Thursday, May 12, 2011

Attachment Parenting

Since before W was born I have hesitated to label my parenting style.  That is unless I were to label it as 'instinctive'.  One reason we love W's pediatrician stems from one of his interview comments: "If you follow your instincts you will do the right thing 95% of the time. I'm here for the 5% when you don't know what to do or you don't trust your instincts."  Being a mother has been blessedly easy for me.  No, being up all night (and day) with a newborn is not easy.  Changing to a vegan lifestyle because your three week old has a cow's milk sensitivity and you are already a vegetarian isn't easy.  Having a baby who prefers to be held in an upright position while sleeping with full body contact, thank you! doesn't make it easy to get anything else accomplished.  But, overall, I still consider being a Mom easy.  And instinctive. 

As W got older and we spent more time with friends who were also parents of young children I was understandably surprised when the other parents' instincts did not necessarily mirror my own. Not that their parenting style is wrong. On the contrary, their style is mainstream - it is mine that is unusual. After several months of frustration, exacerbated by the other Supermom living too far away for me to socialize with on a regular basis, I decided that I needed to find like minded Mommies and Daddies for W to be around.  He needs to know as he grows up that we aren't different from everyone in the way that we are raising him.  Just different from some people. 

Fast forward several more weeks to today.  I researched and joined a local Attachment Parenting (AP) group.  I'm unable to make it to the 'meetings' which is ok with me because, as I mentioned, I'm not an 'Attached Parent'. I'm a parent who happens to follow some of the AP principles. But I will not be ruled by these principles any more than I am ruled by mainstream parenting principles. 

Still, I would have to say that today was a resounding success.  I was dismayed at first to see 3 shiny vehicles pull up and 3 shiny Moms pull out their shiny strollers.  But they turned out to be headed to a different play place at the park than I.  It was refreshing when I found the right spot to see babies in Ergo carriers and Mommies interacting with their kids on the playground rather than standing and chatting with the other caregivers. Yes, some standing and chatting occurred, but an effort was made to include the children in all aspects of the play date. On second thought, perhaps it was effortless and natural to include the kids. The group leader recognized me immediately by my sling and smiling baby and I knew I had found a home when in the middle of introducing herself to me and giving me some information about the group she (without leaving the playground or even pausing mid-sentence) lifted her shirt and proceeded to breastfeed her young daughter who I later found out is closer to 3 than 2 years old. 

I am not about to sever the ties of my current relationships.  I enjoy sharing my unique parenting ideas with my mainstream friends.  But I will enjoy, a few hours every Thursday morning, spending time with Mommies, Daddies, babies and children, fully attached.

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