Life with a one-year-old (part two)

Cowgirl in motion, losing a diaper


I’ve decided to share what a couple random days in our house looks like. I mean these to be a glimpse into what attachment parenting might look like for a working* mom (or other parent, save for the nursing). I don’t think there’s any right way to be an attachment parent, so I wanted to share some of our experience, mistakes & all. 

Day #1 was actually a really nice day, despite being a bit over-busy. Day #2 looked quite different (& decidedly less idyllic), which is mainly why I decided to document a second day. 

Early morning: Baby wakes & MFA Dad takes her downstairs; apparently, he tries to wake me later, but I remember nothing…

7:30: I hear MFA Dad getting ready & realize it’s super late. I jump out of bed. It’s actually not such a big deal, because I’m working from home today & I’ll still get to work during my office’s core hours. I go downstairs & Baby M is happily playing with her big brother & Grandma, who is visiting to help with childcare. 

8:15: I’m logged in & getting to work, with coffee in hand, though I’m still in my PJs. MFA Dad is off to work. 

8:30: My mom leaves with the kids to drop my son off at summer camp. I dig in to my work & have a call with my boss about a particularly tricky case I’m advising on.

9:15: My mom returns. Baby M took a micro-nap & is really tired. I try to nurse her back down, but no dice. The hand-off to my mom is messy & baby is upset. I suggest distraction instead of fighting for the nap. She quiets down.

11:00: I have a conference call & have just finished nursing the baby. Now she’s really upset & screaming. Sometimes working from home makes things confusing for her, particularly when she’s overly tired, & today is one of those days. She screaming at her grandma, but I have to get on this call. She’s safe in my own mother’s loving & capble hands, I tell myself. I wish I could focus on her, but sometimes work has to take a priority. (That’s life for a working parent. I feel a twinge of guilt, but I know these individual moments don’t matter as much as the overall patterns of loving care this child receives from me, MFA Dad, & others.) Anyway, soon I hear my mom take the baby to her big brother’s room as a change of scenery & she immediately quiets down. I put on my headphones & dial into my conference call. 

12:15: By the time I’m off the call, the baby is sleeping. Which is a good thing, because I have a fire to put out in one of my cases. 

1:15: Baby is awake, my mom fetches her & she’s her happy self again. I nurse her, make myself some lunch, chat with my mom & get back to work. But I have to run to the kitchen for something & baby sees me & wants me again. I let my mom distract her & then I disappear. (I generally don’t like “disappearing” as a transitional tactic, but when I’m close by & ultimately available if things get rough, I think it’s ok. At least, it works for us.) 

2:30: It’s quiet & they’ve apparently left to pick up big brother from camp. They’ll run a couple errands, so I’m certain to work uninterrupted for a good stretch. I’ve been sort of productive today, but it’s a battle to be as organized & focused as possible when I’m at home—There are different distractions than there are at the office; and the distractions at home are more likely to knock me off my game if I’m not intentional about my goals & to-do list. 

5:15: Finally done working. Seems like it was a long day even though I was still in my PJs at the end. Baby is home & seems really tired, so I give her a little in-arms catnap to reconnect & decompress. 

6:00: Leftovers for dinner, thankfully! After baby wakes up, I let her play with her grandma & brother so I can shut down my work for the day. Pull together the leftovers & then MFA Dad is home! Family dinner. 

9:00: Both kids are having trouble settling down tonight. After I get baby to sleep, we have a family gathering in my son’s room as he’s having some worries about death (& what comes next). We end up distracting him by talking about the future, which he is certain will include flying cars. I lay down with him for a little while in the dark, but he crashes hard & fast. 

9:45: Baby is awake & unsettled again. She is working on walking & her sleep is disrupted & very physical these days, so it takes a while to get her back to sleep. I’m nodding off too…

Today was more challenging than yesterday. I love that I have the option to work from home a couple days each week, but I don’t like not leaving the house all day & not having a break to take care of myself (who would?!). It’s so great to be able to cut out my commute & have that extra time to spend with the kids. It also gives me the flexibility to nurse rather than pump during the work day, which is awesome! When I’m at work, though, I have a very well-honed routine to help me take good care of myself (drinking water, getting up to walk around or get a breath of “fresh” (city) air… you know, the simple things…). I’ve always been more organized at work than at home, generally, & I’m working on importing some of that structure into my (work at) home life.

* See my day #1 post for an explanation of the problems inherent with this term. For simplicity, I often use it anyway, which I don’t intend to diminish the real work primary caregivers do on a daily basis.

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What life with a one-year-old looks like in this house (part one)

Sweaty head hair flip


There aren’t too many examples out in the world of working* attachment parenting moms. At least, I think we’re woefully underrepresented in the blogosphere (do people say that anymore?!), parenting websites & books, social media, etc. So, I thought I’d post about some random days in our life. On AP mom’s play-by-play, so to speak…

Random day #1, which was pretty productive & sweet, was followed by random day #2, which was stressful & less productive. 

And that’s pretty much how we roll around here… The good & the bad, the dark & the light (for you Star Wars fans), the sweet & the challenging. In other words, (a fairly privileged, very lucky) life. Here’s a peek…

5:30/5:45-ish: Baby M wakes up, or at least starts to… She alternately flops around the bed & nurses, sometimes getting quiet & still. Foolishly, I think she might fall asleep again, but she’s awake awake. A little cranky, but sweet, too.

6:15: I’m making coffee & breakfast while she explores the pantry & tries her hand at unloading the dishwasher. No broken dishes but I shut down the operation before it gets dangerous. She’s not happy with the fact that I’ve thwarted her two preferred activities this morning. I’m half-listening to the news on the radio & for some reason keep missing the weather report. I enjoy a few sips of warm-ish coffee & quickly eat breakfast while packing up my lunch & work-related things. Mentally, I’m planning what I’ll wear since I finally caught the weather report. 

7:00: My mom is visiting & she wakes up. Then my partner, MFA Dad. I take my coffee & baby to the living room to nurse one more time. I wake up my son, show him how to use hair gel (a new experiment for him) & get myself ready. 

7:30: I’m off. I get a nice morning walk in to the train. I plug into my music (TV on the Radio today) & work on my blog. 

8:20: I arrive at work. Meetings. Email. A few minutes of meal-planning before MFA Dad heads to the grocery store. 

11:00: I pump. I’m trying to slowly cut out pumping at work now that baby is one. I have a private office & I can work while I pump, which makes me incredibly lucky, but I don’t like being unavailable for those solid chunks of the day. M is eating a lot of solid food & loves water, so we’re at a good point, I think, to transition away from bottles of mama milk. I was down to once a day; however, I just had a run-in with a clogged duct (seriously?!) & so I’m rethinking things. Extra pumping today to make sure I empty out enough since I’m just recovering from the plugged duct & still experiencing some pain. 

12:30: I’m getting over a stomach bug, too (double whammy!) & the lunch I packed is decidedly unappetizing. I usually don’t eat out (especially following gastro illness) but I need to eat. I find a place that makes broth in-house for their soups. Yum. 

1:00: It’s an afternoon of collaborating with colleagues, working with legal interns, & meeting with my clients. And some legal research. With another short pumping session mixed in.  

5:00: I’m able to punch out on time today. More blogging on the train. I didn’t bring an umbrella & it’s raining when I get off the train (so much for that weather report…) Luckily, I catch a bus. 

5:45: I’m home. M greets me outside with a big smile, a hearty wave, & so many kicks. We nurse a ton. My work dress is not nursing friendly, so I have to strip down so that we can reconnect. She’s at the acrobatic stage of toddler nursing, which is both interactive & exhausting & uncomfortable. … Dinner! MFA Dad has prepared some curried chicken in our electric pressure cooker, which my son amazingly eats with arugula & without ketchup. Baby eats it up, too, but mostly whines because we can’t get her water fast enough. 

7:00: Clean-up & our big boy accidentally knocks our precarious pile of recycling down the stairs. We laugh & stare for a few moments, because what else can you do?! He gamely helps to pick it up & I take it out to the bin. I notice the grass is long & the garden overgrown but it’s too late to do anything about it today. My mom, still visiting to help us with a patch of childcare, leaves to visit her elderly mother—definitely a sandwich generation moment for her. 

7:15: M’s short bedtime routine. A bath is nice but unnecessary every night. Our abbreviated routine consists of a couple songs, diaper change on the bed & nursing in the rocking chair. Baby seems a little unsettled tonight but she drifts off. 

7:45: I lay her down in her crib & join my partner & our oldest child for a few rounds of Pandemic, a cooperative board game. Our son goes to get ready for bed while I load my pumping gear into the dishwasher & catch up with MFA Dad for a few minutes. I read Harry Potter (Book 6!) to my son & snuggle & chat with him about his day at drama camp. He proudly tells me how he wrote a couple jokes for the script they’re preparing. We talk about the roles that might be a good fit (to help prepare him for casting excitement & possible disappointments). Lights out!

9:00: I get myself ready for bed. Oops! Baby’s awake. I rush to get through my routine. MFA Dad has her. She’s quiet but I know she’ll likely want to nurse. Sure enough, I walk in & her head pops up from his arms. We swap. She’s all over the place. Wet diaper. Still unable to settle. Some more active movement & she settles down. I try to write this blog post but fade as I rock with baby in my arms. 

10:45: Finally in bed, just in time for a lightning & thunderstorm to keep me awake. 

Fairly typical day. Non-stop, though I feel I moved only incrementally, if at all, in my work & home to-do lists. I generally find life & responsibility to be overwhelming & today was no different. But the day, as all those before it, is done. Goodnight!

* I am sometimes reminded of the rhetorical clash of language in discussions of mothers, specifically the reality that many of us get a salary from an employer & many of us get no paycheck but engage primarily in the labor of a functioning family. Others manage to arrive at a mix of the two. As many (most?) writers do, I use the term “working mom” as shorthand for those of us engaged in “outside jobbing” (even if we sometimes or always telework from home). This isn’t to suggest that those engaged in family labors do not work. It’s just that our language doesn’t have a great way to sort all this activity out. 

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So many drafts, so little time…

I have started so many draft posts during the past year, mostly since I started commuting to work again about 7 months ago. It’s frustrating to feel like I never finish my posts or don’t post enough, but you know what else is frustrating? Typos! Realizing post hoc that you’ve been a poor editor. My first order of (blogging non-) business is to fix my recent post on the “Science vs.” AP podcast. Yikes! It’s all over the place & typos galore. 

When I started this blog, I spent a lot more time at an actual computer. Now, I mostly write on my phone during my commute or sometimes on my tablet at home. I’m not sure either is conducive to my best writing self, so I may have to be (even) more intentional about my writing in the future & find some time with an actual keyboard.(Ao old fashioned, I know!) 

In any case, I have posts in the works (& in various stages of completeness) about cultural appropriation, sleep, AP myths, attachment theory (& the “strange situation” experiment) & a review of the recent book Being There.

What should I publish first? Or what else would you like me to write about on this blog?

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Baby M is one!

Time capsule.


What a whirlwind this past year has been! I feel like Baby M has sent our lives into a tailspin. Not a scary one, but one of those controlled tailspins… Think stunt airplanes at an air show. We haven’t quite pulled up & out of the tailspin yet, but it’s coming. It’s thrilling & scary & hard & fun, all at once.  This next year will hopefully bring with it walking, less nursing, less pumping at work (!), more communication, more sleep, more laughs, more love. 

Despite the utter chaos (seriously… you should see our home…), this past year has brought so much undeserved joy. Even while I feel utterly exhausted most of the time (& sometimes completely brain dead), I know I am very lucky. Even now, sitting in bed, sick, on a Monday that would have otherwise been full of meetings & work, with M napping next to me. 

Despite the exhaustion & hard work, M’s first year has flown by. It seems like just yesterday, I went to work, a little uncomfortable with “Braxton Hicks” throughout the day, unaware of the fact that my body was gearing up for birthing the next day. Whereas my son was a full two weeks “late,” Baby M was just shy of a week “early.” So, I was surprised, to say the least, early the next morning (after telling my boss I’d probably work from home instead of coming into the office) when the midwife told me on the phone that it seemed like I was in labor (… I then told my boss nevermind… no work, just labor…)!

I still recall the details of Baby M’s birthing day so vividly. I recall my son’s tears upon seeing his baby sister for the first time. I recall her napping peacefully in my arms, so tiny. I recall remembering (so meta!) the unreal exhaustion of that first night with a newborn after having given birth. I recall my favorite outfit we dressed her in often last summer, hot in the shade of our house. I recall my my mom & mother-in-law chatting with me in our bedroom, as I recovered after the birth. 

I recall my first outing with the baby, after the grandmothers had returned home & we were alone. I remember our crazy camping trip when she was just one month old. (“We can handle this!” we told ourselves.) I remember a fall of picking up my son from school when I was on maternity leave. I remember savoring the last days of my leave, not doing anything special, but knowing those days were indeed special in their own way. 

It’s all still so fresh… How is it possible that a year has passed already?

And I’ve been back to work for over six months. (And we’ve gently moved past the back-to-work worries like bottle feeding & naps without nursing.) And I’m exercising every once in a while. And I’m still not sleeping. And I’m still not back to my beloved yoga. And maybe my partner could get baby to bed one night & I could be out with a friend. Maybe. Maybe not yet. 

My linea negra still graces my lower abdomen (albeit faintly), a reminder that my body still retains some internal memory of pregnancy & birth. Does this mean I’m still postpartum, I wonder?

The first year is in some ways the hardest & the scariest. Your former life vanishes in the blink of an eye. Replaced by a life in which you manage all you did before, just with the responsibility of caring 24-7 for the emotional & physical needs of a new person. Sometimes there’s more time, sometimes less (my days have certainly been shorter since M joined our family!), but there’s almost always more love, more joy, more heartache, more cuteness. 

Baby M has helped me to refocus on the joys of parenthood, even with my eldest. If even changing the nastiest diaper can bring some joy, why can’t all the rest? It’s not every day that your child sees the moon for the first time, but there is some of that wonder every day, especially during those first 365 days.

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“Science” vs. AP?!

A beautiful sky; makes me happy, like parenting.

Entering into a new phase of my parenting journey (back in the throws of babyhood), I quietly wondered whether Attachment Parenting (or, AP, for short) has relevance for me anymore. I started this blog as a space for writing about Attachment Parenting & pursuing a career. Would I want to get back to writing about working & AP’ing as a blogger? (Well… here I am, blogging about it…) Would I be practicing AP with the new wee one?

The answer to that last question is complicated.

My short answer is yes. But it’s not because it has “worked” so well with my first child. And it’s not because I believe that AP is the only or best way to parent.

Here’s the longer answer (sorry… long post alert!)…

Before T was born, MFA Dad & I had no clue what we were doing or how we were going to approach our new roles as parents. We were living away from our closest friends & family, some of whom were starting to have kids, so we really didn’t have any models close by. Our fuzzy (or non-existent) memories of our own early childhoods were not much help. Our parents had selective amnesia & seemed to suggest things were a lot easier than they ended up being for us.

And honestly, we hadn’t thought about parenting at all before I got pregnant. And even then, it took a while for our brains to catch up with all that my body was preparing for. (A law school classmate of mine who had previously been a doula, once warned me in the hallway about books that would scare or scar me… That’s when I realized that “Oh, people take this parenting shtick seriously & actually think about how they want to parent…”)

So it was with some relief that we happened across Dr. William Sears’s The Baby Book while shopping at my least favorite store in the world (Babies R Us). A lot of what Dr. Sears-the-Elder had to say just clicked with both MFA Dad & I. (Also, some of it didn’t click.) We didn’t think that our son would be messed up if we didn’t follow all of his “Baby B’s” (Dr. Sears’s short list of AP “do’s”) but in the book we had found a bunch of baby minding tactics that seemed to mesh well with our lifestyle & world views. (For example, the basic idea that wearing your baby is an easy way to integrate a child into your daily life while keeping them physically close seemed practical to us.)

In short, it was simply nice to find an approach to this overwhelming endeavor that suited us as a couple & new family.

While we are not, perhaps, the AP “poster” family, I am grateful for what I have learned because of AP. It gave me the tools & confidence to parent in a way that felt right when I was a new & inexperienced mom. Even while I was making many first-time mom mistakes.

But here’s the bottom line. I don’t think, nor have I ever thought, really, that AP is the sole owner of “good” parenting. There are also many valid criticisms of AP, as it is represented by Dr. Sears & others.

I don’t know that any of my friends or family who are parents would identify as AP. But I’d babysit their kids or have them over for a sleepover any day. Like us, they all developed their own parenting styles. They’re all great parents & their kids seem to be normal & healthy & secure (most certainly securely attached). They are all delightful kids. And we all also have our challenges with our children.

Still, it is with some wonder (& frankly, confusion) that I observe certain types of blanket criticisms of AP. For example, take the “Science vs” Attachment Parenting podcast, wherein the host challenges the unscientifically-founded scourge of attachment parenting. The host of the podcast managed to find an overzealous follower of AP’s “rules” who takes the role of “motherly sacrifice” to an extreme & then uses the poor woman as a diving board into an equally overzealous critique of AP. (I knew the critique was off base when it started with the premise that the sample mom’s home was “child-centered,” which is opposed to my own interpretation of AP… My own take being that AP is family-based in a way that posits the child is not the center of the family’s existence & if you walk into my home it may take a few seconds to realize there are children living there too.)

Look, I get it… As the podcast’s host explained, there are books & websites & blogs (ahem…) laying out what may seem like “rules” at a quick glance. Dr. Sears & others use their authority as medical professionals and/or references to “science” to convince unwitting parents that AP is unquestionably better for babies & children. The idea of “rules” or getting things “wrong” (& possibly messing up your child as a result) makes AP simultaneously attractive & overwhelming to many parents.

Let’s get this out of the way: It’s never a good idea to blindly follow anyone’s set of rules when it comes to raising your children.

Discussions around different approaches to parenting typically present stark choices with severe consequences. The choices is almost never so stark (unless one of those choices involves neglect or harm—be it physical or psychological—of the child). But if you’re a parent, you are most likely an adult who should have learned the lesson that you don’t jump just because someone (even someone in a doctor’s or lab coat) yells “jump.”

AP’s “rules” are only rules if you let them be rules. Dr. Sears doesn’t care what you do or don’t do with your child. There is no test. You don’t have to prove yourself as parent of the century.

So, while I disagree with the “Science vs.” characterization of AP, I don’t disagree with the bottom line that using “science” to prove that AP is the only way to raise a healthy child is misleading & you won’t necessarily damage your child if you don’t follow the “rules” of AP.

But here’s the thing… There simply aren’t any such rules. Many AP families use strollers. 🙋 Many AP families have cribs (though we don’t always use them…). 🙋 Dr. Sears himself has advice on bottle-feeding. Sometimes, AP parents let their children cry because they’d like some privacy in the bathroom, it’s the nightly witching hour, or they literally just can’t handle nighttime parenting at the moment.

And I’d bet (if I were the betting type) that most of us don’t “do” AP because of science. AP empowers parents (or it has the potential to, in any case) to parent intuitively. That means I don’t need someone with an MD or PhD to tell me what to do when my baby cries, when she wakes in the middle of the night, or when my older child misbehaves. Nope, I got this! I know my children better than anyone & am not concerned with “outcomes” that have been tracked by researchers or artificially created in a lab.

This premise (that there are strict “rules”) pretty much guarantees “Science vs.” will get AP wrong out of the gate. I’ve already pointed out that AP isn’t necessarily a child-centered parenting philosophy, but it also isn’t parent-centered. The podcast’s host seems to corner the poor sample mom into stating that she doesn’t let her child cry because she can’t handle it. Then she leaves it at that, which is a totally inaccurate characterization of AP. I don’t like my baby’s cries either, but that’s not why most AP parents don’t purposely let their babies cry without responding.

So, let’s look at the topics the “Science vs.” attempts to cover: crying, attachment theory, and sleep.

Babies cry. It’s how they communicate. I wouldn’t ignore my older child if he came to my bedside & whispered “Mommy, my tummy hurts.” I wouldn’t ignore my bleary-eyed husband if he asked me to pour him a cup of coffee as I pour my own. So why would I ignore my baby simply because she can’t yet use words? I want to investigate, at least. I can usually figure out what she’s asking for in her prehistoric way.

But maybe I can’t figure it out. Maybe she’s crying for a long time. Maybe I’m so sleep deprived I can’t take any more crying. Well, then, perhaps walking away is the best thing I can do for her & for me. That’s certainly better than losing my temper or harming baby in some way. But that’s not where I start.

I start from the premise that this little person is completely dependent on me & it’s my job to respond. She’s trying to tell me something important. No matter what time of day or night. No matter if I’m tired. No matter if I don’t want to (though that’s usually not the case). No matter what.

That’s why I respond when my baby cries.

Now, back to those pesky “rules.” Quite simply, there are none.

The “rules” aren’t rules. The podcast unfairly characterizes common AP practices as “rules” when they are guidelines at best. Most literature on AP that I’ve read presents these ideas as “best practices” of sorts, but by no means have I seen any proponent of AP suggest that bottle-feeding, for instance will ruin one’s attachment with one’s child. That’s preposterous & untenable. AP folks tend to be hardliners on the issue of sleep training, but other than that issue, I don’t think most advocates of AP would suggest with a straight face that there’s only one way to do this whole AP thing.

Of course, some will take things to an extreme. But I try to avoid extremes in my daily life & parenting is no different. I have criticized those AP proponents who suggest extreme views of parenting, especially when those views are aimed at women in particular & have the potential to restrict rather than liberate. If someone tells you you must do something as a parent (be it baby wearing, bed sharing, breastfeeding, etc.) pause, reflect on their motivations, and then consider your own reality.

Interestingly, while the podcast correctly separates attachment parenting from attachment theory, it doesn’t quite get that right either. To be clear, attachment parenting as described by Dr. Sears et al., has a tenuous relationship at best with attachment theory. That said, the New York Times recently reported on new discoveries in the world of attachment theory, in an article entitled “Yes, It’s Your Parents’ Fault,” no less.

Of course, it’s not all our parents’ faults. As the “Science vs.” podcast points out, our pesky genes do influence our dispositions & the ways we interact with the world & each other. But, according to the new research reported in the NY Times, it does seem that parenting matters for our future relationships & …

Luckily, as I’ve pointed out previously, “good enough” parenting will usually do the trick. But to suggest that it doesn’t matter at all (as the podcast host does) is flippant & inaccurate.

Which leads us to sleep. Ah, sleep… so elusive with young children in the house! Yet it’s the one area where most AP’ers will agree on an honest to goodness rule: Do not leave your child to cry in order to “sleep train.” Many of us would say you should consider not sleep training at all.

Unfortunately for us adults, babies’ sleep habits are different from ours. In fact, they’re rather inconvenient. They interrupt our nights and our days. Annoying.

At least, we’re culturally conditioned to think that our babies’ sleep habits are annoying or, at best, less than ideal. I’m not going to argue that adult sleep is unimportant—Parents need sleep to function… to support their children & to be living, breathing members of society, even if barely sometimes. And I’m not going to tell you how you feel. Or what degree of exhaustion you should be able to tolerate. Or that your baby’s sleep is normal. Or that you should sleep next to your baby. Or that you shouldn’t.

You’re the parent. You get to make that call. Not some random blogger. Not someone hosting a podcast.

All I’ll say here is that there are a number of sleep configurations that AP families adopt. I’ve done a little of everything, even sleep training (short of intentionally leaving a child alone to cry). (I do have lots of opinions about sleep & I’m working on a sleep-focused post.)

The “Science vs.” podcast presents an extremely simplistic overview of the issue of safe sleep & a singular vision of what healthy sleep might look like.

I understand that folks might have legitimate disagreements over safe sleep. Parents need to talk to & consult sources they trust to decides whether or not a given sleep arrangement is safe enough for them. (I say safe enough because there is no 100% guarantee no matter your sleep arrangement, unfortunately.) “Science vs.” provides some talking points, but only scratches the surface. And it presents the safe sleep question as clear-cut, when I don’t think that it’s at all simple.

For instance, the podcast appears to entirely dismiss the research of Dr. James McKenna (without explicitly naming him) because he’s not an MD. But he happens to be the only researcher to study bed sharing & infant sleep in a lab. His work appears in peer-reviewed journals (some are medical journals). And his approach to bed sharing & safe infant sleep reads to me as being very nuanced. I don’t think he should necessarily be your sole source of information, but I also don’t think his work is so easily dismissed.

As for the sleep training bit, I have to admit that I just don’t understand why critics of AP much care that we don’t sleep train at all or in the conventional ways. I found sleep training to be more trouble than it’s worth. My older son has “slept through the night” (that silly but all-important “milestone”) since around 2 1/2, more or less. He’s 8 & just had his first sleepover with friends away from home, so he can sleep independently. I share these details only to stress that sleep happens. With or without parental fussing.

My 11-month-old does not sleep through the night. She still nurses a couple-few times every night. I’m tired most mornings when I have to wake up for work. Meh. … This, too, shall pass… So for now, I try to enjoy smelling the top of her head or the touch of her soft cheek during those nighttime feedings. For me, the stress of sleep training is not worth it.

I will sleep again. You will sleep again. Soon.

Perhaps critics of AP just want to make sure parents are getting enough sleep. Maybe. But I have a suspicion that the motivations are less generous. There’s a cottage industry built on selling us bleary-eyed parents on various sleep training techniques. And because some of these techniques don’t feel right, there’s a cadre of parents who have had to convince themselves that whatever sleep training they’ve engaged in is at best innocuous. Maybe, just maybe, critics of AP resent the non-mainstream, but more palatable, approach that AP’ers take to sleep. Maybe.

My point is not to make you feel guilty if you personally have tried sleep training. My point is that there’s a strong cultural current moving in one direction & I think AP’s approach to sleep is the focus of so much criticism (as seen in the “Science vs.” podcast) precisely because it resists that current. It’s really no one’s business how you or I, individually, approach sleep.

We deserve to be able to make informed decisions without folks badgering one particular method, particularly when there is absolutely zero evidence that choosing to forgo sleep training (or choosing gentle sleep training techniques) will harm children or babies. And yet, parents are pressured constantly to “do something” about their babies’ sleep. The “Science vs.” podcast host practically begs parents to sleep train for their own sanity with no discussion of normal infant sleep patterns.

It’s just weird. I mean, it’s worth exploring whether your child’s truly deplorable sleep has an underlying medical cause, but beyond that I truly do not understand the cultural pressure to sleep train.

And I say this not as the parent of a unicorn child who slept or sleeps well. Nope. I’ve been to the depths of exhaustion & back. I’m there again. Sometimes I still touch upon that irrational anger that is the special gift of sleep deprivation. I have fitful sleep. Weird dreams.

In other words, I can sympathize with parents of “bad” sleepers. And if your baby is an normal bad sleeper, I have been there. I’ll be there again tonight.

AP is an easy target for parent trash talk, but it doesn’t have to be a caricature. For most thoughtful families who have picked up a technique or two or three from AP, it’s not a silly, old-fashioned, anti-feminist endeavor. It’s not a cult or even a club. It’s just another set of tools in the parenting toolbox.

Just because the science has not definitively shown that AP is the best way to parent doesn’t make it any less or somehow worse than other ways of parenting. It is not necessary to prove that it’s somehow awful. It’s not. Engage in in-depth critique with an open mind, but don’t dismiss out of hand for no good reason.

It is telling that almost none of the critiques that I’ve come across recently have posited another parenting philosophy as a replacement as the proven winner in the (unfortunately) endless competition between parenting styles. Because, let’s be clear, “science” hasn’t proven that other approaches to parenting are “the best” either. We may turn to science for a lot, but on parenting, the science is lacking.

I’ve recently finished reading Our Babies, Ourselves by Meredith Small. She also uses science to provide an analysis of parenting styles from biological and cultural perspectives. You can find a lot to support practices typical of AP families in the book (e.g. bed-sharing, breastfeeding, responsive parenting, etc.) but the interesting thing is that it is clear from the book that these practices are not owned by AP or any particular parenting philosophy. And Small, though she has a clear preference for these AP-type practices, accepts that every culture will place its imprint on parenting practices. She also insists that babies are adaptable little beings & that science has not determined that any one parenting style is likely to result in better adapted or happier adults. (Not that results should be a goal of parenting…)

Now that I’m doing this baby thing for the second time, I can say that I love AP because it makes life easier &, more importantly, it makes being a parent more enjoyable. And even more importantly, I do it because the little person in my care is weird & has prehistoric needs built into her DNA & she doesn’t talk & AP is the best way for me to learn her language. I don’t do it because science or even pseudoscience tells me it’s better. I don’t do it because some “professional” says it’s better.

My journey on this earth as a human has made me appreciate that we are living every day we get to be here (wherever that happens to be). That is, our hours here are not (solely) in service of some yet-to-be-attained goal. My journey as a parent has taught me to enjoy the simple things in life & to connect fiercely with my family, among others. The two together have taught me to enjoy parenting. Sure, not every moment. But, most moments. Even the moments that don’t seem enjoyable at first blush.

AP is just one tool that helps me work toward that connection & enjoyment. It’s not perfect. I’m not perfect. That’s ok. What’s not ok is the hell-bent determination with which some approach AP, on either side of the fence. We are more than our parenting philosophies.

If you’ve read this long post: Thank you! And let m know what you think. What did I get wrong? Right? What helps you enjoy being a parent?

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Filed under Attachment Parenting, Breastfeeding, Gentle Discipline, Living, Mothering, Parenting, Read, Simplicity

My life post-Facebook 

My empty social media folder…


About three months ago, I quit Facebook. Indefinitely. Possibly forever.

After the election of November 2016, I had used social media as a serious crutch. Holy cow, that election was something. I don’t really want to recall how I felt in the run-up & during the aftermath. 

But I found a welcome outlet on Facebook. I’d never posted much, but I started sharing articles & posts, engaging in (sorta-friendly) political arguments with a variety of folks. I wallowed in liberal anguish with my “friends.” 

Then came the inauguration. The Women’s March. Anti-immigrant, anti-refugee Executive Orders & more local activism. On short notice, I rounded up the family, set off the alarm on Facebook & headed to the airport. Angry. (Though always thoughtful & friendly to the police officers protecting the various marches I attended.) Facebook was more than an on-line outlet for fake rage… it was IRL activism, y’all! Real & in-the-flesh organizing. 

But mostly I read. 

Doomsday articles. Articles that got me upset & scared. Debates on how some of us were doing activism wrong. Which made me anxious & upset for different reasons.

All of it made me feel overwhelmed.

Overwhelm was my default state.

I’d get the baby to sleep in the rocking chair & then I’d stay up late catching up on politics via social media. 

I was exhausted already & we were barely into this new presidency. How would I sustain my renewed activism over the next four (or less… or more) years? I was younger & childless & pre-Facebook when I was last involved in any activism. 

My partner suggested deleting the Facebook app from my devices. Yeah, right! I laughed maniacally. 

How else could I keep up? Stay involved in all the excellent local groups that had formed? How would I know about the next protest?

I was on Facebook on the train on the way to work. On the way home from work. Sometimes at lunch. At night after the kids were asleep.

Exhausting.

Overwhelming.

And, most importantly, unhealthy

So I finally heeded my parner’s advice & (publicly, of course!) said goodbye to Facebook. I deleted the app (though I didn’t kill my account). I thought for sure that my social media hiatus would be temporary. That I’d sort out my Facebook demons & hop back on in a more disciplined manner. 

Then the weeks started to pass by … and I just didn’t…

Maybe I’d get back on Twitter. Instagram. (Folks told me that Instagram was somewhat apolitical & happy, still.) 

Nope. 

Not interested. 

Because I started to notice something… I was deliberately more present with my family. Giving my son more attention. Relishing in the sweetness of my youngest’s babyhood. Conversing with my partner & even sneaking in a couple dates. 

It’s not that I had disappeared from family life previously, but it’s amazing how the brief snippets of social media distraction can cut into the time & headspace that should be focused on the actual living & breathing people in your immediate presence. 

And I started to think about my priorities. Talked (like, on the phone… not via Messenger…) to a dear mentor. My partner & I started some projects around the house. Started planning a vacation. Some camping trips. Sometimes we have dance parties in the evenings. Sometimes my partner pulls out his guitar & we stay up too late singing. 

It’s like a fog has lifted. 

And I’ve gotten over my social media FOMO. I know I’m missing some interesting & smart shit out there, but I can’t do it all. And for now quitting Facebook is an easy, clean way to make my life a bit more manageable, meaningful, & enjoyable. 

But saying goodbye to Facebook was not going to be a political cop-out. I saved my representatives’ contacts to my phone. I get an email each week about calls I might make. I’ve made calls. Sent emails. 

I keep up on the news on my own, with subscriptions to a small handful of real (not fake) news sources. A “curated newsfeed,” you might call it. 

But I still wanted to do more. And without the immediacy of Facebook, I could really step back to analyze my situation. 

I had never really been a protest-activist. Bless ’em, because it takes all types & all voices. 

No, in my post-Facebook meditation, I realized that I am much more into voice amplification. In college, I had a radio show, so I turned it into a platform for discussing issues affecting Latino students. As a law student, I organized events highlighting issues I cared about. As a small-time publisher, I’ve given space to a variety of voices.

So, now I’m spending some of the time I was spending on Facebook & protesting in a way that utilizes my skills and amplifies my impact: pro bono work. 

I’ve only just begun, but the prospect of helping to create access to justice for folks in my community (folks likely marginalized in the current political climate) is pretty darn exciting.  

I’m still in for a good protest, but I’m being a little more discerning. It’s gonna be a long ride. 

(Also, I started blogging more regularly again. Turns out, writing about parenting—& sometimes, politics—makes me happy.)

How are you managing (or mismanaging) your social media “life”? Do you have rules you abide by? Have you quit cold turkey? Never started?

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Another Mothers’ Day Rant


I like to complain about Mothers’ Day on this blog. Hey, it’s my mommy blog & I can whine if I want to…

Mostly, I think the holiday is bullshit. 

Also, I hate making decisions on what I’ll do to celebrate. Do I escape? Pretend I don’t have a family for the day? Do I force my husband to take me to an over-crowded, rushed, & mediocre brunch? Do I demand special treatment? Breakfast in bed & all that? What about my own mother?! In indulging in myself, am I neglecting her?! And I have work on Monday, so there can’t be too much booze or fun because I need to sleep & get ready for the work week. Ack! 

And all for what? So that we can pretend mothers are honored in this land of zero-paid-maternity leave? So we can pretend mothers are important, even in this culture that undervalues family & women & anything remotely domestic? 

WTF, I thought this was supposed to be special & fun! Where are my Instagram-able #mothersdaymoments?! 

So, it’s the Saturday before Mothers Day & it’s been busy as hell. I got to sleep in a bit (which was awesome!) but I woke up extremely groggy & baby was in need of nursing & a nap. Ok. She’s almost asleep when my phone rings. Bam, she’s awake. Also, where’s the coffee?! Husband makes me coffee (yay!) & leaves. Ok. So now martial arts for the big boy & a walking nap for the baby. Then dentist appointment. Fuck, they asked me to come early but now they’re running behind. I’m hangry ’cause it’s past lunchtime & baby needs more sleep. She’s yelling & I admit I encourage her because I’m so grumpy & want our presence to be known. But everyone’s so damned nice. Darn, I can’t be a total bitch… which is a good thing in the end because I love our dentist & it’s not like we won’t be back. No more cavities for the boy. Phew! And then we grab lunch & I get more caffeine & we’re ok. Groceries for dinner. Baby will sleep in the car right? No! She’ll scream bloody fucking murder!! But my amazing son calms her somehow. I’m gripping the steering wheel in random heavy traffic but I somehow remember to breathe. I notice the sky is beautiful. I’m still grumpy but slightly less so. Home. Finally. My husband has picked up the entire house & is halfway through our laundry. Wow! It’s warm enough to throw open the windows. I want to pass off the baby. Hide in a room & lock the door. But of course the baby needs to nurse. Fine! I’ll be a mom for, like, five more minutes!

My Butterball-turkey-sized 10-months-old falls asleep in my arms. My partner & son bring me a beer. I quietly thank my son for being so patient & lovely today. I quietly thank my husband for the beer & for taking care of the house. I’ve found gratitude & I’m no longer angry or even cranky. 
Now I’m sitting here, rocking with my napping baby, sipping a beer, enjoying a beautiful breeze. How could I possibly complain?! 

Three years ago, on Mothers’ Day I was pregnant & and about to miscarry. Two years ago, I was bitter after having suffered a second miscarriage some months earlier & I was also barely pregnant & about to lose a chemical pregnancy & picking up a bridesmaid’s dress that had to be altered because, well, miscarriage. Last year, I was eight months pregnant but still nervous. This year, I have the honor holding the most perfect, napping baby in my arms. 

In the blink of an eye, despite chaos & loss, I feel like the luckiest mom in the world. 

Happy Mothers’ Day. Seriously!

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Filed under Attachment Parenting, Breastfeeding, Feminism, Living, Miscarriage, Mothering, Partnership, Simplicity, Working