Tuesday, October 7, 2008
(WFMW) Attachment Parenting Month
October is the official Attachment Parenting month and I wanted to dedicate some blog space to the importance of AP and babywearing in our lives. I thought I'd combine it with Works for me Wednesday this week, since it is indeed something that has worked for us.
I was only 22 when my daughter was born. I'd been married less than two years, had never lived alone and could barely navigate the mechanics of check-writing. Seriously. I was naive. An event in that first day after her birth affected me on a emotional level so deep it was years before I realized its significance.
She was fussy at first, probably a reaction to the difficult birth. She nursed frantically for hours (literally) and screamed with rage whenever I attempted to distract her, or put her down. My well-meaning relatives, in an effort to give me some rest persuaded me to give her to them to take outside for a walk.
"Babies love the outdoors. She'll calm down in no time. You close your eyes for a while and we'll wake you if she doesn't stop crying."
Against my own feeble instincts I gave over my hours-old dollbaby and drifted into sleep. Several hours later I awoke to find that my precious daughter had screamed nearly the entire time and had only just fallen into an exhausted stupor.
Oh how I cried and cried when I found this out. I held her and apologized over and over for leaving her,for putting my own needs above hers. I promised I would never leave her again. I determined in my mind that she would never have to cry again. At the slightest peep from her I would give her whatever she needed/wanted.
Now all of you reading who have children and a proper perspective on their needs can imagine that it wasn't long before I realized the futility of such a resolution. Babies cry and that's a fact of life. And I did learn to let her cry at times. And I learned that some crying is from thwarted will, not true need. And I learned that leaving her isn't always a bad thing. And I learned that putting my needs ahead of her wants sometimes was for her own good in the end. (Ie: getting myself some sleep, a shower, food, etc.)
But one result of that early experience was my embracing of a concept that I hadn't yet heard of, but would recognize years later when it was popularized and given a name. And I unconsciously began the practice of "babywearing", also never having heard of it. I had a ring sling and a backpack carrier that I re-made from one my parents used when I was a baby. (This was long before the days of Mei Tais at the Target checkout line. I had to make do with what I had) She went with me everywhere. She slept in the bed with us at night. She was on my back while I made dinner. She sat in a basket at my feet while I taught. I nursed her in the sling during the lessons-- thanks to the tolerance of some really awesome moms who were breastfeeding advocates before it was a celebrity endorsed activity. She helped me clean and sew and garden. She was my righthand man and constant companion
Except when Daddy was babywearing ;)
The results were amazing! Her verbal skills far outpaced the average. She was obedient and helpful. She was secure around strangers and never hesitated to give a smile to anyone. She learned amazingly quickly and was eager to participate in anything I was doing. Today she continues to be exceptionally bright (I'm not just saying this-- she really is! no prejudice at all...) and quite well-acquainted with the workings of a household. She has her own sling and practices the art of babywearing with her own "babies".
When my son was born, I was prepared. I'd read about Attachment Parenting. I'd researched babywearing options. I'd made a wrap. I was ready! It was sweet, sweet. This dear little bundle nestled against my chest, almost as though still in utero, but visible and kissable. We were here again, and it was a familiar place. Sweet, I say, sweet.
I've added a list of A/P and babywearing links on the sidebar. As a disclaimer, let me say that there are plenty of ideas and practices associated with the Attachment Parenting movement that we do NOT agree with. But in general, the idea of our children participating in every part of our lives in a physical and intimate way is very important to our family. Check out Rocks In My Dryer for other ideas that work for other families!