Tuesday, January 14, 2014

How I Accidentally Became An Attachment Parent

I'm not one for labels, and my best advice to any new mom is simply: ignore the internet. Especially webMD, because no matter what you put in that symptom checker you will always get some life threatening disease. My kid has a slight fever...sorry he has speticemia and is probably going to die. Anyways...back to my point...

So when I found myself googling "getting my 5 month old to sleep in her bed" I was surprised to find myself not only violating my best advice but I found myself being labeled.  The whole reason I was googling this was not because I care she sleeps in our bed, not because it bothers me but because others acted as if it should. I allowed others to make me question my instincts. Another mistake. On the various forums I visited I was labeled a so called attachment parent, something I never considered myself as. I read article after article, blog after blog on both sides of the parenting style divide. When I plucked up courage to ask a question of the all knowing interwebs I was called names. Few of which were nice, but the one that struck me was the AP label.

I thought surely I'm not a crazy AP marshmallow of a parent. Nope, not me! None of that flimsy hippy-dippy stuff here!

I wear my baby in a sling/ergo/Moby because, as great as I am at doing almost anything one handed, I do occasionally need both of my upper limbs. Grocery store trips are a dream with my carrier. Lucy likes it and is happy while being held so I hold her. It just feels right.

I cloth diaper because I'm poor, and cheap...and oh my word have you seen how CUTE they are? What? What's that about the environment? Eh, go hug a tree hippy...KC [cloth diaper site] is having a sweet sale on AIOs [type of diaper] and I have to get them all! The poor and cheap reasoning comes into play for making my own laundry soap too.

I breastfeed my babes well...again..I am cheap. I will admit even if breastfeeding somehow cost more than formula I would still do it. Ummm...lowered chance of breast cancer? Weight just melts off? I can stuff my face with 500 extra calories? Baby gets amazingly unique antibodies protecting them from all kinds of crazy things? Temporarily look like you paid good money to fill out that top? I could go on and on but really...do I need to? I'm also unabashedly becoming one of "those moms" who breastfeeds anywhere with no cover. Lucy just pulls the darn thing off anyways and I've gotten really good at using my wardrobe to make it where you can't see anything. Am I a crazy lactivist? Nope, I just like to feed my baby whenever or wherever she might need it. Because you know...I respond to her needs...because I was pretty sure that's what parents do. I'm not out to male a point or stand up for a cause, I'm out to keep my kid alive and keep her from screaming though your entire lunch meeting at Chili's.

I allow Lucy to sleep with us in our bed pretty much every night. Why? Because I like sleep. Sure I'm up at 1am right now (and I have an alarm set for school at 5am) but that's my own problem. Lucy is happily snoozing next to me, as is my wonderful hubby who can sleep on command it seems, a trait I envy. Lucy sleeps ALL night next to me. She might half wake up and want to nurse but I barely have to leave dreamland to pop a boob in her mouth and we both fall right back asleep. I've tried putting her in her co sleeper bassinet, 9 times out of 10 she wakes up screaming her head off. This leads to me not sleeping [again, I like sleep] She feels happy, safe and loved sleeping next to me, it's an easy and quick buffet [you can't tell me you wouldn't sleep next to the fridge if you could] plus I get sleep? What is wrong with that?! Sounds great. Sure, eventually we will work on moving her to her own bed but right now she has only been in this world for 5 months. You can't tell me you would be completely comfortable on an alien planet after just 5 months. No, you would still be weirded out by that blue fellow down the street and want to have a friend staying with you even if it's only so they can describe the attacker to the galactic police when the blue guy eats you.

Lucy is happiest in my arms, and happiest sleeping in bed next to me. So, I hold her, snuggle her and sleep curled protectively around her without moving an inch all night. Even though a lot of people have told me I should just let her cry it out, get some sleep for me, it won't hurt her. No, it won't hurt her but it hurts me. [See also: this child will NOT cry it out, she WILL cry for an hour or longer, yes I've tested it out]

Now, I've never read a single parenting book. Barely read parenting style or advice blogs [see the number 1 rule] but choose to instead parent on my instincts and prayer. I do what feels right for us, and for Lucy.

A lot of people would say how I'm parenting Lucy is too hard. Since when are children supposed to bend to our whim and be convenient? I was pouring over pages and pages of people bashing others for nursing babies to sleep, or picking them up when they cry because it's just so much work. Did I miss something here? Kids are hard work, like 100 times more work than a min pin hopped up on red bull. When did responding to your kids needs become some kind of fad or specific style of parenting. More importantly when did ignoring your kids become the thing to do? I thought responding to your kids was just called you know...being a parent, no label required.

Apparently I am a wimpy attachment parent raising some horrifyingly dependent kids. By listening to my instincts...I'm destroying humanity...human instincts=downfall of humanity. I don't get it. A lot of people criticized me for not just putting my foot down and forcing Lucy to sleep in her crib, or holding her most of the day, or allowing her to nurse on demand even if that means every 2 hours at 5 months old.

Do I do these things because I read a book about written by some doctor who has no idea what my kids are like? Nope. I hear my baby cry...I pick her up and feed/change/play with or snuggle her. Needs met=happy baby=happy mom. That little tidbit is from my brain and not some book or blog or magazine.

I was the sane with Roxas although not nearly as confident. I responded to what he needed. I relied on my instincts a lot of the time. I think he is developing into quite a nice young man if I do say so myself. My parenting responses with Roxas look WAY different than with Lucy though. Why? They are totally different kids! They have different personalities, different wants, needs and dislikes. Parenting styles are not one size fits all. Parenting is dynamic, like fluid, always changing to fit it's container. Parenting is always changing to fit the child.

Well you know what...go get my birkenstocks and granola. Because evidently I am a crazy attachment parent. You guys have a club or secret meeting place or something?

To me parenting is not a style, it is just what you do. You don't need a book, or a doctor, or a voo-doo priest to tell you how to be a parent. God gave you the best instructions ever: your instincts. If it doesn't feel right, don't do it because it's not right for you. If it feels right then go for it. This applies to hot topics like cosleeping, extended breastfeeding, babysitting and sleep training. Does is feel right for that kid? Then do it, If not then don't. Stop worrying about what kind of parent you are and just be the parent God made you. I don't care of you're a tiger mom, an AP parent, a crunchy mom, a honey badger mom, a ferber mom or whatever you want. Raise your children to be respectful, have empathy for others and to know and love God. If you achieve those things, in my opinion it's a very good step to raising productive members of society no matter which way you end up at those goals.

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