He wears him well.
I’m a parenting book junkie. I’ve easily read over 100 parenting books. Some of them have helped me immensely, some were total garbage, and some of them made me feel very bad about myself. The Baby Book by Dr. William Sears and Martha Sears did just that. Oh, I get the philosophy of attachment parenting, I even agree with the eight principles, except for that last one that talks about finding a balance in your personal life and marriage because how the heck is that possible when you’re sleeping with your baby, breastfeeding on demand until he wants to stop, and carrying him around in a sling all day? My husband used to loudly and proudly tell people that we were into attachment parenting. “No, no we’re not,” I’d quickly say, “we’re just AP lite.” I didn’t want anyone getting out the attachment parenting yardstick to see how short we were falling.
I had a crib. I fully intended to use it but the first time I went to put the baby down, I got super nervous. There’s this thing called SIDS and nobody knows what causes it and it’s totally random and it can happen suddenly (that’s the S) to any baby at any time where they just stop breathing and die!!??!. “Okay, Baby, you’re sleeping with me so I can keep my eye on you to make sure you don’t “suddenly” die in the night.” That’s how our co-sleeping started.
I tried with all my might but I absolutely did not ever “wear” either one of my babies. I had a Hot Sling (cool name), a Petunia Pickle Bottom sling (maybe something pretty and cute would make it bearable), a Moby wrap (mummifying me and the baby in 18 feet of fabric in the middle of summer was so not where it was at), and finally the Ergo (yes, if it’s expensive, it’s gotta be good). It took trying (and buying) all those carriers and slings before I just finally admitted to myself that I didn’t want to wear my baby around all day. What I really wanted to wear were my pre-pregnancy jeans. And, Jeez, what’s wrong with baby lying on the floor for a minute while I throw in a load of laundry? I always came right back.
I mostly didn’t mind being the human pacifier. In fact, it fit in perfectly with my minimalist lifestyle. I didn’t want the burden of washing bottles, buying formula, and searching for the infernal pacifier that always ends up on the floor. Practical to a fault, there was no way I was going to buy something that I could easily make for free. Oh yes, and of course, it’s best for the baby. However, after 18 months (only 17 with the Little Guy), I was more than ready to Moby wrap it up. That was my decision and neither of my sons liked it very much and I felt so guilty.
What I didn’t realize was that as I was trying so hard to live up to the ideals of attachment parenting that I still (a little less) firmly believe in, I was heading into what the philosophy warns against: parent burn-out mode. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was full-on in it when the Little Guy came. We still co-slept. I still absolutely did not want my little baby inexplicably dying in the night, and I did breastfeed on demand but I was emotionally and mentally exhausted. And guilty. It didn’t help that the Little Guy wasn’t exactly a clone of the Big Guy who was generally mellow and quiet. Nope, Little Guy was the opposite. Let’s just say he was more on the demanding side and for a little while we nicknamed him “Screech” because, well, you get the idea.
Long story short, those crucial three years are over for both of my boys. My oldest son is still generally mellow and my youngest is still less so. They are both very attached to me and my husband. And, while I still prize the attachment parenting philosophy in those first three years of life, I’m starting to realize that there’s still a lot more life and a lot more parenting to go. In hindsight, I wish there really was an “attachment parenting lite” book. If I wrote it I would say, “Do only what you can to the best of your ability and leave the guilt behind because guilt can turn a pretty good parent into a really crappy one – fast.”