All the fuzz about Time Magazine’s cover a couple of months ago died a natural death. But not the desire to promote exclusive breastfeeding and, to an extent, attachment parenting.
What in the world is that? Does it mean that parents are supposed to be with baby 24/7?
At first, I thought it worked that way. But after two years of being a parent, I realized the following things:
1. Parenting is instinctive. Yes there might be hits and misses but you learn along the way. Sometimes you gotta learn it the HARD way. I accepted that fact and now I somehow regretted being weak. A parent should be firm in making decisions because it will be for the benefit of your own family and not of other people. Unsolicited advices may make or break you but ultimately, it’s the parents who will look after their children.
2. You work with your spouse, not against your spouse. There are days which we tend to blame each other but we try to meet halfway. It’s hard considering we both are firstborns and firstborns are supposed to be on top pf the game but we keep our ground when we need to. I can say I have the best partner in raising our kid–my husband–who has been very supportive (and very tired, sometimes!) in my career now as a full time government employee and choir conductor and church servant and volunteer and everything else! I have been busy, and my husband takes care of our kid at times when I’m supposed to be with her–on weekends, late at night, especially.
3. Indeed, it takes a village to raise a child. I have the best mother in the world. For the past year especially that I have gone back to full time work, she is always there for our kid. I know she is tired but she stays strong for my toddler. She handles child care while our stay-in helper (thank God for her, too!) takes care of the household especially cooking yummy and nutritious food for the family. My sister is Aria’s playmate! When nobody else is available, she takes care of Aria. Sometimes Aria misses her Tita more than Mommy and Daddy!
4. You give out love, you’ll be showered with more love back. Our daughter is probably the most hyperactive breastfed toddler in the condo (or everywhere she goes) and I don’t mind, really. I know she can annoy the hell out of everyone else with her loud voice, nonstop talking, walking, running, shouting, singing the alphabet, counting to twenty, etc etc but heck, can I really stop her? I would like to ask help from psychologists but my husband said it’s too early. We should wait for another year to gauge if she might have problems (really, is there a problem?) but she’s so cute and loud at the same time. What would you choose–an unresponsive baby or someone as smart (nevermind malikot and makulit) as Aria?
Going back to attachment parenting, I really am not sure if we are practicing such, but I think we are. Here’s a look at what AP is. Note that this is not a strict set of rules of parenting but some ideas you may adapt to your family.
Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting. A year and three months after marriage, the stork visited and poof, I was pregnant. I did not take any birthing classes, save for one breastfeeding meeting which changed our perspective on feeding choices. I really can’t say we prepared for it because obviously, we’re all clueless about this tiny creature who will suddenly turn the household upside down. It was tough in the first days, even tougher as months passed. I was just fortunate to have a loving husband, supportive OBGYN, and a caring family to back me up when I wanted to fall.
Feed with Love and Respect. That one breastfeeding meet clearly made us decide that we shall try to breastfeed. And try our best we did, that we were able to hurdle so much criticisms, doubts, and pressure for 26 months and counting. Likewise, our choices when Aria was weaning were all natural foods. No preservatives, nothing instant. So we make sure her food is freshly prepared. It may have costed us a lot but it really paid off. She’s healthy, smart, and just in the right growing pace.
Respond with Sensitivity. Elders would tell me to let the baby cry. I never did. We’re not spoiling our kid, we’re telling her that we’re here when she needs a helping hand. Now tell me, would you ever let a kid cry? Be with them when they’re at their weakest and also at their happiest.
Use Nurturing Touch. Aria has a tendency to sleep well when carried, especially in her first few weeks. I literally was her slave. I’ve mastered eating with spoon on my left hand and her on my right, have worked in the laptop while she was on my lap after a feeding/sleeping session, and just when I am about to poop or pee, she still is with me. But I never regretted every moment of it. What I regret though is that I learned babywearing a wee bit late. I and my mom would have spared our hands from De Quervain’s Syndrome had we practiced babywearing earlier. Proud to say that my husband, too, is a babywearer!
Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally. We love co-sleeping with Aria. And now that she’s a full-sized toddler, I am proud and emotional. Proud because our daughter likes sleeping with Mommy and Daddy, emotional because we know she will want her own bed and her own room soon after a few more years. Co-sleeping also made breastfeeding easy for us. It used to be that hubby brings baby from her crib to our bed, but after a few months, we completely dissed the crib and hubby sleeps uninterrupted! Now Aria can just raise my shirt to nurse, though sometimes when she finds herself beside Daddy, she raises his shirt instead!
Provide Consistent and Loving Care. As I have mentioned earlier, I am lucky to have a supportive and loving family who is ready to take care of our kid. Of course, as Aria’s main caregivers, my husband and I must make as much time as we can with her. Sometimes she demands more but it’s fine, we can never replace the time that she requested us to do so. I still go home to see her during lunch (thank God for near workplaces!) and Daddy plays with her in the morning and before sleep.
Practice Positive Discipline. In our home, we apply the no-spanking rule. There are times though that Aria can be really unruly and pushy. Once, my mom spanked her and naturally, I got mad. That is not the discipline we want her to learn. I told her not to do it again to our daughter because she just might imitate it, which she did also. I also sometimes get mad at Aria and I am very vocal about it, especially to my daughter. In time, I said to myself, in her own sweet time, she will understand and live the positive values she should learn. No rushing, she’s a kid anyway.
Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life. It was quite a while before I got back to working, and I didn’t mind. I know I was very impatient postpartum, probably part of baby blues. I super missed performing, teaching the choir, and being busy. Then slowly I eased back into teaching, then performing, then I got a full time job. The mani-pedis were also in line, albeit scheduled waaaay ahead. I was actually seeing more friends and family now, watching more concerts now (aside from the fact that it is part of my job!), and doing more things now. If a career is one whole plate then what about parenthood AND work! That’s two whole plateful, of jobs and I am amazed by all mothers who can do just that and more!
Attachment parenting combines just all the passions and advocacies our family is practicing and supporting. I am thankful to the internet, that I am able to research about these stuff and communicate with like-minded parents and promote this to more and more people.