What's her secret?: 'Find your own maternal heart and voice'

abredeson@islandpacket.comJanuary 6, 2014 

Carla Golden and daughter, Bella, monkey around with a bunch of bananas while being photographed on Friday.

JAY KARR — Staff photo Buy Photo

  • REAL MOMS, REAL ADVICE

    The moms featured in this column are not bragging about themselves. They often have no idea they are even being selected for the weekly feature until they get a phone call. Most are recommended by readers. Please send your suggestions of Lowcountry moms to features writer Amy Bredeson at abredeson@islandpacket.com.

Name: Carla Cappiello Golden

Husband: Chad

Town: Hilton Head Island

Children: Bella, 12

Occupation: Massage therapist and spiritual nutritionist

Favorite mommy moment: Nothing can top meeting your newborn child for the first time. After 14 hours of natural labor with my husband by my side every second, it was pure elation to see her face, look into her eyes and know that this was the beginning of a very long love affair. It has been an honor being Bella's mother. She is not only a gift to me but also a gift to the world, and I love watching her blossom into her own being as she expands into her own life.

Most challenging moment: I nursed Bella for 25 months, and weaning was difficult. We co-slept for three years, and getting her to sleep in her own bed was another challenge. However, the most challenging moment is a daily awareness to not project my wishes and dreams for Bella onto her but rather give her space to discover and map her own wishes and dreams for her life. While she came through me, she is not an extension of me, my life or my plans. Protecting her autonomy, honoring her uniqueness and learning to detach from wanting her to make me look good as a parent is a daily challenge for me.

Go-to dinner: Something absolutely nutritious and delicious consisting of whole, real food. We eat out rarely, so more than likely it's enjoyed at home and prepared by all three of us.

Favorite book and why: My favorite book on parenting is "The Continuum Concept." It helped me to learn and understand the primal bonds between parents and offspring, and how modern industry with gadgets to sell has interfered with natural tendencies to nurse, baby-wear, co-sleep and follow the cues of the child. Raising Bella this way and being parents of this mindset made her a natural candidate for a Montessori education. We knew that the values we cherished at home would be echoed in this school setting. Children are whole individuals and need to be treated as more than empty slates. Indeed, if you are willing to be taught, they are life's grandest teachers.

Go-to rainy day activity: We are homebodies so we love to snuggle up, stay warm and dry, and watch movies. When Bella was little, we'd visit The Sandbox. Now that she's 12, we chill at home if school or work don't call us away. If I can sneak in a matinee at the theater, I'm delighted. Bella's favorite days are rainy ones.

Stress reliever: I aim to live a low-stress life in general; however, when stress builds, a run, swim, yoga session, hot bath or a good cry usually does the trick. Time with my husband is also a great way to put life in perspective.

Best family vacation: When living in a resort, it feels like vacation every day. We love Sea Pines, and being near Bella's school, the beach, the grocery store, movie theater and not too far from work. When we do decide to leave, which is not often, we aim for the mountains or a city. We love Asheville and New York City.

Who inspires you? I am inspired by the regular, everyday people who make a choice to live healthy, happy lives. It's easy to get caught up in gossip, drama and crisis because they are such commonplace in our culture. So to live outside the mainstream or status quo and find your own, unique path to contentment and well-being is something worthy of admiration.

What's the biggest lesson or value you want your child to learn through you? I want Bella to know that she has innate worth just for being alive, and her presence will always be a cause to celebrate. No matter what choices she makes in life -- from clothing to life partner -- we will respect and love her unconditionally.

Advice for other moms: With so many well-intentioned family members and friends, it is difficult but crucial to find your own maternal heart and voice. If what worked for others when caring for and raising children doesn't work for you, then do differently. Listen to your baby first and foremost. Babies and young children are so smart, even before they can talk. They will let you know what they need or want, and being able to understand their cues helps any mother to feel more confident in her caregiving.

Follow Amy Coyne Bredeson at twitter.com/IPBG_Amy.

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