Mama, take off your training wheels

Today the mothering community was all in a tizzy after Time magazine’s latest issue came out entitled “Are You Mom Enough” featuring a mom nursing a toddler. The accompanying article is about attachment parenting and the self-appointed Godfather of the attachment parenting movement Dr. Sears.

Frankly as someone who for a while was an ardent believer in attachment parent, the cover and parts of the piece I could read for free were annoying as hell. Attachment parenting as currently practiced in many ways has strayed from its roots which are really about fostering attachment and connection with our children. Children that we are raising who will one day grow up to become adults. Instead today’s attachment parenting in many ways is a caricature of itself that plays on the insecurities we as women and mothers hold in a society that frankly does not value mothers or children. We pay lip service to the idea that we cherish moms and kids but if we did I assure you we would have things in the US like mandatory paid maternity leave. State budgets would not cut needed services for kids if we actually liked kids.

Mothering in this day and age is intense because it seems we are never allowed to find our place as mothers, to develop our own instincts that have kept the human race alive without benefit of any gurus or godfathers.  For most of us from the moment we discover we are expecting we immerse ourselves in learning as much about babies as possible, thanks to technology unlike when I gave birth for the first time in 1992 we can tap into online communities and find support which in many cases is needed and welcomed since many of us lack the neighborhood village that once existed or at least we that we think existed.

The problem is the in the months when we are gestating and in the early days after giving birth, we can also find ourselves less and less likely to develop our own instincts as mothers. Instead we parent with our training wheels on. Understandably when faced with a real live small human, so precious and gentle we need some help and the resources available now can assist us in the early days. The problem though is they also can trap us.

I speak from a place of having been there, I nearly wrecked my body co-sleeping for years, sure co-sleeping can be great but the truth is it doesn’t work for everyone. If only I had realized that years earlier, everyone in my family would have been whole lot happier.

I was attached to an ideal way of parenting and listening to a chorus that supported me when in fact I needed to trust my instincts that told me long in advance that I needed to change things up. In the end when I made changes and broke out of the mold, it made a difference, in many ways that was my first attempt at parenting my youngest without my training wheels. In the past 3 years more and more I have found my style as a parent that works best with my youngest.

Now that I am parenting without my training wheels, I find I am more confident in myself as a parent and less concerned with criticism because I stand in my truth as a parent. Yet for too many of us when we aren’t in that place of standing in our parenting truth it opens us to following the latest style or feeling that we must always explain or justify our parenting choices. It’s one of many reasons I feel the media continues to stir up the mommy storm, Time knew that putting that mom & child on the cover and titling it “Are You Mom Enough” would indeed get a reaction and sure I am writing about it, but frankly it’s less about the mom, the kid, Dr. Sears and attachment parenting as it is to say enough.

Fellow moms, we need to stand tall in quiet strength about the choices we make and not let the media pit us against one another. A friend recently told me about two associates who are now enemies…why? Apparently their parenting styles clashed; when I heard this I was temporarily dumbfounded. Frankly if you are my friend provided you are taking care of your kids, your parenting “style” is no concern of mine. Yet we live in a world where parenting styles end friendships, that’s ridiculous.

To Time Magazine, I say hell yeah I am mother enough because I trust my instincts and know my kids. You are too, so take off your training wheels and trust yourself and tell Dr. Sears to step off!