Saturday, February 11, 2012
Detachment Parenting: Growing Them Up Resilient, Independent.... And, Well, Alive!
I am not an "Attachment Parent". I'd love to have it in me, but I'm a personal space kinda girl. And the odds were stacked against me anyway, with boobs that never got the memo about why they exist, and a pelvis too small to fit my big-headed babies through. (Yep, you heard, too small - just waiting for the rest of my body parts to catch on.) When my kids started pulling themselves up to stand holding onto my trousers I'd involuntarily shake my leg like a dog when you scratch their stomach in just the right spot. The Boy is on a rotation between playmat, bunny rug on the floor with toys, bouncer and cot. Two of my most favourite parenting moments are when they learn to hold their own bottle and when they learn to swing themselves on the swingset. I wake up excited on Mondays thinking "TGIM - school day!!" I spend hours hand making toys and games and dressups for the kids but never have the energy to actually play with them.
I love my kids. No, really. But if you've been reading along you will know that I don't consider this parenting gig to be a walk in the park. Smell the roses? You've got to be kidding me. Most days I can't get the smell of poo out of my nostrils.
Yesterday, some friends and I took our collective tribes to the local pool. It's a bit of a weekly ritual for us, mainly because we realised that we had Friday mornings free and were terrified at the prospect of having to entertain our kids AT HOME, for the WHOLE DAY! We set up in our usual grassy spot, and laid back to watch our kids playing in the baby pool while we compared stories about how feral they had been. Suddenly, the local homeschooling mums, with an average tribe of six kids each, came and set their towels up - in a circle around us. It was like an intervention. A homeschooling, attachment parenting intervention. I panicked. I put The Boy's bottle away, hid his dummy in the pram and tried to think of something, well, attachmentish to say. I talked about the weather. "It's been hot, hasn't it? Yesterday it was so hot I left the car running with the aircon on for the kids while I popped into - ah shit. Um... Oh, your little one looks a bit off colour. Teething, you think? You should try using amber. Panadol? Uh, yeah, I have some - never leave the house without it... ah, bugger." The Husband joked that perhaps they were on a personal development outing - reminding themselves of why they have made the parenting choices they did. Thanks, Husband.
I'm not sure why I felt like this. I said to my friend, I would love to want to be the homeschooling, attachment-y type of parent. But something in me rebels against it. Maybe its the Universe protecting me against complete and utter failure. I mean, I find parenting hard going enough, and that's WITH the help of ABC2 and school. If I homeschooled my little angels, they'd be lucky to get through Year One alive.
When I googled 'detachment parenting', some keywords jumped out at me. Playful parenting, inspired parenting, peaceful parenting, natural parenting, unconditional parenting, scream free parenting. The insecure, paranoid part of me (which is actually quite a large part of me, come to think of it) immediately gets all defensive and whispers in my ear, "See? They think you aren't natural enough, or peaceful enough, and by the way, you scream too much." I imagine a giant checklist, with some babywearing she-god checking off my parenting qualities with a frown on her face. Smacks her kids. Values sleep over the closeness and bonding opportunities of bedsharing. Forgets about baby massage.
On the bright side, though, my detachment style of parenting has yielded some pretty incredible results. The older two both learnt to walk early, no doubt aided by me shaking them off my leg when they were just beginning. They are very comfortable with other adults - probably because I have never hesitated to leave them in others' care so I can enjoy a night off. (The Foxtel salesman looked slightly concerned when it was his turn, but, hey, he won't be knocking on my door again!) They are both very resilient, most likely due to me not mollycoddling them when they hurt themselves. (This backfired on me once: the three-year-old was howling in her bedroom one night, and I stood at her door and yelled that it had better be important because if I come in and it wasn't important you'll get a smacked bottom! Is it important? No? Well, goodnight then! Turns out she had fallen out of bed and gotten a blood nose. I was washing sheets and carpet all the next day. They now know that blood noses are important.) Both of the older two know how to use the TV remotes and they can prepare simple meals for themselves. (Sultanas and dry cereal is a meal, right?)
So, detachment parenting is my thing. When I drop the kids off at school, my slight guilt at how much I enjoy leaving them there is alleviated somewhat as I sip on my iced coffee at the cafe and watch the attachment, home-schooling mums try to rush through their grocery shopping, all six kids in tow, while they worry about getting home with enough time to manage six different curriculums and still get dinner on the table. The grass is always greener, but, on school days, I kinda like my pastures.