The vast majority of parenting choices my husband and I make come from our gut. They feel natural to us. Indeed, this is what the name Family Nature means to me; when it comes to our family and our parenting style we do what comes naturally to us. I think of this as our family nature.
Breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world. It wasn’t easy initially with my first, but we eventually figured it out and never looked back. In the past (almost) nine years I have been either pregnant, breastfeeding (sometimes tandem breastfeeding) or both. There were times when it wasn’t fun but I never regretted breastfeeding. In fact, when I look back to my eldest’s first eight weeks it is a complete blur; I honestly and truly do not know how we all managed but I know one thing for sure: I am so unbelievably glad that I didn’t quit. I know for certain that it was the right, and most natural thing to do. Even without all the research and statistics about breastfeeding I knew that it was the best for both me and the babes.
The next thing that fell into place was co-sleeping. As an anthropology student I had heard of Dr. James McKenna long before I had kids. My husband also knew all about co-sleeping before any of our kids were born. So sure enough, when the first babe came along, it just seemed natural to have him sleep with us. I couldn’t even imagine the thought of him in another room; it just seemed so backwards and wrong. My instincts and my gut told me that he should be with us and they were right. I think co-sleeping is one of those secrets of parenthood – lots of people do it, not everybody admits it, but those who do it love it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve woken up to gurgley coos and lopsided smiles. There is an absolute comfort that comes with a sleeping babe beside me; the sound of his breath like a lullaby to put me to sleep, the warmth of his body like a little furnace keeping us warm and the baby smell of him making me feel high. I know in my heart and in my my soul that my babies belong beside me at night.
I didn’t get the hang of babywearing for a few months but I think that it’s just another one of those things that naturally fell into place. My babies (and toddlers) were all so easily comforted in a carrier. They could be close as I did chores around the house, walked the older kids to school or picked up groceries. They nursed contently and had all of their need met so easily and naturally right there attached to me.
Other things also fell into place. I have done my fair share of reading but in the end it usually just confirmed the things that we were already doing. I learned pretty quickly that although there are some really awesome parenting experts and resources out there, there are also a lot of people with opinions and ‘advice’ that seemed so outrageous to me; just because you have a parenting book with your name on the cover that does not make you a parenting ‘expert’. I read something recently on The Happiest Mom blog that summed it up nicely. In her post the mother you need to be Meagan Francis writes, “I no longer even look at books or websites that seem completely at odds with what I believe in my heart to be true about myself and my children.” I read this nodding furiously. Yes! I think we rely too heavily on the advice of paediatricians, parenting ‘experts’, books and such for things that our own hearts and minds will tell us if we just listen.
Breastfeeding, co-sleeping, babywearing –some say these are the hallmarks of attachment parenting. To me these are the simple, normal ways of parenting. These things come naturally to me and I’ve never second-guessed myself about these things. I just wish all aspects of parenting were this simple.