Interview with Miriam Katz

by Alissa on February 3, 2011

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Today we get to meet Miriam, contributing blogger for API Speaks and author of The Other Baby Book (due out in 2011).  Read on to learn more about her family, her travels, her book, and her baby girl Dalia.

Tell us about your family.

I have an amazing husband, Misha, who I met in college. We’ve been together for 12 years, and married for almost 8. We waited to have children until we felt we were truly ready, having traveled and grown together until we felt we were ready to give ourselves over to having children – something we knew would be extremely difficult and we believed should be unselfish.

We live in Boston with our 8 month old baby girl, Dalia. She’s been incredibly engaging since birth. We first noticed her smiling at one month old, and she’s been flashing everyone radiant smiles and sharing great interactions and laughter since then.

Miriam and Dalia

It sounds like waiting to have kids was a very conscious decision on your and Misha’s part.  How do you feel that decision has impacted the way you parent?

I think that waiting to have children has made us more conscious parents. We don’t take anything for granted, because we went into the parenting experience having emotionally prepared to have our lives completely turned upside down. Because having children was something we waited to do until we were as ready as we could be, we take full responsibility for every aspect of our roles as parents.

I think our experience of waiting made us more likely to embrace AP, because we made space in our lives to embrace parenthood as both a gift and a responsibility, and to do it as well as we could conceive possible. AP provided us a framework to get to know our child as well as we can, and to nurture her as deeply as we can.

Do you both love traveling? What has been your favorite destination so far?  What place do you most want Dalia to see when she is older?

We do both love traveling. We both have a deep connection with Israel, so it is hard to rank any other destination above it. But, given that Israel is a central part of our lives, it feels less like a foreign destination than a homecoming to us. So I’d have to say our favorite country to travel is Italy. We’ve been twice together, once soon after we started dating, and we returned for our honeymoon.  I dream of renting a villa and spending a winter there before Dalia starts school.

I most want Dalia to develop a strong relationship with Israel. I am raising her in Hebrew, despite it not being my first language, to connect her with a deep sense of peoplehood. We are also raising her with Russian, which her father and grandparents speak, to increase her capacity for language development and help her become a global citizen.

What led you to Attachment Parenting?

While both of our moms breastfed and were very responsive to our cries, neither of us had heard of AP until our first DiaperFreeBaby meeting. Misha had graduated from diapers early after being pottied by his grandmother, who was from the Ukraine. So when I learned that elimination communication (EC) was being performed by my contemporaries, I set out to learn everything I could about it. We attended a DiaperFreeBaby meeting when Dalia was two weeks old. There, we heard moms talking about sleeping with their babies. At the time, I’d been struggling to get Dalia to sleep using advice from The Baby Whisperer. I checked out Dr. Sears’ The Attachment Parenting Book after the meeting, and it felt right. I then checked out every other book I could find on the subject. We never looked back.

How do you deal with friends/family/strangers who don’t understand or disagree with AP practices?

We’ve been so enthusiastic about our choices that we’ve talked about our lifestyle and shared the benefits of AP practices with friends and family, and try to provide relevant information when questions arise.

It felt really important to me personally to have a supportive circle of AP families, so I joined an AP moms group and began hosting weekly playgroups for babies under the age of 1.

Through our AP moms group, I met a like-minded mom, Megan, who was embracing AP, EC and baby-led weaning, the method we’ve used to introduce Dalia to solids. We’d collectively logged hundreds of hours of research, including reading books, internet research, discussion forums, etc. to decide upon and implement the practices that felt best for our babies.

Megan and I decided that others could benefit from our cumulative research and experience, so we’re writing a book that discusses our parenting practices for babies. Megan was just filmed for an “extreme parenting” segment on CNN (about co-sleeping – ha!), and we’re hoping to draw the attention of more mainstream parents to AP-related practices.

Congratulations on your book!  Besides the book you are writing do you have any recommended reading for the API Speaks community? Any books or blogs you love?

My favorite child-rearing book thus far is Connection Parenting by Pam Leo. I’m also reading Playful Parenting, which I love so far. I love reading the API Speaks blog because it incorporates viewpoints from parents with children of different ages, and facing different challenges. I’m enjoying reading your interview series so far, so I was excited to be a part of it. I also enjoy reading posts that are highlighted through KellyMom and Mothering Magazine on Facebook.

Have you ever had an affirming moment in your AP journey?

The first night we began co-sleeping was a huge a-ha moment for us. Dalia had trouble sleeping alone from the beginning, and I’d thought that just came with the territory. Once we began co-sleeping, everyone’s sleep improved dramatically. Dalia stopped crying at night, and thanks to baby wearing, her cries during the day tapered off as well. After getting over my fear of rolling onto Dalia, I began sleeping very well. Now I wake several times a night to quickly initiate a feeding, then fall quickly asleep. It is an entirely different world from the hours spent each night trying to calm Dalia before putting her to sleep in her bassinet or crib, then feeling like my heart was being ripped out as she started crying when she realized we were no longer together. Since I’ve begun letting my gut drive my parenting decisions, it hasn’t steered me wrong yet.

What does 2011 hold for your family?

We are looking forward to releasing our book, The Other Baby Book in 2011. Dalia will turn one year old this year. At this stage in life and motherhood, I am taking each day as it comes, and am grateful for every moment we get to spend together as a family. I know that life with Dalia will continue to open my eyes to the wonders of life, growth, and love.

Thank you to Miriam for her insight!  Check out her website, leave a comment,  and keep your eyes peeled for her book!

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Alissa (15 Posts)

Alissa writes at A New History where she blogs about the challenge of authentic living with her husband, Levi and her almost two year old son, Solomon.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

jessica March 3, 2011 at 6:17 pm

I enjoyed reading the interview and look forward to the book – as a childbirth and parent educator I appreciate a diverse library.

I did want to note, however, that there was a touch of ageism creeping into the interview. I have worked (and been friends with) both “younger” and “older” parents and frankly have seen little correlation between the age (or even planning) of parenthood and a parent’s responsiveness or choice to employ AP principles.

The only astrix to that would be that financially well off parents, who statistically do tend to be older, have more cultural and economic autonomy to make “AP” choices. However I personally, find that to be an outrageous miscarriage of social justice and do what I can to change it.

I have met plenty of well established parents who waited until they were “ready” to have children who ended up greatly resenting the necessary changes an infant brought to their lifestyle. Alternately many younger parents particularly appreciate the unique place of parents in the AP framework, when they are often forced by practical necessity to depend on grandparents and other family members for “co-parenting” support.

In my own experience, when I became a single, teen parent 17 years ago attachment parenting was also a natural fit (as expressed by Mariam). I had no concept of being an “independent adult” with unrestricted autonomy so did not have anything to “give up” when I became a parent. Five children later it did not become more or less easy or natural – I have only become more aware of the transient nature of my children’s intense dependent periods.

However, like Mariam, I also came from a family who valued breastfeeding and had a basic respect for children as people – this I credit for my AP turn more than anything else. Then again – I have many friends who had childhoods ranging from mainstream to abusive who found AP in an effort to avoid recreating their own experiences. Some of those parents were 17, others were 40.

Anyway – just a note that such language can be found alienating by those who are or were younger parents – and if we want to be able to share our AP experiences with as many folks as possible it is worth being aware of how our words may be received by others with different life experiences.

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Alissa March 16, 2011 at 8:37 am

Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Jessica! I totally agree that parents who choose to have kids young (like me!) and parents that choose to wait (like Miriam!) can all be great parents. I think the most important piece is to do what works for you! When to have kids, how many kids to have, how to raise your kids are all very personal decisions that will look a little different for everyone.

I really appreciate Miriam and her husband’s consciousness in deciding what was right for them. But that in no way limits my respect for other who make different choices. There are definitely pros and cons to every decision!

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