Do you ever wonder what life with all these attachment parented children will be like as they grow older? You know, the ones whose parents spend every waking moment with them (often “wearing” them all day), maintain a family bed, allow for very little crying, and respond to every peep?
Well, actually, I can’t speak for those kids for sure, because that’s not really the way it went down over here. Sure, we used the sling and Baby Bjorn a lot, each of the boys slept in our bed for 4-6 weeks, I breastfed them both until they were a year old (but also supplemented with formula because I was working part-time and couldn’t keep up with them using the pump) and, absolutely, we were extremely interactive with our kids from birth on.
So, okay, we weren’t reading poetry or playing Mozart for them in the womb – or even afterwards, for that matter – but they have been in a very social and nurturing environment. We have been sitting on the floor playing with them as long as they’ve been able to do so. I think we’ve done attachment parenting “lite”, but the Drs. Sears would definitely have taken exception at times. [Especially when we let them each cry for hours (yes, hours is what it took, I’m sorry to say) in the middle of the night, feeling unloved and alone in the world, so that we could get some damn sleep (eventually). But I stand by that particular decision; I’d do it all again.]
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is, even kids like ours who have not been raised with strict attachment parenting techniques and were left crying in their cribs have been in an extraordinarily nurturing environment and are, well, extremely attached to us.
Okay, truth be told, what I really want to say is this: if they were more attached to me, I’d jump out a 4th story window. Because, could someone PLEASE tell me how, when your children get to be 3 and 6, you might get them to play on their own for a while? Together, without the adult? In. A. Different. Room.
We have a huge play room for the kids. It’s full of great, imaginative toys, games and books. They love it! Well, that is, they love it when one of us is down there actively playing with them. This afternoon, I needed time to do some typical household chores. I feel that my kids are at an age where they should be able to go play in another room when I need them to. The boys, apparently, had a different opinion. They actually needed to be right under my feet, wherever I was, playing an extremely loud crash-’em-up game with their cars. There was absolutely no way I could make the phone calls that I needed to make and I felt really and truly stuck. I am grateful that they play together so well these days, and maybe it’s because they’ve gone downstairs without me once in a while recently that I’m so desperate for more – they’ve proven themselves capable of it. And in fact, when they have a friend over, they go down there and I literally don’t hear from them in over an hour. It’s just that – the rest of the time – they only want to be with ME.
I tried simply telling them it wasn’t a choice: go downstairs now and play while I make dinner. You would not believe the scene – it was atrocious. In the end, they were driving me so freaking nuts that I allowed them to stay near me if they read quietly to themselves so that I could think straight. In other words, I LOST.
I really do know that someday the boys will be downstairs in that room for hours at a time, and it will no longer resemble this playroom in any way; it will probably have a TV, video games, and pool table in it, and reek of teenage boy feet. They will likely grumble when I ask them to come upstairs at all, and I will be cooking five times this amount of food for dinner, just wishing for them to be little and running around the kitchen again.
So maybe it’s not worth the battle at all, and I should just embrace the insanity of these years, revel in their attachment to me, and know that soon enough they’ll be far too busy to want to play Lightnin’ McQueen with their Mommy (beautiful guy that I am).
I do still wonder, though, if we didn’t do them a bit of a disservice by being at their sides quite so much in their infancy and toddlerhood, and by not challenging them just a little more to play independently in those years.
Actually, I don’t wonder at all. For my kids, I am sure of it.