“Oh, why do you care what people think of your parenting? Screw them!”
“I care because I’m sensitive!”
I had this conversation the other night with a dear friend. I was describing my struggle with the perceived judgement I feel now that I’m a parent.
So, in an effort to empower my decisions as a mother, I will now list some of the dire “mistakes” I’m making with a big, fat, giant, “effffffffffyyyyyooooouuuu!!!!!!” to those judgements.
We co-sleep. In the same bed. Every single night. We put her to sleep initially in the crib and soothe her back down when she wakes up. But she usually wakes up again around my bedtime so we go to bed together and I nurse her back down. Then I don’t have to leave the bed again until I wake up for work. As a non-parent this scenario would have horrified me. As a working and nursing mother to a strong-willed baby, co-sleeping has solved a lot of problems. Am I causing bigger problems for myself down the line? I don’t know for sure (and neither does anyone else, thank you) so it’s worth the risk because sleep deprivation is torture. They used it at Guantanamo, you know.*
I support nursing into the toddler years. Fully. Because I might even do it myself. My daughter and I like nursing, experts say it benefits the child’s health, and other cultures consider this normal. Again, I used to be horrified by this idea. But now that I have a little six month old who so clearly relies on nursing to make her feel safe and satiated, why would I take that from her? Because (presumably) some male American doctor from the early 20th century decided one year was the socially acceptable cutoff for nursing? Why would I take his advice?*
I’m not doing cry it out. I know my baby. I know her cries and fusses. Based on the sounds she makes, I can usually decipher the I’m hungry message, the I’m tired message, and the I’m scared message. This is how we communicate and it took A LOT of hard work to establish this trust. When she’s developmentally capable (not yet, but soon), I trust I will be able to identify the I’m sort of fake crying because I want something that I don’t necessarily need message. Tonight, if I were to plop her in her crib and just let her scream, I’d be giving her the fuck you, I don’t give a shit what you need message. And after all we’ve been through together, that just seems rude.*
I pay “too much” for child care. I have a decent job that pays well. Currently, I am handing over almost my entire cash flow (after taxes, retirement contribution, and insurance are deducted) to our wonderful nannies. And they are wonderful. Sorry, but I’m not settling for anything less than wonderful when it comes to the care of my child. I’ll bargain hunt for shoes, not this.*
I’m an attachment parent. I’m finally admitting and embracing this. These were dirty words to me until I heard my baby cry for the first time and the cascade of biological, evolutionary triggers ignited a maternal ferocity I never realized I had (no, not even for the cats). I read The Attachment Parenting Book cover to cover and discovered that the concepts introduced fell right in line with my instincts — instincts that I believe are here for a reason. Because I believe in evolution!*
Now, let me say this: If you are a parent who has chosen a different approach, I am not judging you. I sincerely believe you are doing the very best for your child and your family.
Because that’s what I can only hope I am doing.
*I’m not entertaining any debate on this so don’t bother commenting. I won’t approve it.