Joy, love, and simplicity are certainly some of the most compelling reasons that our family has chosen to practice Attachment Parenting. AP principles, like keeping our baby close, responding to our children with sensitivity and respect, and engaging in night time parenting have made our lives infinitely sweeter, gentler, and less stressful. So, recently, when our family was asked to contend with an unexpected hardship we were grateful to already have the strong bonds, security, and trust that we have gained through our AP relationship.
We are a relatively healthy family who relies mainly on good nutrition and clean living to help us keep up with four children. On the whole, we are fortunate to enjoy good health and do not take it for granted. When my husband came down with a touch of the flu last month, we brewed some tea, made some soup and figured he’d be better in a few days. The rest of us went into immune-building mode: I nursed the baby more frequently, we included some immune-boosting foods and supplements into our regular diets and everyone got some extra sleep. By day three, my husband was worse, not better. And nobody else was feeling ill yet. Another three days passed with no improvement. And other than being more tired from having the other half of my parenting team incapacitated, I was not feeling ill. Nobody in our house had the flu—including my husband.
Watching a child suffer through an illness is a parents’ worst nightmare…our little ones can seem so helpless and vulnerable. However, seeing a 6′ 4” grown man who is too weak to get out of bed for a week is very distressing, too. Our big, strong, wood-chopping, snow-shoveling, chief wage earner, and carry-the-kids-to-bed Daddy had come to a screeching halt. This was beyond my soup, rest, and TLC skills. We had no choice. Now the doctors were going to be involved.
Spending an entire day in a hospital emergency room with overworked and underpaid health care professionals, a sick hubby, and an active eight month old might be enough to send most women over the edge. However, we had already established such a close and respectful relationship with our baby, that she was perfectly content to nap in her sling, sit in my lap, bounce on her daddy occasionally, read a book and entertain the parade of nurses who came to visit our room. Never once did she cry, or want to be put down on the icky ER floor to flex her very active crawling muscles.
Across the hall from our room, I caught more than a few glimpses of a five month old baby with a pretty serious gash on his head. His infant carrier had fallen out of the grocery cart at the local big chain superstore parking lot…I was grateful that my baby was snuggled close to me in her sling. His mom ran back and forth from the room to the public bathroom sink mixing and heating up his bottles of formula…I was grateful to have clean, warm milk already prepared under my shirt.
I overheard his mom tell the nurse that she was worried that checking on his head injury in the middle of the night would undo all of the work she had done using the Ferber method to get him to sleep through the night…I was grateful to know that my baby would be sleeping soundly next to me tonight. I know that his mother loved him—I could hear the concern in her voice, I could see how his face lit up when his mother would sing to him.
I certainly did not think that she was a bad parent simply because she made different choices than I have. I did wonder whether her choices were making her life easier and whether her baby was happier or healthier for all of the hard work and effort she was putting in. Despite my difficult circumstances at the moment, parenting was simply a natural part of what I did, no harder than usual, just different. And obviously, I was at the ER with a sick grown man, not an injured baby. I was grateful that I didn’t have to choose between helping my husband through this tough time or being the parent my baby needed me to be…because of AP, we had been making choices all along that allowed our baby to feel safe and right at home (no matter where we were or what we were doing).
Having the ability to parent under ideal circumstances is enough to challenge parents everyday. Attachment Parenting was the no-brainer everyday solution for our family right from the start. Time and time again, the philosophies of AP have been instrumental in allowing me to keep my cool, do what is best for my children in the long run, and use love and respect to deal with the everyday challenges that parenting inevitably presents. With my husbands difficult and long illness (which is still unresolved and undiagnosed a month after its onset) I have learned that AP is nice to have when life is just regular old crazy life, but it is absolutely indispensable when life gets turned upside down.