Sunday, 15 September 2019

A New Venture on Patreon

Hi Friends,
Hoping you are all well this beautiful sunny Sunday where ever you are in the world, I am here today, and thank you so much for joining me, to share with you an exciting new venture that I am embarking on.  I have joined the Patron community! https://www.patreon.com/imperfectlynaturalmama



Now you're wondering what on earth is that? well let me tell you. Put simply Patreon is a membership platform that makes it easy for artists and creators to get paid.  This means that if you subscribe to my Patron for either $2 a month or $10 a month depending on what rewards you would like to see, you will not only be supporting me to help my family financially, to home educate my children and generally put food on the table, but you will also be enabling me to create more.  More blog posts, more vlogs, more art products, more inspiration, more of what I love. 
Every month I will be posting a subscriber newsletter which will include recent musings, ideas and thoughts on full time motherhood, life with three small boys, home education and faith amongst other things. You can subscribe to this newsletter for $2 per month which I hope will be a gift to you of inspiration and provide nuggets of wisdom, motivation, hope that will enrich your life. You will also be giving me a gift of supporting my dream, and with every person who subscribes I will do a little happy dance (you won't see it but you'll know I'll be doing it!)  Take a look here: https://www.patreon.com/imperfectlynaturalmama


For $10 a month you will not only have access to the monthly newsletter but you will also have access to a number of my downloadable products, normally only available in my Etsy shop.  
With each subscriber I will endeavour to produce more products for download.  

So I am really excited for you to join me on this journey and see where it goes, it's a blank book at the moment and you will be joining me at the very beginning to be with me every step of the way in seeing where it goes.

Buying from a small business is so much better than buying from a branded store. Check out the benefits of buying from small businesses.

Thanks friends,
Helen

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Should Christian Mothers Breastfeeding in public?



I recently had the misfortune to stumble upon several posts on Instagram telling women how they should (or shouldn't) breastfeed in public, and I had to write a response because the posts upset me. I was doubly disappointed to see that the misinformed individuals were Christian and women, and were using Biblical references to oppress and shame breastfeeding mothers.

I need to respond to this, not in the hope that the the original posters will see it and have their opinions set straight but because the message they put out was so damaging.  The message that they put out could put mothers off breastfeeding which could be damaging for her and her children.  It is also a harmful message for society because it lays the blame for other people's sin firmly at the feet of a nursing mother and this in turn excuses people from personal responsibility and causes mothers to be shamed and condemned.

So here is my big problem; these people seem to think that it is a woman's responsibility to prevent a man from committing the sin of lust by looking at her breasts during breastfeeding.

This is absurd for three reasons.

First  BREASTFEEDING IS NOT SEXUAL!

If a man sees a woman breastfeeding and is sexually aroused then what he has is a fetish (or worse).  Women are not responsible for preventing men from becoming aroused by peculiar fetishes.  If they were women would never wear sandals, walk a dog, or indeed have their own nose on view (yes these are actual fetishes)!  Some people argue that breastfeeding should be a private act like going to the toilet or sexual intercourse, but this implies that breastfeeding is some how dirty or rude, this is a massive misunderstanding of what breastfeeding is, probably taken on board because of the way women's breasts and excretions have been talked about and portrayed in the media for the last few decades or so.  Breast milk is sterile and hygienic, it is food, drink and comfort for a baby, it does not function for the arousal of men or the elimination of waste.

Second, breasts being sexually arousing is all about context.  A breast or any other body part can be arousing to a man or not depending on the context. A breast that is feeding an infant is not sexual, it is fulfilling it's function of nourishing an infant; a breast in skimpy undies topped with pouting lips and a provocative pose are more likely to be.

Thirdly, the Bible does not say that it is a woman's responsibility to prevent a man from the sin of lust by covering themselves during breastfeeding.  Breastfeeding, lust and modesty are never mentioned in the same verse. Breasts are mentioned several times in a sexual context but never combined with breastfeeding.
Some people quote Romans 14:13:

"Let us not therefore judge another any more: but judge this rather, than no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way"

to argue that breastfeeding in front of a man might be deliberately placing a "stumbling block" to cause him commit the sin of lust, and therefore be a sin for the woman, but as I have said earlier, breastfeeding is not sexual, so breastfeeding in front of a man is not tempting or provoking him to sin.  It is simply feeding her child. That's right guys, breastfeeding isn't actually about you! Even if breastfeeding were sexual, it would no more be a woman's fault for arousing a man to lust than someone who has prepared a spread of delicious food is sinning because it might entice someone to commit the sin of greed, or a shop assistant selling jewellery might be committing a sin by luring a person to commit the sin of stealing! Because deliberately attempting to get the man to sin is not her intention when breastfeeding her baby. We have to be sensible about where tempting others to sin ends and our own personal responsibility begins, otherwise we might find an excuse to place the blame for our own sin on everyone else.
The purpose of breastfeeding is to feed and nourish and comfort an infant, no women breastfeeds with the express intent of luring a man to commit the sin of lust, so a woman openly breastfeeding is not committing a sin.

So if you are a man reading this and you're thinking "well hang on, I do find myself aroused by the sight of a woman breastfeeding her child," then may I suggest that what you need is some therapy, and not for the women to stay home or hide under a giant floral printed apron.

My final point in defence of women is that, when women first breastfeed they usually feel a sense of inhibition, simply because their breasts have previously always been sexual (thanks media for that powerful message,) and are used during intimacy, so this new function may cause her to feel shy about exposing her breasts in public to feed her baby. This is totally fine and normal and understandable, it's OK to not want another man looking at her breasts, and I am not saying that mothers should be making it obvious to everyone that they're breastfeeding.   If a woman feels self conscious during public breastfeeding, there are ways for that mother to make herself feel more comfortable about breastfeeding in public, such as using a scarf or the top-over-top method, but she should be doing this for her own comfort, not to prevent her brother from sinning, which as I have made clear above is a ridiculous suggestion, and no Christian woman breastfeeding her child does this.








We must not shame women for exposing minuscule parts of their breasts during breastfeeding, or suggest that they only bottle feed when in public, or go to a different room, or wait till they get home to feed their babies. we must encourage women when they are working hard to breastfeed their baby, which is a God approved function, regardless of where they do it.   We must not put restrictions, and rules upon a mother for how and when she should breastfeed, this could damage and end a mothers breastfeeding journey, and shame to anyone who does this.  Oh, also, the Pope says it's all good, I'm not Catholic, but I'll take this endorsement!

To close, here are some of my favourite paintings of the most holy woman, Mary, the mother of Jesus, breastfeeding the infant Christ:
Image result for Virgin Mary Breastfeeding Jesus by Magdalena Walulik


Virgin Mary Breastfeeding Jesus by Magdalena Walulik





File:Giampietrino - madona02.jpg

The Virgin Nursing the Child with St. John the Baptist in Adoration, by Giampietrino


Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

The Virgin Nursing the Child, by Pompeo Batoni


Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Sagrada Família, by Josefa de Óbidos



“Virgin Mary and Jesus” by Guido Reni


Sunday, 26 May 2019

What I learned when I quit social media

The first day I was constantly picking up my phone then putting it down again, the
habit of looking at my phone was so strong it was like an impulse.


I had decided to give up social media for lent.  Facebook and Instagram were my main vices, they had become a distraction from my children, from my husband, from housework, from life.



I soon overcame my impulse to constantly check my phone, but it wasn't really until lent was over that I began to realise the benefits of avoiding it, and the real negatives of engaging with it.

During my fast the many benefits of not being on social media became abundantly clear.  I was more available for my family, less distracted and the awful image of the mother with her face glued to her phone was gone.  I am not perfect so I did replace the phone with books, but how much more inspiring is it for my children to see their mother distracted, or otherwise engaged with a book than it is a phone!? I was less stressed as I wasn't getting caught up in petty arguments and I was cut off from my main news source, (I even watched the actual news a couple of times during my fast as I had no idea what was going on in the world!) so my anxiety about world issues was massively reduced, and because my mind wasn't overwhelmed by the plight of people and environment in far flung places I felt more available to help with the everyday plights of my children, husband, friends and home, my circle of influence.  I had more emotional energy for them as I wasn't wasting any on things that I couldn't have any impact on.

Not being on social media freed up my time as I wasn't wasting it staring at the screen at mindless junk.  I was tidying the house, I was batch cooking meals, I was changing bed sheets, I was gardening and I had more time for reading books. Time scrolling facebook during evening breastfeeds with my two year old were spent pinning exciting things on Pinterest (though be warned, Pinterest can be a rabbit hole, so I know now I have to stay on topic.  One minute I am looking at ideas for sensory play for two year old's, and the next I am reading about how the world is flat and the queen is a lizard (I kid you not!).)  My FOMO (fear of missing out) was unfounded, I didn't miss out on anything at all, my friends relayed events to me that they thought would be interesting and I got plenty of information from my friends on messenger and through emails.

So I bet you think I have stuck with not going on Facebook of Instagram since Easter?  Well you'd be sadly mistaken. Over the last few weeks I have re-immersed myself fully in social media.  I have very quickly fallen back into my old habits of constantly looking and checking my phone.  My husband has noticed I am distracted and I am sure my children have too. My children now see me on my phone as an everyday occurrence, the phone as an extension of my hand. I desperately don't want them to think that having a phone in your hand to stare at is a normal thing, and something they will do.

From the first moment I began scrolling through Facebook I was seeing posts that caused me anxiety, at least 5 posts unnerved, angered or otherwise bothered me in the first five minutes of scrolling
And this has continued ever since. It is terrible, I have slipped back into old habits so quickly, once I pick up my phone and start scrolling I find it extremely difficult to stop, I get into arguments with people I don't even know and get frustrated with trying to reason with idiots! Why do I do this to myself?

So I want to say right now that I am giving up Facebook and Instagram for good.  But I can't.  Let me tell you why.

Facebook and Instagram give me a voice, or at the very least make my feel like I have a voice which reaches further out into the world than to the friends and family I see on a weekly basis.  I feel like I can have an impact on the lives of others through what I share online. I enjoy feeling like I can bring joy, comfort and encouragement to others, that I can make people think, stretch people out of their comfort zones and have my own thoughts challenged and discussed. I missed feeling like I was part of a wider world when I was fasting from social media.  I also use Facebook for practical purposes, I document our home education journey with my family in a private group.

So now I need to work on getting a balance.  I need to work on self-control and stopping myself from mindless scrolling. I need to work on sharing stuff that I am passionate about and that adds something good to the world and my life and not clicking on and reading drivel. So from here on in I am expecting to spend less time mindlessly scrolling my home page, engaging with click bait articles and arguing with strangers about stuff I can't control or change.  I will be focusing on my circle of influence, so expect posts on the environment, veganism, home education, mothering, positive parenting and breastfeeding and more, and also just general feel good, or thought-provoking posts to those who know me or have some sort of real connection to me outside of the screen.

I hope I can maintain the will power and self-control to stick to this plan, I think it is worth it as I now know how much better it is to be living in the real world and not stuck to my screen.  Why  not join me and see how reducing your social media engagement can change your life.