The Journey To Attachment Parenting

Since this is my first post, I thought I would use a piece I wrote when my son, Matteo was just a couple of months old. It was written late one night, when I realized just how I had gotten to believe and feel as strongly as I did about my parenting ideals. My journey towards the attachment parenting spectrum started long before I started I had my son, Matteo.

So here is my story:

I was 17, I didn’t know better. I didn’t know the joy of motherhood, I didn’t know the blessing that having a child was. I did know that my little *Simon needed a better Mom, a better home, a better life. I knew I couldn’t give this to him at the ripe age of 17. I knew that he was bigger than me in so many ways, so I had to let him go. I’ve never regretted that choice. I know to this day that I did the best thing for my little boy. I gave him physical life, and I gave him his life; a life that he deserved, and one that I knew I couldn’t give to him. For him, I became a birthmother.

Now, I’m a mother again. This time, a different kind. The real kind. The kind that wakes up in the middle of the night. The kind that worries non-stop, the kind that claps in joy at the silliest things that her son does. I am a mother. Matteo is my pride and joy, I love him fiercely, with a love I never thought could possibly exist. His existence has opened new horizons, new feelings, new thoughts, and a new life for me. While he is learning so much from this big world, in the short time he has been here, he has taught me more about myself then I have been able to learn in my entire life thus far.

I love both my boys, but my love is so different for each of them. Simon shaped me for the mother I would one day be, and because of the selfless love I had for him, he’s made me a better mother for Matteo. Simon taught me how precious a child is and how beautiful it is to be a mother and watch your child grow. Without him, I would have never learned how much you can miss when you aren’t there.

I’ve contemplated my parenting choices. Everywhere I look people are trying to train their children into their schedule, mould them into the beings they want them to be. I’m not saying this is a bad thing; it’s what feels natural for some parents. However, what’s natural for me is so different. I’m learning every day the things I missed with Simon, and because I know I missed them with him, I’m soaking every small, extraordinary moment up with Matteo. If he wants to stay up all night, I’ll let him. If he wants me to stick out my tongue over and over again, just so he can smile at me, I’ll do it. If he wants to nurse for hours on end, I’ll let him. All of this, because I didn’t get to do it with Simon. I want Matteo to be what he wants, because I want to watch him, I want to see what sort of amazing being I created without trying to make him into the baby he isn’t. I want to soak up every single moment, because I know I’ll never get it back.

At night, when Matteo is wide awake, when my eyes are heavy with sleep, I turn on some country music, and we two-step around the apartment. I sing to him, I snuggle him closer. His eyes flit about excitedly, taking in every color, every picture, every shadow, like he’s never seen it before. Every so often, he’ll put his soft little head on my shoulder, and snuggle into my neck. Within seconds, his head is bobbing up again, trying to remember where he last looked, before he took the time to show me that he felt safe. He’ll be crying, and the moment we start dancing, he stops. Matteo usually looks at me with wonder for a second, and then turns his attention to the objects in the room. We dance for hours at a time, until my arms get tired, until he needs fed, until he’s sleeping, whatever. We just dance, and it’s my favourite time of the day. He’s the best dance partner I’ve ever had, and I sure wouldn’t trade those late night dances for even a bit of sleep.

People talk about all the things that are awful about parenthood- no sleep, lack of a social life, not showering, having no time. The list goes on. What they don’t realize is that when you didn’t get to have that, when you didn’t get to experience those things, they are things you want to have. I didn’t get to see Simon’s first bath, or first smile. I didn’t get to see him cry real tears, or say his first word. I didn’t get stay up all night and rock him to sleep. The thought of all the things I missed with Simon haunted me for years, and even to this day, I sometimes wish I got to sample a bit of his life in real-time. Yet, because of this, I’m embracing all of the imperfections of parenthood. I want the late nights, I want the lack of a social life, I want all of the things that come with parenthood. I want to experience the terrible, the good, the amazing, the awful, all of it. I’m amazed by the simple beauty of all of these experiences, even the tiresome ones.

There are no words, no amount of ‘thank-you’s that will be enough for Simon. I always thought if I ever saw him again, he would thank me for giving him his beautiful family. I never imagined that I would want to hug him tight, and thank him for teaching me how to be a better mom, a more attentive mother, a mother who appreciates the beauty in things that others might miss. A mother who will be happy to learn from her child, who will want to soak up every moment with her child, and will go to all lengths to make sure that her little one is happy, comfortable, loved, and protected.

*Names have been changed for privacy reasons

Author: Adele Grant

Adele Grant, LCSW, is an API Leader in New York City and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She lives in New York City with her husband and 2 loving and spirited children, ages 5 and 2. Adele started her career as a psychotherapist, but after having her son, she decided to become a SAHM. She now enjoys running support groups to help families create secure relationships early on so that all the early trauma and childhood deficits that she saw in her previous work could hopefully be prevented in the first place.

9 thoughts on “The Journey To Attachment Parenting”

  1. How very beautiful. What a teacher Simon has been to you! What a lucky boy Matteo is. Simply wonderful and moving post.

  2. What a beautiful story. I am glad that you were able to learn and grow in your parenting from one child to the next. I think that most of us do, but few of us have the perspective and experience that you do. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us.

  3. This is so true. I believe that loss, whatever kind, can be beneficial in many ways. It makes you appreciate those little ones even more. I understand, in a different way, but I know what you mean. I enjoy wearing my baby, nursing him, letting him sleep with me at night, and all of the “bad” things like lack of sleep, that go hand in hand with the good. You are a brave mommy!

  4. Thanks so much for this post – as an adoptive mom I’m constantly reminded of all the people and circumstances and divine intervention that have led to my joy of motherhood. Like you, I have embraced all the imperfections of being a mom (and a single choice mom to boot!) and simply love, love, love being my daughter’s mother. It is an amazing journey and I’m embracing the wonderful ride.
    A wise fried once told me, when I was weary with lack of sleep during those new infant days, to embrace those middle of the night wakings. This was the time when all the world was quiet and the moment was simply made for me and my daughter to connect, to stare into each others eyes and souls, and to simply “be” with each other. The first night she slept straight through, her little warm body next to mine, I woke in the morning sad that those night wakings were over – I had learned to embrace so much of me in the process while embracing her. It’s a personal lesson I continue today as she’s turning three in a couple of weeks – I’m continuing to enjoy the moment. Each moment. Every moment. All of it with her warm, although bigger body snuggles in next to mine in our family bed.
    Thanks for reminding me of my motherhood journey and the road I took to get here – and reminding me again of my daughter’s first mother, who taught me so much in the selfless gift she gave to me and to “our” daughter.

  5. Absolutely beautiful! You’re a wonderful mother — from the moment Simon was in your womb and to this day. The world needs more mamas like you!

  6. Thank you for this. I am an adoptive mother, and know just how deeply my daughter’s birthmother loves her. I am also aware of the birthmother’s deep loss in not parenting her child. It is heartening to think that someday her loss may be transformed, as was yours, into a beautiful gift to her future child.

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