This post is for the moms on my page who are new to the ideas of attachment, crunchy, or natural parenting. It is NOT for those who disagree with most notions of attachment, because I fully support all that I’ve learned about thus far. Nor is it for those who speak badly of ideas they know nothing about. It is for those women who have asked, and read for themselves, and are convinced that the science behind attachment is true – that it is the best way to remain connected with our children. It’s for those who haven’t always parented the way they do now, or the way they are working to now. And – did you guess? – for all of the hardworking single mothers who wish we could do everything ideally all of the time, and are all the time doing our best. If it is truly your best it will always be good enough. Remind yourself of that every day.
And do not be bound by a label. Ever.
Don’t make yourself feel you are bound by one. It will only serve to discourage you. All those forums and blogs and Facebook pages you read? You know, the ones about how Awesome Mom nurses all day and doesn’t use a pacifier and cosleeps and only eats organic and wears her baby and homeschools and feeds orphans in Zimbabwe on her own credit card? Don’t measure yourself based on her. That’s Awesome Mom’s definition of attachment. That’s what Awesome Mom’s resources and time and situation allow her to give of herself. And her children and family love her all the more, because they know she is giving as much as she can.
Your resources are different. Your situation is unique. You’re still an Awesome. Mom. Maybe you’re just divorced, after marrying a man you thought you’d spend the rest of your life with. Maybe you were never in a relationship and your pregnancy was unplanned, but you found yourself wanting to do everything in your power to connect with your child. Maybe you are a widow, struggling to keep your family together after the loss of the head of your household. Maybe you are a married mom whose husband is away a lot. Or a married mom whose husband is around but doesn’t support attachment. Or a married mom whose husband does support attachment, but both of you are struggling with it. Whoever you are –
Do not be bound by a label. Ever.
Do what your resources allow and your family will love you all the more, because they will see you giving as much as you can. What feels right to you, what fits your family, what you feel you can afford, what you can mentally process, what you physically can bear. And no more. Don’t push yourself to keep up with anyone. Don’t feel badly or be ashamed to participate in a post because your child wears disposables and drinks cow’s milk. Don’t guilt trip yourself. I’ve come to the conclusion that most everything I’ve learned about attachment, once researched, is something I want to apply in my life. Am I always successful? Was Michael Jackson’s race-change successful? No. We all thought it was weird, don’t lie. And sometimes I find myself faking the funk, and it turns out weird. Like the night I read one little blurb about the dangers of the food we feed our children and went on a Google rampage. I seriously didn’t sleep. Next day I marched proudly into my local co-op and packed a cart with the finest, freshest, organic foods and drinks. Stuck my chest out and unloaded my treasure at the register. Took my check card out, looked at the total, passed out, had to be resuscitated, told the manager the cashier was trying to rob me, was escorted from market. Weird.
Of course I didn’t pass out, I didn’t even make it to the register. As I stood mentally adding up the total for my food, I realized that in order to eat like that we’d have to eat in the dark, and in the cold, and maybe wearing smelly clothes, because I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills. I got a grip on myself. “Self,” I said, “You can’t change everything overnight. You know better and you’re going to start to do better, takeideezy.” I relaxed. I did small things that I could do with my given situation. I started cooking from scratch more (which I have no problem doing; I just never minded feeding my children processed foods occasionally because I knew they’re bad but I didn’t realize how BAD), and making snacks at home. I stopped buying so much juice. I took baby steps. That’s what you should do. And maybe you aren’t stepping! Maybe you can make giant leaps. That’s fine. Go at your pace.
Because you should not be bound by a label. Ever.
Attachment parenting is not about conforming, it’s exactly the opposite. We are not going to let others dictate the way we raise our children. We are not going to change our minds because some (read: many) shun our ideas. We are not going to go against what we feel is right because of what Dr. Knownothing gets paid to feed us. Attachment is about being in tune with the needs of your family so that you can raise your children with the healthiest possible connection. When everyone is considered fairly, you are free to spend your time and consideration on what’s best for your children. You don’t have to worry about anyone feeling slighted – including yourself. That means not taking on more than you can, and not being someone else’s idea of a great mom. If you research something and you truly feel it’s best and you feel guilty for not doing it – well, start doing it. Take baby steps. That guilt is your instinct telling you, “Lady, we need to implement this.” Change the little things that you can, now, in preparation for big changes later. Don’t tackle everything at once.
And don’t ever be bound by a label. Ever.
You are doing a great job. You are trying. I posted a stat on my Facebook page last week that read, “I am an expert mistake maker, highly skilled in the art of trying.” That’s okay! Do you know how many attempts it took all the architects and mathematicians and zoning commissions and municipal boards to get our country the way it looks today? Neither do I. But I bet it was more than one, and more than five, and I’m pretty confident saying it was probably more than a hundred. TRY A HUNDRED TIMES. Maybe you’re a Muhkoobaboo parent. Muhkoobaboo is Singlecrunchanese for “whatever you do to stay connected”. There is no real definition. Yes it includes babywearing, breastfeeding, home remedies and the like, but at the same time, it doesn’t exclude anyone. I would never want to exclude anyone who is trying. Please keep at it, and feel good (or go crazy and feel GREAT ) about what you do each day. And, uh, you know-
Do NOT be bound by a label.
All my love to you.
-The Single Muhkoobaboo