Thursday, May 8, 2014

Hanging Out With Martha Sears


I took a sudden trip to Dallas/Fort Worth recently to participate in the Tarrant County Birth Round-Up. I felt terrible about leaving my family and all the imposition it was, but I had a wonderful time. (Thanks everybody who made that happen.  The list is long.)

I loved the first talk from Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, I loved listening to Jill Arnold from cesareanrates.com (and I had lunch with her!) I loved everything!  I had dinner with Dr and Martha Sears- TWICE.  I had the opportunity of listening to Jennie Joseph, a midwife doing some amazing things down in Florida. There were good times! A VBAC panel, with Melek Oz Speros and much, much more.

I hadn't planned the trip, but last minute I was asked to sit next to Martha Sears and lead a discussion with her. I had a horrid attack of something I won't mention the night before (Note to self: never eat goat cheese ice-cream, even if all your friends are doing it if you know you are lactose sensitive. It will be a very bad choice and it will try to exit your body as quickly as possible.)

I wasn't feeling that well but it was an honor to sit next to this woman.

I have experienced a sort of love/hate relationship with what is known as attachment parenting in the last few years. I started of strong, having read The Baby Book and The Birth Book (written by The Sears crew) with a solemn pledge to never let that baby cry. I even had a tender term for those little bald spots on the back of other people's children's heads- the "neglect spot." And as you may have guessed, my first baby never had a "neglect spot" because he slept in the arms or on the chest of a loved on for the first year of his life.  Yes, he did.

As expected this devotion soon turned to abject exhaustion, especially since I was pretty much on my own, far from family, and had a hubby who lived at school during that time.

I never really looked back after my AP discouragment and just stopped reading books and started trying to parent in a way that was good for my kids, but encouraged their own independence and also didn't make me want to jump off the nearest balcony from being reduced to a shadow of myself.

But listening to Martha talk and answer questions from a room full of mothers who are just trying their best to do right by their children and survive the process intact, was amazing. I mean, truly, amazing. There were tears just listening to her talk- not just about advice on what to do but on admission of her own faults and flaws as a mother.

She wasn't perfect and she admits it!

I can't even tell you how comforting this was to me. I think after reading their books and knowing that she willingly parented eight children and knowing that I can't handle the four I have (HALF what she did!) I just thought she was perfection personified. All the talk of hugs and gentle discipline, I pictured her being a constantly baby wearing/breastfeeding/embodiment of patience. (Oh, she writes books too.)

But she talked about the things she did wrong. She talked about balance. About forgiveness. About spirituality. About getting help and taking time to be with your friends or alone. How did I never understand this?

Turns out, attachment parenting isn't perfection like I had begun to believe. It isn't pushing yourself past your own sanity so that you can raise deeply selfish brats who think the world revolves around them.

It is about being loving and kind and connecting to our children. But it isn't about giving more than you have to give.

If the legendary founding mother of Attachment Parenting did it well, but not perfectly, then what more could be asked of me?

The whole experience just actually blew my mind. I can't really get over it.

Martha Sears was awesome. You should read her books. Her husband wrote them too.

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