“Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” – Albert Einstein

Or, how I became an attachment parent and didn’t even know it. 

I haven’t really blogged about my son in a while, so I figure I can, with a certain amount of legitimacy, claim that I have avoided becoming one of the my-son-is-so-fantastic-oh-my-god-just-look-at-him parents that cause others to inwardly groan when they pull out the wallet photos.  For my child-hating friends out there – suck it up.  I am still a mom.  It’s a mom thing.  It comes with the territory.  The doting interest in every inhalation by our offspring is a survival tactic built into our genes and we simply can’t help it. 

There were certain advantages to waiting until all my friend’s children were adolescents before producing my own.  Namely, if you are at all observant, you get to see a pretty wide range of what works and what doesn’t.  You have a reasonable idea of what to expect.  And you know that, despite the forewarning, a lot of your carefully thought out observations and opinions are going to go right out the window.  The only real surprises are what things end up defenestrated, and what things you are surprised to find out that you actually follow through on.

Being a scientist, and therefore overthinking everything under the sun, I read the owner’s manuals.  Mostly baby health and development books, because like every person in a medically-related profession (and I mean EVERY ONE), we tend to lean toward the hypochondriac.  It’s the burden that a little too much knowledge of the oddities of medical science gives you.

I studiously avoided anything that smacked of parenting philosophies.  As a “hard” scientist, I always have the faintest mistrust of psychology (sorry Bambi!) because I often wonder if the overanalysis of our deficiencies is a crutch to keep us from getting on and dealing with it, for the love of God.  But, that’s a subject for another rant.  I will bookmark it and save it up.  So when I had another mom ask me if I was going to be an attachment parent, I must have gotten a completely blank expression on my face.  I had no idea what she was going on about.   So I did what any child of the information age did.  I Googled it. 

My reaction? Over-permissive psychobabble bullshit. Way, way too demanding on the parent.  Next.

And along came Harry. 

What you learn from being a parent, is that if you are like probably 90% of the parents out there, you don’t really have a “philosopy” of parenting.  Trust me, at 2am, with a wailing baby and in the throes of sleep deprivation, Plato wouldn’t have a philosophical thought in him.  But after the first few weeks of actual sleep, when diaper-changing is a process so automated that you don’t realize you finished it until you are holding that rolled-up dirty in your hand and can’t figure out how it got there, then you get to sum up what you have gotten yourself into, the resolutions you threw out the window,  and the promises that you, amazingly, managed to keep.

Out the window:

  1. I will not cosleep.  Riiiigghhht.  Harry slept in a bassinet near the bed until he was almost six months old.  Then he went into his crib.  Let me tell you a secret – that sleeping through the night crap?  It’s a lie.  To most parents, sleeping through the night means 4-5 uninterrupted hours.  The first time it happens it is so shocking, it just feels like eight.  Now, Harry was never a huge bother about it – give him a pacifier, pat his back, and he was back off to sleep, but he did wake, and he did want that pat and that paci.  Three times a night.  Net result – he starts every night in his crib, and he ends every night in our bed.  It’s just easier when he wakes that first time for me or Kris to haul him out of the crib to our bed.  We ALL got more sleep that way.  And you know what? He now sleeps from 9pm-5:30 am completely uninterrupted.  I don’t think two hours in our bed is going to kill anybody.  If we have to put our foot down about the time he wants to bring girlfriends home, so be it.
  2. I will never feed him fast food.  Oh, please.  Puhlease.  Every parent I know says this.  Every parent I know breaks it. I am only proud that I made it until he was well over a year old. Generally, it’s at least milk, apples and yogurt parfaits, but believe me, he has a healthy American taste for McDonald’s fries.
  3. I am going to make his baby food – no canned baby food for my kid.  I don’t know who I was kidding with this one.  I am a working mother.  In a compromise to assuage my deep feelings of guilt, Harry did get all-organic baby food, no fillers, and we have almost always mixed it with table food.  He still eats mainly organic food at home.  But, I can tell you that the food mill is pristinely untouched. 
  4. I will NEVER drive a minivan.  This is the one I am most ashamed of.  I just can’t say any more about it.  It hurts too much.

Things I surprised myself with:

  1. I am going to breastfeed him until 4 months old.  I was personally dubious that I would make this milestone.  I know I am a wimp, and I didn’t think I could managed the logistics of returning to work.  But partially because of Katrina, and partially because Harry turned out to be a REALLY easy baby, we made it to six months exclusively breastfeeding, and he finally self-weaned completely at 11 months.  His decision, actually, not mine.  Truthfully, I can tell you that I did it out of sheer laziness.  There was no way – NO WAY, I was going to get out of my bed at 6am and make a warm bottle.  So, I get to hear kudos from my pediatrician because essentially I am a lazy-ass.  Yay, me!
  2. I will not get freaky over germs and sanitation.  I never have and never will.  I never sterilized a THING that Harry came in contact with.  Warm soapy water has been it.  He plays on the floor.  He plays in the dog water.  He eats grass.  And he is as healthy as a horse.
  3. I will not get in power struggles with my child over food.  This I refuse to do adamantly.  If he’s hungry he eats.  When he’s done, he’s done.  No child ever starved themselves to death.  Harry is a bit underweight, but not radically so.  Considering his parents and his culture, I don’t think it’s going to hurt him any.

Things I didn’t even bother with self-deception over:

  1. The cloth vs. disposable debate.  Wanna throw a BOMB into a mommy’s bulletin board discussion?  Just remember DBV – Diapers, Breastfeeding, Vaccinations.  Bring up anyone of these, and the blood will flow within three posts.  I PROMISE you.  Sit back and watch the slugfest.  But, as far as I am personally concerned there is a short list of things that can be solved by throwing money at them, and baby poop pretty much tops that list.  I will chalk it up amongst my environmental sins, right next to owning a minivan, and I will say confession and do penance every week for it.   But there was no way, no possible way, that I was cleaning a load of dirty diapers every other day.  I am a PhD rather than an MD for several reasons, and bodily fluids make up a fair number of those reasons.
  2. Pacifiers.  The kid won’t go to Kindergarten with a pacifier.  I can take away a pacifier.  I can’t cut off his thumb.  I have two words for it and they are Peace and Quiet.
  3. I will never compare my child to other children.  At least I realize I am only human.  So far, he’s doing pretty good. He isn’t a baby super-genius (I can only deceive myself so far), but he is, in the words of Garrison Keillor, above average.  You are completely free to read any level of parental exaggeration you please into that statement.  All babies are above average.  Statistics lie.

 And I discovered, much to my chagrin, that I was an attachment parent.  I coslept.  I babywore.  I breastfed.  I let Harry make his own transitions when he felt ready for them, breast-to-bottle-to-cup, bassinet-to-crib, self-feeding-to-spoonfeeding, crawling-to-walking.  When Harry is ready, he just does things, and I just follow.  It’s the ultimate in low-maintanance parenthood.  Whoever thought procrastination would be so trendy?

Pardon me.  I am off to eat my granola for lunch.

September 29th, 2006 at 11:13 am
5 Responses to “Everything I said I would and wouldn’t do”
  1. 1
    Kat Says:

    Heck, I thought you bought a mini-van for the same reason many others of us have — becayse you’re a SCAdian with a lot of crap to pack! That’s how we ended up with the Durango (you want to borrow it over AGAIN? I could just sign it over to you and YOU could pay the insurance) when we promised to be good and energy-conscious and drive just the Saturn.

    And underweight? Pish. Zack was INCREDIBLY underweight — all the way up to junior high. Doesn’t seem to have stunted his development.

  2. 2
    bubandpie Says:

    Here are the things I love most about this post:

    1) the word “defenestrated”
    2) the trolling suggestions at the end (you are SO RIGHT – the good old DBV works every time)

  3. 3
    Gwyneth Says:

    I’d love to trade baby-raising stories with you sometime – I’m a procrastinator parent too. And guess what? My kids actually sleep in their own beds all night long, use the bathroom by themselves when they need to, and are pretty healthy kids! Amazing for kids who coslept, didn’t toilet train until they were about 2-3 years old, and ate dirt and grass, eh?

    What the psychologists and doctors don’t say is that there is no pat answer for dealing with a particular kid. Every kid is different. Every parent is different. Every parent-child relationship (even within the same family) is different.

  4. 4
    Cinnkitty Says:

    Hey…..I’m not a complete child-hater anymore. Harry won me over with his happy smiles and never ending curiosity! 🙂 You are raising an awesome kid!

  5. 5
    Sheila Says:

    Now, see I didn’t know it had a label, “attachment parent” I just thought it as some new-agey stuff you didn’t tell your mom, (“What! You let that child SLEEP with you!”) That made the kid happy and secure.