You have taken me on quite a journey since we met over 7 years ago when my oldest was just 5 weeks old. It was love at first sight, but little did I know the ups and downs this relationship would bring!
I was enamored at first by its exotic, down-to-earth, primitive yet progressive charm. I was sold on its promise to allow my baby to be a human being from day one, and loved the permission it gave me to treat her respectfully and with an even deeper connection.
Alas, along with parenting comes lots of surprises. And the most striking one of all was my desire to do it all RIGHT! I was in a tizzy of research and aiming for perfection for that perfect little bundle of mine who brought more stress and triggered more worry than I could have ever imagined!
Healthy food! (Getting her to eat it!?)
Enough sunlight? (She’s getting burned!)
A good sleeping schedule. (We’re both crying by now.)
Enough in-arms time. (But I need my freedom back!)
Proper stimulation? (I’m so tired of baby play.)
I couldn’t let go. It all had to be perfect. I found myself in a tornado of post-partum anxiety with a huge dose of perfectionism... and our EC practice was another thing I just had to get right.
I vacillated between my sense of knowing that this is right and natural and simply the healthiest way and my unhealthy desire to show the world that yes, EC is real and possible and ideal and look! Here’s my baby to prove it.
Well, EC rebelled, along with the schedule and the food and the attachment stuff and the massages and everything else I was trying to conquer.
My love affair with EC, however, was not over. I knew deep in my heart that I could, I would, practice EC with trust, intuition, and a relaxed attitude with acceptance of the process and failure.
It took a while, though, and by the time I finished with baby number 2, who was “done” at a whopping 14 months old, I realized that I would need to let go completely. I need to take a little separation without conditions, and let EC find me when I’m ready.
It was excruciating to say good-bye to EC. I was the “lady who trained her babies early”. My kids sported underwear and announced “potty!” at wee ages. And more importantly, my love for EC’s benefits to my children and the planet still meant so much to me.
But in spite of my EC success with my first two, I knew that I was betraying EC by making it about the product, not the process. I knew that the unnecessary tension and hypervigilance that came along with our practice was killing the magic of EC and going against the truest intention of parenthood.
So with baby number three, I unceremoniously let go. He was bundled like the others in his disposables, onesies, and one piece stretchies. Every time I knew “missed” an obvious poop I cringed, wishing I could catch it in the sink and feel that familiar rush of victory, pride and satisfaction. In my heart of hearts I felt relaxed and relieved, though I wouldn’t admit it to anyone.
There’s a saying, “You can’t say yes if you can’t say no”. Well, I made it up, but the gist of it is: if you can’t say no to someone, or live without something, or NOT have something, then your yes is not much of a yes, and your choice to have it is not much of a choice.
Our separation didn’t weaken my love for EC, it simply gave me a chance to choose it again. I waited for the time that I felt no particular rush of excitement to potty my baby, only a connection that I felt with him and a genuine desire to help him put his pee and poo in the right place. He looked at me with those intelligent childish eyes and I could sense his connection to his own body. I suddenly felt my duty as his mother to help him do what he wanted to do and simply guided him in a playful, motherly way.
So at the once painful age of 23 months, I finally potty trained baby number three. And let me tell you, the joys of “ECing” from a flowing joyful place... the MAGIC of it all finally fell into place. This was heart centered EC, truly revolving around my relationship with my toddler and his cute little body, indeed, creating the closeness EC claims to bring.
I’m still in love with EC. I’m still passionate about it. But I don’t need it anymore. I’m free to enjoy it, laugh with its ups, roll with its downs, and gratefully benefit from its natural brilliance.
I’ll never forget the day I found EC.
But even more special was the day it found me.
Thank you so much for sharing this lovely story, Nechama.
Please comment below with something you LOVED from Nechama’s story!
PS - here’s the video version of this episode in case you prefer to YouTube it. ;)