A working mom’s perspective on attachment parenting

I asked a friend of mine, Susan, who is one of the work-at-home mom bloggers behind 5 Minutes for Mom to share her thoughts on attachment parenting.
Susan, her twin sister and their mother together own a pedal car store, a rocking horse store and a network of blogs. She has two little girls — a one year old and a three and a half year old.

My first baby taught me about attachment parenting…
As an infertile aunt observing my two sisters’ different parenting styles, I didn’t put too much thought into whether I would co-sleep or carry my baby or how long I would nurse. To a woman with an empty womb, the points are moot.


But when miraculously I gave birth to a baby girl, I could NOT let go of her. After three and a half years of pleading with God to let me become a mother, I just didn’t want to put my baby down. And, as it turned out, she didn’t want me to put her down either.
I decided to follow my natural instincts and let my baby lead me into what I suppose might be called ‘Attachment Parenting’.
My neighbors, family and friends would laugh at me saying that I was spoiling her, but I didn’t care. I knew my baby, I knew her needs and we had a profound, natural connection.
I carried her. We coslept. I nursed her until she was 25 months and a miraculous second pregnancy that was 5 months along depleted my last drop of milk.
I drank in the blessings that extra closeness brought. I thanked the Lord that my baby was considered ‘fussy’ and that her ‘fussiness’ led me to cosleep and carry her constantly. Some called it ‘Spoiling’, others called it ‘Attachment Parenting’, but to me it was simply listening to the needs of my particular baby and loving every moment.
When I was blessed with my second baby, I loved her every bit as much but I was not able to have the same concentrated, focused time with her alone. Julia was now an active two year old and my growing business demanded more time. I had to weaken and hire a nanny.
So while this first year of Sophia’s life has been very different from Julia’s first year, I try to focus on the positives and make the best of a crazily busy work-at-home life. I am thankful that because I work at home, I’m able to nurse Sophia on demand and still be there throughout the day for snuggles.
We are blessed to have a nanny who is also a grandmother. The girls are loved, looked after and entertained throughout the day. While I’m sad that it isn’t always me carrying my baby, I know that we are so very blessed.
But my life these days definitely could not be described as full-on attachment parenting. I admire (and partly envy) the women who manage to practice all the aspects of attachment parenting every day. While I’m a cosleeping, extended breastfeeding, part time babywearer, I sure can’t call myself an attachment parenting mother. (Which does make me rather sad… sigh…)
But I am so very thankful for the ideas and lessons I’ve learned from attachment parenting. And I’m going to do the best I can to continue carrying Sophia as long as possible and to keep learning from my babywearing friends like Steph from Adventures in Babywearing and many of the other writers and readers from our 5 Minutes for Parenting community and of course from the community here at the Attachment Parenting Blog.

9 comments on “A working mom’s perspective on attachment parenting

  1. I find myself in a similar situation- we are an attachment parenting family when possible. We cosleep most of the night, practice babywearing and still breastfeed on request. I go to my son when he cries, I let him nap in my arms.
    And yet, I own and use a bouncer/activity center. I put my son in his high chair to watch me in the kitchen. I work outside the home and have to leave him in another’s care. Does this make me a bad AP mom? No.
    AP is a parenting style, and one that has to work for each person. Right now, for our family, with this baby, this is what works. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

  2. Wow. And you didn’t even think it worth expressing any sort of disagreement with this “I am not fulfilling the proper standards of attachment parenting, and therefore am not worthy of the label” thinking?
    WHY can this loving, caring, responsive, sensitive mother, who is doing everything she can to spend as much time with her children as she can and to make sure that the person who helps with their care is also loving, caring, responsive and sensitive, not describe herself as an attachment parent? Why leave this poor woman (not to mention the people who read this entry) thinking that AP is about having to meet some kind of standard of devoting your entire life to your child, with no other considerations, and not being able to do this means you can’t lay claim to the label?

  3. Hi Sarah,
    This is Susan here… the author of this guest post.
    Thank you for your sincere concern for my feelings!
    I think you’re right that this is a common problem regarding the term ‘attachment parenting’. Some people, myself included, can feel like A/P is a standard they can’t live up to. I think the biggest problem with this mentality is that some may just give up entirely, or toss out the entire way of thinking because it makes them feel inferior. The other problem is, as you said, that moms can feel like they don’t measure up and can’t feel proud to describe themselves as ‘attachment parents’.
    I try hard to push out negative thoughts like “being inferior”… as I know that doesn’t help anybody.
    I hope that my post does not make other moms feel that they should be living up to a stricter ‘A/P’ standard. That was not my intention at all… I think I was just trying to be honest with myself and share how I feel about my current situation and how it fits in with the label of ‘attachment parenting’. I suppose in doing so, I revealed some of my insecurities.
    I think it is important for all parents to be supportive of each other and not judge each other.
    I certainly do not mean to be judging anyone! Instead, I sincerely respect and admire so many of my online friends who do a fantastic job juggling so much while carrying a baby throughout the day.
    I am constantly learning and trying to be the best mom I can be (while not beating myself up too much).

  4. Hi, Susan! If it helps, I certainly didn’t feel you were judging anyone apart from yourself. I don’t think your post would make anyone feel that they had to live up to a strict standard. That comment of mine was directed at Dave, because I felt he’d missed what seemed to me like a really clear opportunity to debunk that particular AP myth, and that his lack of comment gave tacit agreement with the idea.

  5. Susan,
    IMO, Attachment Parenting is a frame of mind or a philosophy, not a list of rules. The things that people often perceive as the “rules” of attachment parenting are actually just tools. Tools that some find useful and others do not.
    I wrote out my perspectives on what attachment parenting is here:
    http://phdinparenting.com/2008/11/16/what-is-attachment-parenting/
    My kids daytime caregivers are an attached dad and an attached grandmother. I don’t think that makes me less of an attached mom. We are just have a time sharing arrangement I guess! Not having to be the attached mom 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is what allows me to give my kids my best when I am with them.
    I wrote about that here in my post on a working mom seeking balance:
    http://phdinparenting.com/2008/10/05/a-working-mom-seeks-balance/
    It is possible to be attached to our kids and have a career at the same time!
    Annie

  6. Such a great post. It’s so wonderful to hear people loving an attached child and embracing it (in more ways than one) rather than being ashamed of it. I’ve really tired lately of how easy our way of parenting is ridiculed so openly, but if you look at it the other way around, we are gentle and polite and don’t ridicule others openly for not co-sleeping or holding their baby enough. It’s SUCH a comfort to know other parents that feel likeminded.
    🙂
    Steph

  7. I also work and envy the concept of AP, but not everything works for us either. I have a 2 3/4 year old and a 9 month old. My milk dried up at 7 weeks with both due to having to go back to work :-(. My two year-old demands a ton of attention, making my younger one more and more patient (poor thing) and my snoring/sleep apnea makes it impossible to cosleep. I love to babywear, but the constant bouncy movement aggrivates my baby’s already bad spit-up problem. And, now that we’re done having children, I can only live vicariously through the tender stories of other AP’s.

  8. Forget the title! Attachment parenting, to me, is less about following a checklist and more about conscientiously choosing to respect your child and their needs in the way that also honors your and your family’s needs. There are some children that do just sleep better alone, or don’t like the constriction of a carrier. The point is that you hear these distinctions in you child and honor them! That is what makes an attached parent.

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