Being honest about our journey as a parent – how one mom is bearing it all

Ewa Partum, Exercises, 1972

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Being honest about your journey as a parent can be healing for you and inspiring for others. I just read this post about one woman’s journey to Attachment Parenting, the hard way. This is a powerful, moving and beautiful piece. It is truth.

Some may see me as the first kind of AP parent she describes, the kind that always knew AP style practices were for her (even if she didn’t know there was a name for it). I knew I wanted to breastfeed and babywear before Baby came… but I didn’t want to co-sleep and had to because that is the only way she (or any of us, in the end) could sleep.

I also think, sadly, that Eileen’s story is not unique in the sense that many AP parents I know passed through Post-Partum Depression or Post-Partum Anxiety (including me) on their journey to finding out who they are as a parent. We are a bunch of sensitive souls, the ones that in the end put bonding and relationship first. Among bloggers in particular (I’d love to gather real stats) I suspect the number of moms who had post-partum issues is stageringly high. I think many of us blog because we are driven to seek out community, because we need to talk and we need to not feel alone.

Conversely, I will also say that I have met parents who have travelled the opposite journey. They started off with a whole host of hippy/AP intentions and just couldn’t make them work in real life – either the kid’s temperament just didn’t respond to the classic Bs (bedsharing, babywearing, etc) and/or they cracked. They didn’t have the support of a village, they didn’t have information or experience and they just couldn’t do it anymore (all that co-sleeping induced night wakings and endlessly handing over your body – uh, boobs – to another being). The story can run both ways. All are true, all are real, all are equally valid and even can be ‘right’ for different families.

I am touched but also kind of invigorated by this post. I urge you to go check it out. See what reflections on your own journey it brings up. A mirror as clear and honest as this, always helps us see ourselves a little more clearly, too.

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11 thoughts on “Being honest about our journey as a parent – how one mom is bearing it all

  1. Loved this. Absolutely loved it. I wish I’d read it when I was in the thick of PPD with #1. Also love your thoughts on it – it’s wonderful to hear another acknowledge that not all families can ‘do’ the whole AP shabang and be happy.

  2. Wow, her post brought tears to my eyes. With my first, I was the “other” mother you described — I thought I would home birth, babywear, cosleep. But that was not the way things turned out. I had medical complications, my son was not (is not) the “cuddly” sort, and refused to be worn, refused to be slept with. Now that he is two, my AP friends and I have much more in common than we did that first year or so in terms of how we parent, but I feel outside the AP community (read: judged) because of the way we began. Now that my second son is here, he wants to be worn, wants to be slept with, but I feel like I was trained by my first son. Life is definitely a journey, and we are always learning to listen to ourselves. And as parents, we are always learning to listen to our children. No matter where you’re coming from, you probably end up somewhere you weren’t expecting!

    • “No matter where you’re coming from, you probably end up somewhere you weren’t expecting!” – I couldn’t agree more. One of my favourite quotes is: if you want to give God a laugh, tell him your plans! Life gives us the experiences we need (to learn from)… not the experiences we *want*. Oh, gosh and don’t I know it. We do the best we can, right, on a moment by moment basis?

      At the same time, judgements come. Judgements (like feelings and thoughts) come unbidden. It is human to judge, to compare. Ultimately judgements say more about the person having them than the person judged. Or, to borrow from the title of a book I never read: “What others think of me is none of my business”. This was like a mantra to me, for a while – as by nature I am very sensitive to what others think. But I am weaning myself from that. I am reminding myself that doing what *feels* right to me is more important than doing what I *think* will meet with other people’s approval.

      Anyway, my point is, you sound like a wonderful, responsive mother who is listening to the individual preferences and needs of each of your children. Frankly the whole AP movement has often drifted from center. The point is to build a strong bond with your child. That is the goal. Bed-sharing, baby-wearing, etc are not the goal, they are not necessarily desirable in themselves. People (some people) have got hung up on the ‘means’, the Bs and judge people by how well they are following the rules in the AP bible. That is not the point, peoples! The point is about how well you are connecting to your child. The aim is to form what psychologists term a ‘secure attachment’ and there isn’t just one way to do that. In fact, by far the most predictive factor in whether a secure attachment will be formed is mother/caregiver’s responsiveness – NOT how or where they slept.

      Don’t get me wrong, I have already said I am as AP as they get if you look at my practices but I do it ‘cos those things feel right to us and work for our baby, NOT because I think they make me a ‘good mother’. By the same token, I have friends whose babies were in cribs from the start and/or who only ever used a stroller AND they are great mothers will very close and connected relationships with their little ones. I chose my friends based on love/connection/friendship… the feeling that passes between us NOT how they parent.

      We all feel judged. Trust me. We all feel judged… and yet, really, the ultimate guide is your Heart. How does your mothering feel in your Heart? – that is it.

      Sorry this sparked such a soliloquy. Hope I didn’t lose you. Thanks for your thought-provoking comment.

      • Yes, yes, and yes! And thank you. It’s so refreshing to read someone with strong personal opinions who gets that just because it works for you, doesn’t mean it will work for everybody, and who is focusing on what’s really important here — your connection with your child. Your perspective really resonates with me. Thank you!

      • Hmm… thanks. I like that characterisation and think it is fair: I do have strong feelings about what I want to do for us but feel equally strongly that others should be allowed to find what works for them, without judgement. Plus my feelings are changeable as I learn and grow – aren’t everybody’s?

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