An Afternoon Among the Trees

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We took Uncle Ethan and Aunt Bianca to Rainbow Falls today.

It was just a little bit rainy.

If you are ever in Chattanooga and need a great, kid-friendly hike, this is the one to take. Dexter walked the entire way down by himself! I was a little annoyed at his refusal to be carried, but mostly just proud of his determination.

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Any day with Uncle Ethan and Aunt Bianca is a good day. This was was maybe a bit soggy, and muddy and noisy…..but a good day, nonetheless.

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Babies Don’t Keep

“Babies don’t keep,” they say.
And it is so true.

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Do the dishes later.
Do the laundry later.
Spend right now with those shape-shifting babies.

And oh, how I want to….. but I also want an empty sink and clean clothes.

I have realized I want to have my cake and eat it too when it comes to this life of mothering my wee little men.

I really, really like a neat and orderly home. I like freshly mopped floors and folded clothing stacked nicely in drawers. I like things to smell good and run smoothly. I blame it on my birth order. First-borns are ridiculously neurotic.

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In the years B.B. (Before Babies) this balance was relatively easy to maintain. Liam slept for 2 hours every afternoon and I would use that time to plunge my hands into a sink full of hot soapy water and clean all the things. I would fold laundry, start dinner, BLOG….and still have time left over for a hot cup of coffee and quiet reflection. While he was awake, he was enriched and educated and played with and talked to uninterrupted.

When I look back on those years, the memories all have sort of this hazy glow to them….like a dream sequence. And we are always wearing white. Hm.

These days, naptime is a thing of the past and not only are my boys having to share my time with each other, they also have to share it with all of the mundane daily tasks that keep us fed and clothed and not living in filth.

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I have noticed that I have an exceptionally difficult time enjoying beautiful moments when I am aware that behind my very strategically and firmly closed bedroom door lies a war zone and a disturbing odor. 

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I am working on finding a new balance.

I have realized though that all those books and articles that tell you to forget everything else…are usually accompanied by pictures of clean children in actual clothing, snuggling with a mother that looks like she is freshly showered. Or of an artfully arranged stack of porcelain plates with small remnants of what looks to be a nutritious, well-rounded meal that was actually consumed by the family, set in an otherwise sparkling sink. They never show the child who has eaten potato chips for roughly 4 out of the last 5 meals, covered in snot and what you hope is dirt but nothing else, hanging on your leg and wailing as you try to walk to the changing table with a look of horror on your face as you realize the baby you are holding has not had a diaper change in 5 hours. Or the mounds of untouched food on the cracked plastic plate from the thrift store that is the only one your child accepts, which you will have to scrap off into the garbage disposal before plunking it into a sink full of murky dishwater

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It shows the little boy playing happily in the mud, but fails to show the trail of mud through the house, the pile of wet clothing that will be forgotten in the corner until they are probably unsalvageable and the ring around the bath tub where you sat washing him clean instead of doing the 20 minute exercise video you thought you could sneak in at least once this week to help you lose the extra 50 lbs of baby weight you have been carrying around for 2 years.

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They never show the toilets in dire need of scrubbing. The overflowing diaper pail. The empty refrigerators. Or the ugly fights you have at 3 am with your spouse.

Sometimes the choices aren’t pretty at all. But you still have to make them.

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So maybe sometimes, you tell your kid you are not going watch him break dance for the 23rd time because you are going to clean out the fridge. And sometimes, you let your husband take the kids out alone so you can mop the floors without teeny tiny footprints scattered across them. And maybe you drop your kids off in child care at the gym and take an hour long shower after your workout. Or you leave them with a sitter and go on a date.

And they aren’t really quotable, these choices you made….but they feel good. And they help you feel more balanced so you can say yes more often and you can breathe more deeply and you can see more clearly.

Because babies don’t keep, you know. And you need room to soak them in.

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Snapshots of Summer

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If you have been curious about our summer….it pretty much looks like this!

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Roo

Rory Emerson has been with us for seven months now.

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It has been an eventful seven months, to say the least, and some days I feel like I still do not know my littlest little very well yet. Aside from some occassional early morning cuddles, the majority of our time together is spent handling his older, louder and more demanding brothers. This sweet boy is generally just a long for the ride.

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But in his short time as the caboose of our crazy family train, this peanut has taught me that under no circumstances will things ever go according to plan, he has forced me to go a little easier on myself and he has reminded me that all a baby really needs is love. Those are some pretty big lessons in one itty bitty package.

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With the addition of Roo-bear, I am so grossly outnumbered during the day that I cannot even pretend to have any sort of plan and so I cannot be annoyed when it all falls apart.

I have stopped wringing my hands when I have to cancel a play date or outing at the last minute. Life is unpredictable and so are babies. I have stopped feeling guilty when we have to order pizza because dinner is inedible….or non-existent… because I kept 3 human beings mostly alive for an entire 8 hours. Dinner is like the bonus round. I don’t worry at all about when Rory will sleep or eat because I know he will have to eventually and he will do it somewhere and somehow so why waste precious brain power on organizing the inevitable?

There are days though that I even manage to give him a bath. Those days are like unlocking secret levels or something. I am on fire.

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Rory does things at his own pace…which is very, very slowly. At 7 months old, he will roll over if the mood strikes and he grabs at things he finds interesting. He smiles constantly, coos regularly, and laughs infrequently. He stares at everyone with those big eyes like a very wise and very tiny owl.

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He enjoys food and has yet to try one he didn’t gobble down. He gives wet, sloppy kisses that I am not sure are intentional but I choose to accept them as so.

He is still as little as can be. He does not like loud noises. He struggles with nursing. He does not mind being handed to just about anyone…but he recogizes his Mama and Papa and I like to think he likes us best. He loves company and if you walk out of his line of sight before he is ready, he will let out the saddest cry you have ever heard.

He loves his brothers so much and lights up when he sees them. He is never lonely. Even if Mama isn’t available, there is always someone willing to cuddle our beloved baby.

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I do worry a bit about my little turtle, it is hard not to as I watch babies younger than him surpass him in weight and development…but mostly, I don’t. He is a happy, loveable, easygoing kid.

He already is who he is and we are just getting to know who that is. That’s all.

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I can say one thing for certain… I am really glad he surprised us.

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The Rain Had Stopped

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I admit I am a bit slow when it comes to technology. In high school, I was the last to join instant messenger or get a MySpace page. In college, it took a class requirement to force me onto Facebook. We currently don’t even have a working computer in the house and I literally just got a smartphone a couple of years ago. And I am still resisting the call of Apple.

If you are trying to get in touch with me, my antiquated ways can be frustrating. I leave my phone on windowsills for hours and forget to bring it on outings. I am slow to respond to text messages and have never even set up my voicemail box. More than once, my husband has walked in the door with a look of annoyance, “Where is your phone?”

But, in spite of this, social media is still a part of my life. I use it to keep up with long-distance friends and update those that want to know on how our boys are doing. I catalogue funny things Liam has said and take pictures of Dexter enjoying our latest smoothie recipes. I have also used it to create some real life support networks that I am endlessly grateful for. Life as an at-home parent can be isolating. Some times, having the lifeline of social media is the only thing that has kept me from pulling my hair out.

On days that the boys and I are home alone with no real plans, I find myself glancing through my feeds more frequently. I usually use my phone for very specific purposes- as a GPS and camera, most often- but on aimless days, I will find myself mindlessly scrolling through other people’s news and pictures, clicking links, reading articles, watching video clips. It is not really purposeful, I just have more time to fill. And I have noticed something about my mood on those days too. On those days, I often feel anxious and impatient and distracted and upset.

Our lives have gone through some pretty major changes the last few months and so when a day comes to and end and it had been a rough one on me emotionally, it is easy to attribute it to “adjusting.” Liam is a tough kid and Dexter can be a needy one and so sometimes I would just pin it on one of them. But I still could not figure out why the days that should have felt the most relaxing- days that the boys played well together and I had been productive and not rushed or overscheduled- would sometimes still leave me feeling emotionally depleted.

This afternoon, Liam was playing quietly in the playroom while the babies napped. The house was clean, dinner was planned and I had nothing to do. I saw clouds forming in the distance and opened a window so I could listen to the storm. I put on some music. These are my favorite sort of afternoons. I made a cup of coffee and sat down with my phone for just a few minutes before Rory woke up.

In that 10 minutes, while I sipped my coffee and raindrops started to fall outside my window, I read about a friend in the hospital, I learned that an acquaintance of an aquaintance had lost their child to a horrible disease, I glanced through an article about the appalling work conditions manicurists face, and I saw that there had been a shooting in my city. There were good things too, of course, cute cats and stuff, and when Rory began to cry, I sat my phone down and went about my day as I have done a thousand times before… but I couldn’t shake this lingering feeling of dread.

Liam asked to play in the rain. I helped everyone into their boots and out into the spring shower. We stomped in puddles and found worms and played in the mud. I worked in my tiny garden while the boys giggled and I thought that I should really be enjoying this, but I was feeling vaguely irritated instead.

Liam threw a rock in his brother’s direction and I snapped at him. I accidentally ripped up a flower, mistaking it for a weed. My mind kept wandering- I wondered if I should donate to the acquaintance’s acquaintance Gofundme page. My heart felt bruised for this woman I had never met because I am a mother too and she has just faced my greatest fear. I started trying to figure out if I could get all of my kids into the car to make it over to visit my hospitalized friend and if I had time to whip up a batch of cookies beforehand. Even as I mentally rushed my kids through a bath and into the car before visiting hours were over, I realized that no sick person wants the lady with 3 rambunctious boys crashing into the hospital room…but I felt so helpless and wanted to do something. I worried about the shooting and our safety. I felt bad for getting my nails done that one time in high school. I wondered if I should get that rash Dexter has checked out in case it is something serious. Then I remembered the childless mother again and felt guilty for not cherishing this moment with my children.

I looked up to find the little cherubs had turned on the hose and were taking turns spraying each other in the face with ice cold water because the rain had stopped.

The rain had stopped and I didn’t even notice.

Warm, quiet, rainy afternoons are my favorite and I had missed it. I had worried it away.

I think being connected is a wonderful thing. I want to know about people who are hurting so that I can help. I feel priveledged to watch a friend who lives across the country blossom into motherhood, or graduate from college, or get a new puppy when I would otherwise miss out. I am grateful to be informed about what is going on in my community and in the world. And I really like funny cat videos.

But the rain had stopped and I didn’t even notice….because I was lost in other people’s worries.

I always find the irony in articles about the evils of social media being passed around on social media highly amusing. But it isn’t really social media’s fault if I cannot distinguish another person’s newsfeed from my own, is it? That is on me.

I have always been an empathetic person, and I believe it is an asset, but taking on another person’s tragedy simply because I have been made aware of it does nothing to lessen their burden. As someone who has lived through tragedies of my own, I should know this.

Maybe it is just me. Maybe I am the only one that struggles with this…but today I made a promise to myself.

If I have words of wisdom, I will share them. If I can pray for you, or make you a meal or send you some money… I will do it without a moment’s hesitation. If you need me, I will be there.

But never again will I miss out on playing in the rain.

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This Kid

Can we talk about this kid for a minute?

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This wild and wonderful, sweet and stubborn, loud, creative, expressive, exasperating, bony, tornado of a kid.

When I held the tiny space monkey this little human used to be in my arms, I never in a million years could have imagined him as the boy he has become.
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We speculated a lot (there wasn’t much else to do as he slept 22 hours of the day away)…but we were mostly wrong.

Oh, so very wrong.

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He is so many good things.

I have filled these pages and hopefully his head with all of the good things I know he is.

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Tender-hearted. Resourceful. Friendly. Brilliant. Affectionate. Enthusiastic. Capable. Optimistic. Energetic. Gifted. Logical. Generous. Hopeful. Entertaining. Dedicated. Weird.

And so much more.

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I love him so much that sometimes when I look at him my chest literally aches.

I can also find him….overwhelming.
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Is it okay to admit this? Does it make me a terrible person to admit that sometimes I find it really hard to be around my kid? How much am I looking at in therapy bills for posting this online?

But it is true.

Four years ago, I cried at the thought of spending a single day separated from my boy…and now I sometimes find the tears falling when I am not sure I can handle another day not separated from him.

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He is impossibly adorable. He is so adorable that, even at 5 years old when most children have outgrown their universally cute stage, he is stopped regularly just to be told how adorable he is…or to be randomly asked to model for a magazine. He entertains everyone, everywhere, all the time. “I want to take him home with me!” I am told almost daily.

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And I totally get why…but there are days where I bite my lip in fear that I might ask for an address.

His requirement for input is insatiable. I throw every resource I can spare into filling his need for constant contact but it is never enough and some times, by the end of the day, my introverted spirit is so drained that I simply cannot imagine getting up and doing it all again tomorrow.

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…but 6:30 a.m. comes whether I am ready or not. As soon as the sun rises, so does this boy of mine. His loft bed creaks as he climbs down the stairs, always waking his brother in the process. He run-skips into the room, rubbing sleep from his eyes, and throws himself- elbows first- into our bed. He slings his long legs over ours, scratching his sides (which perpetually itch for unknown reasons) and declares:

“Good morning, Mama! I’m hungry. Is it screen time yet?”

It does not matter that 99.9% of the time, we respond the exact same way. His brain remembers that one time when exhaustion outweighed common sense and we allowed him to start his morning with shows and cereal to catch just a few extra minutes of sleep. And so, we have to remind him that breakfast is eaten at the table before screen time; a rule that had to be put into place when our 30 lb child was skipping meals in favor of electronic entertainment.

And so the first battle of the day begins.

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Most of the time, his intention is never to cause harm. He just had his own ideas about how the day was going to go….which usually includes doing something fun while wearing a costume and eating junk food. I mean, it sounds pretty good to me too so I can’t really blame him, but if maybe you need to run errands or do the dishes instead of the fun thing he had dreamed up, or if his costume is dirty or not weather appropriate, or if you perhaps insist he eats something other than ice cream, you have ruined his expectations of the day and things are going to get really hard, really fast. Sometimes, I just lose my sense of humor about all the fighting.

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He also has some personal space issues… as in the concept of personal space does not exist for him. I love him so much that I want to kiss his face off, but sometimes I think if he touches me again (and by “touches me” I mean climbs LITERALLY on my head, uses my arm as a chin up bar, sits on my face, jumps onto my shoulders, or hangs on my pockets) I might possibly duct tape him to a wall.

Note: I would never actually duct tape my child to a wall. It would never hold him anyway. He is crafty like a fox.
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He has an extremely short attention span and an extremely short list of activities he feels are worth his time. This makes keeping him entertained throughout the day difficult…and while I would love to allow him the privilege of a boredom to get his creative juices flowing, a bored Liam is a destructive Liam and sometimes it is just less expensive to try and keep him occupied every minute of the day.

Handling my 2 children under the age of 2 sometimes feels like a vacation in comparison to my beloved eldest child. I never notice how much time I spend managing his impusivity, protecting the house and his brothers from his destructive behaviors, and trying to keep him occupied, until he isn’t there and I manage to do so very much and everyone seems so peaceful.

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But the thing is….he is worth it.

Every single day I have with Liam is a day I was never promised and I never, ever forget that. When he is making me crazy… I always have a moment when it occurs to me that my life could look very different right now had his time in the NICU ended like many other babies do…and that any one of those mothers would welcome this hyper-active little spider monkey with open arms if their child had the chance to become one. I do not take this miracle of mine for granted.

That little miracle is just providing some unique challenges for me right now. I don’t really know if it is a fleeting phase or the beginning of a rocky road ahead, but I am doing my best to take it one day at a time, navigate these choppy waters, and stay connected to my boy.

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It means things look a bit different than I expected. He watches a little more television than he used to. I try to find ways to give us both the space we need, which may seem to some like I am pushing him away. I have had to set some firm boundaries about about how he can touch others, and when it is appropriate to ask for attention, among other things.

I sometimes feel like a horrible pwrson but I am not doing it to be mean. I am not even doing it because I want to. I am doing it because it is necessary. I am doing it because I have 2 other children who deserve some mama-time too. I am doing it for my own sanity. I am doing it because I am the one who has to watch, with my heart in pieces at my feet, as my son is alienated on the playground because the other kids don’t want to play with a child who doesn’t understand normal social boundaries.

I am doing it because I love him.
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Yep.
He is nothing like I thought he would be.
I am nothing like I thought I would be .

And I love him more than I ever thought I could.

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Reasons Attachment Parenting Doesn’t Suck

It is the nature of the child to be dependent, and it is the nature of dependence to be outgrown. Begrudging dependency because it is not independence is like begrudging winter because it is not yet spring. Dependency blossoms into independence in its own time.
Peggy O’Mara

attachment parentingSo, I used to think attachment parenting sucked.

There, I said it.

Even after Liam was born and I found myself consistently following attachment parenting principles on instinct, I still intellectually thought it sucked. It created spoiled little monsters and exhausted parents and as soon as I could I was going to stop all this nonsense and get back to the business of not sucking.

Only, of course, I didn’t.

Five years and +2 kids later, I now realize that attachment parent doesn’t suck. The truth is, if it is sucking… you are probably doing it wrong. Sorry. Just sayin’.

I am not a purist by any means. I joke regularly that I am an attachment parent who would totally get my attachment parenting card pulled if the attachment parenting police caught wind of some of the crap I do. We do what works until it isn’t working anymore and then we do something different. I am learning that this is how most people parent…even the whacky AP tribe.

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So, I have put together a list of the ways that attachment parenting doesn’t suck and this is it. Enjoy!

1) You have permission to be selfish
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Most people have a view of attachment parents which includes a haggard looking mother who hasn’t showered in 2 weeks because her darling, precious baby cannot be allowed to cry for one single second of his darling, precious life. Or a couple on the brink of divorce because Daddy has been shoved from the family bed and is spending long, celibate nights on the couch, seething. Or a schedule that revolves exclusively around The Children with no time left for the parents to pursue their interests, go on dates, connect with friends or be actual human beings. I know this, because this was my view.

You know what? I am sure these parents exist. Actually, I would argue that we have ALL been those parents at one time or another, regardless of our parenting philosophy. When an entirely new human being suddenly just sort of exists and is helpless and dependent on you for food and shelter and LIFE…there is probably going to be an adjustment period, but it isn’t normal or expected.

Did you know that one of the official principles of attachment parenting, found on the official website of Attachment Parenting International is to “strive for balance in your personal and family life?”

Striving for Balance involves ensuring that everyone’s needs — not just the child’s — are recognized, validated, and met to the greatest extent possible. In an ideal world, every family member’s needs are met all the time, everyone is happy and healthy, and the family is perfectly in balance. In the real world, nobody’s family life is perfectly balanced all the time. It is not unusual for parents to feel out of balance at times. Parents who practice AP continuously look for creative ways to find balance in their personal and family life.  (Read more about this principle here.)

You mean, attachment parenting is NOT about being a martyr? Gasp! Shock and dismay!

Okay, so, really, I mostly just said the thing about being selfish for shock value because it isn’t really selfish at all to carve time out of your life to take care of yourself. I can never give the people I love my best self if I am running on empty. It isn’t going to work. If I want to be emotionally available for my children, I have to make sure I am emotionally healthy. That may mean handing them to someone and walking out the door once a week for a coffee date with a friend or a book. It may mean finding time to be creative or be romantic or be ALONE.  If that is what you need, you should do it and you should not feel guilty for it because in the long run it is better for everyone.

Consistently meeting the needs of other people has taught me to be aware of my needs. I am learning to take care of myself first so that I can be fully present when I care for those I love. I am not always great at this, but I am learning. Attachment parenting not only gives you permission to take care of yourself… it insists on it.

2)You learn a lot of really cool stuff
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I have never made a choice about my children simply because it is what I am familiar with. That just isn’t how I operate. Instead, I read books. I do research. I ask for advice. I practice what I consider evidence-based parenting, which is how I ended up cobbling together a parenting philosophy that was actually attachment parenting without really realizing it.

I have learned a lot about what is biologically normal for human beings. For instance, I have learned about what physically fosters a secure bond between a caregiver and a child and why that bond is important. I learned how to play again and why play is so important. I have learned about the scientific research that shows why spanking is ineffective and can be harmful. I have learned about the benefits of full-term nursing and all the other ways that breast milk is really, really cool. I have also learned how our milk composition is evidence that we are not biologically “spaced feeders” and why feeding babies on a schedule is not a good idea. By training myself to remain open-minded when being presented with new ideas, I have also learned about things that go beyond attachment parenting practices; everything from car seat safety to genital integrity.

I find all of this information endlessly fascinating . But knowing it also means that when I make a decision, I am confident in it. I don’t feel the need to defend it. I don’t feel defensive about it, I don’t have to justify it or make a joke out of it or put others down to make myself feel better about it. I am always willing to learn new things, but if someone disagrees with me and their viewpoint is based on opinion or anecdotal evidence ( “and I turned out fine”)  rather than thoughtful research and facts then it really makes no difference to me.

Sometimes, I don’t always shoot for “best” or maybe I do and I just fall short. Sometimes, I just have to tell myself that kids are resilient and they will survive me. This is reality, after all. But the fact remains that attachment parenting has opened me up to new ideas and taught me to re-examine the old ones. That is a good thing. We have to move forward if we are going to get anywhere. We have to be willing to grow and to learn cool stuff.

3) You get really good at not caring what other people think
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I know for a fact that there are times the people around my kid think to themselves, “What that kid needs is a good spanking.” I know this… because there are times when I think my kid needs a good spanking. I mostly think this when my kid’s behavior is embarrassing me and I just wish I had that trump card: I am bigger than you and I can hurt you so stop making me look bad. The truth is though… there are only two people that matter in my relationship with my child and it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out who those two people are.

It doesn’t matter if the little old lady in the supermarket thinks that I am going to spoil Rory because I carry him all the time or if some random stranger in some random internet thread thinks that my kid should be sleeping through the night at 6 months old or weaned the day after his first birthday. And it doesn’t matter if the businessman behind me in line at the grocery store  is giving me the stink eye because Liam is having big feelings after I said no to the candy bar the size of his head. Because…guess what? Not one of them will be around tomorrow. They won’t be around when Rory starts wiggling to get down and my arms are empty. They won’t be around when 4:00 a.m. finds me staring at my boys’ peaceful faces in their beds because I can’t believe they are still asleep. And they won’t be weren’t around when Liam spontaneously gave up his seat to another kid on the fire truck with a smile because he wanted everyone to have a turn.

So, when you practice an alternative parenting style, you have to learn to stop caring what other people think. It can take some practice. You have to remember that you and your child are the only two people that are in this for the long haul. If something is not working for one of you, then adjustments can be made, but the people outside of your relationship are only seeing a single snapshot of a complex, multifaceted, ever-changing, lifelong commitment you have to your kid. Their opinion doesn’t matter.

4) It is fun
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If you strip attachment parenting of the guilt and the condemnation, if you stop striving for perfection and stop caring so much about what other people think…what is left? A whole lot of fun!

I can always easily determine when things have gotten out of balance in our family life because things stop being fun. When we are in sync, life is good.

I have met many interesting, beautiful people within the attachment parenting community. I have discovered fun things like woven wraps and cloth diapering and unschooling! I have joined online communities, jumped head first into play groups and made some amazing friends. I have learned to enjoy my children at each fleeting phase of their lives; to stop worrying so much about how they will turn out and focus more on meeting their needs, addressing their struggles and enjoying who they are right now.

My little clan of men is teaming with life and joy and insanity and when I think back on how much I missed of Liam’s early years, worrying if I was “ruining” him… I want to go back in time and give myself a hug or maybe a slap upside the head. I want to tell that scared girl-turned-mama that following her instincts doesn’t ruin anything! That tiny baby is going to learn to sleep and he is going to wean himself earlier than she ever expected and he is going to stop insisting she hold him every second of every day- in fact, these days, I find myself standing outside his door, asking if maybe he wants to do something because he is has been playing alone for 2 hours and honestly… I am kind of bored.

Liam presents me with new challenges daily, but I can now address them with patience and the understanding that he is not a project to be completed. He is a little boy that is always growing and changing and learning….just like me. If I am still learning how to be a decent human being at 28, I can certainly be patient with these brand new humans in my care. Dexter and Rory have definitely benefited from my learning to enjoy the ride!

5) It is easy
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Parenting is never really easy, is it? But honestly, attachment parenting, which is based heavily on what is biologically normal and developmentally appropriate, feels easier than other parenting philosophies that strive to overcome what are perceived as problems or weaknesses.

I joke that I breastfeed because I am cheap and I co-sleep because I am lazy…but there really is a grain of truth in this. Scheduled feedings and sleep training just seem really freaking hard to me.

One evening, the boys and I went to a festival and a little girl saw Dexter in his wrap. “Look!” she yelled to her mother, “That lady has her baby wrapped up in her shirt or something. She can hold him and do other things too!”  And oh, it is so true. I can’t imagine parenting infants without a way to carry them hands-free. Babywearing is the best thing that ever happened to me. For real.

All of it. It is just easier.

Keeping my children’s development in mind is easier as well. I don’t have expectations of my 5 year old that he won’t be able to meet so I don’t have to feel frustrated that he isn’t getting it. His brain is immature and that is okay. Maturity comes with age. Values are instilled through consistent responses over time. If I set a good example, he will learn eventually.

Attachment Parenting is often easier because you aren’t working against anything. You are just acting as a guiding hand while nature takes its course.

 6) Your friends are awesome
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This one time, I confessed to a group of friends that I had caught Dexter licking a toilet brush. Do you know how they responded?  By listing all the gross things they had found in their children’s mouths. It made me feel so much better.

I have learned that what many people perceive as “judgement” within the attachment parenting community is often just confidence. Are there assholes around? Sure! Those people are everywhere. But most of the time, these are just people who feel good about the way they are raising their children. They are confident in their choices and this confidence can make others feel uncomfortable. But, trust me on this,  they are also human. They give great advice and have creative solutions to problems. They admit to feeling helpless and overwhelmed and occasionally wanting to pull out the big, wooden spoon and be done with it… but they also remind you why you have chosen this path in the first place. They are the punchline of countless jokes but still find ways to laugh at themselves. They are told repeatedly by society that all of the “extra” work they do is meaningless, but they still keep doing it. They bring wine at the end of a long day. They send you wraps in the mail. They leave casseroles on your doorstep. They help you brainstorm when your child is struggling. They bring over bags of breast milk for your hungry baby. They show up for you, they love on your babies, they tell you you are doing a great job. You will never feel alone.

7) Your kid is awesome
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The thing is… positive parenting is a marathon and not a sprint.  Yes, it absolutely takes longer to address issues when you are choosing not to use fear or manipulation as a means of behavior modification. Sometimes, it is exhausting and embarrassing. You get a lot of side eye.

It is also worth it. Seeing genuine empathy and respect blossom slowly in your little one’s heart is exciting. I’ll admit…it takes a long time. I have gotten impatient. I have doubted myself. I have totally….TOTALLY screwed up. But every once in a while, I will catch a glipse of the person Liam is becoming….and those moments are so rewarding.

As much as I love my boys, they don’t belong to me. They are not mine to keep. They will go on to make their own decisions and their own mistakes. They will live their own lives. I don’t think my job as a parent is to create a new, improved version of myself in my children by making sure they behave in ways I find acceptable, I think it is simply to care for and protect three amazing human beings during the most vulnerable time in their entire lives and do my best to guide them to the place where they will find their own way in the world. But being a part of their story is pretty amazing.

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The thing is… regardless of how you are choosing to parent, if you are parenting with love, your kid is probably going to turn out just fine. This post is NOT at all about the reasons your parenting sucks… it is just a small peak into the evolution I have experienced in finding my place.

I am still growing and changing and I honestly have no clue if I will feel this way in another 5 years, but at this moment… I am finally feeling secure enough to call myself an attachment parent.

I never saw it coming.
What a twist!

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