My daughter is on her way to kindergarten, about to drift off into the big world of independence and elementary school. When I got her kindergarten teacher assignment, I cried a little. What had happened to the baby I once held for the first time? The toddler who loved Elmo and eating "baby-a-na-nas" (bananas)? What had happened to the little one who I took around for wagon rides to feed the ducks?
She's gone and grown into an opinionated little girl.
In what seems like seconds our kids turn into adults.
I will cherish the time I had with my daughter in infancy forever. The fact that I was mostly an attachment-style parent simply added to the early year bliss I experienced, in my opinion. Don't get me wrong — I also had middle-of-the-night wakings and teething stress and toddler antics like all other parents, but attachment parenting in infancy worked for me and my daughter.
I have no regrets about how we lived as Mom and child — here are five reasons.
1. Cosleeping often made my life easier.
My daughter slept well with or without me thankfully, but when she was teething, sick, or just needed mama, cosleeping made our lives easier. Did I sleep well? Eh, well, not really. Sometimes yes, and sometimes no. When my daughter nursed at night . . . definitely not — I woke constantly.
But had I not coslept, I would have had no sleep. Our kids are only little once and they won't be sharing our beds when they're 20 years old. Cosleeping while she was little worked for me and kept me from being a sleep-deprived monster the next day. I understand this doesn't work for everyone, but it worked for us.
2. I nursed on demand.
Not everyone nurses, but for those that do, some nurse on a schedule. I decided to nurse on demand, allowing my daughter to choose when and where she wanted to nurse.
Does this make you a slave to your breasts in some ways?
Yes, yes I felt quite like a cow, but this allowed her to eat as she felt hungry rather than when I decided she should be hungry. It allowed her to also up my nursing supply by not implementing a schedule and created a sense of comfort and ease knowing I was always accessible.
Again, is this right for everyone? No, but it was right for us. Attachment parenting allowed my girl to grow into an independent little being.
3. We napped together.
This was similar to our occasional cosleeping routine. My daughter didn't enjoy napping without me and while it did frustrate me, it allowed her to feel safe and secure and for me to get some shut-eye, watch TV, or read a book in silence. Not too shabby.
4. I wore my baby everywhere.
When I was first introduced to baby wraps, I wondered how in the world I was going to get that "thing" on me and then my baby into that "thing." But once I figured out how to work it, life was sweet! I could go shopping without pushing a stroller, take walks with my baby with both hands free, and allow her to feel secure right next to me, smelling her mama.
5. I responded to her cries.
I am not a child psychologist or doctor, and I hold no judgments against any parent for choosing to use whatever method works for them, but I couldn't let her cry it out. The most I could "make it" were a few minutes. I felt bad. I decided to respond to her cries. It was the only way she could communicate with me, and I realized she was too new in the world to be able to manipulate me. Of course now at 5, she could manipulate anyone!
As she's now entering her kindergarten year, I still consider myself a responsive parent in some ways — she still cosleeps on occasion. An educational psychologist had suggested she and I discuss consequences (collaborative parenting) together when she's having a rough moment, and I found myself testing it out. In many ways, I am still the same parent I was when she was an infant but learning as all mothers do, how to evolve with my child as she grows.
That's the thing about parenting and mothering: even with the same child, our methods, ways, and ideas can never stay constant. As our kids grow, so must we. That's why in many ways, children are our single best teachers.