As I watch attachment-style mothers, sometimes I wonder if some of us forget that attachment parenting is called attachment PARENTING — not attachment MOTHERING.
Attachment as a style of nurturing and loving our children is a beautiful thing. It also can be quite exhausting — especially if all the attachment, co-sleeping, feeding, loving, holding, answering, nurturing, and touching is done by just one person.
But it isn’t called attachment mothering, is it? It’s called Attachment PARENTING.
As I listen to and watch eager, attached mothers, I hear a lot of overwhelmed, exhausted, unable-to-do-it-all women who are close to, if not at, the edge.
Could this be caused by the trend that so many of them have taken attachment and made it THEIR job and theirs alone? I sometimes think that this is exactly part of the problem.
The truth is that when attachment parenting is practiced by a group of loving adults (and maybe even some loving siblings), it isn’t really THAT HARD of a way of life. In fact, it is quite joyful.
Two people nurture the baby at night. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, siblings, cousins, father AND mother are there to hold and love and nurture a baby and they are still there to love nurture and discipline that baby when it is a toddler or an adolescent.
One thing I wish I knew when I had my first baby was that it was okay to let dad take a bigger role. It was okay to nurture my marriage and myself after becoming a mother. In fact, I didn’t need to feel guilty about having needs beyond my child and his immediate needs.
Now, with four children, I can admit that it is EASIER for me to leave them now than it was to leave one. Dad does a better job and he is more comfortable with four than he was with one. Grandparents step in. Friends hold. I can no longer turn down the helping hand of those around me. I need them too much and my children need them too.
When we remember the PARENT in attachment parenting it makes it all seem a little more doable — a little more possible and a lot more relaxed. We realize that this isn’t all on OUR head. Raising happy and confident children is a group effort and one that is impossible to do all alone.
I have had single mothers express to me their disappointment because they don’t feel that they could ever do the whole AP thing on their own. But they don’t HAVE TO. I can’t do it on my own either!!! Find your village. Build a net of people around you and your children to support and love you and catch you on the days when you can’t do it. WE ALL HAVE THOSE DAYS. We all need help and there is no shame in admitting it. There is also no shame in having some of those loving people who are part of our children’s lives be people we have to pay.
And for those of us who are lucky enough to have a partner there for the journey that is parenting, I hope we take a moment to step back and let them step in, even if that means letting them screw up, figure it out, and find their own way to parent that child. It is hard to let go of some of that control, but the bonus is a child with more than one person who loves them and whom they love. The bonus is a happier mother who gets a break every now and again and MANY people who get to enjoy the blessing of being needed by an innocent babe rather than just one.
Attachment parenting is for everybody — it’s time we shared the love.
Sarah Clark is an (obviously) imperfect mother of four, a writer, and board member for Birth Boot Camp childbirth education (www.BirthBootCamp.com). You can find her personal blog at www.mamabirth.blogspot.com