September 3, 2011

Attachment Parenting Ain't For Woosies

Okay, I love the title of this blog post.  I don't speak that way in normal conversation, I promise! - but it's such a perfect way of saying exactly what I mean: Attaching Parenting Is Hard Freaking Work. 

This is going to come across as complaining - and if it does - so be it.  I'm allowed a little complaining :)  I don't do it much - and I think I've earned it.  So here it is:

My body is so so sore because my co-sleeping 11 month old love bug wakes up numerous times at night to nurse and get some mama love - my back hurts from spending much of the night twisting my top breast down to reach her mouth.  My back also hurts from carrying this 25 pound chunk a lunk up and down the stairs a gazillion times a day.  And from wearing her in the Ergo when she's fussy when my back is already jacked up.

I am sleep deprived.  Chronically sleep deprived.  I have three girls and each and every one of them - current baby included - have been crap tastic sleepers.  It's true - co-sleeping helps so so much (good God I can't imagine actually having to get out of bed and plodding to the next room to nurse!) - but still - REM sleep of any sort is a long and distant memory. 

And speaking of memory - I have none.  Okay - well, I have a little memory.  But I spend much of the time calling my girls by the wrong name and asking them to put their "shoe" in the dishwasher when what I meant was - of course - their plate.  Said memory loss comes from the sleep deprivation (at least, I hope so!)

And personal time - just for me - there is too too little.  I spend an hour at bedtime parenting the girls to sleep - which means - for the baby - nursing her to sleep (that's easy and delicious!).. but then, going into the girls' room and doing the bedtime routine and then laying with them until they fall asleep.  And I homeschool - and so much of my time (that would be free were they in school) during the day is filled with teaching and taking them to and from lessons and play dates and park days.

And when they have days where I find their behavior challenging - hitting and bickering and refusing to clean up - I spend a heck of a lot of time with them trying to reason and find mutually beneficial solutions to their conflicts. 

Mainstream parenting would be SO. MUCH. EASIER.  I often think that, really I do.  It would be easier to close the door at bed time and tell them to go to sleep vs laying there with them.  It would be easier to sleep train them as babies so they'd sleep through the night.  It would be easier on those behavior days to exact discipline by time outs or spanking.  And good god it seems like it would be way easier to send them to school (not sure it really would, but I like to imagine that at least :).

Even so though - I could never do that.  Because always  - at the back of my mind - is the reason I am parenting this way:  Because they are beautiful divine beings that deserve to have their needs met.  It's my job.  Because meeting their needs now means that when they're grown, they will be so filled up with love that they won't have an empty spot in their soul that needs filling up with sex/food/drugs/liquor, etc.  Because if I were a child - I would want someone to give me that sort of love.

And let's face it - while it may suck sometimes in the present moment - this time with our wee ones is short.  The discomfort, sleeplessness - it will pass in a few years.. and before we know it - our children will be on their own and we will have all the alone time we could ever want.  Except then - we probably won't want it.  We will want these blessed years back.


  1. I face similar challenges K as I attachment parent too. Granted I am no longer nursing and I do not have my kids during the day since I work outside the home... As much as I would LOVE to work in my home during the day, I don't know how I would be able to do it (I mean could but I can see the hard days for sure). It does present it's own challenges. Working 8-9 hrs a day to come home to my littles and meet their needs while there is a household to handle; dinner, laundry, cleaning up certain parts of the house from the day, dealing with the dog (who never gets enough walks), mediate the fighting between the kids, then me (maybe two hrs a week of gym time because I'm trying hard to make it happen) and then, my husband (who sadly comes last at the end of the very tiring day). My biggest challenge is sleep as well. It takes an hour and a half to get my kids (mainly daughter) to sleep where i get kicked around all night long and wake up with major backaches (but i still love the snuggles) I too at times wish for the mainstream life (where we ate the easy crap food and sent our kids to bed by themselves to put to sleep) but there is a reason I choose to walk down this path and in my heart, like you, know this is best for the children as hard as it is for us. I spend this much time with my kids at night when all I want is to do is veg out on the couch and just watch tv or read a good book, Is because I don't during the day and this is my quality time i need to enjoy for as long as it will last! My long point is, I understand what you are saying and you are not alone friend! Hugs!!

  2. Thank you J!! You are such a hardworking, devoted and loving mama. I truly honor you and the great work you're doing for them. Hugs right back!

  3. It seems like you are saying there is attachment parenting and then mainstream parenting. I would like to think there can be a nice balance in between. Where my child will know they are loved and attended to even though I choose to not sleep with them and breastfeed them till 3. A balance where night time routine is a bedtime story, snuggles, hugs & kisses - and being there in a heartbeat if they need me but them knowing they are safe and secure in their bed on their own. A balance where a time out might be necessary (never spanking) but attunement can be used as well. Please don't bad mouth what you would consider "mainstream" it's not all cold, spanks, and detachment.

  4. Hi Anon, you are right - just because a parent doesn't attachment parent doesn't mean that they are cold, or spank or are detached. I do think a parent can be attuned and loving even if they don't AP. However, given that recent studies reveal that 90 percent of American parents spank their children - I think by definition then that spanking is definitely a mainstream practice. Perhaps you are somewhere on the attachment parenting continuum :)

    If you've read some of my other posts, you might know that I started out 8 years ago as a mainstream parent (a non spanking, loving one, for sure) But it wasn't until I began attachment parenting that I truly understood how deep the bond between mom and child can be. That is where I write from.

    Thank you for your comment!

  5. As an AP mom to two co-sleeping children, (one a young home-schooler, one a still night-nursing toddler), I assure you, you are not alone. My back hurts for all the same reasons. I'm chronically tired and fall asleep almost instantly when I ride shotgun or, really, when I sit down anywhere for more than a few minutes. I am lacking in memory and "me" time.
    I also imagine mainstream parenting to be easier. The people who practice more mainstream methods and hear me remark on the discomforts sometimes caused by AP methods strongly suggest we do it their way, claiming it's easier. It looks easier... except for the guilt I would feel. Because I know better, and therefor should do better - and in this case, easier doesn't equal better.

  6. I just went today for a chiro adjustment and a massage from all this wonderful nursing of my three-month-old, particularly the night nursing! :)

    I, too, have been thinking thoughts about mainstream parenting (let's just call it the kind my parents used) being easier — closing the door on my four-year-old instead of helping him fall asleep, making him go to school so we can have long blessed hours without him all day. What stops me from giving in is the long-term goals I have. Do I want right now to get my way and have things be convenient for me, or do I want to build a relationship of trust and respect with my children? That to me is what AP is all about. (Though, despite saying that, I often forget in the moment!!)


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