Before Lily was born, I knew that I wanted to practice Attachment Parenting with her. I felt such a connection with her as she was growing in my belly that I wanted to continue that special bond with her after she was born. I loved everything Dr. Sears had to say on the topic and I loved reading the Attachment Parenting International (API) website.
"The long-range vision of Attachment Parenting is to raise children who will become adults with a highly developed capacity for empathy and connection. It eliminates violence as a means for raising children, and ultimately helps to prevent violence in society as a whole.
The essence of Attachment Parenting is about forming and nurturing strong connections between parents and their children. Attachment Parenting challenges us as parents to treat our children with kindness, respect and dignity, and to model in our interactions with them the way we'd like them to interact with others."
I loved this thought. After all, who does not want to form and nurture a strong connection with their child? I imagined myself being one of those cute cloth diapering, babywearing, breastfeeding moms that always had a smile on her face and showered her baby with hugs and kisses. I would wear my baby so much that she would be like my cutest accessory to every outfit. I bought several carriers that would go with everything I owned. I could not wait to give birth to her! Of course I was going to have a natural birth! There would be no question about that.
API has set forth Eight Principles of Parenting.
1. Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting
2. Feed with Love and Respect
3. Respond with Sensitivity
4. Use Nurturing Touch
5. Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally
6. Provide Consistent and Loving Care
7. Practice Positive Discipline
8. Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life
That's good and wonderful sounding, right? I can DO this! I can do this.
1. I definitely prepared for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting. I read tons of material and had a wonderful birth experience. I often thank my daughter for "being so nice to her momma and giving her a wonderful birth experience." My father in law accused me of being the most prepared new mother he's ever seen. I was definitely on a roll!
2. Of course I was going to breastfeed NO MATTER WHAT! I've had my fair share of challenges, but my daughter has never had a drop of formula in her life. Of course, the whole Baby Led Weaning effort was an epic fail. No matter what we tried, she was going to gag and choke. I had to use the purees to sooth my worried heart.
3. I used to respond to every peep that came forth from my baby's mouth. I wanted her to trust me, of course. As time wore on, it became impossible, at least for someone as lowly as me, to respond to her every peep immediately. At some point, the dishes just HAVE to be done and the clothes HAVE to be washed or CPS have something to say and they won't CARE how attached you are. They're going to see the filthy and unlivable conditions in which you and your baby live and have problems with that.
4. I held my baby all the time. I mean, ALL. THE. TIME. This is where babywearing would help. Or SHOULD have helped. The first time I put my baby in the Moby wrap (a black one so it would go with everything) she screamed like I was torturing her. As well as the second time. And third time. And fourth time. Get the picture? She hated, loathed, abhorred it. She's finally gotten to the point where she likes the Moby and the ring sling, but only for the little while when we're out in public. She does not like to wear it around the house. I suppose this was my first huge failure, but I still considered myself an okay AP parent. She started becoming mobile and 3.5 months and full out crawling at 4.5 months. There was no need to constantly hold her because she
wanted demanded to explore. She also enjoys her jumperoo and pack n play while I do housework. No really. She likes it. However, only for a little while. She has no problems letting me know when my time for housework is done.
5. I've been dreading this one for the past four paragraphs. Can we just not talk about this one? I've recently written about our sleep journey up to this point. I am sad to say, that I have failed Attachment Parenting. I allowed my daughter to cry it out last night. In our exhausted stupor of indecision, we had run out of ideas. I read everything I could get my hands one, talked to dear and respected friends, and joined forum and forum to try to soak in any and every idea I could think of. But I failed. I failed myself and the kind of parent I hoped to be and more importantly I failed my daughter of the kind of mother she deserves.
6-8. It pretty much does not matter what I have to say about the rest of these. I feel like I am changed somehow after last night. I've become humbled. The fall off my high horse hurts terribly and it might take me a long time to recover. I'll never be the same though. I'd like to think I'll never look down my nose at anyone else ever again, but I am only human. It won't be long before I think, "I my let my daughter CIO but I had no other options. At least I don't give my kid formula." Sounds eerily similar to what I hear inmates say on Lock up:Raw, "Rapists and child molesters are the worst. THAT is unforgivable." And I think, "Really? DUDE! You're in prison! You KILLED someone!"
Of course, I know myself and I'll still try. I'll still try to be a gentle and attached parent. I'm still going to do my best to be sweet to my baby. But I am really wounded right now. I feel like I'll never forgive myself, but I hope I can. It will be kind of hard with some of these unspoken AP rules that I've read about. Although Kaitlin seemed to be writing about these rules with a good sense of humor, she's not kidding. It's tough being an AP mom, not only because of what you do for your child(ren) and family, but because, if you want friends and community, you are subjected from TONS of judgement and guilt from other better AP moms. It's tough.
These unspoken rules are tough for me to follow. She calls the the Eight Rules to Live By (or else):
1. Prepare for birth by planning to give birth naturally. At least I was able to do THAT, but...in a hospital. So I'm on the bottom of the totem pole with that one.
2. Circumcision is not attachment parenting. Well that one was easy. I have a girl. However, I've already made this decision a LONG time ago.
3. Breastfeed your child. Okay. Maybe I'm not doing so bad?
4. There is no need to ever become frustrated, irritable or impatient with your child. Well, dang. I've felt all three. Even when I may have been happy and calm on the outside, I've FELT frustration on the inside.
5. Hold and wear your child as much as physically possible. I do that when she wants it. So there's my loophole. As much as physically possible means as much as she'll let me.
6. Cloth diapers are the only way to go. Oh yay! Doing something right.
7. Sleeping with your baby is safe and natural. Oh boo. We did for awhile. She's slept in our room with us from day one, and we coslept for awhile. Now our family is ready for a change.
8. Eat organic food whenever possible (meaning all the time). Oh well. We are of modest means and eat what we can afford, which is NOT organic.
So, it appears I do not have what it takes to hang with the cool kids. Too bad. At least I tried.