Before I was a mom I was pretty confident that I would be an ap (attachment parenting) mom. My babies would be in slings, I wouldn't have a nap schedule, we'd probably co-sleep, and I'd do "time-ins" instead of "time outs." All of this builds confidence in children and promotes "peaceful parenting", as ap-ers would explain.
And then I gave birth.
I quickly learned that my kid did not like slings, wraps, or anything else carrying her that wasn't my two arms. I also learned that if I didn't schedule my day - including time for a nap - and have everything at roughly the same time every day my kid would not thrive and I would fall apart. It didn't take long to realize I did not sleep well with my baby in bed with me. In fact, I don't sleep well with my babies in the same room as me! And when I am mad at my child the last thing I want is for anyone to talk to me or touch me. A time out is beneficial for me, probably more so than my kids.
What I learned is that I don't like a lot of physical touch, something that ap seemed to be pretty big on.
I did not see any of this coming.
For awhile I tried to fight myself, convinced that what the attachment parents were saying was true: my children would be stupid, hoarding, serial killers if I didn't wear them in slings, co-sleep, homeschool, never force a nap time, never let them cry for more than 2 minutes.
Of course those weren't their exact words but the tone and body language of most ap moms I knew made me feel like a horrible excuse for a parent and a complete failure of a mother because what worked for them and what nature clearly intends for children to need in order to thrive didn't work for me.
See what I mean? That language, "what nature clearly intends for children to need in order to thrive;" was some exact words - or variations of - and so of course the ap movement made me feel like crap! I was very, very hurt. I was struggling in my role of motherhood and I was especially troubled because I thought it would be so easy. Yet the very way I was told to parent - the way I was told Nature (and therefore GOD) wanted us to parent - was not how I wanted to parent. It wasn't working for me. I became angry and resentful towards a lot of those women, especially when they'd post a link to some study on Facebook, citing how moms who let their kids cry for more than 5 minutes are raising damaged monsters.
Honestly, I think I got hit harder with all of this because I'm part of two groups (natural-family-planning-practicing Catholics and home birthers) that are a lot more ap then other groups I've encountered, in part because of the big emphasis on breastfeeding.
Trying to do "peaceful parenting" made me exhausted and worn thin. So much so that when things didn't go well I would scream my head off, punch the walls, and curse at my kids. When I tried explaining this to ap-ers I was told to do a "time-in" with my kids, hugging them instead of sending them to time out. They didn't seem to get it. And my life, home, and parenting was anything but peaceful.
It took me awhile, but I finally figured out what I need to do to parent my kids successfully. We have a schedule. Quiet time/nap time happens at about the same time every day. I will keep my kids up a little bit longer so all three nap at the same time because I need quiet time, too. I nurse my kids in a chair in the middle of the night - not in bed. I introduce a bottle fairly early so I can go out and be by myself.
I'm sure to some I sound like a horrible, monster of a mother. But I really need to not touch my kids all day long. I really need a good hour break in the middle of the day when no one talks to me, hugs me, kisses me, sits on my lap or comes close. Having these breaks allows me to give plenty of physical affection to my children during the rest of the day. Maybe it's the introvert in me coming out; whatever it is, it's the way I need it to be.
I am a better mom for it. Those breaks are my sanity. Seriously.
In the end it was figuring out what "peaceful parenting" looked like in my home that made me let go of a lot of the hurt I felt towards the attachment parenting people I know. I also started telling them how their language made me feel belittled and unfairly judged. I started discussing with them my experiences in parenting. And suddenly they started apologizing, empathizing, and explaining things in less polarizing ways.
Of course there may have been a few fights I picked on Facebook along the way, but I'm pretty embarrassed about those now that my anger is gone. If you were on the receiving end of my pettiness, I'm sorry!
I do not consider myself a "peaceful parent" - not in the way the attachment parenting movement would explain it. But I would consider myself a good mom, and so would m thriving, happy, healthy kids. And that's what matters.
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