Here’s what I know about attachment: attachment happens differently for each of us. Said another way, there’s no one right way to parent.
As a physical therapist and Infant Massage Instructor, I’ve been talking to parents about all things parenting under the sun for over a decade. And after all this talking, I’ve come to a conclusion: there’s a lot of guilt involved in parenting, and not only because we judge each other, but because we judge ourselves (which I thinks hurts worst of all).
There are just some some tough parenting moments, where self love is not easy:
- You walk into the next room (for just a minute!) and baby rolls off the bed. Thud!
- You get caught up, loose track of time and are late for school pick up.
- The tooth was placed under the pillow with excitement… only for your child to awake and search HIGH and low for what the fairy might have left. Crushed, nothing is found (until miraculously, minutes later… a crisp bill is found somewhere in the sheets.)
We’ve all been there, or at least I have. I’ve experienced every one of the above. Not my finest moments. But in those moments, and even now as I write about them, I get to love the parts of myself that led to them. In each I was distracted – about as far from being “present” to the present moment as one can get. In accepting these times that at first caused great guilt, I get to love the un-lovable in me… the distracted, multi-tasking, less than present, not so zen me. I get to breathe in “I love myself” and breathe out, “I am enough.”
The next time you are feeling the inevitable guilt associated with parenting, whether it go by the name Attachment Parenting or any other name, remember this, each of us have strengths and challenges. Each of our children do as well. What works for one child may be the very thing to avoid with another. And no matter how hard we may work at avoiding them, all of us will make mistakes.
Instead of judging ourselves as bad parents when we do make mistakes, let’s see if we can surrender to what is. In the tough moments, let’s take a deep breath and practice holding on to letting go. Let’s love ourselves for who we are and who we are not. Let’s practice the art of acceptance. If we can do this, then we can truly love… first ourselves and through this ability to love ourselves, others.
Guilt can be a signal pulling us to look at a particular area of ourselves and our lives, but with acceptance and self love in place, transformation can flow into our lives via awareness.
Let’s let go of right/wrong parenting debates over sleep, nursing, working verse staying at home, baby wearing and more. Let’s tune into the needs and signs of our little ones and encourage others to do the same. Let’s focus our playground parenting discussions on learning to love and trust ourselves for the parents we are and forgiving ourselves for the parents we are not.
Self love. Now that is a gift worth giving to ourselves and our children this new year.
Was there a particularly hard time in your parenting life where you judged yourself or one that you felt judged by another? How did you manage it? Any advice for us based on your experience?
Suzanne Tucker, aka Zen Mommy
Suzanne is the Co-creator of My Mommy Manual and the online parenting course, Yoga Parenting. If you liked something you read here, she hopes you’ll sign up. It’s free and together you can remind each other to look inside.