Attachment Parenting hasn't been an easy road for our family.
Granted, some practices were easily adopted; they came naturally. Wearing my baby close in a carrier -- totally, completely natural and beautiful. Going to my baby when he cried -- again, very natural, almost compulsive. Co-sleeping -- practical, feasible and much less work than getting up and running down the hall three times a night to comfort a screaming baby.
But other things? Like breastfeeding? Beautiful, natural yes, but, aslo challenging to my own selfish nature of wanting to get away and break free for a night or weekend out of town.
Positive reinforcement hasn't been completely second nature either. Praising little efforts isn't always easy when said efforts are more destructive than helpful.
And gentle discipline? Oh, I pray, do I ever pray to figure out how to gently direct a very defiant 2.5 year old. I find it much easier to exclaim "NO!" rather than figure out instantaneously the motive and then a suitable redirection.
Especially in terms of gentle discipline, attachment parenting is a path I putter down hourly. It's been one I've had to deliberately choose day by day. And sometimes, I don't choose it. Sometimes, when I'm tired, when I'm sick, when I'm busy, when I'm impatient, when I'm rushed, when I'm stressed, I take a the fork in the road and maneuver onto the mainstream parenting highway where demanding obedience and respect are the prevailing rules of the road. Sometimes I go down that one-way expressway of "Do it because I'm the parent and you're the child" because it's easier. It seems to get us where we need to go more quickly. The yelling, the threatening, the demanding all seem to alter behavior but it never changes the heart. Altering the behavior is really quick and easy most of the time. And I really like quick and easy.
Really, even though the expressway gets us there more quickly than if we'd have just taken the back road with a slower posted speed, we end up at our destination with tears streaming down faces, pulses racing and blood pressures elevated from the whole mania of the trip.
And the back road -- the road with more time spent talking, explaining, listening? You know, the one I avoided because I was in a rush and didn't want to take the time stop at the red light and have a teachable moment? Well, that back road would have taken the same amount of time because at the end of the trip on the mainstream discipline highway I have so much maintenance -- damage control -- from the journey to take care of that we virtually are never ready to enter our destination anyway.
It kills me that I realize this; I cannot feign ignorance. When I feel my blood begin to boil in regard to my 2.5 year old's defiance/selfishness/stubbornness/whatever, I completely know that I can change the tone of the situation. I can alter the direction we're about to go -- we don't have to end up on the fast road to Meltdown City; we can arrive at Peaceful Point instead. But I've got to mommy-up each and every time and make a decision to respond not react.
And that? That's not easy. Reacting is in my blood. Reacting is natural, primal. Reacting is letting the situation determine your actions and words. Responding is assessing the situation and determining your own actions and words. And that's where I veer off the back roads, swerve into traffic on the expressway and hit the acceleration pedal.
But, tonight, I'm using the emergency brake.
Tonight, as I sit here, writing to understand what I'm thinking (thank you, Heather), I'm braking. I'm exiting the expressway.
Tomorrow we're taking the back roads. And whenever we get there, we'll get there. And we'll all be better from the journey, from the road less taken.