Being Mom Enough
Attachment parenting is, again, stirring up the media. In 2010 the Wall Street Journal had a piece about Dr. William Sears, the author of the term, calling The Baby Book today’s “bible of child-rearing” and claiming that the pressure to embrace that practice is a “prison for modern women.” I read the book five babies ago, and it seems people miss the point. The message is not that a mother should be perpetually physically attached to her child, but that she will naturally learn to communicate with her child if she is present. The book offers advice, some of which I took, some I didn’t, depending on the child.
Shockingly, Time Magazine’s May 2012 again takes issue with this idea featuring a young mother letting her three year old son stand on a stool and nurse himself from her fully exposed breast. The title challenges, “Are You Mom Enough?” The caption asks why attachment parenting drives mothers to extremes. Here’s a better question: Why is this twenty year old book getting so much attention now? I think I know why. Children have actually become viewed as entitlements instead of gifts. Parenthood is now focused on adult desires, and on their image, rather than children. Parents want to appear successful, but when mothers view their children as accessories, it’s no wonder they feel imprisoned by the idea of constant attachment. It’s no wonder they go to extremes to look successful.
Contrast that with what the Church teaches. Children are gifts. How important that single orientation is! It is the guiding principle. If a mother sees her child as a gift entrusted to her care, then she approaches the relationship as an honor bestowed; what is best for her child, is best for her. It’s a continual process of sorting through incremental successes during different phases of life. She may have a job, she may not, she may sleep with the child or nurse him for a long time, or she may not. Humanity doesn’t need an instruction manual.
What matters is that she’s committed forever to the whole family. She’s there. And she prays for grace, and accepts it, because she knows life naturally brings suffering and joy, peace and turmoil, all together. She’s not driven to find some magical solution to make life easy. She’s committed to growing along with all her children, whether they’re three months, three years, thirteen or thirty. That’s real attachment parenting, and while it’s probably not magazine cover material, it is eternally rewarding.
WSJ caption: "We like to think mothering has always been the same, but it's encompassed practices as diverse as baby farming, wet nursing and infanticide." (Image credit: WSJ, Josef Koudelka/Magnum Photos)