Fifteen years — a lot can happen in that length of time. Marriages, divorces, births, deaths, adoptions, new jobs and big adventures can paint their way through a life like mine when so many days have gone by.
It truly seems like it was just the other day that a small group of dear friends and I decided to start a local group affiliated with Attachment Parenting International (API) in Des Moines, Iowa, USA — only the second one in the Midwest.
We were all in need of building our intentional village.
Having been a leader of a breastfeeding support group prior, I now found myself facing a new challenge of not only re-lactating to nurse a micro-preemie, but an adopted, drug- and alcohol-affected baby with a plethora of special needs. I finally needed to call in favors for support for myself. But those supports didn’t exist in my community at the time.
My parenting was evolving, and I longed for a group where I could speak more openly and find honest and straightforward, yet gentle and kind friends, while offering the same to others. I wanted us to be the kind of people you trust around your children, because you know we believe in nurturing and validating each other and we want the best for all of our kids collectively, not only individually.
I had been doing Attachment Parenting (AP) for many years before I knew there was a word, but once I realized that we could begin offering support, information and encouragement to others, I was excited to get going. From very early on, we had a few very regular families and we bonded into such a natural support that it wasn’t unusual to see us with one dad pushing someone else’s child on a swing while a mom wore two babies at once, hers and her dear friend’s. We viewed Attachment Parenting not only as our choice in a parenting style but in our broader approach as to how we faced the world.
Later, when some coleaders moved away, my current co-leader of somewhere close to a decade, Laurie Belin, stepped forward and agreed to assist, support, advocate, nurture and encourage so many here in Des Moines — along with me. Other organizations were envious that I had such a phenomenal coleader, but as I moved into a place of single parenting my five children, with many special needs, while trying to provide financially for them, she took on so much more of the responsibility so that our group could not only survive, but thrive and I could just show up and help lead meetings.
Many families have passed through our doors through the years, and many more find support through our private online support group that Laurie moderates with grace and knowledge like few could. We have had a diverse group, and I have been privileged to witness some beautiful parenting and some thought-provoking conversations, and to be a part in some parents’ growth. I have heard myself quoted and am honored to have a positive impact on our AP community.
I have been blessed to lead API of Central Iowa for 15 years. My children are now nearly 23, 19, 15, 12 and 7. My Attachment Parenting journey is far from over, as I believe we carry API’s Eight Principles of Parenting throughout life. I am tremendously thankful for all I have learned, how I myself have grown and for all Laura, other coleaders and I have been allowed to share with families throughout these 15 years.
Thank you, API. I have received so much more than I ever gave.