Posted by Gina Perkins, Pre-School Mommie | Posted in Gina Perkins | Posted on 15-11-2010
If you have been following my blogs since DJ’s birth, then you’ve probably gathered that our parenting style around here most closely resembles attachment parenting. In fact, I might have even claimed that label at one time or another. However, as DJ gets older, what I realize is that “modern parenting” more accurately describes our approach. We aren’t tied to any rules. We aren’t following any books. We are simply listening to DJ, our instincts, and our hearts. We are attuned to our child’s needs, and we are doing our best to fulfill them in healthy, compassionate and constructive ways. Our way is not the only way, or even the best way – it’s just the way that works for our family.
Alright, enough with the disclaimers. I’m just going to say it – DJ still sleeps with us. Well, with me now. My husband and I have shared our bed with DJ since she came home from the hospital. It wasn’t really our intention to do so. In fact, if you had asked us if we’d ever have our 14 month old in bed with us, we both would have answered with a resounding (and somewhat disgusted) “NO WAY!” But, somewhere along the way, it became a habit in our home. I am certain it was first sparked by my “new mom” paranoia, but then I became “attached,” and just enjoyed having DJ close by.
Up until six days ago, I had felt shame, embarrassment, judgment, and insecurity about sharing this truth with others. While I have always remained absolutely confident about this decision for our family, it’s been hard to ignore the criticism from others. And then, last Tuesday night, I realized that our choices had in fact allowed me to fulfill a promise that I made to DJ while she was still in my belly.
I had promised her that she would always be safe with me. I promised her that she’d never have to worry about my coming or going because I would ensure that she’d always know that I’d be back for her. I promised her that whenever she was scared or anxious, she’d have a safe place in me. When I made her these promises, I wasn’t quite sure how I’d fulfill them, except by just being there for her however I could be.
With DJ’s growing sense of independence, we decided that she might be ready for a “big girl bed.” We got her a twin bed, equipped with the proper safety guardrails and decided to give it a try. Back to the “modern parenting” concept – we were simply paying attention to DJ’s lead and hoping we were on the right track. I had decided that I would sleep in the bed with her, in her room, until she was comfortable with her new quarters. I had assumed it would take her at least a week to even sleep through the night. I was wrong.
DJ slept through the night our very first night in her new bed. What I realized as I was laying there wide awake, was that I had actually fulfilled my promise to her. I had become her safe place, and while she was in a new environment, I was there and that was good enough for her to feel at ease. In those midnight moments, I made peace with our controversial decisions. Not only did I feel a sense of peace, but I felt an overwhelming sense of confidence in my parenting ability.
While other mothers may have made similar promises to their babies, and have also fulfilled those promises in different ways – this is how I followed through with DJ, and this has been the right way for us. I think that part of being a good and successful parent is being able to discern your own convictions from the voices of those around you. I certainly believe that listening to others with wisdom and experience is essential, but at the end of the day, we’re the only ones who can fulfill the promises that we make to our own children.