Attachment parenting? Take a break.
Attachment parenting as a movement has its supporters and its critics. No matter where you fall, caring for yourself is as important as caring for your baby.
Yes, I’m one of those people. I'm a mom who practices attachment parenting, a term coined by Dr. William Sears that includes babywearing, breastfeeding, and co-sleeping. I’ve done all three with pride since my daughter was born 10 months ago. It just came naturally to me – I never really thought about it very seriously.
But as a recent Huffington Post piece points out, a mother's needs can often be left out of the attachment parenting process.
A 2012 study published in the Journal of Children and Family Studies suggests that attachment parenting led to higher levels of stress and lower levels of satisfaction for many moms.
Among the on-demand nursing sessions (for the first few months, my baby nursed about every 45 minutes, all day long), always focusing on her needs first (I remember gobbling down meals as quickly as possible during those first six months), and co-sleeping, oftentimes my needs have been completely forgotten.
All of this is OK, for a time, but it is so special when the mother is mothered, too. I remember being absolutely giddy when, among all the other special packages sent for the baby right after she was born, one of my aunts included an enormous bar of German chocolate for me.
I didn’t expect anything like that because I was completely focused on my baby – addressing every single little need as soon as it came up. This is the way I’ve chosen to mother my child and it makes me so happy most of the time. However, I do still need to recharge my batteries occasionally.
A few days ago, I had a job interview for some freelance work, and as a stay-at-home mom, this was a really big deal in my little world. I was thrilled to take my actual purse with me, not the diaper bag with my wallet and cellphone hastily stuffed in. I even put on a little mascara, lipstick, a dress, and high heels. My husband’s eyes popped out when I kissed him goodbye as I walked out the door. I think it was good for him to see me out of my stay-at-home mom uniform of a T-shirt and jeans, too.
I adore being at home with my baby, but even the most steadfast attachment parenting moms need an hour or two to just be themselves, and not only a mom, just for a little while.
When I returned home from my interview a couple hours later, I scooped up my little girl, and let her cling to me like a koala bear cub for the rest of the day.
Nurturing my child is a top priority for me, as it is for so many moms of my generation. Judging by the plethora of nursing covers I see at Starbucks on any given morning, pieces of the attachment parenting process are becoming more common. Most people smile and nod if I mention that we’re co-sleeping, and I see more baby carriers than strollers gliding past my house, too.
A new video is making its rounds around my mom circles, and it depicts a baby persistently holding onto its mom right after birth. To me, it exemplifies the beauty of attachment parenting – it follows a mother’s natural instinct to gently, selflessly nurture her baby, and a baby’s natural desire to be deeply nurtured.
Yes, diving into parenting your child whole-heartedly is awesome, but don’t forget to take care of your needs, too. Eat the chocolate.