Attachment Parenting is Beautiful, Except for When It Sucks
Attachment parenting. I am afraid to blog about this because I admittedly have a love/hate relationship with it.
Be forewarned, this is just MY thoughts- others probably feel really differently. Why am I talking about this? Well, I think sometimes all we hear from attachment type mamas is roses and hearts and babies that never cry. We all want to sound so loving and kind all the time that we leave out the parts we struggle with.
This is fine, there is nothing wrong with staying positive. But it can make a mother who is struggling, really feel alone and like a failure when it looks like everybody else is just sailing through Perfect Parenthood 101.
And so, these are my personal experiences with both the pros AND the cons of attached parenting.
What I love about it-
I loved wearing my first baby. When I went to the store he was always so content in his little pouch sling. Everybody thought I had the happiest baby. I loved it so much I sold slings for a while. I gave them to every mama I knew at their baby showers. It does seem to facilitate breastfeeding, being in touch with your babies needs, and encouraging mothering hormones. My babies always seem content in their slings or pouches.
The more babies I have had, the harder baby wearing has been for me. I often walk for miles each day and there is not a carrier on the planet that makes it comfortable to wear a 20 pound baby for two miles walking much less a three mile run while pushing a double jogger and walking the dog. I am not ashamed to admit that my stroller is a much loved possession. I can't fathom why people hate strollers actually. If I didn't have one I would have gone totally bonkers and been stuck at home for the many times I have had no car.
Another thing I learned with one of my babies is that not all babies like to be worn in a sling. I used to think that mom was just "doing it wrong" but the truth I discovered is this: All babies are different. Some really do seem to enjoy their own space. I wouldn't have believed this if I hadn't had a baby like that, but it was shockingly true for me.
Plus the stroller doesn't make my back hurt.
People LOVE co-sleeping. It is apparently some sign that you actually love your kids. We have slept with all of our kids at one time or another, some for years, and others more sporadically. It can be a wonderful relationship and can encourage some very sweet moments.
It does make breastfeeding easier, it does make it easy for nighttime bonding and for some babies it is the only way they sleep.
I have had babies love this and others that simply will not settle next to me. This is not a solution for every baby, in my experience. Some of my babies didn't like sleeping with us until they were around the age of two. Children don't always fit the books, even if they were written by Dr Sears.
Our family bed sometimes contains 6 people in a full size bed and is VERY friendly, very cramped and, frankly, pretty difficult to sleep in. I realize that some mamas sleep better with the kids in the bed, but this isn't always the case for me. I love the sweet cuddly moments, but I also like deep sleep and time with just my husband after a long day.
I often hear attached parents talk about how their sex life is still "great and exciting and spontaneous!!" even though there is always somebody else in their bed.
Sex on a tile floor might sound like fun when you are 20 and newly married, but frankly, in your thirties, it is just painful. The truth is, it CAN impact the sex life and intimacy. My husband ends up on the couch frequently because we just run out of room on the bed. Co-sleeping with babies can be lovely and sweet, but frankly, I sometimes miss cuddling with my hubby. Yes, you can do both, but it isn't always as easy as some people make it out to be.
I love breastfeeding and think it is worth any effort to make it work. Really, I think it is one of the most important things you can do for your baby if possible. The benefits are endless both for health and emotional well being.
|Photo courtesy of Mae Burke Photography in DFW|
My last pregnancy was unexpected and happened around the one year birthday of my third child. She was still nursing like a champ and then suddenly- she wouldn't touch me. I felt endlessly guilty. I felt like I was taking away her babyhood. But the more I tried the more strongly she refused.
I thought that I would be able to nurse her until she was "done" on her own, but I couldn't. I am sure that the pregnancy changes caused her to prematurely wean. Obviously some women are able to successfully do this- but some are not. Also, the first week or so, when I was feeling ill and she still liked to nurse, was EXHAUSTING. I wouldn't have quit because she was so young, but I don't blame any mom who does, especially if the baby is past a year.
For me, I wouldn't get pregnant on purpose until my last baby had weaned themselves, just in case the older baby hated the milk changes that happen with pregnancy.
Attachment Parenting Past Infancy-
I don't even know what this means. Really, I don't. When I had a baby I thought newborns who scream for no obvious reason must be the hardest child to parent. Then they got older. My oldest is seven now, and I still don't know what I am doing.
Sometimes I think, "What a wonderful child! Something is working!"
Other times I am sure I am failing all over the place. I hear them say things I am sure they heard come out of my mouth and I worry for the future of mankind.
I don't think parenting is ever easy, but it is always changing. No is a word I use a lot. Time outs- done that. Discussions- done that. Yelling- umm.....no comment.
You know what I have found- NOTHING works all the time. I hear people saying that peaceful parenting doesn't work and I hear people saying that spanking doesn't work. Frankly, I can't think of anything that is 100% fool proof and works for every child all the time.
Children are not a test and applying a "technique" isn't going to always do the trick. Beyond that, I just can't say that what I am doing is working- because guess what- MY OLDEST IS ONLY SEVEN! Ask me in 40 years how it worked, and I will let you know.
***I love my babies so much and I try to give them all the love they need. I love the idea of the perfect attached parent. Sadly, I have found that sometimes I just can't do it the way it seems it should be done. Maybe this is because I have had the babies too close together, or because I don't get enough sleep, or because I need more help. Maybe it is because I am not patient enough or because babies don't all fit in any certain box.
Whatever it is, I am trying. I need to try harder too. I hope that we all are and I hope we can find some balance that gives the kids a loving sense of presence, the ability to be independent and grow, and leaves time and space for a happy and healthy marriage and mother. Good luck. I know I need all the luck I can get.
(I need to give some love to Confessions of a High-heel Wearing Hippie Mommy whose post got me thinking. Check her out!)