mom enough

I’m no attachment parent, but I have an attachment child.

The whole internet, or at least, the mom-heavy corner of it that I frequent, is abuzz over a particularly trollish TIME magazine cover and accompanying cover story that asks “Are you mom enough?” The cover depicts a model-pretty 26 year old mom breastfeeding her nearly 4 year old son, and the story it teases is a largely biographical piece about the father of attachment parenting, Dr. Sears.

This is not a post about that piece, so much as it is a post about my experience of reading that piece.

Jon went golfing this morning. I’m glad he got to go, and I’m not mad that he went. But it coincided with a difficult morning for me and the Bufflo Gals. In the 6ish hours he was gone, I swear, there were not 5 minutes during which one or the other of the girls was not crying and/or screaming. There were not 5 minutes in those 6ish hours in which I was not holding one or the other, feeding one or the other, shushing one or the other, or changing one or the other. I’m rather proud that it was not until around hour five that I send Jon a text inquiring when he might be home and suggesting that I may or may not have been losing it.

It was while balancing both of my girls on my body, intermittently shoving a pacifier in one mouth or the other, bouncing Etta on my knees while feeding Claire a bottle (of formula, which Dr. Sears would frown upon), that I read the TIME piece about Dr. Sears.

This was about hour 4 of The Screaming.

And when I read that he thinks allowing kids to cry for more than a moment damages their brains, and that he encourages parents to soothe every single cry, and attend to every single whimper, well, I wanted to punch him in his face. And then I wanted to dare him to spend 6 hours alone with my twins and try to achieve the impossible feat of never letting one or the other cry for more than 5 minutes.

At least once per day, I will be feeding one while the other sits in a Boppy, bouncer, or bassinet, screaming her head off until her little face is beet red, because she too is hungry, or in need of a change, or desiring some snuggle time. And I will have to just leave her there, because if I stop feeding the one I’m feeding, I will then have two screaming babies on my hands and not nearly enough hands to comfort both of them. This means that sometimes, by which I mean at least once a day, one or the other of my babies is crying for 10 minutes, or more. Deal with THAT, Dr. Sears.

The thing about grand theories of parenting is, they’re grand in theory. They almost never work in totality, across the board, for all parents and all children. I find many of the feminist criticisms that attachment parenting asks too much of mothers (and alienate fathers) very valid. I find the scientific criticisms of Sears’ claims that normal amounts of crying damage babies’ brains comforting, because my babies are going to cry unless I grow a second set of arms.

At the same time, I’m thankful that attachment parenting folks have popularized things like babywearing, something that has worked very well with Etta, whom I refer to as my “attachment child” because she likes to be very close to a warm body at all times. We joke that the solution to most Claire problems is to feed her, and the solution to most Etta problems is to hold her.

Bottom line: take what’s useful to you from parenting gurus, but don’t make it your religion. And don’t you dare suggest to a new mom of twins that she’s damaging her kids because they cry sometimes. Because you’ll make her cry, and then she’ll want to make YOU cry, and THAT might cause some damage.


8 Replies to “mom enough”

  1. *Ding ding ding* Winner!

    No, seriously. You are exactly right. One of the keys to keeping your sanity as a parent is to pick and choose what advice works for your family. Because that’s all it is: advice. There are very few, if any, hard and fast rules in parenting, because all of our children are different!


  2. I only had one baby, but she did scream for hours on end with colic/reflux most of every single day and night for 5 months. Even though I could hold her the whole time without another baby to attend to, she’d still scream until I thought one of us would just burst, or explode, or faint with exhaustion. I can’t imagine how hard it would be with two! One thing I can offer is that, even an extra set of arms is no guaranteed end to screaming. Sometimes, or in our case, most times, screaming just happens.

    Dr. Sears might have provided a nice nurturing approach in the era of “cry it out” and sleep training, but my daughter is proof that screaming did not cause brain damage, or emotional problems, or any of the other scary things Sears warns. I can not emphasize how much of her early life was spent in an all out, blue-faced tizzy, where no amount of cuddling, sshing, rocking, swaddling, or even nursing could fix. Because of Sears, I thought I could and should be able to “fix” the screaming, and that I sucked as a mom because I couldn’t fix it. I actually asked her ped if she’d grow up to be a serial killer because she seemed so miserable as an infant! He kindly assured me that she’d be fine, and SHE IS!!!! She is a happy, loving, cuddly, intelligent toddler, and is ahead on all her milestones. No one would ever guess how tough things were early on. Hang in there! It will get easier with every milestone, and your lovely girls will grow up to be sweeties because they are so loved. Happy first Mother’s Day!


  3. I saw this on The Today Show and wanted to scream. I agree that each child is different and needs a different parenting style; my daughter, for instance, is super-independent and doesn’t *want* to be “attached.” My other beef with this sort of parenting is the idea that we all have the time and/or lack of careers necessary to have children with us 24/7. If you choose to be at home, wear your child, sleep with your child, and breastfeed your child even when he/she can ask for it or step up on a ladder, that’s your choice. But I’m tired of people who make me feel like a “bad parent” because I choose to be a mom and have a career. It’s not a coincidence that Dr. Sears is a man and never had to make this choice. Is it just me, or is this backlash to the feminist movement getting ridiculous? Next thing you know, we’ll be growing nostalgic for the good ole’ 1950’s.


  4. I just found your blog (through a pinterest linking to this post actually!) and LOVED this post!

    i haven’t read the article in time yet, not sure if I want to. Might just be asking for trouble :P I’m totally with you though. very tired of feeling judged by other mamas for my decisions with my boy. Nice, refreshing post. Love it!!!


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