It's funny how sometimes light bulbs go off in your head when you read an article. As I just poured myself my SECOND cup of coffee this morning I was inspired to write this post before it escaped my mind. Lots to do today and I know this post would be lost amid my daily affairs (I have a wedding shoot a town away and that takes all my energy for the day).
Back to the article...it was a mother talking about how she stumbled onto AP parenting. I swear her words mirrored my own accounts. I too was a young mother. I was a newbie college dropout and a brand new 3 week bride. A baby was not on the radar when I found out I was pregnant with my oldest ray of sunshine. I learned, and grew with him. I was torn by the conventional ways of doing things. I came from a very different childhood...the typical American bottle fed one. I remember when he was born my instincts kicked in. While most of my friends where spending their days studying and nights partying, my world stopped. But for the better. I swear it was as if time stood still when they placed my baby on my chest. I literally watched as he rooted for my breast. I was amazed with his instincts for milk. I remember thinking how powerful mother nature was and how our instincts are so ingrained in us. I brought him to my breast in the delivery room and there he nursed for the first time. This was the AP rabbit hole I would tumble down. I'm not going to lie, I was a little taken back with his strength and his little alien looking self searching my body for a food source, but mostly, I was amazed by his will. It was natural, pure and the way he wanted it to be. Not what was forced upon him.
I have never been nor will I EVER be a fan of letting a baby "cry it out". I was told numerous times that is what I needed my son to do. I couldn't bring myself to do this. From the moment my oldest entered my life I began to follow my instincts. I had never heard of attachment parenting. All I did know was how could I place a child who has never been alone since conception into a room across the house. He started off in his bassinet by my bed and soon we entered into the world of co-sleeping. My ex was not a fan of this. He was not a partner in my AP lifestyle. But that's a whole other story. I co-slept with my son until he was 3.5.
Baby-wearing...I had never heard about this with my first born. I was given a snugli for a shower gift and my son DESPISED this. He hated to be worn. He suffered from torticollis and his neck was compromised in that device...so I did what I felt he needed...to be held in my arms. I held that boy all day. I was told I would spoil him. But he wanted that. It was kinda comical looking back...he was a VERY big baby (my ex husband is 6'4 and I am 5'4 on a good day). My arms would ache holding him...but that was what he wanted. He felt secure and safe. I went by his cues. One of the main AP views is just that. Going by your child's cues, wants. My second child wanted to roam as soon as he could. He was cool with being in a sling when little, but the moment he became mobile...he wanted down. I listened to his cues and let him explore. The two are as different as night and day. One a snuggler one an explorer.
Treating a child an an equal. I hate and have a sick feeling in my stomach when people berate their children. I have always ascribed to the parenting approach of respect. How can you be respected if you are not respecting. I do correct my children and we do have time outs/punishments. I can be a hardass...aka...not looking the other way if my child is being rude to another or not doing what was asked of him. But I discipline with compassion. I try to explain why they are in trouble and I am honest with my children. How can you teach why not to do something if they do not understand the why.
Finding the right partner for the AP lifestyle.
I remarried when my son was 3. We eased into our new life the best way we could. We incorporated my son into every aspect of our lives. I was amazed with how much love my husband has for my son. He began practicing AP from the start. I swear I love that man. It's funny because he gets the importance of listening to the child's wants and needs. From the beginning he has welcomed the AP lifestyle. When our second child was born he welcomed the baby into the bedroom. Something I've discovered many men do not. He is a strong advocate against making the "woman do it all". It's kinda saddening how many times I have heard wives say their husband needs his sleep. Ahem...you do too! AP is about teamwork. A family is a team. Many nights my husband would get up with the baby and let me rest. And YES on a work night. My second child is now 2.5 and still resides in my bedroom. He had moved into his own room but began having night terrors. We listened to his cues and he was not ready so back to my room he came. He has his own little bed in our room. He feels secure and sleeps through the night there. He will let us know when he is ready to leave. I know many people have their own views on this and this is what works for MY family.
Being an AP mother is all about listening to your child's needs. It's not how many play dates you can schedule, or how many soccer/baseball practices you can fit into your schedule. It's including your child's needs, wants and incorporating them into your life. It's saddens me to read about babies being trained to sleep through the night. Children are not pets, they have their own little wills. It's funny because my youngest is a VERY spirited child. Many would label him "bad". I'm not going to lie there are days my patience has been tested to it's limits, but that is him. That is his inner will and I will not crush who he is. Instead, I adjust my sails to his wind. I do discipline him, but I do not want him to lose that inner explorer inside of himself. That is good he is high spirited. I love how he has no fear and finds interest in everything. It's funny once at a story hour at the library he was all over the place. He had introduced himself to everyone in the room at least twice. I was a mess chasing after him prying his hands off of other mother's strollers (he tried to take off with it). Then the librarian walked up to me and said I had one like that. She was like don't worry he'll end up running for office of seeing over a huge company. He's strong and independent, that's a good thing. That is. When other children hide behind their mothers legs...Cedric will walk up to you and say hello and proceed to slide down your leg (everyone is a slide now). I think as parents sometimes we need to set back and let our children be who they are...not who we want them to be. That is why I let my kids wear what they want. (With some moderation...hehehee...clothes do need to worn to the store and I can't allow a serious fashion faux pas to happen ha). My husband and I love giving our kids a magical childhood where anything is possible.
(Who knew Darth Vader shopped at Target! This is Cedric and a trip to my local Target.)
I'm NOT a perfect mother. I have had many learning curves come my way. But I can honestly say, I went with my gut for the most part and listened to my child's cues. So far so good ; ) As how my oldest son would say..."that's how we roll ; ) " Wink included... I have two very loving, sweet and kind young gentlemen.
The AP lifestyle is a demanding one and one not for everyone. I'm not a hardcore AP mom. I bend and make up my own rules as I go along. Not everything we eat is organic, I lose my cool and I have yelled at times, I use disposable diapers, and I didn't nurse into toddlerhood. I do ascribe to delaying vaccinations, baby wearing when I could, co-sleeping, along with disciplining with love and consistent loving care. We partake in the 8 principles of AP, but it's not a checklist. I think moms out there need to be nicer to each other and more supportive. It's not a competition or a race. We as women need to encourage instead of discourage and lend love to each other instead of snarky words. This post in merely a glimpse into AP for me and my family.
Ok..off to start my day...have a great weekend guys!!! (ps...sorry for any typos I have in here...I was fury passion writing)