Am I Too Attached? Mom Enough?

Posted by savannahkase on September 24, 2013 in Parenting, Working Mom |

Back in February, some dear friends asked my husband and I how we would feel if they had a kid-free wedding in September. Our son was only a few weeks old at the time, but we assured our friends that by the time their wedding came around, we would be happy to leave him with a babysitter. We figured we would have a regular sitter by then, so could even bring her to Baltimore with us.

As it turned out, when we dropped our 8-month-old with a stranger on Sunday, it was the first time we had ever left him. I was embarrassed to admit to the babysitter that my son had never been cared for by anyone except me and his dad. I apologized in advance for the separation anxiety I felt sure would ensue (on my part at least, I honestly had no idea how my son would react). As I kissed my son goodbye, I wondered if I have taken attachment parenting too far. Or alternatively, whether I have not adhered to it closely enough.

mom enoughJust after I learned I was pregnant, TIME Magazine ran a cover story asking, “Are you Mom Enough?” I despaired, reading about moms who left their baby only when giving birth to another, and nursed on demand until their children were three years old. I could not be that kind of mom, since I have to work full time to support my family. And even if I could afford to stay home and devote myself to my child, I was not sure I was willing to give up my own ambitions and interests to do so. My child was still an embryo, and already I felt like a bad mother.

In response to the TIME Magazine cover, Katha Pollitt speculated in The Nation that attachment parenting injects an additional layer of guilt into the choice to be a working mom, since advocates of the approach suggest that a mother’s constant physical contact and emotional connection to her baby are essential to nurturing a secure, independent child. I want the best for my son, but at what cost? If I nursed my son on demand, I would not have been able to leave him with a sitter to attend my friends’ wedding. As it was, I was embarrassed that I was only leaving my son with a babysitter for the first time at eight months. So how much attachment is enough to be “mom enough”?

I have the profile of an attachment parenting devotee. I was raised by hippies (those of the 1960s who “possess a core belief set revolving around the values of peace and love as being essential in an increasingly globalized society”). I did not need a quiz to tell me that, but I found 29 Signs You Were Raised By Hippies thought-provoking nonetheless. My childhood was definitely characterized by lots of hugs and positive affirmations, almost no TV or junk food, environmental consciousness before it was trendy, and questioning of authority. As per #27 on the list, I rebelled by trying to become as “normal” as possible – joining organized religion, earning a law degree, and going to work for the Federal Government (I am a proud legal defender of “the man”). However, as per #28, ultimately, I’ve realized I retain much of my hippie roots – “unable to throw anything away, incensed by apathy, stoked about [a new] co-op…”

I think it is because of my kum-ba-yah upbringing that I feel drawn to attachment parenting, which has caused quite a bit of inner IMG_3406turmoil. My heart feels I should follow the core elements of attachment parenting, but my head counsels it does not fit my lifestyle. Attachment Parenting International defines this approach to parenting as “forming and nurturing strong connections between parents and their children.” Who could disagree with that?!? I also agree with the 8 Principles of Attachment Parenting, at least in theory, but I am not following them completely in practice. For example, my birth plan called for natural childbirth, but after more than twelve hours of intense back labor, I needed an epidural to enable my waters to break and baby to turn. I exclusively breastfeed, but cannot nurse on demand because I work full time so my son gets bottles at set times during the day. I know there is some science supporting baby-wearing, but my back and patience can no longer support my 21-pound, squirmy little boy for any length of time. That said, the 8th Principle emphasizes self-care, which, for me, requires these accommodations.

My husband and parents do not think less of me because I have crafted my own personal style of “attachment parenting light,” and I would be surprised if any of my friends actually judge me for my choices. Even so, I cannot help but sense imperceptible scorn when I feel I am not living up to some attachment parenting ideal. Eight months into my parenting adventure, I am still trying to figure out what is best for my family, but I am sufficiently confident with my choices to date to tell TIME Magazine, Yes, I am Mom enough. I think all moms – whatever their decisions on feeding, sleeping, childcare, discipline, etc. – are Mom enough. In our children’s eyes, we are always more than enough, and that’s what matters.

On Sunday, my son had a short melt-down when he discovered his mom and dad were gone, but he recovered and played happily once he realized that we were coming back for him. My husband and I had a wonderful time at our friends’ beautiful wedding and even managed to have some conversations that did not involve babies. Afterward, we enjoyed some quality family time together, none of us the worse for the brief detachment.

Mom & Dad Bonding Time

Mom & Dad Bonding Time

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright © 2013-2019 Mom/Me All rights reserved.
This site is using the Desk Mess Mirrored theme, v2.2.2, from BuyNowShop.com.