Feeding My Family with Love and Respect

This post is part of the 2010 API Principles of Parenting blog carnival, a series of monthly parenting blog carnivals, hosted by API Speaks. Learn more about attachment parenting by visiting the API website.

Cravotta Family DinnerI was drawn to participate in this month’s API Speaks blog carnival because I find the topic so interesting in its subjectivity.  I view myself as:

An advocate of breastfeeding for both its health and nurturing benefits;

Someone desiring to provide and model healthy eating for my children (today we had mac-n-cheese, veggie burgers and fries….some days are better than others); and

Someone with deep curiosity around the intensely personal, primal nature of feeding our young that exists cross-culturally among mothers.

I feel very fortunate to be alive today and part of a generation of women that can experience so much when it comes to equal rights with men. I’m all about competing with men professionally and earning equal pay.

AND at the same time, I like to acknowledge gender differences and embrace all that is inherently feminine.  During this chapter of early parenting years, I personally feel a great sense of my own femininity when nurturing my children with their daily sustenance. I feel connected to all other mothers in the world through this practice — including animals — especially birds for some reason. Funny that one of my 20-something nicknames was “Monnie Bird.”

Guzer.com Photo

Guzer.com Photo

I think the highly personal aspect of feeding our children with love and respect is how we each define what that means a little differently. To tell a mother that she’s not feeding her child right — iye, iye, iye — that can be seriously offensive!  It seems to cut to the core of a defining aspect of motherhood.

So without implying any kind of critique if yours is different, here’s a window into my family’s practice of feeding with love and respect:

  • Extended Breastfeeding. This is a relative term…some moms define “extended” to mean until a child chooses to wean which could be age four or five. Each to their own. My goal is two years for my littlest.
  • Modeling Healthy Eating. I’ve learned that “Healthy” is another highly subjective term between families. And sadly, the ability for a mother to provide healthy food for her children is based both on exposure to information and economic status. And for those not lacking in either category, the amount of conflicting information on nutrition is staggering. Based on my personal research, I’ve come to trust the science shared in The China Study, The Engine 2 Diet, and The McDougall Program for Women. I believe long-term health and well-being is best achieved with an organic plant-based diet with whole grains. I keep our family’s diet plant-based about 80% of the time. We eat ghee, eggs and cheese a few times a week and fish on occasion.  I prefer to have us eat goat cheese because it’s easier to digest but this isn’t always easy and sometimes easy takes priority.  Our non-healthy indulgences that occur at least once or twice a week are the $1.25 tacos from the neighborhood taco stand replete with flour tortillas and refried beans and mac-n-cheese of all varieties. Our at least monthly indulgence are my favorite maple syrup sweetened chocolate chip cookies.

I have a huge amount of Mama Pride however that when asked what her favorite foods are, my 3 year-old will list, “broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, zucchini, peas, carrots, fish, oatmeal, beans and rice, and lasagna (vegan). And Oat Milk.”  And if you asked her about McDonald’s, pop, donut, any kind of name brand candy (with the exception of “lolly pop” which she experienced at a party), or snow cones (popular in Austin), she will say, “What’s that?”

  • Being Conscious (when possible) About Connection During Dinner.  We’re not particularly consistent about anything, but we make an effort to connect in a couple different ways when we share a meal together at the end of the day. When we remember, we hold hands at the table and take turns sharing what we feel grateful for about our lives together.  My 3 year-old loves this semi-regular ritual — though she has yet to share anything herself.  I look forward to that day.  We are also working on delaying our desire for adult conversation during dinner because it inevitably leads to endless interruptions and frustration. Reflecting on this topic today, it seems to me that to truly to love and respect everyone during the dinner hour, we shouldn’t exclude anyone from the conversation — regardless of their age.  Our current idea is to give focused attention to the girls and helping them eat as much as possible of our healthy meal with various entertaining enticements and then encouraging them to have a little play time together while we chat before we all head up for the bed time rituals.

Recently, it’s been an interesting process for me to share the practice of feeding my family with our new live-in cook.

I dreamt up this trade idea about six weeks ago — free room and board in our house in exchange for dinner and breakfast prep/clean-up for five days a week — to help in my anticipated transition back to work full-time. Now wouldn’t you know, the work hasn’t proven to be full-time. Yet. Power of Intention…some day I will have to decline requests from people wanting to pay me to write for them because I’m so overloaded with work.  🙂

In the current barely working phase that I’ve found myself in, I struggle with guilty feelings that I should really be preparing dinners for my family because I have the time. And part of me misses the creative process of cooking  and the sense of satisfaction I feel when everyone is well-fed and happy with what I prepared.

And, I am still thrilled with the choice to have Jeanine, who has become family, cook for us as it is freeing up time to exercise and connect with the girls at the end of the day — and to relax after the bed-time routine instead of doing dishes.

Our communication is fantastic so that as feelings come up, we can both share our experiences and brainstorm results. A few weeks ago I determined that I really wanted to prepare Sunday night dinners and suggested we drop her dinners from five nights per week down to four and instead — whenever it worked with her schedule — to watch the girls for a few hours/week so that Mark and I can start having regular dates again that don’t cost an arm and a leg.

Our latest brainstorm that we’re both thrilled about:  I’m going to start sharing in the meal-planning process. This will serve my Mama Bird hankerings.

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3 Responses to “Feeding My Family with Love and Respect”

  1. Barbie says:

    I really enjoyed this post. Thanks.

  2. This is awesome. I am big into extended breastfeeding too. My first son nused until almost 3 and my second, though tongue-tied at birth and unable to nurse for 6 months, was able to nurse finally after much support and is still nursing now at 2 and a half!! I’m more proud of that than almost anything else I’ve achieved in my 5 years of mothering. If you want to check out that story sometime, here is the linky:


    Have a great weekend!!

  3. Maegan Sheer says:

    This has really got me thinking. Thanks for that. I am really looking forward to revisiting this site 🙂

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