Guest Post: How Wrapping My Hair Saved My Mommy Self-Esteem

 

 

wrapped-breastfeeding

By, December Fields-Bryant

 

As I brought my son home to began healing from my cesarean, relished any short hot shower and wearing clothes that would eventually accommodate my deflated boy, I wondered if I would ever return to the woman I had been. Would I ever see the woman in the mirror who cared if my clothes were anything other than comfortable? Would I ever plan an outfit around anything other than whether or not I could nurse in it? Where was the woman who wore makeup without worrying if it might smear on my son’s head, and did something with my hair other than combing it with my fingers and throwing it into a ponytail. I hoped that she was still there, behind the tired eyes and spit-up breast milk on my shirt. I didn’t really worry about her until my son was 6 months old and my hormones and sleep schedule settled into something resembling normalcy. It was then that I began to look at my clothes, my hair, and the mess that was me as a mother. I felt depressed and completely cut off from the person I had been and, at the same time, I had guilt over being so shallow.

I was a mother after all. Everyone was looking at the baby anyways, not me. Shouldn’t my only goals in life now be based on the care of my son? Who cares if I live in nursing tanks and maxi skirts so long as my baby is fed and happy? Well, I cared and I was worried my husband cared too even though he told me I looked beautiful no matter what. “No matter what?” That was a blow to the ego.

I did what I could to feel better about myself. Losing weight and feeling how loose my pre-pregnancy clothes were on me helped but I still felt like a hot mess going anywhere. I couldn’t wear make up and no matter how nicely I dressed (complete with baby carrier and diaper bag accessories) I felt incomplete and bare. I tried wearing different shoes but anything other than a sturdy flat caused my back to hurt after carrying the baby around. I tried wearing hair accessories but my son assumed that, since they were in reach, they were for him to yank out and play with. I donned hats but they obviously looked like they were attacking me and made the baby scream bloody murder until they completely disappeared and I proved to be safe and whole.

Finally, I tried hair wrapping. Hair wrapping, head covering, or pagan veiling was something I’d been looking into for a while and drawn ever since being called into the service of the Goddess Frigga. I started looking at tichels (traditional Jewish style of wrapping hair in a scarf) and decided to give it a shot. Not only did my son approve by giggling and smiling at me (a great improvement from the earlier screaming over the hat) but I felt and looked awesome. I was simply amazed at what a scarf could do for my ego.

I found wrapping to be a great benefit to me as a busy mom. Didn’t have time to shower…again? Wrap my oily head up until later. Can’t find my hairbrush among all the baby stuff? Wrap my tangled mess up and pray it doesn’t become a rat’s nest. Cold out and no time to dry my hair after my rare shower? Wrap my head and stave off the sniffles. The best benefits I’ve found are that wrapping protects my hair from being pulled by playful baby hands and keeps my hair out of my face when trying to nurse and type and drink cold coffee all at the same time. Score!

Wrapping also completed my outfit. I feel very put together and confident when I go out with a wrap that matches the same colors in my clothes or brings together the colors I’m wearing that wouldn’t match otherwise. This confidence bubbles over in how people interact with me. I have had less people bustle me about in stores or at events, more people open the door for me, and less men in particular saying anything rude around me. Wrapping brings attention to my face, for better or worse. More people look me in the eye and respond to my polite smile with their own. It’s a strange rush to be treated with friendly respect even if it is only over a change in how I accessorize my hair.

My self-esteem has been bolstered not only by wearing a hair cover but also by joining a community of many women of all walks of life who also cover their hair. Groups, boards, forums, and more exist for women to share their looks, gorgeous selfies, tips on wrapping, and sales on scarves and wrapping supplies. A surprise among this community is the solidarity and support given. I’ve seen women of all faiths brought together to pray for a fellow wrapping woman as she escapes an abusive husband and women respond with vehemence against businesses who discriminate against women who wrap.

Being a part of this has reminded me that I am more than a mother. I am a sister to other women who wrap. I am a face behind the baby carrier and stroller and car seat and diaper bag. I am a woman who deserves self care even if it’s only in the minute it takes to wrap a scarf around my head before I face the day.

 

 

wrapped-breastfeeding

December Fields-Bryant is a Northern Tradition Pagan and earthly handmaiden to Frigga. Her magical life is blessed with inspiration from her little imp of a baby boy and her Viking blacksmith husband. You can read more of her work at www.Terrestrials.earth or on Twitter @TerrestrialsAK.

A Yule Gift

Friends,

I come to you tonight, on this blessed Yule, to ask for your help.

This isn’t help for me, personally, but for a dear friend of mine. Her name is Michelle. 

Due to health issues, she is in dire need of services that she and her family are unable to furnish. I know many of you are fellow spoonies and fellow persons with disabilities. You understand the hardship that ensues when health services are needed, but not financially feasible.

If you’re able to, please consider donating to my dear friend. Yule is a time for many of us Pagans to come together and cherish our sacred community. Well, this Yule, one of our own needs help. Please, consider blessing her and her family in any way you can.

You can find out how to help by following this link

Merry Meet and Blessed Yule.

~Danielle

Tardigrade Homeschool Resources

Tardigrade Homeschool Resources

 

Have you heard of a tardigrade before? If not, it’s time to read up. These little guys are pretty awesome. If you have kiddos, especially preschoolers who love all things creepy and crawly like my preschooler, then tardigrades are definitely something you should include in your science curriculum.

Tardigrades, or water bears as they’re sometimes called, are micro-animals that can survive a multitude of conditions, including surviving temperatures higher than 300 degrees Fahrenheit and temperatures close to absolute zero. They are found almost anywhere and everywhere, even from the depths of the sea to the top of the Himalayas.They’re one of the toughest critters around, having even survived the vacuum of space.

Some of the earliest tardigrade fossils we have found have been dated to over 500 million years old. That makes these tough little dudes older than dinosaurs (My 4 year old thought this was the coolest thing ever.).

Since tardigrades are so stinkin’ cool, I decided to find all the resources I could on them that would be applicable for a homeschool lesson. I will eventually try to formulate all of this into lesson plans, but since my family follows more of an unschooling approach, this list works well for us, for now.

If you have any resources that could be added to this list, please drop a message on this post and I’ll add it in!

 

Tardigrade Resources – Younger Grades

Tardigrade Resources – Older Grades

Tardigrade Pinterest Boards

(These boards all have neat pictures that my kids loved looking at.)

 

Resources for Pagan Veiling

 

Resources for Pagan Veiling

 

For some Pagans, especially those who follow Wicca, veiling or wearing a head covering is something they feel like incorporating into their craft. Some of these Pagans do it because they feel that their Matron and/or Patron have called them to do it. For some, it is a way to set themselves apart. Others follow a specific type of Witchcraft, such as Jewitchery (Semitic Neopaganism), in which wearing a head covering is more common place. A few do it as a way to protect their crown chakra. And for others, wearing a head covering is simply something they enjoy doing.

Several deities are often portrayed being veiled, but three of the more common ones are Hestia, Hera, and Persephone. The majority of the veiling Pagans that I have encountered usually have one of these Goddesses as their matron, or they are actively working with them.

If you have been a blog reader of mine all the way back when I was blogging under the name ‘The Crunchy Pagan Mom’, you’ll know that I have been a veiling Pagan for several years. Wearing a veil isn’t something that I do all the time, but it is something that I do most days. My reasons for veiling are numerous, but mainly because my matron is Persephone and I feel led to veiling through her guidance. I also feel more confident when I veil, as odd as that may sound.

Regardless of your reasons for choosing to be a Pagan who veils, there are resources out there for those of you who are looking for help and guidance. Below are a few of the Pagan veiling resources I have come across over the years. If you have written a blog post on the topic, done a YouTube video about it, or if you have a Pinterest board dedicated to Pagan veiling, please drop a link in the comment section and I’ll add it to the list!

YouTube

My Personal Experience with Pagan Veiling (Made by me over 2 years ago!)

Why Would Pagan’s Veil? Lilith’s Embers  

Lilith’s Embers (The majority of her videos focus on Pagan veiling)

Wiccan/Pagan Veiling Tutorial Lunar Paiges AWESOME VIDEO!!!

 

Pinterest Boards

Wiccan Veiling (My board)

Pagan Headcovering (A Shared Board)

Pagan Veiling December Fields-Bryant (A lovely blog reader. Check out her Pinterest page for more goodies!)

Pagan Veiling Grace Kellerman-McLean

Pagan Veiling Charise Clarke

Veiling/Headcovering (A Shared Board)

Pagan Head Covering Kathleen Mezgar

Covered Head Pagan Women’s Movement! Michele Smith-Martin

Pagan Monastic Garb Inspiration Danica Swanson

A Veil to Mark the Veil: Pagan Headcovering Antoinette Johnson

 

Articles

Pagan Veiling and Head Covering The Solitary Eclectic Pagan

Covered: The Pagan Veiling Controversy Beth Wodandis

Veiled Pagans Ria Bridges

Veiling: A Different Take on Pagan Womanhood Star Foster I LOVE THIS ARTICLE!

 

Facebook

Occulta Femina (Pagan Covered Women Support Group)

Sisters of the Veil

Paper Airplanes, Raising Boys, & Solo Parenting

 

Paper Airplanes, Raising Boys, and Solo Parenting

 

Today I learned how to make paper airplanes.

Big A has been begging me to make them for several weeks now after he discovered there was such a thing.

When he first asked me to make one, I froze. I had no clue how to make one. I never thought I would ever have to make one. I’d always assumed that these sort of things would be taught by “Dad”. But Dad isn’t here to teach his kids how to make paper airplanes. There’s only me.

I had this same reaction when it came time to help Big A transition to potty training. When I began having children, I always assumed that “Dad” would be the one to teach the boys how to use the potty, and I would teach any girls that we had. But when it came time to help Big A learn how to use the potty, there was only me, Mommy.

Little boys are fun people. But as a solo mom, I’ve struggled with a lot of insecurities. Am I good enough for my boys? Will I be able to show them strong and powerful feminine energy, while also ensuring that they’re surrounded by strong and wonderful masculine energy? This all applies to my daughter, of course, but I think that the way society enforces gender roles has really been making me second guess my ability to raise boys well. The only thing that has really helped in this area is that I have been fortunate to become acquainted with quite a few powerful feminine forces who are raising their boys with the kind of love and guidance I hope my boys see in me.

It wasn’t that difficult to make a paper airplane. A quick visit to YouTube land and a whole three minutes later, and I had the process down. I was pumping out paper airplanes on a factory scale, or so Big A’s incessant begging made it feel. After about an hour of making paper airplanes, Big A decided he had enough to reach peak satisfaction.

After I finally escaped the paper plane factory, I rubbed my achy hands, poured myself a cup of coffee, and smiled as I watched Big A and Little a zoom around the house with their parchment aircrafts. My momentary happiness turned into a twisted sort of feeling of both pride and sadness, an emotion that I’ve recently discovered since becoming a solo parent.

I’m still in that early stage of solo parenting where I can’t feel a sense of pride in what I’ve accomplished without feeling the pangs of regret and loneliness. It’s no where near as strong and painful as it was when I initially began this journey, but it still creeps up.

Does the regret of leaving behind someone who was a part of your family, because it wasn’t working, ever go away? I don’t know. Does the feeling of loneliness when your children do something fabulous and you turn to tell your partner, only to realize they’re not there, ever go away? Probably not. What I do know is that, every morning, I look at myself in the bathroom mirror and whisper, “I’m enough”, and I try to make the day as wonderful as I can for myself and the kids.

 

My Semi-Eco-Friendly Cloth Diaper Wash Routine (Without Homemade Detergent!)

 

My Semi-Eco-Friendly Cloth Diaper Wash Routine (Without Homemade Detergent!)

 

My Cloth Diapering Failures

Once upon a time, I did what many a crunchy mother did. I washed my cloth diapers in homemade detergent. *gasp!!!*

I know, I know. Shame on me.

After years of stinky diapers, and a few ruined ones, I have learned my lesson. I am happy to announce that I am one year homemade detergent sober.

So since many of us crunchy mamas now know that homemade laundry detergent is useless, what’s an earth conscious mama to do with all those dirty diapers?

I have spent quite a bit of time researching and testing different detergents. I have also been following Fluff Love and CD Science’s research. Between the two, I think I’ve found a detergent and wash routine that is Eco-friendly, leaves the diapers stink-free, and doesn’t destroy my washer.

The Eco-friendly laundry detergent award goes to…

I have to admit, I’m a Seventh Generation lover. Their products are way more expensive than most, but I’m willing to make the sacrifice if it means having clean diapers and a better earth. After all, I started cloth diapering BECAUSE I wanted to leave as little of a footprint as possible when it came to my babies. It would be senseless of me to cloth diaper, then turn around and use a detergent that contained harmful pollutants and the like.

I personally use Seventh Generation Ultra Power Plus on my diapers. I’ve tested a few different kinds of Seventh Generation detergents and this one has been the winner time and time again. It requires the least amount of water and detergent to get my fluffy diapers, like my AIOs, completely clean.

My Wash Routine

My wash routine is actually fairly simple. I wash diapers every 2-3 days. Included in my diaper wash are our family cloth (toilet paper substitute). Since Bitty A is eating some solids now, I swish the diapers in the toilet before tossing them into our diaper pail. That’s the only prep that I do.

When I’m ready to wash everything, I toss them in for a pre-rinse. Usually after 2-3 days, the kids and I have accumulated enough diapers and family cloth to make for a full laundry load. I throw everything in and turn my washer knob to “Rinse and Spin”. I add a half a cap of my detergent and run the rinse cycle on cold.

Once the rinse cycle is complete, I turn the temp knob to hot. I then fill the cap up completely to the #6 line and add it in. The wash gets run, no extra rinses.

When the wash is finally complete, I hang dry everything. I have a drying rack that I can use indoors if the weather isn’t permitting.

Currently I have soft water, but in the past when I’ve had harder water, I’ve added a little bit of borax to my wash routine.

How to find what will work for you

All I can suggest is experiment, experiment, experiment! It took me a while to finally find what worked for us. The first best step would be to check out Fluff Love & CD Science. Their page has been so helpful for me in my cloth diapering journey.

If you’re my neighbor and near Fort Smith, check out our local cloth diaper group, Fort Smith Fluffy Bums. The folks that run that page know their stuff! Again, if you’re local, you can also stop by Natural State Parenting Supply and Yoga Studio in Fort Smith. Jana and Sarah, the lovely ladies who run the store, know the ends and outs of cloth diapering.

How about you? What does your washing routine look like?

 

*This article contains affiliate links. This means that I receive a small commission from the company if you choose to buy your product through them. You can read more about the affiliate work I do here.*

Breast Pumps, Postpartum Depression, and Single Parenting

 

Disclaimer: This is a selfish post, but these are my feelings, nonetheless, and people read blogs for the feels, right? Oh, and for super mom brag posts. This isn’t a super mom brag post, this is just about the feels. This post was also written a few months ago, but pumping has finally gotten much easier for me. 

 

Breast Pumps, Postpartum Depression, & Single Parenting

 

This afternoon I sat at my computer, pumping milk while brushing up on some doula business topics before seeing a client. I was crying. The tears were not because the pump hurt, nor were they due to jitters related to my impending visit with a prospective client. I was crying because I felt sorry for myself.

It all started when I grabbed my pump and milk baggies out of the dusty box I had been storing them in. They had been in there for quite some time, back when Little a was still quite small. It’s the same little hand pump I’ve had ever since Big A was placed in the NICU nearly 4 years ago.

That little pump signifies success, but also a great deal of pain.

My little man, my Big A, spent the first 7 days of his life tucked away inside of the hospital’s NICU. I pumped every two hours to ensure that my little guy could get the very best food I was able to get for him. Those nights were spent in tears, being pinched by poorly fitted breast pumps. I couldn’t sleep, especially when I was sent home from the hospital, but my baby wasn’t.

This little person that had been living inside of me for 9 months was suddenly gone, replaced by some machine that attempted to stimulate the milk that was supposed to be for my little babe. It felt as if my baby had died, as if he had been ripped out of me and all I was left with were scars and that bloody milking machine.

When I would go to the NICU during the day, and I went every day and stayed as long as I possibly could. I would try to nurse him from my breasts. He had a lip tie, I was a new and very inexperienced mom, and the hospital staff were not inclined to help me. Big A and I had a very rocky beginning.

Several of the NICU nurses told me that I would have to switch to formula, because my baby would never latch right. One nurse in particular, who was very adamant that I formula feed, would feed him bottles of formula, instead of the breast milk I had worked so hard to pump every night for him. When I found this out, I requested that she not attend to my son any longer – I was livid.

I eventually was fitted with a better pump, the little hand pump I still have. With it, I was able to pump larger quantities of breast milk during the night so that the nurses wouldn’t be tempted to just feed him formula. When Big A finally got to come home, I packed away the pump and read everything I could get my hands on about breastfeeding. Even though his latch was always horrible and often hurt, he and I breastfed for 13 months without any supplementation.

I have no issues whatsoever with bottle feeding or formula feeding, but after Big A’s birth going horribly wrong, I was absolutely determined to have one thing go right for me, and that one thing was breastfeeding.

With Little a, her lips never touched a bottle. I was quite proud of myself for this. My little pump was used a few times during her breastfeeding, but only so I could pump excess milk to donate to local families in need. The aversion to my pump was still there, but it was made easier knowing that I was pumping for a good cause.

Fast forward to today, while I was pumping and crying. It had been two years since I used that breast pump. I had hoped to only ever use it with all of my babies if there was someone in need of breast milk locally. I had hoped that I would be able to stay at home with each and every one of my babies until they were done nursing, so that they could get their milk directly from the breast.

But today, I was pumping so that my 3 month old son would have milk while he was with the sitter. I had that same feeling I had all those years ago, that feeling deep down in the pit of my stomach, the feeling of my womb aching for the baby that had been whisked away from me and placed inside a NICU incubator. It was the same feeling I had felt within my breasts, the longing to have my new baby be the one getting his milk, and not a machine.

So many emotions were running through me as I pumped. At first, I wanted to blame his father for promises not kept. I felt like I shouldn’t have to be working away from home, when I was told I would never have to while the kids were little. I relived the feelings I felt when Big A was in the NICU, those feelings that I now know were signs of Postpartum Depression, which eventually became worse, but healed some after Little a’s home birth.

Having to constantly fight with hospital staff about my choice to breastfeed, all while healing from an episiotomy and bad birth experience had only made the depression worse. THOSE feelings, those horrible feelings, all came creeping back today.

As I left my babies to go see my client, I chanted to myself, “You can do this; You’ve got this”. I catch myself saying that a lot lately. It works. I conjured up what little bit of a smile I could and drove on to my consult.

I love what I do, I really do. I’ve wanted to be a doula for a very long time. It’s doing it alone that I never anticipated. I’m doing everything I always dreamed of doing, only, I had planned to do it with him, my children’s father, by my side. Now I’m doing it alone.

Like I said at the beginning, this is a selfish post. I know there are women who wish they could breastfeed, who wish they could have children, who wish they could work a job that they love. I try to write posts that are not all a pity party for me, but about the happy endings in my life and the joys that life has brought me. But in this situation, I’m still working on building the happy ending and to find the joy. Those things aren’t here yet, but I can see them. I’ve been working my ass off to get them and I finally see them closing in. But sometimes, in order to experience joy and a happy ending, you have to have a good cry over those who are not there with you when you finally taste that sweet achievement.