I’m in a community online that is centered around Attached Parenting (AP), and there has recently been a lot of discussion of what exactly AP is. To many of us, it is a huge umbrella term, that contains many many parenting techniques, but is centered around a firm belief that a child’s needs are just as valid, and worthy of respect, as our own. That doesn’t sound so hard, right? In my life that has manifested in looking at Tom and our girls as my teammates, all working towards a goal. It’s not my needs vs. their needs (or rather, fitting their needs into my life) but that we all need each other, and that we have to find a balance. Some days that balance is off, and I vent here. But most days, I know that we are better together than we are apart, and that is an amazing feeling.
Others have a more narrow version of what AP is, and it is defined by actions, not intentions. Cosleeping, babywearing, breastfeeding, natural birthing – it’s a checklist that some people feel can define a parenting style. I’m not so sure. I see these things as a means to an end, a way to bond further with your child, so that you can understand where they are coming from at 2am when they are screaming and you have to ask yourself – ‘Do I get angry because my need for sleep isn’t being met, or do I act compassionately, because they have a need that they can not meet on their own?’ AP to me is about being introspective about parenting, instead of reactionary. Do I think that children who are bottlefed, sleep in cribs, go to daycare, and are pushed in a stroller can be securely attached to their parents, and that their parents can be amazing, compassionate people? Abso-freeking-lutely. I know some amazing parents have made these choices, and while they may not be cosleepers, they are the kind of parents that I envy. They are willing to jump over the obstacles and create and maintain that bond with their child, and really, isn’t that the point?
A does not equal B. There are so many shades of gray, and jumping to the conclusion that you are “that” kind of mom, based on a cursury glance of someone’s life is unfair, and ugly. I listen to my children, I react with thought and care, and I am working to help them become the best them they can be. I am not all sacrificing, I am not a push over, and I am not going for the mom of the year award. I have screamy mom days, and I have made huge mistakes (already!). But I take this job seriously, and i am trying every day to be the best mom I can be. And if that takes the form of extended breastfeeding, awesome. If not, I know my girls are well loved and are thriving despite it.
I keep revising this post, because it’s just getting more cluttered, but I guess this is just to say that I know many of you do not make the same choices that I do, but that I hope you know that I’m not one of those people with their clipboard, grading you on where your child sleeps, what diaper you use, or what parenting guru you attach yourself to. I’m watching you, amazed that you are doing this job with grace, humility and passion. I am inspired by you, I am supporting you, I am hoping that 2 am comes and goes quickly. Your child is lucky to have you, and so am I.