Hello, and welcome to my blog!
To be quite truthful, I don’t think anything I do is particularly spectacular, and don’t profess to have all the secrets of parenting. But my 4 babies and very different experiences with each has given me some insight and taught me some lessons. I enjoy writing and so am happy to pass those insights along.
This week, as always, I’ve been doing that endless round of cleaning, tidying, bribing, begging and bargaining that is all part and parcel of parenthood. I’m sure you know what I mean. Making breakfasts, lunches and dinners that are regarded with suspicion and discarded, almost completely untouched, for fear that a vegetable may have touched the plate at some point during the cooking process. Wiping the kitchen sides 50 billion times because no matter what you do, some form of stickiness still remains. Convincing your daughter that blackcurrant squash and milk mixed together will not make a tasty treat. Explaining, for the millionth time, that felt tip pens are not really recommended for use on wallpaper.
I make it sound like parenthood is tiring, infuriating and thankless, don’t I! Well it’s not always that way. Honest! We do have fun, and there is a lot of laughter, I’ve just had to accept that my house won’t look the way I want it to until they’ve all grown up and moved out, and knowing me, when that happens I’ll become one of those bereft women who buys those disturbing life like dolls, or owns 12 cats, because the house is just too quiet!
Anyway, the one thing i have got back to doing just recently is cooking proper dinners! While I was pregnant the last time and waging war with my body, I couldn’t do much more than remain lying down lest my blood pressure killed me. Then came the c-section/premature baby aftermath, where I just wanted to crawl in to a hole and pretend the open infected wound and the pain that came with it belonged to someone else, and all my energy was spent pumping milk and visiting my little squib in the hospital. When said squib came home, it transpired that he was not the kind of child who would sit happily in a bouncy chair while I lovingly prepared healthy hearty meals, no, he was the type of child who felt that the only reason my arms existed was so that he could be in them and attached to a boob. 17 months later, he’ll now go down for naps, and sit in his chair or toddle around watching me, so I can get back to it.
What I’ve learned from a little foray in to baking, is that cooking and baking are 2 very different things. Baking is a kind of science, everything has to be weighed and measured just so, and mixed in a certain way, or else all you have is a recipe for disaster. Cooking on the other hand, is bakings mystical twin. You can experiment, you can add or subtract certain ingredients without too much of a problem. You can keep checking on and tasting and stirring throughout the whole process, so if you feel that things are not quite going the way you want them to, you can make adjustments, add more salt, or a dash of mustard, or some more water, and so on. So far this past week i’ve made stew, bolognese, pasta bake, pie, and they have all been lovely. This gives me a sense of achievement! I’ll still stick with the baking, because it’s fun and exciting and I’m happy to laugh (a little bit) at my disasters, but there is something quite therapeutic and comforting about knowing I can knock up a roast dinner with my eyes closed.
Topic for the day… It has been bought to my attention that I am in fact what some people call an “attachment parent.” What this means, is that I breastfeed on demand with no intention of stopping til my baby decides he wants to, I sleep with him in bed with me, I carry him in a baby sling during the day when he wants that, I pick him up when he cries no matter the reason. I’ve done the same with all of my children, with the exception of the breastfeeding, which due to lack of education and support, didn’t work out the first 2 times. It’s not something I do to feel superior to others, it’s not something I do because I think it will make my children smart and confident. (they are, but that’s beside the point) I do it because that’s what comes naturally to me. I do it because carrying Roman around in his sling sometimes means I can get stuff done without listening to ear piercing, gut wrenching sobs. I sleep with him in my bed because I feel happier knowing he’s close and I can deal with him with little sleep lost should he wake in the night. I pick him up when he cries, because rather than learning to “self soothe” I’d rather he learned that mummy is reliable and will respond to his needs, even if all he needs is a cuddle and a singsong. I like to think that this will carry on as he grows, and he, along with the others, will know they can depend on me being there for them when they need me, no matter how small the problem may seem. “Dr” Miriam Stoppard once branded this style of parenting to be “extreme.” Really? Well, if loving my babies, hugging them, welcoming them in to my bed for quiet, night time dreamy snuggles, holding them close in those early years before cuddling becomes something they want to avoid at all costs seems extreme to you, then call me what you want. All I know is, my floors are mopped, the sides are wiped, and my eardrums are still intact. I’m happy with that!
Not to mention, recent studies have suggested that children who have their needs met in this way are, as a rule, more confident and less clingy upon starting school than children who did not.
Now, attachment parenting doesn’t have to fit a specific stereotype. I think the common opinion is that attachment parents are natural cotton wearing, breast feeding, organic tofu eating hippies. Not so! Breastfeeding, while one important aspect, is not essential for attachment parenting. You can bottle feed your baby and still be an attachment parent. You could be unable to co-sleep for safety reasons, or just not feel comfortable with co-sleeping, and choose to put baby in a crib or bedside cot instead, and that’s fine too. It’s mainly about meeting your child’s needs as and when they express that need, rather than making them wait so as not to “spoil” them, or, one of my most hated expressions “make a rod for your own back.” Who even came up with that term?!
Skin to skin contact is widely encouraged now after your baby is born. Skin contact encourages the production of oxytocin, also known as the love hormone. This process is the same for all humans, not just newborns, so it stands to reason really that a child who is held close and has regular skin contact for longer periods of time will be happier than a child who isn’t.
Obviously your baby = your rules, so the most important thing is to do what feels right and natural to you. If, however, the idea of attachment parenting interests you, I urge you to give it a try.
What have you got to lose!