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Attachment Parenting Misnomers As Cued by My Attachment Baby

I’m an accidental “Natural Mama”.  When my son was born, I had no grand plan as to which parenting philosophy I would use. My only plan was to breastfeed for the first 6 months.  Well, this baby had plans for me; he may have spent the entire 9 months in utero hatching his plan. He was a classic high-needs baby, and had an undiagnosed medical problem for many months to boot. I was introduced to the AP community by a close friend and mother of 3. The community has been a huge source of support and normalization for helping me to meet my child’s needs and my own.That being said, over the course of a year, my misperceptions (or delusions) surrounding some of the AP terms have been made apparent (?) to me. Here are my tongue-in-cheek re-definitions of some of the common terms.

First let’s start with the name “attachment parent.” This term is only 50% correct.  No flack here for the attachment part, because yes, when you eat, wake, sleep, shower and beyond with your offspring, you are most definitely emotionally and moreover physically attached. My qualm is with the “parent” part of the term, because I will venture to say that there are attachment children and non-attachment children and you parent them accordingly. Some babies require that they are attached to you all of the time, and these are the attachment babies, which in turn create attachment parents.  I venture to say that Dr. Sears might agree, looking at this quote about his child here:  “After Hayden introduced us to high-need babies, we learned a whole new way to parent.” So, now the question is how to coin this term? I have an attachment baby? I’m a parent of an attachment child?  I can see the difficulty here, so we will move on.

Baby wearing: Baby wearing is a basic tenet of AP. It is  at the same time a non-negotiable and and a profound blessing if you have an attachment baby. Baby fussy? Won’t nap? Just “wear him down.” But let’s be a little clearer about who is being worn in this scenario. If you have a carrier (and you will get one if you have an attachment baby), your baby is physically strapped to you with cloth; he is being worn. After 35-40 minutes, you find baby-wearing to be physically wearing as well. For this reason it could arguably be called “parent wearing.” And after these shenanigans, you are both going to need a nap. Someone please cue the blessed event: co-sleeping.

Co-sleeping. This term suggests both mother and child are sleeping in the same space at the same time, often for naps, more-so for overnight.  In reality, one of you may be sleeping (baby) while the other feeds, re-positions, feeds again, burps, changes, feeds again and repositions, then feeds some more. Yes, it is precious and peaceful to be with in bed your little one, but you may come up short as far as actually sleep goes. Perhaps this is why the term “bed-sharing” was coined; to address the false pretenses of the above term.  It should be acknowledged that the terms bed-sharing is equally suspect.  Bed sharing is more aptly described as bed-relinquishing since somehow the littlest person takes up 90% of the prime bed real estate.

Baby-led weaning: Synonymous with extended breastfeeding. Not to be confused with cessation of breastfeeding. It could more aptly be called “toddler-led weaning” to convey how it is actually gonna go down in this situation. 15 month and going strong here!

Amber teething necklace: The baby does not teeth on this necklace. No, he does not chew on it as you might think.  Baby accessorizes with for its natural pain-killing properties from infancy through toddlerhood, and as the unofficial AP precious gem, it is functional AND stylish. It is also well-known in the community that there are counterfeits circulating. If you have taken a hair drying to your strand, you are in neck-deep! Wear it with pride!

Unbeknownst to me ahead of time, AP-ing was how I would survive the first year of my child’s life. We are thriving now still using these ideals as a touchstone, and looking back I am so glad for how I grew into being a mother. Thank you to all of mom’s out there who supported me with solid advice and understanding when the nights were long. If you have an attachment baby or you may also have the sense that some of the terms are innocently ironic or profoundly accurate. Much like all of parenthood, sometimes words are shorthand for what we all know and understand, and sometimes no words can describe it and we must define it for ourselves.

House Hunting

Photo credit Fireside Book Shop, Chagrin Falls

I’m so excited to go look at houses today! We are looking in a new area, a cute little town called Chagrin Falls. It has all of the must-have features: close to my husband’s work, family-oriented, close to amenities. We have been searching for almost a year and our search has evolved quite a bit. Our real estate agents, Jody and Rochelle, have been very helpful and patient as well. I have spent so many hours on Zillow, my fav real estate search site, that it is not even funny and pretty much know the entire east side of Cleveland by heart. Being the analytical person that I am, I was obligated to assess what I have learned about the psychology of house hunting, and have documented it here for you! Here are some tips for house hunters out there:

1) Expect your needs and wants to evolve as you search. Maybe you thought you could never do a split level. Maybe you thought you HAD to have stainless and granite (blehhh, like every house hunter on cable TV). The more houses you see, the more your mind will be open to possibilities, and the more concrete your must-haves will become. We originally thought Chagrin Falls was too far east, but now I am realizing all of the positive aspects of the area, and I am very excited and hopeful about our options today!
2) Don’t fall into the trap of too many “must haves.” Once you see a few houses, you might start picking out things that you like about each of them, or don’t like. If you keep adding to your must have/must not have list, you will end up with a mutant creation that doesn’t exist (trust me, even if you triple your budget, there is ALWAYS something wanting). HGTV is a house-hunting fantasy world. Everything is shiny and bright; everyone gets everything they want; the process is quick and painless; even the home-buyers’ outfits coordinate with the decor. It is easy to forget that there is no perfect house, and putting too many things on either side of the list may result in nit-picking your dream house to death.
3) Don’t get attached to a house before you know the specifics. I can quickly fall in love with a well-staged house. The glossy pictures on the internet make that perfectly clean, tidy and decorated home seem like it is flawless. Add a dash of imagination and soon I picture myself living the dream. Look at the details during the home tour, the condition of the windows, appliances and exterior features. If these are on their last leg, you may need to tack thousands on to the price. We have found new roof, HVAC and electrical to be just as drool-worthy as the shiniest kitchen during this process. Think about the location and the yard and compare them with what you had in mind. Look at the spaces. Staging can camouflage awkward setups, so visualize yourself using the space in the way that you would normally live. At the same time, don’t let little quirks, like the miniature lean-to office with the giant brick fireplace bring you down if the house ticks a lot of your other boxes. Those unique features are the ones may grow to love in your home.
4) Go with your gut. House hunting is a lot like dating. If you walk into a house and feel immediately turned off, that is a big sign. However, don’t leave your “blind date” in the lurch; that is just rude. Suspend your judgment for a few minutes and look at the positive features of the house, because sometimes first impressions can be wrong, and unlike in a relationship, some houses make good “fixer uppers.” If it looks ok on paper, but you are uncertain, wait a few days and see if you want to give it another shot. On the same token, if you love the house at first sight, make sure you thoroughly consider the investment. Let that feeling lead you and help you feel confident in your decision when it comes time to commit.

5) Don’t be afraid to make YOUR offer. Some of the houses are listed spot-on, some are listed low for a quick sell, but inevitably, the one you want seems to be priced higher than you see fit. Do you research, If possible, use a website like Zillow to browse pictures, read descriptions and look closesly at the items in the home needing updates compared to “similar” sold homes. Factor in updates that have been made. Make it personal. If the backyard is not quite perfect for you and you are willing to let the house go for the $ it would take to get it fixed, then so be it. You are in the driver’s seat during negotiation, and you don’t want to end up under contract and feel like you got the short end of the stick.

6) It is ok to walk away. You don’t have to feel embarrassed or apologize for your descisions, even if you end the negotiations at the 11th hour. Perhaps you regretted making an offer immediately, perhaps something came up on the inspection. A few months ago, we put in an offer on a beautiful house, and during inspection some issues came up, but the biggest negative was the gun-range within hearing distance that both my husband and I had brushed off during our initial excitement and desire to be done with looking.  We both confessed after we cancelled the offer that we felt relief. It is normal to feel nervous before the deal closes, but if you feel dread, it means something is off. This is when it is helpful to have a professional on board. They can talk to you about your options, help you determine if it is just game-day jitters or lost love, and then help you “move forward” with your decision.

So, we don’t have a house yet, and I am sure we still have some learning to do and some curveballs ahead. I’m having fun day-dreaming on Houzz, but also hoping that soon our dream is a reality. It feels like we are getting close and I will keep you updated! Happy house hunting 