There is no night and day

by Mama Bean on October 18, 2014

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API-Logo-20th-themeAttachment Parenting International is 20 years old. Twenty years of promoting connection and spreading reassuring support to parents across the globe!

When I first became a mother, I followed every instinct to connect with and nurture my baby. I held her, I nursed her, I gazed into her eyes…regardless of the time of day. Strangely though, I met a lot of resistance to my “alternative” approach to parenting.

“Nursing AGAIN?!” became a common greeting, and although I did not waver in my approach, my confidence took a big hit. I was exhausted, and I felt alone.

This is where I thank Attachment Parenting International for showing me that I am not alone. I am so grateful to have stumbled, completely by accident, upon this wonderful concept of Attachment Parenting. It turns out that I am not alone in my approach. In actual fact, there are many, many more mothers like me, feeling the same way and taking the same approach of connecting with our children.

So many of us feel this sense of loneliness, particularly in the darker hours when exhaustion sinks in and it feels like the rest of the world is soundly sleeping. So to the mama who is feeling isolated and exhausted right now, I offer you this…

There is no night and day.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, I was awake throughout the day and I slept during the night. I moved throughout the day and was still during the night. The two were totally separate, as stark a contrast as light and dark.

And then baby bean was born, and all at once, light was thrown into my world in more ways than one. The edges of day and night started to merge together into a blurry grey smudge. You see, I had birthed The Great Unsleeper.

I knew nothing of tiredness before motherhood. The kind of tiredness that saps your body of strength, that throws its arms around you and just keeps squeezing, where you feel like the air is running out of oxygen and you forget which way is up, the kind of tiredness which almost makes you lose yourself.

Almost.

unnamedAlmost, because you find yourself with every touch of baby’s soft skin, cheek to cheek. Almost, because you find yourself with every gaze held in those deep, pool-like eyes. You find yourself with every smile, every gurgle, every clap of the hands and sweet “mama!”

You find yourself when you need it most. You find yourself during darkness.

Because our darkest hours are actually scattered with stars, with gems of pure love. In this time that I once termed “night,” quietness rules. There is no sound in the world besides baby bean’s soft breath and my own steady heartbeat.

In honesty, there have been moments in which I felt isolated, scared and incapable during these dark hours. But these have been momentary flashes of doubt amid the darkness.

Because when I stop and look at my beautiful girl’s profile against the shadow-like beams of light lingering in our bedroom, I understand that I have all that she needs — that I am all that she needs. I understand that I am enough.

Nestled safely in my arms, she does not need light or direction to nurse. Resting her head on my shoulder as we sway forwards and backwards in our rocking chair, she does not need daylight to feel safe and content. Little bean and I do not race through this notion of “night,” because for us, there is just light and dark, and there is beauty and connection in each.

As we sit rocking, cuddling, nursing, I imagine the hundreds of hours that we must have spent in this peaceful state. I imagine us rocking across great distances, to other countries and cultures. I imagine us meeting versions of ourselves at each destination, all these miles from home.

A mother. A baby. Connected in darkness.

I imagine us rocking through time, backwards and forwards. I imagine us glimpsing versions of ourselves wherever we land, be it hundreds or even thousands of years away from here.

A mother. A baby. Connected in darkness.

You see, in truth, little bean and I are not alone once the moon rises. We are part of a bigger picture, a louder heartbeat, a stronger pulse. Mothers. Babies. Connected in darkness.

Because for us, there is no night.

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Attachment Parenting in shared custody

by Lisa Fieirtag on October 17, 2014

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apm logoWe are in the midst of October, which happens to be Attachment Parenting Month,  and I am wondering what this year’s theme — “Cherishing Parents, Flourishing Children” — means to me?

As I sit with this question, I am reminded of the many times lately that I have found myself in conversations about how people sometimes assume that to practice Attachment Parenting means to give yourself up fully to your child: to exist only for the benefit, safety, love, health and security of your child.

Upon learning about Attachment Parenting, I can see exactly why this is what people believe, since many of Attachment Parenting International’s Eight Principles of Parenting seem different than what our mainstream culture has associated with parenting.

Now I could go into a long discussion about mainstream parenting, Attachment Parenting and how it all came to be, but what I want to focus on is how it might look like in my household and why cherishing the parent is vital so that children can flourish.

Let me begin by telling you that I am a mom who shares custody of my children with their father on a schedule that is as balanced as we could make it. We have been doing this for the past three years, and the time away from my kids is often extremely difficult but also provides an opportunity for me to heal and explore my interests.

I have friends who envy that I have alone time built into the week and other friends who cannot even imagine having days where they would not see their kids.

I also want to mention that my children are hitting the pre-teen years. Next summer, I will have one daughter who is officially a teen and another daughter who has hit double digits. They are growing fast, and I have to cherish all the time I have with them.

lisa fiertagWith everything that is going on in our lives, I know that I am doing the best I can with my girls.

I have beautiful children who are loving, kind and supportive. They engage in activities that interest them, even if I have to push a bit to get them to try something new. My girls have an awareness of who they are and a willingness to navigate more choices, along with the freedom to explore what they like and don’t like.

All of this is possible because their dad and I have encouraged this, no matter how difficult our lives became.

My children are flourishing.

There was a time when I didn’t believe this would be possible, as my family went through years of one crisis after another. We experienced separation and divorce, major life illnesses and the death of a grandparent. Even with all this stress, the one thing that kept us together was our commitment to parenting.

For me, it was a knowing that my girls might need a little extra time with each parent, so canceling activities that took us away from family was vital. Living in a way that allowed for flexibility was also important, as it is not always known what might emotionally set off any one of us. Having stability in these little ways was important.

My girls know that they can be with me, when needed, at any time day or night even if they are with their dad and vice versa. As my girls have grown older, there are times when I know they need to be closer to me and times when a little freedom is desired, which is all part of the flow.

I have found that parenting does not necessarily get easier as our children grow older, but it is different each and every day.

Cherishing myself, as a parent, does help to make things smoother.

When I am not with my girls, I am engaging in activities that help me grow. I tend to spend my time exploring interests that feed my spirit or allow me to relax. Sometimes I just want to sit on my couch in silence and do absolutely nothing.

This all helps me as a parent. When we cherish ourselves and allow for balance in our daily routines, we are creating security and may thrive from these experiences.

As we cherish our time, our individualism and our interests, we grow. As we grow, we become secure parents who are able to be with our children throughout the worst and the best of times. As we cherish our minds, bodies and souls in whatever way calls to us, we are creating and opening space that allows our children to flourish.

What did you do today to cherishing yourself so that your children may flourish?

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Babywearing: The next generation

October 16, 2014
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Editor’s note: This post was originally published on Aug. 26, 2008, but it contains a sweet reminder for parents expecting a new baby and may be wondering how that will affect their older child. There is something so sweet about watching our older children mimic our parenting approach with their younger siblings. When our second […]

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Cherishing our API Leaders

October 15, 2014
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By Kathryn Abbott, API Leader and editor of the Connections blog for API Leaders When thinking about this year’s Attachment Parenting (AP) Month theme — “Cherishing Parents, Flourishing Children” — I wanted to be sure I really understood the meaning of “cherish” and “flourish.” I love the sound of those words, but what do they […]

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Reflecting on 20 years of API

October 15, 2014
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By Barbara Nicholson, cofounder of Attachment Parenting International (API) and coauthor of Attached at the Heart with Lysa Parker On June 6, Lysa and I celebrated the official 20th anniversary of Attachment Parenting International’s founding, but as we like to say: It took us 20 years of teaching and parenting experience to lead us to […]

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Impact of praise, an inside view

October 13, 2014
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I’ve been on board with limiting praise for my kids ever since reading Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn. I understood the negative impacts of praise in theory, I learned how to limit praise in parenting and I was happy with my decision. But I didn’t understand the internal impact of praise until recently. The Back […]

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Mirroring

October 10, 2014
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By Kara Carden, API Leader, coleader of Nashville API and leader of API of Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, USA “I see your hand is squeezing his toy. Your face is getting very red. Your feet are stomping the ground.” There’s something very reassuring about being seen and affirmed like this. Describing what you observe is happening […]

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Dating

October 9, 2014
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Editor’s note: This post was originally published on Aug. 25, 2008, but finding couple time while meeting our children’s emotional needs is not only extremely important for our relationships with our spouse/partner but also teaches our children about the critical need for family balance. Couple time is also very possible. All it takes is a […]

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