Friday, October 26, 2012

Three Years and He Still Doesn't Know Everything. Why am I Surprised?

You know, something strange happens when our children stop being toddlers and start into the preschooler phase. Maybe it's because they sound just like us, maybe it's because they've been around for a few years, or maybe it's just because their memory gets so much better, but we start forgetting how small they still are and start thinking of them as being smaller versions of us. Yet, the truth is that they are still so new to the world and they still don't have our understanding of things around them.

This hit me this morning, as my son woke up to discover that part of his first splinter was still in his knee. Last night, his father thought he had gotten it all out, but this morning it was clear that there was still a piece in there. I told him that mama would have to try to use a disinfected needle and maybe some tweezers to get it out and it might hurt a little, but his knee would heal pretty quickly once I got it out. The look of sheer panic in his three year old eyes and the worry in his voice was almost electric.

"Won't the tweezers break my knee?" He asked with tearful eyes.

You see, he didn't realize exactly what tweezers were. Even though his vocabulary is ever expanding and awe-inspiring and even though he seems like he's got this whole world figured out, something as small as the unknown word tweezer was enough to terrify him.

"Maybe it'll just come out on its own. Don't use the needle or tweezers, mama! Please?!?"

He feared the unknown more than he feared the pain that was already in his knee. (Don't we all?) I assured him that everything would be alright, sterilized the needle and the tweezers in full sight of him and even ran through the whole process by removing a splinter from one of his duckies. I then asked him to trust me and gently removed the splinter. At first, when I was getting the shard loose with the needle, he teared up because it hurt, but when he saw how quickly I got it out and how it didn't hurt as much as he feared, he relaxed, took the offered band-aid and kisses and jumped down to start "ordering" his breakfast.

The incident with the splinter reminds me of how much of this world is still a mystery to him. He may understand a lot of his world very well, but when it comes to the rest, well, it's just as new to him as the sun was when he witnessed his first sunrise at five weeks old. It's hard to make myself appreciate what it must be like to know so much, and, yet, so little. No wonder it seems like he finds a hundred ways to get himself into trouble during the day! He knows just enough to figure out how things work, but next to nothing about social context, safety, and dangerous consequences. What I take for granted (my ability to apply my everyday knowledge of how the world works), he can't because he just doesn't know enough. He may sound like a little man, but really, even at three, he's still a baby. He's just a baby who is (mostly) potty trained and sounds like he's ready for middle school, but my baby nonetheless!

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Reading List: The First Year of Motherhood

This is the second in a series of three posts sharing the books I have read and enjoyed. As always, if you have any titles you have liked especially, please share them!

What can be said about the first year of motherhood other than it is a rollercoaster in every way? Everything changed when I had a child. Some changes were obvious (less sleep), and some, not so much. My entire thought process and view of the world became different. Below are some books that helped clear the smoke for me. I hope you will pick some of these up!

1. Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression  I wasn't a particular fan of Brooke Shields, but this book changed that. She is brutally honest and inspiring in this book describing her experience with PPD. Her writing is brave and her message is a positive one. I did not experience PPD to the extent that she did, but I found this book a great solace in my darker moments.

2. The Mask of Motherhood: How Becoming a Mother Changes Our Lives and Why We Never Talk About It
  I am so incredibly grateful for this book. Though my experience in being a parent is largely a positive one, and my outlook is generally pretty good, I definitely had (and still have) times where things look bleak, the changes are unwelcomed, and situations and circumstances are completely overwhelming. This book spoke to that side of me and made me feel like I wasn't alone or crazy for having the thoughts and feelings I did. The worst thing we can do with negative emotions is to keep them to ourselves.

3. Mother Shock: Loving Every (Other) Minute Of It 
Like the title above, this book is brilliant at celebrating the joyous changes that motherhood brings without denying the unpleasant ones. A real, honest look at what happens to us when we become mothers, not just physically, but emotionally, as well. It's humorous and engaging.
4. For moms of boys: It's a Boy: Women Writers on Raising Sons
  This is such a great collection of real life stories. The relationship between a mother and son is unique and complex, and it's celebrated in this book. There are a couple of sad stories, so beware, but most of the book is funny, poignant, and from the heart.
5. Child of Mine: Writers Talk About the First Year of Motherhood 
Funny, honest, and straightforward. This book has everything I love--real stories from women writers who happen to be mothers. Nothing makes you feel better about your circumstance than knowing that someone else is going through it, too!
6. Toddler: Real-life Stories of Those Fickle, Irrational, Urgent, Tiny People We Love
A hysterical look at toddlerhood. These stories focus on the children, and anyone who has a toddler knows that their antics can send you into fits of laughter or rivers of tears, sometimes at the same time. Great when you need a laugh.

These titles are available through Happy reading!


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pregnancy Is Hard Work

Me at 34 weeks with this pregnancy
I watched What To Expect with my brother and his wife a couple weeks ago, and when one of the pregnant women has a breakdown and talks about all that makes pregnancy unglamorous, which a lot of people won't talk about, I laughed and was right there with her.

Yes, pregnancy has a glow, pregnancy is a miracle, but pregnancy is hard work.  Let's face it, you're growing another human being within your own body, it's not going to be all sunshine and roses.  Just like other aspects of motherhood, there are goods and bads.

Your body is going through so many changes, not to mention the flood of hormones making you feel like a crazy person.  Your ligaments are all loosening for birth so you end up either in pain or walking like a turtle, unless you're lucky.  Your center of balance is off so if you try to squat in front of your five year old to talk you may end up flat on your butt in front of everyone in church wondering how that happened.  Sleeping is all you want to do, but if you get hit with pregnancy insomnia, which I still say is a very cruel joke, you just feel run down all the time.  And then there's the peeing all the time, the bowling ball growing between your legs, the kicks and punches to your cervix, the times when baby rubs you sciatic nerve and an entire leg almost falls out from under you.

Isn't pregnancy glamorous?

And yet, I wouldn't change anything.

I'm bigger than I've been in my entire life, but I wear the extra weight and belly that does look surprisingly like a basketball when I'm wearing clothes like a badge of honor.  My body may suck at a lot of things, but this time, it's growing a baby the way I've always wanted and craved.  I'm sore and miserable and cranky, but when this baby rolls around and kicks inside me, I can't help but marvel at the miracle of it.  I'm hungry all the time, but when I remember that my body is doing all the work for another human being, I make that next plate of spaghetti and feel so grateful that I am here.

I guess in the end, you take it all with either a smile or a growl or both, and that's okay.  When people tell you not to complain, just smile, nod, and then as you walk away curse them to the bowels of hell if that's how you feel.  No one knows what you've done to get to this point, no one knows how the pregnancy is wearing on your body, no one else but you can know how you feel.

So go ahead and complain.  Go ahead and be happy.  Go ahead and feel whatever you need to feel because pregnancy is hard work.  And know that at any given time, there are probably thousands of other pregnant women around the world feeling run down, cranky, happy, and blessed with you.

Monday, October 22, 2012

a letter to my pregnant friends

I have a few friends who are pregnant right now. Seeing them in their big bellied, glowing femininity, fills me with a bursting happiness. I wish I could tell them, could really explain, all that they have in store for them.

Pregnancy Paper Cutting – By Zhang Xiaohng
I would explain to them the distinct smell when you press your nose into your newborn's hair. Show them milk-drunk sleeping babies, and toddlers who snuggle into you in their sleep. I would tell them of the deep, deep glowing love that fills you when your baby stops crying simply because you hold them and talk to them.

I'd also show them exhausting late nights, hours walking in circles around a nursery or pacing a hallway to get your little one to settle. A baby who won't stop crying, or who only wants to be held. Constant nursing, difficult nursing.

Mama's to be: I tell you all this not to scare you, and not because anyone can in anyway prepare you, but because I want you to know a few things.

Most importantly, and above all else: you are enough, you will be enough, for you and your baby.

Though it may feel foreign to you at the beginning, and there may be challenges with things that you assume will come easy (natural doesn't always mean easy!), your body is strong and able.

You are not a perfect mom, but that is only because there is no such thing. Everyone is an "expert," but you, you are the one that knows your baby. There are times that you feel you don't know what you are doing, but the two of you will learn together. Accept advice, then dismiss what you know doesn't fit with your life, your baby. Listen to that fledgling Mama voice inside of you, it's there, and it gets stronger and more confident with every passing day.

It will be more frustrating, exhausting, and wonderful then you can ever imagine. The feeling the you get when you look at your baby is one that I wish I could bottle and give to everyone I love.

There will be bad days, but in the end Mama, in the end it is worth it a hundred times over. In the end you, the two of you, are enough.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Attached Parenting isn't about Better Kids

I'm going to let you in on a secret. I do not try to use gentle discipline and attached parenting ideas because I think my kid is going to turn out to be better than anyone else's. Sure, I read the blogs and the articles about how attached children are more empathetic, are better at problem solving, etc., but, truthfully, I feel like however my son ends up as an adult will be more of a reflection of who he has always been and the choices he's made about himself than who I have "made" him. He is responsible for his own choices, good or bad, and although I am trying very hard to demonstrate how to make good choices and what good choices look like, I know that I will never be able to make his choices for him. Only he can decide who he will be. I'm just here to try to shape his ideas of what that can look like and to give him the love and safety he needs to explore who that is. I am perfectly aware that there is the distinct possibility that no matter how ultimately successful I am at trying to gentle discipline/attached parent my child, he might not turn out better than anyone else's child and I'm okay with that.

In my former, pre-mom life, I used to work in a school with children with emotional and behavioral issues. These children were all on IEPs and most were in need of basic social skills learning. (For example, lessons included: here are the steps to use to respond to positive feedback, here are the steps to giving negative feedback, here are the signs you are feeling angry, scared, etc.) Again and again, as part of an amazing staff there, we worked to help the students learn that no one could "make" you angry or make an unsafe choice. You can do nothing about another person's choice, you can only make your own choices when you respond and hope that they choose to respond to you by making better choices of your own. You are never responsible for another person's behavior, but you are responsible for all of your behavior and your reactions to others. It is a lesson that I have definitely carried into my parenting escapades.

So, here's the truth: my wonderful, beautiful son who was worn constantly, still sleeps with us, whom I have really tried to gentle parent as much as I can (I do make lots of mistakes, though, and lose my temper from time to time) is a typical three year old with behavior identical to most three year olds. My son yells, he sometimes makes dangerous choices like trying to pull down his bookshelf full of toys last Saturday because he was mad his dad was leaving to go to a football game, at a friend's house a few months ago, he got into a brief scuffle with another gentle parented 3 year old and threw wood chips at him instead of resolving their differences peaceably, last Sunday he kicked over a pumpkin instead of getting into a picture with the other grandchildren at his grandma's house, and last night, inexplicably (he seemed to be in a good mood), he approached his dinner plate as if he were going to get in his chair and eat and then threw his dinner on the ground and intentionally smeared the ketchup on the floor.

This is a good time for me to point out again. .. I am not responsible for my son's behavior. =o) However, I am responsible for making him understand that he is responsible for his choices and their consequences. I am responsible for my responses to his choices and my own behavior. That is why I try to use relationship based parenting and that is why I use tools like "the comfort corner," framing behaviors as "good/bad choice" and try to keep my relationship with my son primary . . . even when I'm feeling helpless and like this "gentle discipline" thing has failed; my child is a mess! The thought that "this isn't fair; I'm doing everything right and it isn't working" does cross my mind from time to time, but then I remember that this really isn't about him right now. It's about me and my choices and who I want to be as a mom. I don't like myself when I give into anger and yell and behave like a crazy woman. I don't respect myself when I make crazy choices like behaving petulantly toward my own three year old (as if THAT is going to be effective). Raising a child is not the same thing as "making" a product. What you and I are doing today may not have immediate, tangible results. We can only hope that by showing our children how we take responsibility for our own actions and choices, by teaching them the agency of their own actions, and by providing them with the best loving relationship we can that they will choose to be the best people they can be all on their own.

I don't think I'm a better mother than anyone else I know. In fact, I spend a lot of time worried that I'm nowhere near as good as most the other mothers I know! I'm not trying to make my son better than anyone else's child. I'm just doing the best I can and that's all I can ask of him, too.

Thanks for Reading,

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Today is the last day of my thirties. How did I get here so fast? Wasn't I just trying to figure out the roller coaster of a 17-year-old life yesterday?

(Now I understand how my parents feel. My mom will tell she just got back from her honeymoon and now her fifth child, her baby, is forty. It's not possible. I have no doubt someday I will feel exactly the same about the Agents.)

I'm certain my life so far is not what I imagined, but . . .

Does anyone really end up where they expect? (And if we did, how uninspiring would that be?)

I never dreamed I'd be capable of leading the stay-on-your-toes life of a military spouse (because, frankly, I'm kind of neurotic) and yet here I am.

I have been pregnant, breastfeeding, or both for over seven years now. My last baby will turn two in a few weeks. In the not-to-distant future there will be no more nursing, no more co-sleeping, no more diapers. As a family, we will enter a new season.

(Sometimes I can't even wrap my own brain around the fact that I'm forty and I have a two-year-old. Does that make me an "older mom"? Would other people see me that way?)

When I studied developmental and social psychology as a college student, I intended to have a career researching it, teaching it, writing about it. Instead, I'm living it.

When I first started working, I couldn't fathom being a stay-at-home-momBreastfeeding toddlersHomeschooling?

None of that was on the agenda. 

And you know what?

I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be. Are you?

Thanks for reading and have a blessed day.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

10 Things I Learned from my First Labor

Even though, ultimately, I ended up with a c-section. I did experience 26 hours of epidural free labor. As I prepare for my VBAC this early spring, I have been reflecting on what I have learned from that experience. Here is a short list!

1. The pain is intense, but bearable as long as you only let yourself take it one contraction at a time and you do not let yourself get too far ahead of yourself. Live in the moment and don't worry about how much time you have left. Let the energy you have be all that you need.

2. Be open to whatever it is you feel you need. As much as you plan your labor ahead of time, the person you are when you labor is not who you are at any other time of your life. Give yourself whatever you need in the moment: time, a pep talk, a good cry, forgiveness, love, silence, music, a good swear, yelling, loud moaning. Don't judge yourself. Just let it be.

3. Let go of control. My first labor I was convinced that I could make my labor faster, easier, etc. as long as I did X-Y-Z. I thought only women who didn't know anything about how to have a successful, natural birth ended up with c-sections. I was wrong! That labor wasn't meant to be fast and labor is never meant to be easy. Trying to control it didn't do anything but frustrate me. This time I am much less attached to being in control.

4. The best thing a partner can do during labor is whatever it is that you like when not in labor. Before I went into labor, I had no idea what my husband would do while I was in labor. I had trouble seeing him as the "coaching type," but that's how I'd always seen fathers in movies. When the day came, my husband cracked jokes, made me laugh, and tried to be helpful. He was awkward at times, but he's like that ordinarily. Making me laugh is what I love most about him and that was the best thing he did during our labor.

5. Labor time is different. I used to wonder what the heck I would do with myself if I had a 15 hour labor. I ended up with a 27+ hour one and I can tell you that it was intense enough that I was never bored and although the hours were long, they just didn't pass the same way.

6. Turn off the outside world. I know the family members outside the state were all anxious to hear when the baby was born, but the check-in phone calls during labor were really disheartening while I was trying to make progress and more than a little distracting. This time, the ringer is being turned off! No one ever forgets to call once the baby finally arrives!

7. Bring a variety of different clothes if birthing outside the home. At times I was hot, sometimes I was freezing, I have never in my life before or since wanted to wear a bathing suit and a sweatshirt within ten minutes of one another, but man I was really sad I hadn't brought pants and a sweatshirt to my late July birth!

8. Protein is wonderful. Five hours into my labor, I cooked myself an omelet. Surreptitiously, I ate trail mix at the hospital. I wasn't all that hungry for the duration of that labor, so I tried to pack in energy food when I could.

9. Don't be too hard on yourself. Because I never gave up the illusion that I was in control, I also blamed myself when things didn't go as planned. It's important to protect your birth and its integrity, but part of that is not to judge yourself too harshly if things don't go as planned.

10. Everything will be okay eventually. I am not one of those who will ever say a healthy baby is all that's important. I think a physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy mom is equally important and that may not happen right away, but it will one day because you are strong; you are stronger than you could ever realize before you had children! Moms are the strongest people in the world.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Mother Magazine Review and Giveaway

I have been trying to find a new natural living and parenting magazine since Motherhood stopped their print issues, and so many of my friends in this community rave about The Mother Magazine.  I kept putting off reading it, though their facebook page is loaded with information.

I was sent three issues of the magazine from this year, and as soon as I opened the envelope and saw what was written in each issue had me hooked.  However, what really sold me was an article in the May/June 2012 issue.

We are, for now, following a more unschooling program than actual homeschooling and doubts creep in regularly whether we are doing the right thing and if she will ever "catch up" to other children her age.  She is teaching herself to read and is very interested in it, but she just isn't there yet.

The article in the May/June issue is titled Unschooling: inspired thinking or educational neglect? by Chaley-Ann Scott.  The title drew me.  The same thoughts had run through my head.  She writes about how unschooling works in her home, how her children thrive at their own pace, and how unschooling has grown in many countries, including the US.  She discusses both sides of the unschooling 'debate' and explains why there is such a huge divide between homeschoolers and unschoolers.

Though I will say for me, the best part of the entire article was her discussing when her children learned to read.  Her daughter learned at six, in almost the same way that my daughter is learning, but her son didn't have any interest until he was eight.  She discusses how she felt during the long wait for her late reader, but that she knew to wait for him.

I thumbed through the rest of the issue and was blown away by the amount of information on so many diverse topics.  One issues goes from Vitamin K information to barefoot babies.  Another discusses The Red Tent Movement to maternal health in Nigeria.  There are beautiful pictures within, whether they're babywearing, nursing, birthing, or families interacting.  Every issue contains healthy recipes, which I have yet to try, but they look delicious and simple.

This magazine is everything I have been looking for since Motherhood stopped.  I actually think it is better than Motherhood ever was.  The topics are real questions parents and families ask themselves, and they're written by people that have been there and researched this for months.

If you have anything you want to write about, you can send in submissions to them, and be published in the magazine, which is one of my favorite parts.  You aren't hearing from random big shot sources like other parenting magazines, you're hearing from real people.

The very best part?  The Mother Magazine is giving away ten free issues to ten lucky families!  This magazine is one that you truly want in your library, even if just for the recipes, pictures, or to have on hand in case you ever need a bit of advice.

Just complete the form and you can get 10 easy entries for your chance to win!

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Reading List: Pregnancy and Birth

I spent more money than I care to admit on parenting how-to books as a new mom. I wanted to be sure I was doing everything "right," and, in spite of my own mother's advice ("Throw those books away and listen to your baby!") spent many a late night devouring everything I could.

I don't like parenting how-to and advice books much these days. First because every child truly is different (and I have three now, and can actually say that with some degree of certainty!) and so what works for one will not work for another. Second, because the only "expert" on my child is me. And third, and probably most important, most of those how-to books set us up to fail. Many of these well meaning advisors tell you that if you do A, you will achieve B, and when that doesn't happen, we blame ourselves, or worse, sometimes our children.

I do, however, love to read books about pregnancy, birth, parenting, and mothering, especially those written by parents and mothers who also happen to be authors. I'd like to share some titles that I've loved especially, so this is the first post in a series of three titled, Reading List: Pregnancy and Birth. I hope you will enjoy some of these books as much as I have and I'd love to hear from you if you have any titles to add.

1. A Child is Born. Just an extraordinary collection of pictures. There's a lot of information in there, too, if you're a bit of a pregnancy junkie. If you've experienced a pregnancy loss, some of the images in the book may be difficult to look at--so please keep that in mind.

2. Belly Laughs: The Naked Truth About Pregnancy and Childbirth. Whether you like Jenny McCarthy or not, whether you agree with her stance on vaccines and autism or not, this book is hysterical. I laughed out loud constantly and it was a great distraction when pregnancy seemed to last forever.

3. Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. A fantastic choice if you're considering natural birth or want to learn more about it. (I cringe a bit at the word "Guide," as I don't think anyone can really guide you to give birth, but it's still chock full of important and useful information.)

4. Your Best Birth. Written by Abby Epstein and Ricki Lake, this is a great read if you're interested in knowing your choices about prenatal care and birth in the US (and who isn't?!). It sheds light on many aspects of maternity care and childirth in the US.

5. Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care. The title sounds a little scary, but this is a good book if you're planning to give birth in a hospital and want it to be drug free and natural. Some of the wording can sound a bit alarmist, so take it with a grain of salt and remember that YOU are your best advocate, and education is key.

6. Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic: A Medical Controversy. A must, must, MUST read if you are questioning vaccinations. I can't say enough how much this book changed my outlook and opened my eyes to so many different aspects of the vaccination debate. I will never look at government, pharmaceutical companies, and the medical establishment the same again.

7. What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Children's Vaccinations. I wish the author would publish an updated version of this book. It's got great information but some of it is slightly outdated. That said, I learned a great deal about how vaccines are made, the ingredients, possible adverse effects, and manufacturing issues.

8. The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child (Sears Parenting Library). By far the best and most comprehensive guide to vaccinations today. Dr. Sears is intelligent, objective, and remains respectful of parents' choices. There are also a few alternate vaccination schedules, one of which our family follows, which are invaluable.

All of these titles are available on Happy reading!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Gennifer Albin Blog Tour and Book Giveaway

 Today we are excited to share a guest post from The Connected Mom's founder, Gennifer Albin! 

Gennifer Albin is a recovering academic who realized she could write books of her own and discovered, delightfully, that people would read them. She lives in Kansas with her family and writes full-time. Her debut novel, Crewel, the first in a trilogy, will be published in October 2012 by FSG/Macmillan.

You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook. She also blogs infrequently at and weekly at The League of Extraordinary Writers.  
For today's guest post Gennifer shares her thoughts on balancing her passion with family life and her aspirations for her children's education. Striving for Balance is, in my opinion, the most important of the eight principles of attachment parenting yet it is often overlooked. Many thanks to Gennifer for sharing what balance looks like for her family.


 When I got my book deal, I was faced with a decision: keep squeezing in writing or put the kids in preschool.  It was a big decision because I’d long flirted with the idea of homeschooling, which is something I very much admire.   

A lot of factors went into my choice, but really it came down to balance and accepting my own limitations as a mother.  Even though I loved the idea of homeschool, I knew it wasn’t going to be a good fit for my personality, and I also knew that trying to meet demanding deadlines of the publishing world while being a stay-at-home mom would be a challenge.

As luck would have it, I had 3 months of editing and revising with the kids at home to give me a taste of what life would be like if I chose the first option, and it wasn’t pretty.  Personally I saw the increase in television and take-out and crying as a sign that I wasn’t going to find balance without help.  So I began the great preschool search and decided very quickly on a Montessori-based program.

As a mother who favors natural parenting and alternative schooling, Montessori’s focus on the child-centered learning spoke to me.  My children participate in group and individual activities.  They guide their learning by choosing the topics they are interested in and studying them at their own pace.  My two year-old delights with her clever Montessori coat trick at gatherings, and at the end of the day, we come home and have a family life — most of the time.  

 I also appreciate the sense of familiarity and attachment, my daughter has developed with her Montessori teacher.  Something that is especially beneficial to her as I now travel quite a bit for book promotion.

It wasn’t easy to choose a place for my children outside of the home, but we approached it with a sense of adventure.  It was an opportunity to make new friends and engage with people from different cultures and family situations.  Both of my children are thriving.  I find it easier to disengage with work at the end of the day and focus on family.  And most of the time, I meet my deadlines.


As Part of this blog tour, Gen's publisher has generally offered to give away a copy of CREWEL along with a selection of literature for the whole family. The winner will receive a bundle including: 

  • CREWEL/Gennifer Albin 
  • BEAR HAS A STORY TO TELL/Erin & Phil Stead
  • A IS FOR MUSK OX/Erin Cabatingan
  • HELLO BABY/Roger Priddy – mirrored board books!

  Please complete the following steps to earn up to 10 entries into the contest. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 8, 2012

pain and comfort

Little hand, big hand
Recently we had our second experience with the dreaded Nursemaid's Elbow, our third trip to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, my first time taking her by myself. We are so lucky to live by such an amazing Hospital. While obviously I'd rather never need it, if the situation arises, I'm so glad we have CHOP. Its wonderful to feel you are in loving, capable hands, since otherwise, situations like this can leave you feeling so helpless. I'm not a panicky person in general, and when push comes to shove I can always get done what needs to get done for my family... but boy does my mama heart break when my girl is in pain and I can't fix it.

This recent experience took me back, first to January and a dark, late night trip to the ER for her weird symptoms and pain (turned out to be a new presentation of Hand Foot and Mouth); then to this time last year, her first experience with Nursemaid's Elbow, my girl holding her arm, whimpering. She's forward facing now, and I was driving, so a different feel, but those times she was rearfacing and I sat in the back with her as she fell asleep in her seat on the way home. She reached out with her little hand and grasped mine, soothed by my physical presence.

Oh did she seem so small to me then, and that fact, well that took me all the way back, to that very first ride home. My brand new baby, the weighty new responsibility. I sat in the back with her that first time, just staring, and her little hand, it found mine then too.

So much changes with Gwen every single day. She's bigger, doing more and saying more, always learning. One hurt elbow though, and we're right back to day one. As parent's we aren't charged with making sure that our children never experience pain, but we are burdened with the wish that we could! Life, really living life, entails that at some point there will be physical and emotional pain. That doesn't make watching it any easier. So I hold out my hand and sooth her as I can.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Attachment Parenting: More Than Breasts, Beds, and Baby Slings

Babies needs haven’t changed much over the past thousands of years, 
but cultural practices of meeting those needs change every generation.
—Judy Arnall

I'm growing weary of the number of articles and blog posts flowing through my newsfeed that completely misrepresent what attachment parenting is and what it is not

It's not just news magazines. Or other supposedly serious publications. Or the French.

Somehow it has become almost trendy in the parenting blogging world to mock any semblance of attachment (attentive, intentional, involved) parenting and instead glorify so-called "detachment" parenting as the cooler, hands-off option.

Want examples? You'll have to Google them yourself. I refuse to link to this rubbish.

Sadly, for the most part these writers have about as much knowledge of attachment parenting as I do of say, open heart surgery.

I find myself especially annoyed when these anti-AP rants come from a parent blessed with one compliant child who hasn't even reached preschool age yet. But I digress.

Remember, you are not managing an inconvenience;
you are raising a human being.
—Kittie Frantz

The thing is, the power of conventional wisdom is so strong, we've convinced ourselves that our current cultural view of raising children is the only one there is. Babies have bottles. Sleep in cribs. Need to learn to self-soothe. Should sleep through the night by [insert random age]. Need to eat pureed foods. (Because, as we all know, immediately following the invention of the wheel, Cuisinart was founded.) Must learn independence as early as possible. Need to learn they aren't the center of the universe. Shouldn't be coddled.

Shall I go on? Folks do realize we're talking about babies here? (Although, it's not just about babies.)

Want to know what attachment parenting really looks like? 

It looks like the way people parented for generation upon generation upon generation until a few outspoken, self-proclaimed "experts" came along and mucked everything up.

It's about a developing a relationship that is respectful, sensitive, and positive. It's about principles: guidelines, ideals perhaps, but not rules. (You can read about each of the eight principles in more detail here.) It's about the connection you have with your child. It looks like parents and children on the same team instead of us versus them. It looks like teaching your children through example, not fear of consequences.

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.
—Dalai Lama

You might notice that nowhere in the eight principles does it mention cloth diapering, circumcision, vaccinations, homeschooling, homeopathy, or any other topic that for some reason people love to "add on" to the concept of attachment parenting. Granted, a lot of AP-ers likely have strong feelings about these issues, but the issues themselves are not AP.

One of the best ways I've seen attachment parenting described is as a frame of mind. It's not a competition to see who can apply the most principles in the best way. 

Personally, while I love breastfeeding and co-sleeping I couldn't get on board with babywearing at all. We strive to always use positive discipline but that doesn't mean we live in a zen world where everything is kitty cats and daisy petals and I never get angry at my kids. And that whole balance thing? Let's just say it's a work in progress.

Do you consider yourself to be "AP"? Why or why not?

Thanks for reading and have a blessed day.

Did you know that October is Attachment Parenting Month? Check out this link and the other wonderful resources at Attachment Parenting International to learn more.