Tag Archives: attachment parenting

A Safe Place to Rest (I Waited)

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A Safe Place to Rest (I Waited)

Originally written December 30, 2014, immediately following the event.

She huddled on the floor between the nightstand & the wall, bathed in the soft glow of the touch-lamp set low. I waited.

Not yet 3 yrs old, she has me trained well. Her emotions are too big for me to be anything but calm.

“I don’t want you!” she told me, most emphatically. “I want my daddy!”

“I know,” was all I offered. I waited.

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What About Sex?

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I’m excited to share this essay from my good friend & fellow-gentle parent, Alanna. She is someone for whom I have deep respect & love. Having known each other for the last 5 years or so, we’ve seen each other through a lot of things, both joyful & sorrow-filled. She is also a book author, a teacher, & an associate pastor. And she wants you to have more sex! ;-)

Please enjoy, & leave comments & questions for Alanna below. If you want to see more posts from her, be sure to mention it! Maybe she will consider writing for us again.

Alyssa

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Why I Nurse in Church (Without a Cover)

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I’ve been working on this essay, off & on, for several weeks. I’m pretty proud of it, although I’m still tweaking it. I think that, despite needing further detail edits, my voice is pretty strong here. I’m satisfied enough to post it.

I realize that someone my read this who could choose to be offended by it, either the subject or my attitude regarding it. However, I feel strongly that breastfeeding in church is a pertinent issue affecting moms today, and that it is relevant to my personal life, to the breastfeeding world at large, and to the strangely oversensitive Christian church & culture, in general. I won’t apologize for these personal beliefs.

So if breastfeeding offends you and you have nothing nice to say about it, please disregard this post and seek your mental nourishment elsewhere.

I’m sad that I even have to say that. :-(

For those who will, enjoy my recent essay. :-)

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Children need to be liked

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“I love you, but I don’t like you very much.”

That’s what my dad told me when I was in my early teens, & it still rings in my ears to this day.

I don’t remember why he said it or how the conversation came about. What I took away from it is that my dad didn’t think I was a good person. When I’m feeling insecure as an adult, which is more often than I like to admit, his voice & those words still echo in my head. They make me question my value, my worth.

If my own dad couldn’t like me, why would anyone?

“I love you, but I don’t like you very much.”

Especially as I’ve gotten older & had children of my own, I think I can understand what he was saying. He didn’t like choices I was making. He didn’t like attitudes I displayed. He didn’t like how I treated others at times.

But what he told me is that he didn’t like me.

So obviously, there is something wrong with me. I am defective in some way.

He never told me why he didn’t like me very much. If he’d tried, I’m not sure it would have mattered. The fact is that, according to him, anything likeable about me was negated by the rest of me.

“I love you, but I don’t like you very much.”

Those were his exact words. I still remember his exact words. They’ve defined a part of me that I’m not sure will ever change.

Most of us take our parents love for granted. Most of us assume that they like us, too.

Can you imagine if your parent(s) didn’t like you? What kind of hit to your self-esteem do you suppose that would be? Would you wonder how in the world they could love you if they couldn’t even like you? Would it make you doubt their love? Would it make you wonder if anyone ever truly liked you if your own parent didn’t? How important would it be to you, then, whether or not other people liked you? What would you do to get someone to like you?

“I love you, but I don’t like you very much.”

As parents, we are the creators & protectors of our children, from their physical bodies to their emotional development, even down to influencing their personalities. We help them define who they are and how they see themselves.

We wield so much power.

“I love you, but I don’t like you very much.”

Even though I now think he really meant that he didn’t like certain things I was doing or saying, a part of me can never say for certain that my dad actually liked me. Since he died seven years ago, I can’t ask him either.

I try to consider how he treated me to give myself some perspective. That’s a tough one, since he crossed over to the dark side (in other words, physical & verbal abuse) on several occasions. It’s hard to not believe that he wouldn’t have beaten me if he’d liked me.

What did I do to make my dad not like me?

I’ve answered that question in a hundred different ways over the years. None of that made me feel any better, nor did it “cure” my battered self-esteem.

“I love you, but I don’t like you very much.”

I’ve spent most of my life since that day trying to fix myself. I’ve done things I’m ashamed of in order to “earn” someone liking me. I’ve changed my personality, altered my physical appearance, participated in risky behavior, all to earn that elusive “like” of which I’m so undeserving.

It affects almost every relationship I’ve had since, even my marriage. I doubt almost every person’s claim of love. I analyze every compliment. I worry any time someone is “busy” & can’t spend time with me. I question whether people really want me or just want something from me. I accept every criticism in complete & utter humiliation as just more proof of how worthless I am.

“I love you, but I don’t like you very much.”

It became the defining statement of my life.

“I love you, but I don’t like you very much.”

I’m now a mother. I look at my children. I’m filled with the most ferocious, overwhelming love that often threatens to swallow me whole. I would do anything, ANYTHING, to preserve their physical safety, their emotional health, their mental development, their sensitive spirits, their very souls.

And I like them. A lot.

I like their inquisitive minds. I like their questions. I like that they call for Mommy when they’re scared or hungry or lonely or bored. I like their intelligence. I like their smiles. I like their view of the world. I like that they don’t fear me (or much of anything else, for that matter). I like to be there for them, to calm them down when they’re overwhelmed, to share in their simple triumphs, to watch as understanding dawns across their beautiful faces.

I like them. I like who they are. I like who they will become. I like how I feel when I’m with them. I like that they came from me. I like that I see the future in them.

I like them, & so I tell them.

“I love you, and I really like you, too.”

It’s the only way I know how to quiet my father’s voice. Whenever I sense its presence, I pull whichever child is nearby and handy into a big hug and whisper those words. The words I wish I’d heard instead.

“I love you, and I really like you, too.”

I say it often. No one ever sees us. No one ever hears it but my girls. Sometimes, they don’t even hear it except in their dreams. But I’m imprinting it on their souls.

To me, they’re the most miraculous part of life. They are a wonder. No matter where they go, what they do, who they become, they will always amaze me. I will always love them, & I will always like them, too.

“I love you, and I really like you, too.”

If I don’t like something they’re doing, then I have to look at myself & figure out what I’ve been teaching them.

If we don’t like our children, who learn from & mimic us, then really, isn’t it possible that we just don’t like ourselves? And is that really their fault? And are we really so unlikable? Really?

“I love you, and I really like you, too.”

Our children take our love for granted. I want my children to take my like for granted, too.

Because ultimately, while we all want to be loved, don’t we all really want to be liked, too?

I like my girls. I bet you like your children, too.

You should tell them.

I’m Better Than You, or Why can’t we all just get along?

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No, I’m not.

I probably got your attention, though.

I’m not better than anyone, & I know this very well.

Yet there seems to be an issue with parents in claiming superiority over other parents because of parenting choices, & it’s on both sides of the fence. I find it annoying. Sometimes, it’s downright dangerous.

Because I attachment parent & try to keep things natural & organic (read “I turned out to be crunchier than I or anyone else expected”), which involves following my instincts to encourage a safe, secure, confident relationship between my children & me while constantly researching & learning about everything, I’ve come under fire many times from all different directions, including family, friends, the medical industry, & more. I’ve gained support from other parents who also follow attachment parenting guidelines through friends, blogs, Facebook, & various online sites. I’m confident that the decisions I’m making for my children are the best ones…for MY children.

I’m not going to tell you that you’re making the wrong decisions for yours. I’m not going to accost you with studies & evidence & whatever else, then beat you over the head with it. I believe you love your children, as I love mine, & you will make decisions based on what you know & believe is best. If I disagree with you, I’ll usually keep my mouth shut & try to continue to offer my support. If I disagree strongly, I might respectfully offer my own view on things. But I’m not going to try to make you feel bad. I’m not going to try to change you or convince you that I know better. Because I don’t.

You know your children best, while I know mine best. You love your children more than anyone else does, just like I love my children more than anyone else does. You worry about your decisions regarding your children, & I worry about mine.

Whether it’s to vaccinate or not vaccinate, to spank or not to spank, to breastfeed or formula feed…the decisions are endless. The information available, overwhelming.

This month’s cover of Time.

Time Magazine made Attachment Parenting its cover topic this month, & while I found some of the articles to be rather positive, on the whole, I was disappointed to see the inflammatory approach straight from the cover.

First, there’s the picture, which is completely unnatural & which I think is intentionally sensualized. From the discussion I’ve seen in the AP community, moms are torn. Some of them love it, others hate it, & some are trying to see it positively. I’m just not impressed.

Then there’s the caption: “Are you mom enough?” Ummmm…so when did AP become a the scales by which we rate motherhood? And when did AP become a solely mother-based parenting style? And how is a non-AP mother supposed to not feel judged? This just fuels the disconnect between parents who go AP & everyone else. And it makes me mad. Or disappointed. Or both.

It’s things like this, the misrepresentation of AP, the encouragement to judge & deem lacking, that continues to divide us as parents & erode our support systems.

I’ve left AP boards because they attacked anyone who dared spank their child. Even though they had some good, evidence-based arguments to back them up, their volatile response to those who spanked was not only completely inappropriate, but it alienated a parent who might have been interested in the studies against corporal punishment otherwise.

I guess what I’m getting at is that we should all be working together, not being divided by our differences in style. We should be sharing information, educating each other, defending each other, praying for each other.

The fact is, for every study you find supporting something, you can usually find another opposing it. The fact is, many happy, productive adults with good family relations were spanked as children. The fact is, we are all doing the best we know how, & we all love our children.

There is so much information out there, so many things to consider, that no one can be expected to get it all right. We don’t have to expect it of ourselves, & we don’t have to expect it of others either.

Let’s just all play nice.

That’s all I’m saying.

I Failed Today

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Today, I failed.

Not a gigantic, earth-shaking, end-it-all failure, but still…I failed.

At least, that’s what keeps ringing in my head, & I need to get it off my chest.

My beautiful toddler & I were having some rowdy fun before dinner, & she bit me, HARD, on my chest, after multiple times of being told not to bite. The kind of bite that pinches the smallest amount of skin possible & leaves a painful stinging long afterward. And I reacted by smacking her well-diapered backside.

I’m sure that parents who spank would see this as appropriate, but since we have moved away from spanking (or trying, obviously), it’s been weighing heavily on my mind even so many hours later.

I guess what I find more upsetting than the fact that I swatted her is that I did it so easily. She hurt me, & my immediate reaction was to hurt her back. I’m swamped with guilt.

Even though I immediately apologized to her as she sat on the floor at my feet, holding her bottom, silently staring at me, eyes filled with accusing betrayal, the guilt remains. Even though she willingly wrapped her arms around me after & said that, yes, she forgave me, I am nagged by my sense of failure.

It was too easy to spank her. Why was it so easy???

When the issue of discipline first arose, we spanked. Our parents did it. Everyone else does it (so we thought). Why shouldn’t we?

But then, every time my little girl sensed even the slightest hint of displeasure directed toward her, she would frantically cover her bottom &  plead, with tears in her eyes, “Don’t hurt me!” What??? Why would she think I would hurt her???

Of course, getting hit as punishment hurts. I know this. I was spanked. Then & there, I swore I’d never do anything again to make my daughter fear my anger. I do not want hands that hurt.

But today, I failed. I struck her, even though her diaper covered her, even though my hand barely noted the sting. I hit her. And I’m so ashamed of myself.

It took months after deciding to stop spanking before the little light of my life stopped cowering in fear when she required discipline. Months to rebuild the trust between us. The truth that I will never harm her, even temporarily.

I fear how today may have set us back. I can only hope that my immediate apology & love is enough to negate any damage I’ve done.

For many people, my concern seems silly, I know. But for me, it is paramount. I remember being so young & fearing being struck. I remember hiding innocent, silly things in attempts to avoid spankings that, now as an adult, I realize would never have been given. The young mind doesn’t focus on WHY they’re being spanked, it only focuses on the fact that it is being hurt. The child only knows that they have displeased their beloved parent & is being hit. She only knows that she is sad & crying.

I know. I was spanked. And today, after so many months of controlling myself, I spanked my daughter.

And I’m sad & angry & disappointed in myself.

I failed today…& I’m so sorry.

I promise, I will try harder. I will do better. I will not spank again.

To the New First-Time Mommies

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Dear New Mommy,

Today I’ve been thinking back to when my eldest child was newborn & all the helpful (& less-than-helpful) advice people would give me.

Quite frankly, I’ve forgotten most of it, which is probably just as well.

But there’s one thing I remember…& I remember it crystal clearly.

One day at some gathering of people from our church, a lady I knew (& still know) commented on what she considered to be my over-protectiveness of my newborn child. She laughed at me and told me that I was cute & funny (read “silly”) & would “get over it” with my second child. I was as taken aback by her callous comment as I was embarrassed for being “That Mom.”

Was I really so over-protective? Was it wrong for me to want my first & only child in my sight & presence as much as possible? Was the risk of a simple cold really worth demanding people wash their hands before holding my precious baby? Was the seizing of my heart whenever I saw her in a potentially dangerous situation (from my “over-protective” perspective) something that I should have better control over? Was I being silly?

As a new mom, you may have already been told something similar. If you haven’t yet, you will. It’s practically a rite-of-passage, I think. And it doesn’t always come from the cold, condescending acquaintance. I have friends who’ve heard it from their close friends, their in-laws, other family members, even their own mothers.

It’s as if being a new mommy to this incredible creature means you’re suddenly open to being condescended to & having every natural, protective instinct questioned or ridiculed.

I just wanted to tell you that, no, it doesn’t.

I just wanted to encourage you to keep listening to your instincts. You’re doing a good job.

Right now you’re starting a journey that, from what I can tell, has no end. The worry & concern & wanting your baby with you & need to protect. I’m a few years into it now, & it hasn’t gotten any easier.

In fact, it’s gotten harder! Because now that little baby who only went where I took her, who only went with whomever I gave her, has suddenly got her own agenda. SHE’S the one ready to take the world onto her skinny little shoulders without a second thought to the heart attack she’s giving her mother.

I’ve since added Baby #2 to the mix, & yes, that lady from my church was right…to some degree. But in some other ways she was wrong.

I’m still quite focused on my baby’s safety, but my natural instinct is tempered by my increased experience.

And that’s kinda how it works, you know?

With everything.

It’s so easy for mothers to condescend to those they see as “less than” them. But you’re not “less than.” You’re just new. And that’s beautiful & exciting &, quite simply, the bees knees!

Yes, if you end up with more children, it will probably be a little easier with each one. You’ll probably panic less. You’ll probably relinquish more control. At least in some areas.

But this new little one you’ve got? Well, honestly? She’s your test drive. She’s your “starter pack.” She’s the one with whom you earn your wings.

You’re learning as much, if not more, from her as she’s learning from you. Things that will make parenting the next precious baby just a tad easier. (Breastfeeding is a classic example of this in my life.)

And because of that, it’s quite possible you’ll always love her a little “differently” than the others. Not more. Just different. Because she’s your first.

Maybe it won’t ring true for you, but I know it’s true for me anyway.

So feel free to ignore all those other mommies out there who might scoff at your “over-protectiveness.”

They’re probably not really rooting for you, but there are plenty of other mommies who are. Surround yourself with those.

Keep your head up, & keep listening to your instincts. You’re doing just fine.