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Archive for the ‘Happiness’ Category

I came across this in my Facebook feed this morning and promptly felt like poopoo:

Dr Sears asks moms their reactions after birth

Do you see all of those moments of instant connection there? Ya, that wasn’t me.

If there had been a camera in my (first) birthing room, it would not have recorded me getting all gooey eyed like these lucky ladies.  It would have caught me staring blankly at Little Man and it may have even picked up a single, barely audible word:

“Huh.”

Yup, that was my first reaction to my son.

Oh don’t get me wrong, he was a very wanted baby and everything.  We had both spent hours on the couch feeling (and trying to film) his kicks through my belly.  And I secretly didn’t hate the 13 ultrasounds our OBs put us through because I loved to watch him on the screen when we went.  I loved this kid.  But in the very first second after they put him on my chest and I looked at him it hit me: I actually had no clue who he was.  He was a stranger.

You see, when you’re bonding with your baby in utero, what you’re bonding with is a collection of limbs that poke out at you from within your own body.  You’re aware that they belong to someone else, but they’re still inside your body.  They’re yours in a way.  Then you push this little person into the world and suddenly he is exactly that – a whole other person.  You’ve never seen his face, or the shape of his toes.  You don’t know what colour his eyes really are or whether he’s got his dad’s chin.  He’s a totally new entity.  How do you love someone you don’t know?

And all of this is not to say that I didn’t bond with Little Man.  There was definitely bonding.  If not instantaneously, then at least by the time we put him to the breast.  That part was a no-brainer… literally.  It’s some sort of hybrid between a chemical reaction and an unconditioned reflex.  But it wasn’t love, per se, and it didn’t make me all sloppy.  That came later, slowly.  As I got to know him, memorized his voice and breathed him in, I fell totally in love… finally.

So was it just me?  Am I the only one who didn’t have that “Wow” feeling at the first moment?

 

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Cosleeping already, awww.

If you look closely you can see the head of his baby triceratops poking out of the pajama bottoms that I rigged into a sling. He wanted his baby to be “nice cozy like baby sisser”.  That dino has also been nursed on several occasions by me AND Little Man 🙂

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One of the lines of thinking that comes up so frequently from people who don’t understand attachment parenting is that it’s about the mother’s need to cling to the child.  That it’s about her fear of letting him go, of letting him move away from her and be independent.  That is categorically not what it’s about.  But what it is about, is knowing that it’s OK to hang on.

Mainstream western parenting philosophy is rooted in minimizing the child’s need for its parents.  Soothers, swings, schedules, bottles, cribs and sleep training were all created to reduce the amount of time a parent (usually a mother, in the early days of infancy) needs to spend tending to her child’s needs.  New parents are warned not to let their baby ‘get used to’ nursing or rocking to sleep.  They’re told not to respond to a cry too quickly or hold the baby too much for fear of ‘spoiling’ her.  And how many times have your heard that if you let your child sleep in your bed you’ll NEVER get him out?

The thing about attachment parents is that we see through that propaganda.  We understand the universal truth that everyone grows up, that it happens on its own and that it happens faster than you expect.  So yes, we hang on to our kids.  We hang onto them until their adorable little hands let go, because we know unequivocally that they will let go. 

Whether you snuggle your baby in a sling or put them in a swing, when they’re 6 or 7 they’ll still ask you to take the training wheels off their bike.

Whether you breastfeed them for 3 minutes or 3 years, either way, you’ll be the least cool person on the planet when they’re 13.

Whether you cuddle them to sleep or they cry themselves to sleep, they still won’t be asking you to come to their dorm room.

Every day your child will need you less and less, and before you know it he’ll be all grown up and won’t need you at all.  But for right now, he does need you and the point of attachment parenting is that that’s OK.  It’s OK to immerse yourself in this job while it lasts, because it will. not. last. forever.  It’s OK to hold them in your lap while they still fit, to breathe them in while they still smell so sweet and to be there while they still need you.  Because very, very soon they won’t, and that will be OK too.

No one spends their old age regretting the moments they spent cuddling their kids, but if the popularity of Harry Chapin’s song is any indication, then plenty of people do regret the moments they wasted, and attachment parents know that.

I’ve long since retired, my son’s moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, “I’d like to see you if you don’t mind”
He said, “I’d love to, Dad, if I can find the time
You see my new job’s a hassle and kids have the flu
But it’s sure nice talking to you, Dad
It’s been sure nice talking to you”

And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me
He’d grown up just like me
My boy was just like me

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin’ home son?
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then son
You know we’ll have a good time then

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Little Man, your second birthday is tomorrow and I can’t believe it.  Last year for your birthday I made you some promises and I think (hope at least) that so far I’ve kept them.  Since then, so many things in our life have changed.  You’ve changed.  You’re becoming your own little person, multifaceted and beautifully different from every angle.  How do I possibly sum up what you are, what you mean to me and what I hope for you in a few words?  I can’t.  So this is as close as I can get.

“May you live all the days of your life.” – Jonathan Swift

“Reach for the stars. Even if you only make it halfway, you’re still an astronaut.” – Grandpa Dave

“You may be different, but we’re all creatures.  All dinosaurs have different features.” – Mrs. Pteranodon, Dinosaur Train

“Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it.” – Anne Shirley

“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” – Walt Whitman

“And we’ll collect the moments one by one.  I guess that’s how the future’s done.” – Feist, Mushaboom

“The dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.” – T.E. Lawrence

“Friends and good manners will carry you where money won’t go.” – Margaret Walker

“Where a man feels at home, outside of where he’s born, is where he’s meant to go.” – Ernest Hemingway, Green Hills of Africa

“I’ll remember the strength that you gave me, now that I’m standing on my own.” – Madonna, I’ll remember

“I’m sorry you fell down, but I’m glad you had fun climbing up.” – Mommy
“Again.” – Little Man

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When Lady Fair was barely even skin side, I started getting asked if she was “sleeping through yet”.

My immediate reaction was, “Yet?  She’s 13 days old!  For F***’s sake, can we not let the poor baby get through a cotton-pickin’ fortnight before we start shackling her with ridiculous expectations of adult behaviour?”

But I realize, this is one of those questions people just ask about babies because they don’t know what else to ask.  I also know I’ve asked the same question myself, as well as many of the following:

“Is she a good sleeper?”

“Is she a good eater?”

“How much does he weigh?”

“Is he a good baby?”

These are the standard new-baby icebreakers.  I think it’s because a new baby’s personality is more or less a mystery, so these little factoids are the best we can come up with to get to know him or her.  But at the same time, I think there’s also the lingering belief that a baby has no individual personality and thus it’s ‘performance’ as a baby can be quantified by things like how much it eats, how long in a stretch it sleeps and whether it burps readily.

But wouldn’t it be wonderful if we AP types could come up with some better new baby questions?  Questions that reflect what is actually important for parent-infant relationships; questions that don’t make new parents feel like their coping skills are being graded; happy questions.

So here it goes, let’s start a trend of happy attachment-friendly new baby questions:

“Are you loving the snuggles?”

“Do you get lots of smiles?”

“What’s her favourite way to be held?”

“Does he have a favourite time of day?”

What else can we ask??

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As I’m relearning now that Lady Fair is here, duration of night time sleep is held by our culture as some sort of penultimate measure of not only baby’s ‘goodness’ but of the parents’ ability to enjoy their daily activities as adults, even in the midst of the most intense parenting period.  I like my sleep, I really do.  I’ll appreciate it when my kids are old enough to walk themselves over to me for a goodnight kiss, walk themselves up to bed and stay there until they walk themselves downstairs for breakfast in the morning.

But you know what?  There are so many other things I’ll appreciate every bit as much as a full night’s sleep, that NO ONE ever asks me about.  Here’s a short list of what are currently pipedreams for this mama:

  • Finishing my entire cup of coffee without having to reheat it once, let alone 5 times
  • Having a phone conversation without having to shush anyone, or leap up off the couch to prevent my toddler from breaking a limb
  • Using the bathroom without having to simultaneously bounce a baby… or leap off the toilet to prevent my toddler from breaking a limb
  • Writing a blog post without having to swat little fingers away from the oh-so-exciting computer power button
  • Watching a movie without falling asleep
  • Clipping all of my toenails in one sitting

There were many others, but I forgot what they were when I went to reheat my coffee…

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Who let the toddler loose in the berry patch??

Mmmmmyummmyum

All those berries made me thirsty Mama

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