Ok. Bare with me on this one, it’s a slightly winding path… But here’s a Valentine’s Day post!
I haven’t kept up very well with my principles of attachment parenting series, but I want to get back to it & so today I’m writing generally about why I believe the principles of AP are so important.
But to get there I’m going to talk a little about MFA Dad & I.
Every time someone asks how we met, I feel a little sheepish. Our story is so cliché, a relic of the pre-Betty Friedan era.
We are high school sweethearts.
I’m both proud & embarrassed by this fact. I’m proud because we have worked really hard to keep our relationship going through many challenging life stages. I’m embarrassed because every time I tell someone this, I worry that they will jump to conclusions about me & my relationship with MFA Dad. Mostly, I worry they’ll think: Wow, they haven’t changed since we were 16 years old… How boring.
I think about that (probably needlessly, but that’s just how my brain works…) because it couldn’t be further from reality.
The truth is that our relationship has freed us to pursue individual endeavors, to be fearless. Not to mention build a meaningful life together.
Frankly, I don’t even recognize the 16-year old girl I was when I first met MFA Dad. I’m sure he doesn’t much recognize himself either. … Even if we do get nostalgic over some of the movies we watched or music we listened to back then. (Pump Up The Volume, anyone?)
Now, remaining with your high school boyfriend or girlfriend, if you had one, is certainly not the only way to get to where I’m going. Friends & family can also provide us with the stability we need to flourish, too. I only tell our story because (though a cultural cliché) it’s an anomaly in a society that teaches us that independence & acquisitions will lead us to happiness. That we should constantly strive for the next, better experience. Plus, on Valentine’s Day I can tell my story without coming across as too cheesy.
We are barraged with messages every day that promise excitement if we buy this product or live like that movie star. If we revamp our lives fast enough, if we’re independent enough… we will find fulfillment. The expectation is that we will upgrade constantly, even when it comes to our personal relationships.
MFA Dad & I have bucked this trend by investing deeply in each other over time. It has taken some surrender, some trust. Trust that once we got to college (or the real world) we wouldn’t find a better model, surrender to the reality that we would forgo the excitement of new love forever more.
Investing in this relationship (among other truly important relationships), we have built a safe-haven of sorts. A space where we can try on new, even hare-brained identities. A place to rest our souls comfortably when those crazy plans don’t quite work out.
It takes focus & dedication to foster & maintain these sorts of solid relationships, no matter what their form. And the work we must put in requires us to buck our culture’s worship of change & independence.
Which brings me back to parenting.
Our children don’t get to choose us in the same way that we can choose our partners, if we choose one at all. But we all need unconditional love & support, especially as babies & children.
Children thrive when we consistently respond to their needs & respect all of their developmental stages (even the really really trying ones).
They need a safe space to try out their own hare-brained endeavors, from learning to sleep to learning how to participate in family life & then society.
Valentine’s Day isn’t over yet, so take a minute to say Happy Valentines Day to someone who has loved you unconditionally, be it a partner, a parent, a friend, or anyone else. If you are lucky enough to have experiences unconditional love, it is truly something to celebrate!