not enough arms

March 14, 2010 at 11:25 am 1 comment

You know what’s difficult to do while parenting in an attachment style?  Moving.  Moving literally requires that you hold things in your arms and carry them somewhere else. And those things? Well if they are your children, then moving doesn’t actually happen. No, those things have to be other things.

Echo likes to be held. She likes to be nursed often. This is on an ordinary day, but lately she has been battling a beast of a cough and wanting to be nursed and held even more. If she had it her way a perfect day would be: nurse, read books, nurse some more, be carried in my arms while I do something, then nurse, then read… you get the idea. So you can tell just how much mama moving things instead really doesn’t work for her. (And just so that nobody thinks I didn’t think of using a backpack, I did. It seems that for this sick girl, riding on mom’s back just isn’t going to cut it.)

I was attachment parenting before I realized that was what it was called. It seemed like a no brainer to sleep with our kids, to carry them in slings and backpacks, and to be physically close to them as much as possible. Hello, who doesn’t want to snuggle a baby?But the thing about attachment parenting that I hadn’t thought about was the fact that it doesn’t end after the baby stage. A kid that is attached to her mama as a babe will still be attached to her mama as a three-year old.

You know what else is difficult to do while parenting in an attachment style?  Anything with a deadline.  We have the notion that we need to be completely moved out of the house by the end of this weekend so that the construction crew can rip the roof off and continue the remodel in earnest. That means that when Echo wants to nurse for the fifteenth time I don’t want to. I don’t want to stop clearing things out and sit. I want to be done and every nursing session prolongs the, what is beginning to feel like, agony.

I figured out this no deadline thing in other areas of our life pretty quickly. I know that parenting with empathy and connection are only possible if the list of things I absolutely have to do is kept really short. Really short. If we have people over for dinner I make sure that I only invite folks that wouldn’t be bothered by a loose structure, that wouldn’t be upset if, due to a clingy sick child, the meal didn’t make it to the table right at six. Or wouldn’t be mad at me if the expected home cooked meal was bagged completely in favor of burritos from the taqueria down the street. And/or I make things ahead of time, staying up late instead of turning down Echo’s request to be held.

In fact when parents say: Sorry honey this HAS to be done right now. What they really mean is: Darn honey. I don’t want to hold you right now. I really want to get this done. I am very attached to completing this project. If you get super technical about it, no one absolutely has to do anything. I find that simply exchanging have to, for, prefer to, loosens me up sufficiently to at least have a genuine interaction.

But alas, today I didn’t do that. At one point, so exasperated by Echo’s seeming inability to be self-sufficient for even a minute, and by the seemingly seven hundredth request to nurse, after the seemingly twentieth nursing episode, I actually said: I know you want to nurse, but THAT”S JUST NOT GOING TO HAPPEN! Arg.

It’s too bad because really, if we still have a few odds and ends at the house come Monday, the sky is not going to fall. But I didn’t remember that. My preference was so strong that I convinced myself it was imperative. And Echo was sad. And even if I make the case that I had nursed her so much already and had been holding her the entire day thus far, which is all true, what does that have to do with anything? Just because I am justified in turning her down doesn’t mean it felt good, to her or to me.

I redeemed myself a little while later. I actually sat down, nursed, and read Frog and Toad. I don’t think she was scarred by my earlier response, but at the end of each day when I look back, I can be so critical, wanting to only see responses that are text-book empathy and connection based. When I see something else, I get a little dull almond sized feeling of regret in my belly. I’m never sure what to do with that almond.

In any case, despite the aforementioned struggles, I think tomorrow might actually be the last moving day. And then I promise I will post about something else.


Entry filed under: Nursing, parenting principles, Uncategorized. Tags: , , .

out of context the unimaginable

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Shelly  |  March 14, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Thank you! Very timely. Yesterday and today I’ve caught myself feeling trapped. Our 2 1/2 yr old, son chose what we later learned to be AP. It has always felt right to respond to and take care of him as he’s needed and with respect and common courtesy. I have a huge work project soon beginning and am feeling time crunched and resentful because I have absolutely no “me” time. I’m not talking a night out with friends, but simply a naptime that doesn’t require me holding him. (he will not sleep by himself) I know this time is short, but lately things have been weighing on me. Everything cycles.


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