attachment parenting

“When I was about 20 years old, I met an old pastor’s wife who told me that when she was young and had her first child, she didn’t believe in striking children, although spanking kids with a switch pulled from a tree was standard punishment at the time. But one day, when her son was four or five, he did something that she felt warranted a spanking–the first in his life. She told him that he would have to go outside himself and find a switch for her to hit him with.

The boy was gone a long time. And when he came back in, he was crying. He said to her, “Mama, I couldn’t find a switch, but here’s a rock that you can throw at me.”

All of a sudden the mother understood how the situation felt from the child’s point of view: that if my mother wants to hurt me, then it makes no difference what she does it with; she might as well do it with a stone.

And the mother took the boy into her lap and they both cried. Then she laid the rock on a shelf in the kitchen to remind herself forever: never violence. And that is something I think everyone should keep in mind. Because if violence begins in the nursery one can raise children into violence.”

—  Astrid Lindgren, author of Pippi Longstocking, 1978 Peace Prize Acceptance Speech

Although on demand nursing a toddler can sometimes feel a little..^ (see my expression) I truly do love it. Sophie is such a beautifully creative, nurturing, loving, brave, curious, brilliant little two year old and I believe the fact that she has been and continues to be breast fed really contributes to this. It’s certainly not the only thing, but science points to it having many major benefits for her rapidly growing brain. So even though sometimes it’s slightly embarrassing when she starts screaming she wants to nurse at a restaurant in the middle of an appointment with our florist and exhausting when she insists on nursing but also kicking we feet and humming a song at the same time I wouldn’t trade our “extended” nursing relationship for the the world. The plan has always been and continues to be to let her self wean whenever she decides to. I am happy to say it doesn’t look like it will be any time soon.

Infants are biologically designed to sense that something dangerous has occurred – separation from the caregiver. They feel, through their skin, that something is different – such as a missing the softness of the mother’s touch, the heat of mother’s body, the smells of mother’s milk, the gentleness of mother’s moving, breathing chest and the feeling of being protected. Infants are alerted because as far as their own body is concerned they are about to be abandoned, and it is therefore time to awaken to call the caregiver back – the very caregiver on whose body the infant’s survival depends.
—  Professor James McKenna (the recognised world expert on co-sleeping) on ‘Why does my baby wake up when I try to put him down?’
  • *breastfeeding in public*
  • *random woman looking at me in disgust*
  • Me:oh I'm sorry am I disturbing you by feeding my child?
  • Woman:I just don't see the need for you to expose your breast like that while some of us are trying to eat
  • Me:hmm I have a blanket if you like?
  • Woman:yes that would help
  • Me:here *passes blanket* cover your head with it you ignorant fool. My child is also trying to eat.
Dear Mom at the mall

I knew the second that you walked in that you were going to say something. I’m not sure if it was the stagger in your step, the way your eyes widened oh-so-slightly as you saw my daughter and I sitting in the nursing chair. Maybe it was all of those things, maybe it was just the vibe you gave off, but either way I knew.

I felt myself instinctually curling around my daughter as you heated up your bottle in the microwave. As if my body could physically shield her from the judgement of your stare. Trying to block her innocent form from the daggers you were shooting our way. 

If looks could kill, so to speak. 

Sure enough, you took the chair next to me and with your  nose in the air you asked me with as much ice as you could summon in your voice,

“She’s a bit old for that, don’t you think?”

I took a look down at my 11 month old daughter, who thankfully had no idea of the negative attention that you were surrounding us with and continued nursing with her usual vigor and took a deep breath. 

“No, I don’t.” I replied calmly, hoping with everything that I had that you would drop it. 

“Oh, so you’re one of those parents.”

I fought the urge to roll my eyes and straightened my shoulders. To be completely honest I was totally ready to give you a piece of my mind. How I had spent months researching the benefits of “attachment parenting”, how I had also don’t lots of research on the “ferber” method.

I was going to tell you that the average age of weaning is actually 4 years old, not 6 months like you’re led to believe.

That bed sharing, while stressful, is also some of the most fun I have ever had. You really shouldn’t knock it until you’ve tried a 3 am dance party. 

And yes, maybe I am “one of those parents” but I am not willing to leave my child to cry because I am tired at the end of the day. I’m not going to teach my toddler daughter that her feelings aren’t valid at the tender age of 11 months. We are mammals, and I challenge you to find me another mammal that ignores their childrens cries when they need their parents.

And no, before you ask I don’t think that she will be hyper-dependent. She is a very independent child. 

And no again, she wont think that the world revolves around her. She will however know that MY world does. 

I took a deep breath and took one look at you, and stopped.

Because you looked exhausted.

Because you looked defeated.

Because maybe, you didn’t have a mom like me. Maybe your mom didn’t teach you to not judge others, that everyone is different, and that if you don’t have anything nice to say that you shouldn’t say anything at all. 

So instead of giving you a piece of my mind I said, “I’m sorry, it looks like you’re having a bad day. Are you alright?”

You looked stunned, then slightly ashamed before telling me that you had a long night. I nodded, because while we clearly parent differently we both fight the same battles. 

So yes, dear Mom at the mall. I am one of those parents. I am an unapologetic baby wearin’, breast feeding, bed sharing mama. I love my daughter and I know that you love yours. 

So maybe, just be a bit more understanding, okay? Remember, if you don’t have something nice to say, it’s best to not say anything at all. 

I hope tonight is better for you. 

Best Wishes, 

Sarah B