Mothering: An interview with Peggy O’Mara

Editor’s note: This interview with Peggy O’Mara was originally published on March 7, 2014. The longtime owner and editor of Mothering magazine, this woman helped to inspire so many Attachment Parenting families. And now there’s an opportunity for you to meet her and she her speak at Attachment Parenting International’s 2014 “Cherishing Families, Flourishing Children” conference on September 26-27 at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana, USA. It’s not too late to register for this one-of-a-kind event!

Peggy O'MaraAs it turns out with so many of the most amazing people I have been privileged to write about, Peggy O’Mara—a mother of four who was an absolutely integral force in starting and carrying the Attachment Parenting movement for 35 years through her magazine, Mothering—didn’t set out to change the world.

But, wow, she sure did.

I always pictured Peggy as a high-powered magazine executive, but it became quickly apparent that she is just like you and me—first and foremost a mother, now a grandmother, who adores her family but also has a giving heart with a passion for helping parents at all points in their parenting journey.

To begin with, when I began our phone interview and apologized ahead of time for the interruptions from my children that were sure to happen—and did, over a box of Valentine’s Day cards—Peggy recalled a memory of the magazine’s staff, including herself, bringing children into the office and attending them while pushing out stories and putting together the lifeline for so many mothers that Mothering was. Oh, and she said that sometimes she misses that part with the children underfoot.

While for many of us, Peggy O’Mara and Mothering are synonymous—one will always be linked to the other in our minds—I want this interview to celebrate Peggy as herself, because while Mothering magazine was a large part of her life, she is so much more.

RITA: You began with Mothering at a time very different from today, more than a decade before Attachment Parenting International was founded. What inspired you to begin your Attachment Parenting journey?

PEGGY: I was a La Leche League Leader before Mothering.

I gave birth to my first child in 1974. I was living in southern New Mexico (USA), which was a pretty rural area. My husband and I had moved there wanting to get back to the land. We just had that kind of mindset.

My parents were there, too. When, I became pregnant, La Leche League was the first thing I found for any kind of support.

There was a really strong culture of volunteering in those days. Women were just beginning to work more outside the home. I became a La Leche League Leader in 1975. Because there were so few leaders in the area, I quickly took on other volunteer jobs within La Leche League. I did the area newsletter for a time, and then I took on the job of coordinating leader applicants. This job is really what prepared me for Mothering, especially in talking to people about their parenting philosophies and learning how to ask questions. I learned so much from La Leche League.

mothering2011RITA: And then came Mothering?

PEGGY: Most people think I founded Mothering, but I didn’t. I actually found Mothering in 1976, in a health food store in Albuquerque (New Mexico, USA).

Addie Eavenson founded Mothering in southern Colorado (USA) in 1976 and then moved to Albuquerque. I moved to Albuquerque in 1978. Earlier that year, I had sent Mothering an article I wrote entitled “In Defense of Motherhood.” I was reading all these bad stories of motherhood, but no one was saying about how ecstatic it was to be a mother. Addie called and asked me to be an editor! I was pregnant with my third child at the time and literally threw up because I was so excited.

Soon I found myself trying to work at Mothering with three kids under age 5.

Then Addie decided to sell the magazine. She was just ready to move onto something else in her life. She wanted a $5,000 down payment that I didn’t have. I went everywhere, talked to every banker, trying to get the money but I couldn’t get any. So she was going to sell it to someone else, but then that fell through and I was able to buy the magazine without the down payment—though my husband and I had some pretty stiff monthly payments. It was a miracle! It really was a miracle, and that really influenced me to feel that could I do anything.

So I bought Mothering in 1980, and that was the beginning of that.

RITA: Why did you stay with the name Mothering? How do you feel about fathers?

PEGGY: Fathers are very essential. I think people didn’t think we appreciated fathers.

When I started with Mothering, I wanted to change the name Whole Family Living. But Addie reminded me that she had named it Mothering to celebrate the act of mothering. At the time the magazine was founded, mothering itself was really maligned. This was in the 1970s when some feminists called homemakers the family servant. I was among the first generation of mothers leaving the home to go to work.

It’s also important to recognize that fathers are more nurturing now than they were when Mothering was started. Fathers have come so far now that there is a stay-at-home dad’s conference in California (USA). That’s very different than it was in the 1970s.

A mother depends on the support of her partner at home. And here I mean same-sex couples as well as heterosexual couples. Regardless of sexual orientation, our partner’s support is essential; it’s everything.

RITA: What was it like in the early days of Mothering?

PEGGY: The early days were very much “learn as you go.” All I wanted to do was be able to give information. I was very intimidated by the magazine industry. I didn’t want to read anything about it, because I didn’t want to know how much I didn’t know, so I just did it one step at a time. I tried to publish what I wanted to see in a magazine, stories I wanted to read, stories from interesting people, beautiful photos, ideas that moved me.

We were hesitant about new technologies at first. Our first office machine was a copy machine in 1982. I remember being pregnant at the time and standing with my belly off to the side, because I didn’t know if it was safe to be around the copy machine while it was running.

Getting our first fax machine was a big deal. And of course computers—Mothering grew up as technology did, but we were cautious because as a health-oriented magazine, we had published articles on the risks of computer screens to pregnant women. New screens reduced those risks.

RITA: When did Mothering seem to intersect the wider natural living and Attachment Parenting movements?

PEGGY: Mothering really caught on in 1998. President Bill Clinton was in office, and the environmental movement was really getting going. Cloth diapers were big. There was a growing interest in social justice.

It used to be that anyone looking at Mothering was very much into the natural lifestyle. Anyone reading Mothering was either all in or all out. Then in the mid-1990s, I hired a couple of editors who were different than our traditional readership—they were athletes, really into fitness, and they found that natural parenting worked well with their lifestyle. This was a big change for Mothering: People were choosing natural parenting, but it didn’t define their entire life. The culture was changing quickly from a time when natural food and natural living was considered “out there” to a time now when they are now integrated fully into mainstream life.

In 1998, Mothering went from a quarterly to a bimonthly magazine. We also started going to the Natural Products Expo. By the early 2000s, we started seeing babywearing everywhere. It grew to incredible popularity because of the fashion aspect and, along with it, came many of the ideas of Attachment Parenting we had been heralding since the 1970s.

We also started seeing growth in Mothering’s influence. Ideas like the family bedroom and nursing past 2—I never thought they’d be so accepted by society. It used to be that no one but those of us at La Leche League meetings was talking about these kinds of things. Now they’re part of the national conversation. They’re something that everyone is talking about and most new parents are considering, and many people are doing some parts of it or all of it.

RITA: And Mothering helped to inspire Attachment Parenting International as well.

PEGGY: I first met Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker [API’s cofounders] through La Leche League. They were leaders, too, and we would attend the same conferences. I think we were all influenced by a talk at one of the conferences by Dr. Elliott Barker of the Canadian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, who explained how every violent criminal he had encountered had a history of extreme separation and insecure attachment as a child.

RITA: Certainly you had more influence through Mothering than you might have realized. And yet somehow, even the best of causes seem to find opposition. How did you handle Mothering’s critics?

PEGGY: In many ways, having critics means that you are affecting people, making them think and respond. I tried to offer explanations and evidence, but often critics respond emotionally and Mothering is not for everyone. I took on controversial topics in print, because I wanted parents to have important information to make decisions about their children now. I trusted that parents would sort out their own truth from what I offered, and I never pretended to be objective.

Online, our discussion forums grew rapidly and were ranked by Big Boards as the largest for parents online. This was in the early 2000s before Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest got so popular, and we had seen other online communities go out of control and implode. We drew some criticism for our moderation policies at that time, but they were intended to keep the discussions civil and focused on natural family living. At one time, we had 80 volunteer moderators.

RITA: When did you decide to transition Mothering from print to online?

PEGGY: Well, it wasn’t so much a decision as something about which there was no choice. Mothering in print was a small magazine, a niche magazine, with a 100,000 circulation. In the mid-1990s, we founded and the boards. In the 2000s, the growth of far eclipsed the magazine. By 2010, we were seeing 750,000 unique visitors per month. Parents everywhere, within and beyond Mothering, were going to the Internet.

That growth of paralleled with what happened to the economy. We had grown the business to a $2 million-per-year business. 2009 was our best year.

In 2010, we were seeing the beginnings of the recession. Our advertising dropped and so did our subscriptions. Nearly half of our subscriptions were traditionally gift subscriptions. During the recession, people weren’t giving gifts. They weren’t buying subscriptions. Advertising in print was down.

We were cutting expenses, but it got the best of us and Mothering developed a lot of debt to the printer and to our ad reps. The last three issues of 2010 were printing later and later, because our cash flow was reduced. We were selling ads, but our January 2011 issue experienced the lowest ad sales in 10 years. We were just too far gone by then. It was all I could do to keep from going bankrupt, so I had to sell the business.

I stopped publishing the magazine in February 2011 and sold the website to pay off the print debt in July of 2011.

I became an employee of the new owners. I had a two-year contract and then was laid off in November of 2012. I was unemployed for the first time in decades but was able to get a reverse mortgage and reduce my monthly payments quite a bit.

Even though I am no longer associated with Mothering, others continue to think of Mothering and me as one and the same. I have no control over the editorial or advertising direction that Mothering is taking now, and yet I will always be associated with the business in many people’s minds.

RITA: That is so hard. I praise you for making it through.

PEGGY: Thank you. It has been hard.

RITA: And now?

PEGGY: I didn’t think I could do a digital magazine without staff, so I challenged myself to make a WordPress site. It gave me confidence after I lost so much.

I started in August of 2013. I’m doing what I did in the beginning with Mothering—really connecting with writers and people who have interesting things to say. I’ve always been motivated by social justice and can focus more on that now.

I’m really having fun. There’s a lot less pressure, so I can be more creative now. I plan to grow the site just the way I grew Mothering.

RITA: The Internet has changed so much of how everyone communicates and how information is disseminated to the public. What are your thoughts?

PEGGY: I love blogging. I love the Internet. I like what the Internet has given us in access to information and freedom from isolation.

There are a lot of voices on the Internet. You’re able to choose your own reality, your own world. You choose what you really want to know, whom you want to listen to. The evolution of the online user is such that people eventually look for the authoritative voice so that the information they’re getting is something they can trust.

RITA: Do you feel that parents can get adequate support through online sources?

PEGGY: Parents can get a lot of information online, but it’s not a substitute for in-person support. What the Internet has increased so much is advocacy and social entrepreneurship.

RITA: With your history of advocating for natural parenting and Attachment Parenting, what advice can you give others?

PEGGY: Start by acknowledging the other person’s position. For example, through La Leche League meetings, I learned that even if I had a great experience breastfeeding, another might have had a lot of difficulty or felt tied down by the frequent nursings. In order to talk to and possibly help a mom with different experiences than my own, I have to understand my own biases and practice compassion.

Start with a certain gentleness. Share your experiences, and keep it personal. Talk from your heart rather than your head. Use I-messages, just as you would to talk to your child. Talking about your own experiences is better than anything, rather than lecturing.

At the same time, in the media, too much information is presented as opinion when facts do matter. There is a difference between opinion and facts. I always try to combine my instincts with the science if I can.


Cloth NewJ

As I carefully held you, my little parcel, I remember wishing the cloth away, wishing that there was nothing between us. You see, we had been linked your whole life. I had felt every hiccup and every stretch.

As soon as I had the strength to sit up, I threaded you gently in between the lines attached to my IV sites and pressed you against my chest. But the clean crisp cloth felt like thick cold walls between us.

As the weeks went on, I wrapped you in cloths of many different colours. You were fashionable, cute and cuddly. You were pink, blue and green. Yet amid the colours and patterns, I saw only your eyes, the soft sweep of your brow and the curl of first smiles.

Then we found stretchy cloth and it seemed never-ending. It took a hundred times of wrapping and unwrapping, tightening and loosening, before one day, I caught a glimpse of us in the mirror and realised that I hadn’t even noticed completing our cloth origami. And that is where you stayed. Snuggled into me and listening to my pulse, just as you had from your very first heartbeat.

In time, I could wrap you against me with my eyes closed…with both of our eyes closed.

We would face the winter like this, snuggled together, cosy and warm.

We would breeze through outings, walks and errands in exactly this position.  You, me and our cloth.

As you grew, the stretch seemed to shrink and new cotton was bought. This cloth was bright and strong…more supportive for a sleepy head to rest in. This was the first cloth that you asked for, that you spoke about and that you wrapped around your teddies.

What was once a barrier, cold and unknown, has become a link between us. It is handlebars for our journey, a shawl for warmth. It is easy. It is fun. It joins us as one, even though we are now separate, little one.

When you were born, they wrapped you in cloth, but you’ll be wrapped in my love forever.


The Importance of Empathy

As mothers, especially those of us who practice attachment parenting; we truly believe that there is nothing more precious than our children. We love them unconditionally and raise them to be kind, loving, and compassionate towards others. We understand the importance of meeting our children’s unique and individual needs, and we strive to treat them with respect and understanding.


Credit Clipart Photography collection

Growing up I was taught to treat everyone equal. “Treat others in the same manner that you would want to be treated” my mother would say. Why? Because it is the right thing to do. Now that I am a mother I realize that not only is it the right thing to do, but it is the necessary thing to do for several reasons. The whole theory behind AP is that by raising our children in an empathetic manner, we will be raising a more empathetic generation of children who are aware of the needs and feelings of others. This type of chain has the potential to impact society in a massively positive manner. I teach my daughter to be kind to others regardless of their differences not only because I want her to grow up to be a kind, compassionate member of society, but also because her peers will be right there alongside her as she grows. The way that children are treated now drastically impacts the way they will behave later in life.  Children who are treated with kindness will generally grow to be kind individuals, while children who are bullied, teased, and treated like outcasts have a far greater chance of growing up to be hardened, distrusting, and aggressive. I would much rather my daughter grow to be surrounded by positive, empathetic, and caring people than by people who have been conditioned to expect the worst.

Credit Clipart Photography collection

In filling in for another daycare provider last week, I was faced with the task of explaining to several children the importance of being kind and patient to a child with behavioral issues. I explained to them that they needed to be understanding and accepting of his differences and to treat him the same way that they want to be to treated. When this kind of acceptance is taught from an early age, it begins to shape the way that our children behave towards others. By raising our children to be kind and accepting, we are shaping a kinder and brighter future. And that’s the kind of world we want our children to live in!

Credit Clipart Photography collection

A simple act of kindness can go a very long way.





Jillian Amodio is an author, writer, speaker, and Attachment Parenting advocate. First and foremost however she is a wife and mother. Jillian believes that family is life’s most precious gift. Her passion for family and parenting has led her to devote much of her work to educating others about topics pertaining to family, marriage, and parenting. Visit her website and blog to learn more about her work.



Why Attachment Parenting Promotes a More Connected Society

My family and I spent most of the day yesterday in the Federal Building updating passports. It was a very long day in a crowded space and what else does one do, other than watch your kids play superheroes with other kids in their common language, except people watch.

I’ve always enjoyed people watching as a way of understanding the world and people more. It’s so easy to let the little gifts pass us by unless we take the time to look for them. Today we were surrounded by newborns. There must have been at least 20-30 of them with their parents in line and in the waiting area. At first my heart just melted and I had to ask how old they were. Most were only a week or two weeks old. Then my boys and I just stared as we viewed the miraculous sightings of these precious little angels.

I watched the mothers and fathers and it took me back to those first days and weeks. I remembered the magic, the LOVE, the fragility, the fatigue…all of it. I saw first borns, twins and siblings with their new little sidekicks. It made the day go by and I truly enjoyed being around and interacting with such a diverse group of people and witnessing my boys doing the same.

What surprised me the most in this very large crowd was the fact that not one person was wearing their baby in a wrap or carrier. It actually made me sad but I also felt fortunate as I reflected on the years I wore both of my boys in wraps and carriers. I wanted to stand up and tell everyone the joy that comes from wearing your child. The room was filled with strollers and car seats. I watched the babies drink from their bottles, get burped and then placed back into their seats, then repeat….over the course of several hours. My wish is that one day soon, I will walk into a waiting room or public setting and see a room full of parents holding and wearing their babies.

I am not judging those who bottle feed, nor am I judging you if your baby is in a car seat or stroller. What I am saying however, is that I feel our society has become and continues to promote and encourage detachment from our children. They go from car seats, to strollers to walkers, to play pens to cribs. I know they get fed and cuddled somewhere in between but I can’t help but to wish we could all connect even more. We all need to know we are loved and our babies are completely dependent on us for everything. If we are able to give them as much love, contact and warmth as possible, I believe they will feel more secure and safe which will only make them thrive even more.

In other societies and cultures throughout the world, it is normal and commonplace to wear your baby all day, sleep with your baby and spend as much time skin to skin as possible. Especially in the first year of life. I think about newborns. I imagine their world before they were delivered into this one. They are tucked in, warm, cozy, safe and comfortable within the womb of their Mother. When they enter this new realm, they are no longer tucked in tightly. The stimulation must be overwhelming and the warmth and basic necessities are all they require. Sleep, eat, burp, poop, repeat.

I know as a first time parent the responsibility of it all can be intimidating and taking care of the basics makes you feel like you made it through the day successfully.

Again, I want to make it clear that I understand we all do our best. At least I hope so. Not everyone was born to be a babywearing, cosleeping, breastfeeding parent. I get it. Not everyone will agree with me and in fact I realize many will disagree with me and my ways. That is okay also.

My need to express here isn’t about you or me or how we parent. It’s about the most fundamental principal in all of life. LOVE. If you aren’t wearing your baby in a wrap or carrier, I’m not saying you don’t love the same way a babywearing parent does. I’m saying, let’s do it more. All I thought about in that room all day was how happy those little babies would have been if they were wrapped up close against their Mothers.

I saw people getting frustrated and annoyed that their babies were crying. Babies cry. Don’t ever feel embarrassed or ashamed when yours does. To me though, the quickest way to ease them once you tend to their needs, is to hold them close. Let them feel your heartbeat. Let them smell your skin. Let them hear your voice. Let them feel the thousands of kisses on their little heads as you carry them throughout your day.

Yes, I support babywearing. Yes, I am an attachment parent. I am not saying I’m better. I am not saying it is all easy. What I am saying is this. This time goes by so fast. These moments need to be cherished. The sacrifices we make are worth it. I promise. The love, security, stability, warmth and connection you offer will make a difference. My wish for the New Year is for all of us to Love more. To connect more. To Accept more. To Attach more. That is my wish.

Congratulations to all of you who have already experienced the extraordinary gift of giving birth. I wish those of you expecting to have safe and healthy deliveries. Being a mother is the greatest gift and role of my life. I am so thankful for my boys and for my family and I will love with all of my heart each and every minute I am breathing.

Much Love and Support,

Observations in Attachment Parenting in Bangladesh – Guest Post by Annie Urban

Around the world, parents love their babies. They do what they think is best to keep them safe, to nurture them, and to help them grow into exceptional human beings. In many Western countries, attachment parenting is being celebrated as a positive choice that parents can make, while in may traditional cultures it is what they’ve been practicing all along.

In September, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Bangladesh with Save the Children Canada to visit their health and nutrition and education programs. While the main goal of the trip was to understand the needs of children in those countries and have the opportunity to observe the positive results that Save the Children’s programs are having, I found it fascinating to be able to observe similarities and differences in parenting styles and choices.

Although I didn’t have the opportunity to spend enough time with families there to get an in-depth understanding of their parenting styles, there were some observations I was able to make as it relates to some of the principles of attachment parenting.

Prepare for pregnancy, birth and parenting: A lot of remote communities in Bangladesh haven’t had access to health workers or authoritative health information to help women in the community to prepare for pregnancy, birth and parenting. Women have given birth at home, on dirt floors, without a trained birth assistant present. Through Save the Children Canada’s programs, communities are able to found birth centres that act as a central point to care for midwives to care for mothers throughout their pregnancy, birth and postpartum period. The health workers there visit mothers at home during their pregnancies to check in on them and educate them. These communities have also established community action groups and engaged community volunteers to help identify health problems that mothers and babies are facing and to find ways to address those through education and care in their communities.

Feed with love and respect: According to the WHO Global Data Bank on Infant and Young Child Feeding, 98% of babies in Bangladesh are breastfed and the average age of weaning is 33 months. Dig even deeper and you’ll see that 95% of one year olds are still being breastfed as are 91% of two year olds. I was incredibly impressed with these statistics. The idea of a mother being unable to breastfeed is foreign to them because it is so rare that significant breastfeeding problems occur. Breastfeeding is a part of their culture and formula is something that is unnecessary and unaffordable for most. Breastfeeding on cue is the norm in Bangladesh and if anything mothers there need to be taught about the importance of introducing solids at the right time instead of relying on just breast milk to meet the baby’s nutritional needs for too long.

Use Nurturing Touch: One of the ways that women around the world keep their babies close to them is through babywearing. Many traditional cultures have types of wraps or carriers that they use and a lot of those have been adapted and adopted in Western cultures. I was curious to see how the moms carried their babies in Bangladesh and was surprised to find out that they don’t use carriers at all. It isn’t that they were using strollers (they weren’t) or that the babies weren’t being held (they were). But whenever I saw babies they were being carried on a mom’s hip or sitting on a mom’s lap. When I asked why no carriers, I was told that it just isn’t part of their culture and that there are always enough hands around (grandmothers, aunts, friends, etc.) that when the mother needs to put the baby down to do something, someone else can hold the baby. That made a lot of sense to me within a home or community environment, but I have to admit I was tired just watching some of these moms walk along long paths or roads with a large baby on their hip supported by their arm.

Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally: Cribs? What cribs? In all of the homes that we visited in Bangladesh, it was a given that the mom would sleep with the baby. In fact, most homes had only one or two rooms and the whole family slept together in one bed. Educational materials around breastfeeding always picture the mom lying in bed with the baby to nurse at night.

Provide Consistent and Loving Care:  In most families and in the Bangladeshi culture, it seems as though consistent and loving care is the norm. Babies are kept close and as they get older, they are given more independence and responsibility, but families remain very close with everyone living in one small space and often working together in the family business. Unfortunately, for some families, that isn’t the reality. If they cannot afford to feed all of their children, they may send some of them away to work as servants (child domestic workers) in another family’s home, often far away. Those children may be sent away as young as six years old, will have no regular contact with their families back in their village, and are often mistreated and abused by the families they are working for.

Overall, from what I saw in Bangladesh, the principles of attachment parenting are very much a part of their culture. They are very community-minded and the village steps in to help raise children in a nurturing environment, helping them to overcome some of the challenges to attachment parenting that are created by the isolation of the nuclear family in Western cultures. The challenges they face are due to the dire economic circumstances that sometimes prevent them from being able to parent in the way that they would like, creating a lot of heartbreak for families and having dire consequences for children.

The good news though is that the work that non-profit organizations like Save the Children are doing in Bangladesh is having exceptional results. The programs are designed in a way that fits with the local culture and that is sustainable, so that communities can take control of their own health, education and destiny.

For more information

Save the Children Canada

Getting Results for Maternal and Child Health in Bangladesh Through Community Empowerment.

More on breastfeeding in Bangladesh

More on child domestic workers 

Save the Children Canada’s health and nutrition programs for mothers and children


Annie has been blogging about the art and science of parenting on the PhD in Parenting Blog since May 2008. She is a social, political and consumer advocate on issues of importance to parents, women and children. She uses her blog as a platform to create awareness and to advocate for change, calling out the government, corporations, media and sometimes other bloggers for positions, policies and actions that threaten the rights and well-being of parents and their children

Parenting After a Loss

I lost my sons in May at 20 weeks after a long, hard pregnancy. When I came home to my little girl, 2 1/2 at the time, it was both a relief to be with her and a hardship to be around her.

I’d spent a week in the hospital longing to be with her, unsure of how long I’d have to stay. I would have remained for any amount of time to keep those babies in, but I didn’t know how long that would be. In the meantime, I missed my little girl. It was hard for her to interact with me on a hospital bed where I laid, and tough for her to not jump and be loud in the room where we all would visit.

I came home a mess, walking in the door to a flood of “should have’s” that would never happen now. And then my little girl, she was a constant reminder of what I would miss seeing from my sons. Fingers, toes, little faces, even the color of her eyes. It all haunted me and I’d end up sobbing while trying to pull it together for her.

My guilt of not being able to be the mom I wanted at that time and the sorrow of everything else caused me to really, really rearrange my priorities and accept emotions I couldn’t before. We began to discuss openly how it was ok to be sad, to be angry, to be happy. She would ask about the “two babies” and I could talk to her about it very simply.

We started to see a play therapist for her, who encouraged us to work on labeling our feelings around her. I started to see her as well for the fear of losing Bella. Something I think most parents who lose a baby worry about. We work on normal things like temper tantrums and her flair for the dramatic when it’s time to take a bath :), as well as the processing in her mind of just where the two babies went, what heaven is, why mommy was so sad and still can be some days.

We haven’t handled this all perfect, but we have tried to leave her with less scarring than maybe might have happened.


My First API Meeting: Finding My People

Welcome Sign Mosaic in Warm Tones
flickr/Nutmeg Designs

My daughter was weeks old when I realized I needed to get out of the house and find a community. The moment my daughter was born all the systems and strategies I’d read about flew out the window.  I realized that I knew what felt right and what my baby needed: closeness, love, attention, and safety. I also realized that I could not sleep unless I could feel her breathing next to me.

I walked into my first API meeting with my baby in arms. Around the room were seated moms chatting, playing with their children, nursing, and laughing. Is this some kind of parenting paradise, I thought. I had never been in a room with mothers nursing toddlers, babies happily asleep in slings amidst the din of happy conversation and so much care for little people.  “Welcome to our  Attachment Parenting group, we are glad you are here.” said the leader.  And so began my first API meeting. I had no idea what Attachment Parenting was when my first child was born. But I knew what felt right and made sense. I had no idea that there was a whole organization filled with people who felt the same and had such riches of experience and knowledge.

The meeting topic was Positive Discipline and I learned about the concept of Time In with a child vs. a Time Out. It made so much sense and yet was so counter to what I had heard my whole life. The idea that a child needs more time, attention, love and special concern when they are out of control made me immediately begin to rethink my preconceptions. Parents shared experiences and difficult situations and I heard over and over the idea that they were looking for what their children needed not how to control them.

And then there were the kids themselves. Babies and toddlers were playing on the floor in the middle of our discussion circle. Sometimes toys were snatched or thrown but I watched closely how mothers spoke to their children at these moments. Short, gentle sentences. Help for those in tears. Emphasis on empathy. But no forced sharing or robotic apologies. The older children orbited our group. Running, talking, laughing and then settling in to play in a fort they had invented under a table. Who is watching them, I kept thinking at first. But as the meeting progressed I noticed this little group of five to nine year olds was incredibly independent and very very kind to one another. I saw a moment when a little girl was trying to get into the fort and couldn’t fit. “Come on, let’s get another chair and put it here.” said another child. Hmm, I thought, this compassion idea isn’t just theory here.

What struck me most about my first API meeting was that I felt at home. I felt that I had a place where I could be open about my parenting questions without fearing that I would be berated with harsh advice. And just to see other parents in action, caring and being present for their children was priceless. I learned that I was not alone that day. I knew walking out that I now had a community: I had found my people!

A Message and a Means

Today, I’m sharing my thoughts on appearing in a short documentary about Attachment Parenting, which aired on a Pittsburgh-area public television station. You can watch it here if you missed it or if you’re out of the station’s range. Enjoy!


“I’ve been asked to do this TV interview about Attachment Parenting. Should I do it?” I asked my husband.

As blog editor, interviews aren’t something I normally do. I was unsure. My concern wasn’t that I’m a nervous person in the sense that I fear being judged. It was more that my thoughts and my words are often out of sync. When I’m writing, I cut, I paste, I make liberal use of the delete key. But when I’m speaking, I need time to process what I want to say, especially when I’m being careful about it. So I expected a lot of uhmmmmmms and errrrrrrs and where was I going with this, among some stuttering….

My husband has known me long enough to know what my concerns were. And he knew there would be editing, so he shifted my focus to where it needed to be.

“It depends,” he said. “Is there anything you think the world should know about Attachment Parenting?”

This conversation happened just weeks after the media storm resulting from the TIME cover showing Jamie Lynne Grumet breastfeeding her 3-year-old. So yes, I felt that there was plenty of misinformation that needed to be straightened out about Attachment Parenting.

“You’ve been given an opportunity here. Either you can say what you think the world needs to hear about Attachment Parenting, or someone else can say what they want to say,” he said.

He knows his way around my head. I had made up my mind.

I wanted to tell the world that anyone can parent this way, regardless of lifestyle. I wanted to say that it’s not a competition. That we don’t think we’re doing things the one correct way, or the only way, or better than anyone else. I wanted to show that it’s so much more that what onlookers see – it’s more than a sling, more than where we sleep.

I had a message, and I had to step outside of my comfort zone to put it out there. I had to do it.

The day came. When the producer, Alicia, arrived, we started talking about our three-year-olds, mom-to-mom. I could tell that I was in good hands. I decided her cameraman was a nice guy too, even though he was holding a big scary camera with a movie screen-sized lens. With teeth. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but the camera intimidated me a bit.

He turned the monster camera on, and Alicia and I continued chatting. That’s it, we just talked.

The uhmmmms and errrrrs I was all worried about? I did plenty of that. Had I known how magical editing would be, I wouldn’t have given it much thought at all.

In the end, a few tripped words here and a pause or two there didn’t really matter.