Today has been a rough day, the kind of day that drinking wine while the kids take a nap sounds like a grand idea. My friend Jeanne and I were talking about how amazing it will be when we can send all 4 boys down in the basement to play while we enjoy some adult time. Basically we will look like this:
I am a self- proclaimed "attached parent". Attachment parenting is EVERYWHERE these days, partly because it is awesome and partly because it freaks everybody out. I am sure my AP story is familiar to a lot of you reading (cause I have soooo many followers) but I feel the need to share the beginning part of my story with you. Consider this our 3rd date, I have had a bit too much to drink and I am just feeling so close to you right now. I want you to know EVERYTHING about me because I like you that much.
When I first learned about the different attachment styles of parenting it was in a Developmental Psychology Class in college. I was studying psychology and childhood development to further myself in the field of ABA. The thought of having children was definitely not in the forefront of my mind and I remember thinking that I couldn’t imagine why people wouldn’t naturally parent the “attached way”. Why wouldn’t you want your child to be secure, loving, and well..normal?! Little did I know how CONFUSING it is when you are actually pregnant and you crack open What to Expect When You Are Expecting, read the entire thing in 2 nights and find out that not only should your baby be sleeping through the night by week 6, but self soothing by 3 months, and eating every 3 hours from birth on. I read probably 12 different pregnancy and parenting book within the first 6 months of my pregnancy, all touting ways to not let your baby take over your life when they are born. It honestly made perfect sense to me, why should I let this baby change who I am? I bought a fancy crib, set up a sweet little nursery all for him, bought the most expensive swing on the market, and fully planned to breastfeed for 6 months and switch to formula. I had it all worked out. My water broke at 39 weeks and 23 hours later my first born entered the world. That $300 crib quickly became a laundry basket.
The moment he was born, all my intentions of conventional parenting went flying out of the hospital room. Attachment parenting just happened. I didn’t do it on purpose, it wasn’t a choice I made, I just couldn’t help myself. I was embarrassed that I slept with him from day 1, when people asked I would promise furtively that by 6 months he would be sleeping in a crib but that right now he was “just so little and helpless, I want him near me.” That 6 months turned into 12 and then 18 and now my 4 year old sleeps with me every 3rd night. They are my favorite nights. I read several parenting books the first 6 months and although I could see the value in “training” your child to sleep through the night at 3 months (I was exhausted!) I just couldn’t imagine denying my little angel comfort just because I was tired. Most of my friends made fun of the way I never wanted to leave him, wouldn’t put him down even when he was asleep, and always had a boob in his mouth but it just felt right to me. And that is what attachment parenting is to me, a feeling of closeness to your child, a connection to their needs.
At some point in the first couple of months I went to my local Half Price Books and picked up an old (clearance rack) copy of Dr. William Sears “The Baby Book”. I wasn’t expecting much, I had already read several parenting books and all they did was make me feel a little stupid for not feeling ok with putting my babe in a crib with a binky in his mouth to “self soothe”. Within the first 20 pages I was hooked. I stayed up late reading and learning the name for the parenting that came so naturally to me. As I read I realized that it all referred back to the secure attachment parenting styles that I had learned years ago in my developemental psychology class. Ding Ding Ding. $40,000 dollars I paid for that stupid degree and I got the same information in a $1 clearance rack book from the 70s!
If you haven't read it, get it. Dr. Sears knows his shit.
I tell you all of this because being an attachment parent to my 2nd child is draining the life out of me. He nurses all night long, every single night. He is literally attached to my body almost every waking second. Sometimes when he cries and starts coming towards me I just want to run and hide. I am the cleanest I have ever been because showering is the only alone time I have. I don't even like to bathe! I am a hippie remember?! We are supposed to stink!
But just when I am at my wits end, ready to stick a bottle in his mouth, kick him out of my bed, and throw him out of a moving vehicle (kidding....ish) I remember that one day I will be begging him to call me more, crying over pictures of him in my arms, and stalking him on the internet to see how he is doing in his life. These days are short, he will need me less and less with every passing day, and I will yearn for the days of him only wanting his mama to soothe him.