Wednesday, January 6, 2021

What is Attachment Parenting?

Dear New Attachment Parenting Mother,

My youngest attachment-parented kid of 5 children has been sleeping around.

Around the house.

And I want you to know that this is going to happen to you someday, at your house. Tell your husband this is going to happen and have him read this. But you only need to show him this if he is a naysayer and thinks your baby or toddler who is sleeping in your bed and is attached to your breast nonstop is soon going to be a teenager who still sleeps in the shape of an X in between the two of you. You might also want to send this link to your mom, mother-in-law, sister, neighbor, and/or friend who think you are hurting your kid by sleeping with him.

We started attachment parenting in 2001 with our first kid. I say "we" because my husband was supportive and that is VERY important. Having a kid really tries a marriage and being on the same page with anyone about anything most of the time is hard, let alone when you are dealing with an extra human life in your house that is so very easy to mess up. (aren't we all messed up a little bit, in some way? nobody gets out totally healthy)

Check out this little thing I wrote back in 2012 about the Attachment Parenting Debate.

A picture from my photo vaults ... I had just nursed Joel to sleep in a fancy restaurant, discreetly, thank you very much!

Thankfully, my husband also could not stand to hear our son cry in his $500 crib (thank you to my ex-employer for the pre-baby Christmas bonus!) and was cool with me bringing him to bed to nurse and sleep next to with a bedrail so the little munchkin would not be falling out of bed. When the baby would nap, he nursed to sleep and napped on me. All the time, pretty much.

Did the exact same thing with the second little blessing.

Michael sleeping on me. People would ask if I wanted to lay him down somewhere and I would always just politely say, "No, thank you." I'm not the kind of mom who feels free when her kids are away from her. I feel free because I have them close to me.

By the time I was pregnant with our third kid, the crib was traded for a lovely couch, which we still have almost 11 years later. If I needed to chase the boys around, I'd put my baby girl in the sling and she often went to sleep there, head on my shoulder.

Callie was in the sling a lot, as I was chasing after her two big brothers!
Kid #4, another girl, and same thing. No joke. I'm consistent for once in my life.

Check me out, all out to dinner at a fancy place with Aron's cousin and one of my best buds, Tresa. This was in 2008 and yes, I nursed little Eva to sleep and she crashed in my arms while I had a life.

Which brings me to that fifth kid I told you about. When he was born he had meconium in his lungs and had to spend 7 days in the NICU, which KILLS any parent, let alone an AP parent. Breastfeeding was almost impossible for a while but we finally got it (yes, it involved me sitting in one spot, switching him from side to side, crying sometimes (me) and supplementing with a little less formula each day).

Samuel nursing at our friend Jordan's private backyard swimming pool.

He is six years old now and still sleeps in the twin bed attached to our queen bed. My husband and I have been sleeping next to each other again for a while so I'm telling you it DOES happen. It's bittersweet, but it happens. You get such a long marriage together (hopefully), but only a short time, relatively speaking, as parents.

Recently he slept in his sisters' room with his oldest sister on the floor in their "fort." They both slept all night with no problems and they slept in ... like REALLY LATE. My big boys chose to sleep in their own fort two half floors down and Eva ... well, she's a snuggle bug who still digs her mommy, so she took over Sam's bed for the evening.

Sometimes Sam will sleep in his oldest brother's bed when he's away at a Scout thing. He does it to keep the other brother company.

All this is to say that THEY WILL LEAVE YOUR BED. Often VERY reluctantly, often before they are ready (especially if you plan on having a big family like we always did). I HATED moving kids into their own rooms and never understood why my husband could not just knock out a wall and create some mega-bed for our family. Now that my oldest is 14 (and his brother is 12), he most certainly does not want anything to do with this and would DIE if he read this post.

I dug AP so much that I kept it going by homeschooling. Sure, if my kids beg to go to school we can work that out, but for now they all dig being taught at home and going out to have lots of fun!

Treasure these times, parents. All too soon they are preferring their friends to you, driving cars who-knows-where, working jobs, finding their own way. Is attachment parenting a bit selfish? You bet it is. And I don't care. I got to parent how I wanted to parent ... in a way that made it so I wasn't stressed out listening to a baby screaming and in a way that made sure I got plenty of sleep so I was patient and usually ready for what each day threw at me when my husband was often traveling for work.

Youngest to oldest, Sam, Eva, Callie, Michael and Joel!!!

Grab your confidence. You're going to need it over the years. Ignore the haters, those who are jealous, those who don't parent like you and criticize your ways. Smile and wave. ENJOY! Soon you could be like me ... working from home in the mornings for a couple of hours and going to the gym while ALL the kids sleep in happily because you don't know what to do with yourself and you hate to clean.

Aron, my husband. No, really, what would I do without him?

And when you don't know what to do with yourself because your kids are growing up, AP Mom, just nurture your son's pet bearded dragon!

This was originally posted January 2016. Now there are zero kids in our bed, except for when my husband travels, and then ALL FIVE KIDS find spots in my bedroom to sleep :-) And now sometimes the cat sleeps with me.

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