There is a notion, in the AP community (Attachment Parenting), that moms don’t require radical self-care or self-care at all. They say that being with their children is enough. They can nurse two children under two, run a household, keep up with laundry, spend quality time with their partners, get plenty of sleep, make all food ingested in the house from scratch and from local, organic sources, and have lots of energy left over for yoga. I even read a blog post that said that introverts fail at AP because they need alone time and extroverts do not. What? WHAT? This is maddening on so many levels. Let’s explore why together:
*All moms need radical self-care. Repeat. All moms need radical self-care. This means we don’t ignore our needs all the time. It doesn’t matter if you are an AP mom or a Ferber mom or a Babywise mom or just a plain old mom (I think we pretty much all fall into the plain old mom catergory). Are we always going to have time for a luxurious bath? No way. But being AP does not mean that we, as mothers (and fathers) have to be a martyr for the cause. I co-sleep, breastfeed, baby-wear, etc. and I know for a fact, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that for me to be the best mother I can be, I have to take care of myself. I can’t give everything if I have nothing to give. I can’t spoon out love if my love cup hasn’t been refilled. I’m talking about my self-love cup. It is much easier for me to support my toddler through a tantrum if I have replenished my supply. More martyrdom does NOT equal better parenting.
*Introverts and extroverts need the same amount of self-care. A lot. We all do.
*Can we please remember that AP can look different from family to family? One size does not fit all. There is more than one way to do something well.
*Date nights are important. Should we sacrifice our marriage for our children? No. If you said yes, just sign your whole family up for therapy right now because you are going to need it. Also expect some unpleasant Thanksgivings in your future.
There are a ton of AP parenting pages on Facebook. They can be great and they can be very annoying. Lots of mothers use these pages as a resource and they send in questions for other mothers to weigh in on. This can be awesome and terrible. Yesterday I saw a post that said something like this:
“Help! My baby hates his $200 baby carrier! Every time I put him in it, he screams and cries and thrashes around. I know that persistence is key but I don’t want an unhappy baby either. What should I do?”
The answers ranged from reasonable (Don’t wear him. It’s ok. You can still be in the AP club.) to insane (Baby-wearing is essential to AP. Just keep trying! He will eventually like it.) If you think the second answer sounds fine then you are suffering from AP delusions. This is a disease and many AP internet mothers have it. Then, when the whole thing comes crashing down, they denounce AP and really it isn’t AP’s fault. That is like blaming the car than ran over you instead of the idiot driving the car. In this case, the idiot driving the car is fear, just like always. We are so afraid of failing at this motherhood thing that we try to follow all the rules so we can be perfect parents with perfect children. I have some breaking news! No parent is perfect and certainly no child is perfect. We have set ourselves up for disappointment. Now we can be disappointed in ourselves as parents and our children for not being the perfect children that AP parenting guarantees. There are many ways to get great kids but mostly they are born that way regardless of which church of parenting you worship at.
The grand Poobah of AP, Dr. Sears, says many, many times that AP looks different for every family and what works for some will not work for others. And he is practically the CEO of AP so let’s assume that he is right on this one. He never says that self-care isn’t important.
So mamas, guess what? I support you. I support all of you. I don’t care if you bottle feed or breast feed. I don’t care if you co-sleep or your baby has his own wing in your house. I don’t care if you baby-wear or you have an awesome double stroller because your back hurts from wearing huge babies around. I don’t care if you home make all of your meals and take your own food on an airplane or you feed your kids PB&Js for two meals a day. I don’t care if you practice AP or one of the other bazillion parenting styles. You are doing a good job. Yes! You are doing a great job! Look at your kids! They are darling, healthy, funny, precocious, sweet, and just plain mean sometimes and they are a delight! Now, go take a bath and read a book for fifteen minutes. What a freakin’ great mom you are.