I’m always reluctant to call myself an attachment parent, mostly, I think, because I don’t like some of the evangelism, dogma and judgment that sometimes comes with it. Of course, the evangelists are in the absolute minority but in my pre baby days, they were certainly the ones I noticed most and to some degree, have left a sour taste in my mouth. I’m also not super excited about labeling or branding parenting philosophies, like they are some kind of fad. Surely, parenting in the way we try to – gently, with conscience and connection and intuition is what most parents aspire to. Nonetheless if you want to put us in a parenting box we do tend to observe the principles of attachment parenting, quite intuitively, in the way we approach our mothering.
For the most part, it’s not a challenge to parent in the way we do, and though I often feel tempted to try a less gentle sleep solution, it’s balance that we really struggle with. Clark’s recent post really resonated with me and came not long after I had decided not to return to my job. For the first week or two after I handed in my notice, I was pretty thrilled with my decision to stay at home with Squeak for the foreseeable future but as the days and weeks have passed, I’ve felt less sure and more desperate for something more. When I’m home with Squeak, I’m rarely productive – Clark helped me realise that this makes me feel like shit. I don’t have a kid who sleeps much so naptime has never provided me with much solace but for a couple of weeks, somewhere between sitting up and crawling, Squeak was happy to entertain himself, for long enough for me to grab crafty moments with my sewing machine here and there. I was so excited and motivated in those weeks because I was finally doing something for myself. Mobile Squeak ended all of that for me. He is adventure baby and not one who can be left alone for, nor allow me, the kind of time it takes to do much more than. If this kid isn’t getting his fingers jammed in drawers and eating the cat food, then he’s hanging onto my leg and desperate for attention. In other words, he needs constant connection and supervision. And that’s fine. He’s a baby. But I’m starting to lose my zen. And although I know it’s balance that I need, I’m having trouble finding it.
Despite having an amazing, accomodating and considerate partner and co-parent, who is 1000% supportive in my strive for balance, I just can’t work out what will make me happy. Retail therapy helps but it’s not sustainable and is waaaaaaay too close to spinning out of control, more often than I care to admit. I should add here that Ducks also struggles for balance also though by virtue of the fact that she gets to be an adult and go out to work most days of the week, I don’t think her mental health is as tenuous as mine. Nonetheless, she’s responsive. When I meltdown, she snaps into action. She is constantly trying to find the answer, to give me what I want – the problem being, I don’t know what I want…
…but I’m really starting to regret quitting my job…
…remembering of course, that before Squeak was born I was overworked and burnt out in a social justice job that looks awesome on paper but rarely stood up in reality. So is it work that I really want or just am I just unbalanced and desperate to use my grown up brain a little more than I currently do?
In thinking about this blog post, I had a little dig around to see what other attachment / stay at home type parent types say about achieving balance and I have to say I was left wanting. Balance is about more than just ‘me’ time. Or at least, it is for me. I go to the gym. I get the odd coffee alone. I get my haircut or see a movie or walk aimlessly semi regularly. None of that stuff is feeding my soul though and then I feel guilty for taking that time and still being unsatisfied.
Does anyone have any thoughts, advice, stories, sympathy? How do I reconnect with my adult self? How do others achieve balance?