As I was reading through my blogs this morning I came across a post on a friends blog talking about the failings and shortcomings that all parents inevitably experience and that those of us who practice "attachment parenting" beat ourselves up all the more for. I think that people tend to forget that "attachment parenting" isn't supposed to be a strict, prescriptive method. The idea is to have a strong bond with your children, to pay attention and respond to their needs as quickly as possible. AP is not meant to be an all or nothing prospect, the idea is to do what works best for you, your child and your family.
A great example is cosleeping, or bringing the baby (or child) into bed with the parents. The idea is that if the baby wakes up for some reason during the night you are right there to comfort and sooth them back to sleep instead of leaving them to cry alone in a room. Cosleeping can make life easier and happier for some families and worse for others. I never sleep well when A. is in bed with us. She moves around and I'm always half awake because I know that I toss and turn a lot and wouldn't want to hurt her. Also, she is a light sleeper and wakes up every time I roll over or DH coughs or the dog barks in his sleep. When she was tiny and nursing a lot at night she slept in a bassinet in our room so that we didn't have to walk across the house several times a night. For the first 6 months this worked beautifully with her occasionally coming into bed with us if she was having a hard night or a growth spurt. At some point between 6 and 7 months she suddenly went from waking up once or twice a night to waking up every 1-2 hours. No one was sleeping and we were all miserable and cranky. DH decided to put her to bed in her crib one night and promised to bring her too me and take her back every time she needed to nurse. We turned on the baby monitor and turned it up so high that we could hear her breathing and the clock in her room ticking. She only woke up once! Thinking it was a fluke we tried it again the next night, but the same thing happened. Turns out we were waking her up and as soon as she had her own space we all started sleeping better. Part of me wants to beat myself up for not cosleeping like many of my AP friends say is best, but I know better. We are all getting enough sleep because I listened to my daughters need to be in her own bed, in her own room down the hall. We still respond immediately when she cries, but unless she's sick that doesn't happen much. We may not cosleep, but we follow the spirit in finding what works best for our family and helps us all feel the most safe, secure and rested.
Another big component of AP is babywearing. Now, those of you who know me know that I am a big fan of wearing A. I have a ton of carriers or all shapes, sizes and colors and will happily help anyone who is interested in "wearing" their baby or toddler figure out what works best for them. When A. was tiny I didn't even own a stroller and we took our walks the way she liked best, with her snuggled against my chest asleep. Not only was this A.'s favorite way to be held, but it left my hands free so I could take the dogs on a walk too. Once she was old enough to go into a jogging stroller this changed. I love the chance to go jogging, an activity that isn't safe when you are wearing a baby, and she likes being able to look around and have some quiet alone time watching the birds and plants pass by. Every morning she goes into the stroller and we go for a walk (or jog) that ends up at the park where she gets to run around and play herself. However, just because I am now using a stroller doesn't mean that I am no longer wearing her. When we go grocery shopping she prefers being on my back to being in the cart. Honestly, I haven't pushed the matter because it is also a lot easier for me because she can't stand up and try to climb out (did I mention that she's figuring out how buckles work?) or grab stuff off the shelves as we are walking. By wearing her shopping is a pleasant activity to do together instead of the constant fight I get half the time when I try putting her in the cart. I also love it when we are traveling or out and about. I can fit a wrap, sling or my Ergo in my diaper bag and carry A. or let her walk depending on her desire and how much of a hurry I'm in. I've yet to find a stroller that will fit in a diaper bag or let you zip through crowds the way I can with a wrap or the Ergo. Babywearing is also great for hiking, we can take any trail a backpacker could and share the remote mountain beauty with our daughter, try doing that with a stroller. However, doing one does not mean that I can't do the other. I use push A. in a stroller for some activities and wear her on my back for others. While I may feel a bit smug as I dodge between the strollers stuck in the crowd at ZooLights with my baby on my back, that doesn't mean that strollers don't have a place in my life or that I feel bad when I put A. in our stroller and go jogging along the paved nature trail near my house.
There are many more of these types of things where the conflict between someone else's (or my own) definition of what "should" be conflicts with the reality. However, this blog post is getting crazy long so I'll stop here. Hopefully I'll post more tomorrow.
To be continued....(if I remember...)