a new book or find a new blog or chat with my cross country network of former real life friends who have become moms and my world wide network of online friends and mentors on the web. And then I think, and plan, and start over again.

Kris and I have both been on this journey. We are not mom friends because we always agree, but because we are both willing to discuss, think, reflect, change, grow and do the hard work of being a clever mama. We hope you'll join us on our journey to think about, write about, and share about mothering.


  1. Hey Jill,

    I have a question, and this is just a question it isn't a judgement. I read on your other blog the other day that you still nurse your youngest child. Can I ask why? I nursed my son until a couple of weeks before his first birthday and it was pretty much his decision to stop. We dropped one feed at a time until we were down to one a day, and then one night he was too distracted and just didn't want it. And by the next night it'd been 48 hours and I figured we might as well stick it out as he was happy with his sipper cup and it was just me who was in pain from swollen boobs.

    Was your decision a conscious one or was it just that you haven't gotten around to it yet? I was curious about this the other day as I've found a couple of North American blogs where Mums are still nursing well past the first birthday, something which isn't at all common in Australia.

    And now thanks to Clever Mamas I have the right forum to ask the question!



  2. No worries, Bree. Thanks for the question. In Canada, many women stop at a year, because that is how long maternity leave is. So if they are going back to work, it is the easiest time to wean. Since I wasn't going back to work and my son wasn't ready to wean, I didn't bother to force the issue. If my son had wanted to stop earlier, I would have been glad to.

    My decision to wean around two was conscious, and relates to why a lot of North American moms wait longer to wean. The World Health Organization advises nursing until age two, because it still provides fats and nutrients that can be helpful to your child until then. Check out this link:

    Some people wait for their child to wean themselves, even if it is not until they are three or four years old. My sister, who lived in Papua New Guinea for 8 years said that it is normal for preschool age kids to nurse whenever they want in that culture, and I've heard the same about a lot of cultures where breastfeeding has not been replaced by formula.

    Personally, I get worn down after two years, and begin to resent breastfeeding. I believe that parenting should be a balance between the needs of the child and the needs of the parents, so I wean around two.

    Hope that answers your question, and thanks for your comment!

  3. HI Jill,

    I did go back to work after 12 months so that was part of my plan, to have him down to at most an evening feed by then. But he was ready and is quite robust! Although he does like his formula of a morning and evening so that might be a bit harder to shake.

    I found it was a great liberating experience to not have to feed anymore. I felt like for the first time in over 2 years I was my own person again, not pregnant and not breastfeeding. Bizarely for me, weaning my son made me less keen to have another one straight away! I guess you get a taste for freedom and aren't so keen to go back!

    Anyway I love the fact that we can live in a world where people are comfortable to do what they want.





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