When I was first a new parent 5.5years ago, I parented with my gut and agonized over the “type” of parent that I wanted to be. I had been given Babywise as a gift while pregnant and the whole book rubbed me the wrong way. I happened to stumble upon an ad for a online parenting group that called themselves “Attachment Parents” but really thought nothing of the term, because I thought that all parents were “attachment parents”…didn’t we all want to be attached to our kids?
And really, all that I was looking for were people to connect with because as a 24 year old University student I had absolutley NO friends with kids….ok not entirely true because my best friend had a baby just out of highschool but she lives in another province.
So there I was looking for people to go on playdates with. So I joined this group and started asking questions and posting, and finding myself pretty mainstream and not entirely supported by this group. They had their ways and apparently I was not crunchy enough. I made some good connections and the women were really nice people, just a lot of them were at least 5 to 10 years my senior and were pretty black and white when it came to what was acceptable and what wasn’t.
So I joined another local pay for service forum to find more people to bond with, meanwhile I was still having issues breastfeeding and finding no support what so ever, other than the LLL. So I joined this other group and it was way more mainstream, but the parents were even older and the kids were all older too, and I felt like an even bigger outsider.
A couple moms posted asking questions about Crying-It-Out and I posted links to articles and blogs that I had gotten…but really I had no idea because who would really leave their child to cry? I mean really? My baby was a great sleeper and I could sleep with him and he could breastfeed while I was sleeping so really, what was wrong with them.
I would be lying if I said that I didn’t get flamed. At the time it pissed me off so badly because all these women got so much support for CIO or ignoring their babies and I was the one being told that I lived in fairy tale land.
I left that group, and coincidentally met a really good friend of mine at a LLL meeting. I gave the AP group a second chance and started recruiting. I have met many many inspiring women throughout my time with them…I have also met women that make me want to put my head through the wall…but that is life!
I became a really strong advocate for cosleeping, and/or responding to your baby…but more importantly *listening to your own gut*.
Sure mother to mother support is paramount, and we need tribes to keep us sane, but at the same time we have to be aware of the decisions that we make and how they affect us and own own families. Cosleeping doesn’t work for everyone. It works for me, but I am one person in a city of one million.
I have found often in my years of being a “attachment parent” that this type of parent is too smart.
Let me try to explain…it’s like smart and neurotic, but somewhat insecure. I am not excluding myself from this evaluation. I came to this conclusion when I was picking my oldest up from school and was explaining to one of the moms how much I loved Alfie Kohn. She did not have a clue who I was talking about. She said that she wasn’t really into parenting books and did most of her parenting by instinct.
This is exactly my point. I was the moderator of the AP group of my city for 3.5 years and in that time I read every single questionnaire. “What is Attachment Parenting to you?” and almost every single answer was “I didn’t know that what I was doing had a name until I *read* about it somewhere.”
So back to being way too smart and neurotic…Attachment Parents are researchers. They research the hell out of something to find the appropriate answer. Textbooks, parenting books, expert advice, emails, forums and websites, blogs, all searching for what an “AP” parent would do in that particular situation….but the kicker is that no one actually knows because AP is not something you do, it is something you are.
Most people follow Dr. Sears Baby B’s…but I have said before and I will say it again…do you really think he did all those? He was on tour making money. Bottom line. He had 8 kids to feed. It was Martha who really knows…but then she only knows how to parent *her* own kids.
So back to the CIO and the rest of the rules etc. We as “AP’ers” try to hold ourselves to some higher standard that our “mainstream” counterparts. I was right to get flamed by all those women. They were older and wiser and had learned more about parenting than I had in the 18 mos that I was a parent of one pretty easy boy.
But what happens in the AP community, I am noticing is that new moms come in trying to find out what constitutes AP and how to assimilate into the community but only have parents of children that are maybe 2 to 4 years older than their own children to gather information from. And you have your die hards that live on another level, or your super “natural/green” parents that follow another sect, and so the new mommies think that this is the norm that these are the parents that they have to look up to…when really in real life they are nothing like the posts and chats that they answer.
Really. Who is going to actually say that they did something that is not AP on an AP forum. NO ONE. Because people are so afraid of losing their community or tribe or what have you.
So they form little separate groups with other moms of kids the same age and get together in real life and find out that it’s okay to dislike your child somedays, and that makes you human.
But this doesn’t help the community as a whole because those secret conversations are not shared with all the new mommies that are looking for support.
It seems to me to be a real conundrum.
People are not completely honest for fear of being judged by those who are afraid of being judged themselves. All because some “expert” wants to make money by selling a book, and tours and an endorsed “arms reach cosleeper.”
So, in closing to this incredibly long winded blog post…I am going to post the things that I hate about myself and how I parent…a confessions post (which we used to do in the AP group long ago) to let others see just how human I am.