Our desire and preparation for a natural birth confirmed the decision to breastfeed our Sweet Pea. In turn, breastfeeding opened the door to attachment parenting, which has transformed me as a person.
Before we had children, I was one of those people who believed in child-free spaces. I liked living for me, and being in the spotlight. There was not a thought for what I would do with children because I just did not think that was going to be part of my story.
When Puma was still a newborn, a friend asked me, “What have you learned since becoming a parent?” My answer: “How selfish* I used to be.”
The kind of selfish that I discovered in myself was the “me, me, me, all about me” variety. Life before Sweet Peas entailed getting myself to work, going to yoga classes, traveling on a whim as well as planned vacations, cooking delicious food that took hours to prepare for Coach Bruss and I, or the two of us would go out to dinner wherever and whenever we wanted. It was a good life.
We got married, we wanted children, and we weren’t sure if we would be having biological children or if we would be adopting. As it turned out, we were able to conceive a child and carry her to term with my well-controlled thyroid condition. We had a suspicion that our lives were going to change. As new parents, we could not even begin to imagine the changes a child would bring to our relationship, or what “family” meant.
My transformation began while we labored with her. Then, in the wee small hours of the morning on January 25, 2005, Puma entered our world, wide-eyed and observant. The first time I put her to my breast and looked into her eyes, I fell in love in such a way that I could not have even imagined. For the rest of my life, I will strive to do my best for this child, and for every child that joined our family after her.
Attachment Parenting (“AP”) is a philosophy of child rearing that respects children as whole, unique, individual human beings. Children are treated with love and respect, as whole people traveling in little bodies. I believe that it is our role as parents is to honor the child-person first and foremost; and parent with the long-term goal of growing a child in love who can operate as a whole, unbroken and joyful adult.
By starting off as a breastfeeding MotherBaby, I learned our children’s cues and had a better insight into their emotional states. That relationship has evolved as they weaned, and now there is some mother’s intuition as well as observation that comes into play, and it helps me be a better parent. I am more confident as a parent because I “know” our children.
When our children need guidance and boundaries, as all children do, we do our best to guide them with love and respect. There are days when we are all tired – we make an effort to breathe. That bond forged through breastfeeding inspires me to try harder to be a good mother for them.
I work harder to be a better person because I want to earn their respect. I work harder to breathe and stay calm because they do not deserve the brunt of my temper. I work harder to pray, lead a life of spirituality, and respect for a Divine Creator, because I want to leave them a legacy of peace in their hearts. I do my best to be a good steward in the world around us, because God-willing, they are going to walk this earth long after I am gone – I want it to be a good one.
When I do make a mistake, I ask for their forgiveness. Just because they are small in stature does not mean they are not deserving of an apology, or that they feel things at a diminished level. And so the circle of love continues, with all parties aware that we are all human, and that trust and respect are the highest priority in our relationship.
There is a memory that stands out in my mind from a fall evening in 2011, right after Otter was born. Coach Bruss was sitting on the couch in our family room, one of the Sweet Peas lying on his lap. Two of the Sweet Peas were crashed out with pillows and blankets on the floor. I was sitting in our recliner with Otter, having just nursed her to sleep. As we looked at each other and our little brood, we just smiled, our hearts full and bursting with joy. We could not have imagined that our lives would be blessed with four children, all unique, all independent; and here we were, a family of six.
Since that day, we continue to grow in love and experience. Being an AP parent is a commitment and it takes time to guide a child vs. discipline a child. On hectic days, it would be "easier" to play the old tape of yelling and spanking. However, thanks to the bond forged by breastfeeding, I cannot ever be okay with hurting our children physically or emotionally, and for that, I am eternally grateful.
Love and respect all the way.
How has breastfeeding affected you as a person?
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