Let me preface this by saying that I hate labels. I think we can get caught up in the labels of our life, you know, cloth diapering, homeschooling, babywearing, exclusively breastfeeding, GAPS/Paleo/Whole Foods/McDonalds only diet, etc.
These are all labels, things we say about ourselves to describe how we live our lives, but in today’s society, these labels can create a very stressful existence.
When we label ourselves, we often fill ourselves with self righteous pride, pride that hinges upon our strict following of the label. For example, I wear my babies, I could never ever use a stroller. What does that do? It sets me up to feel like I’m above those stroller users, or worse, that I would be a complete failure if I (dare I say it) use a stroller at some point in my baby’s life. These labels are to restrictive. They open the door for judgment, they invite despair at not being able to meet every single criteria that the label entails.
Now, I do like to do a lot of these things. Many are born from my own laziness. I like to wear my babies, because it keeps them close and calm, and I HATE lugging around baby gear. Excess baby gear bugs me, I mean where do you store it, how do you use it all, and well, I could never fit it in my car due to the lack of space considering we are driving a 7 passenger car (read NO foot room). I like to breastfeed, because besides being nature’s perfect food, it’s doesn’t involve a bottle. I hate bottles, they get milk down in little hard to reach crevices, and the nipples get all funky, and maybe it’s just the nightmares of washing all of those bottles my little sisters used when they were small. I like to cloth diaper, because I live out in the middle of nowhere, if I run out of diapers, I can just wash and reuse. No store needed. Doesn’t mean I haven’t used a disposable. Doesn’t mean I haven’t used formula before, I actually had to with Andy when I ran out of milk (curse you PCOS) at 8 months despite all of the herbs and pumping. Oh and we do have a stroller now for Grace, it’s handy for goat milking, chicken coop cleaning, etc. I like to use vinegar and baking soda to clean my house, and I hate bleach with a vengeance, but when one of my kids poops up the house…..out comes the Clorox. I like to eat a whole foods, low sugar, nourishing kind of way. BUT we still eat out once in a while, I love marshmallow cream a few times a year, and I don’t always soak my grains. It just is what it is.
When Andy was born I fell in love with the Attachment Parenting philosophy.
I just knew that is how I wanted to parent. I knew it made sense. I mean, it’s just so full of love, gentleness, how could it ever ever go wrong? It has a wide following, and since Andy was premature, I felt it was the absolute best way to do things. There can be a lot of pride wrapped up in choosing to parent only one way. I had that. There was no way I could let my baby cry, I was the self sacrificing night time parent, my baby must never ever be left without every single whim being met at the first sign of a whimper. I mean that’s what a good parent does right. I dutifully fed him every hour and a half around the clock for 8 months. Every single hour and a half. He then moved on to two-three hour feeds. He never learned to sleep through the night, and still has fitful night time sleeping.
Okay, so that was a fluke right?
I mean, something else must have been going on.
Fast forward six years to Grace.
I followed the same attachment parenting advice about night time parenting. I responded to the first whimper, I fed my baby around the clock whenever she had a hint of rooting around accompanied by a little noise. Usually this was every hour and a half maybe two. I never taught her to self soothe, never taught her to take a full feed, actually I thought those ideas were just barbaric. I mean, who lets their baby cry? I’m not talking all out flooding tears neglecting my baby cry, but exercise the lungs, fuss a bit. I never let my babies fuss, always met their needs within seconds. It has bitten me in the rear. I now have two kids who do not sleep well.
Grace isn’t well adjusted, she’s a very tired toddler. She has a great personality, is so playful, but so tired. I think there is a lot to be said about many facets of the attachment parenting style. I like a lot of it. I will not be following it to the very strictest this next go around though. I actually won’t be following anything exactly, I’m moving on, combining methods. I’m learning to balance all things.
I am a follower of Christ, it’s the only label I care about. Oh and person who gets to sleep a full REM cycle, that label would be AWESOME!