Thank you, Jamie Grumet
Jamie is an AP (attachment parenting) mom and was on the cover of Time magazine this past May, openly nursing her four year old son. While I did not read the story because I’ve just plain old learned from years of experience that mainstream news is not what I like to read, I was still very much aware of the brouhaha it caused. Apparently there’s lots of folks out there who find nursing offensive (ok, I knew that) and nursing a child beyond infancy downright abnormal. I also caught wind of folks who felt enormous guilt because they were not in alignment with nursing, extended nursing or stay-at-home mothering, which AP, of course, requires (you can’t be “attached” to a child if you’re working or they are in someone else’s care). Oh well, I can’t control anyone else’s thinking or believing or actions, but it gave me an opportunity to feel a soft, comfortable gratitude that I had had the profound benefit of AP with my three children and allowed my whole world to shift as a result. And, honestly, I was grateful to Jamie for being willing to expose herself to millions of readers … and Time magazine for choosing attachment parenting as their cover story (even though I know the motive was sensationalism which sells magazines, duh). I am sure, despite all the negativity that resulted with the Time story, that there were lots who were positively influenced… and I like that. I love it, actually.
A magazine I DO read is Pathways and I was surprised to see Jamie and her family on the cover of their recent issue. I generally love their editorial content and so quickly devoured Jamie’s story of her beautiful biracial family, her commitment to attachment parenting, her easy ability to nurse her adopted son, her volunteer work and her own history of being nursed by her mama until she was way beyond toddlerhood. I was also completely entranced by the beautiful photography that accompanied her story.
Thank you Jamie, for being my ideal of a role model for mothering, parenting, citizen. I would love to have you in my neighborhood. I would love to know your family and have your kids run over to my house for one of my campfire breakfasts.
My daughter, now a full grown and independent adult, has always loved babies and children. As a little girl, her main play focus was playing babies. All of her dolls were life size, she saved her money for more babies, all with different faces and colors. As young as 10 she was actively seeking babysitting jobs. She continued to babysit, and later nanny, as often as she could for as many clients as she could until she was well into her career. For years she would talk to me about her little charges and what they loved, how they were different, etc. One thing she learned was how different babies and young children were who were attachment-parented (nursed on demand, held in-arms a great deal, shared a family bed, nurtured immediately when distressed). The AP babies were soft, flexible, cuddly, smiley, trusting. The babies who had become accustomed to comforting themselves or those in daycare for example were stiff, hard, wary of others and new stimuli.
I’ve thought a lot about this over the years and conducted my own observations as I engage with babies and young children. I make similar observations of older children, teens, and adults as I go about my life. While my observations do not qualify as a scientific study, what I have seen is that stiff, hard and wary folks are exhibiting stress. Stress, and this is scientific, is the precursor to all illness and dis-ease. Overcoming stress, and this is scientific too, can be extraordinarily challenging. Many folks who live with stress come to believe they can only overcome it with pharmaceuticals. Many folks under stress simply live with lots of health issues, relationship challenges, diminished sense of self, self-worth, self-love.
As I talk to kids, teens and adults who feel stress I am always wondering why some feel stress and others don’t, why some are able to “roll with the punches” in life and others react with illness, anxiety, anger, self-injury, etc. While I feel (near) certain there are likely genetic components and even past life issues that factor into individual differences here, I have come to believe, mostly through observing the differences in infants (soft, trusting vs. stiff and wary) that much of the stress we experience in life has its origin in infancy–how we are “imprinted” with stress.
In a world centered on attachment parenting, stress is at a minimum or non-existent. (Barring negative and stressful relationship issues that can exist in a family between moms and dads or other family members), infants in AP families are held continuously from birth onward, commonly even skin-to-skin. They are nursed often and on baby’s demand, share a close and connected family bed with their parent(s), carried throughout the day in arms or sling, loved through voice, touch, song and movement. Do you ever wonder what bliss feels like? THIS is what it feels like.
As an AP mom myself, the bliss existed for me too, not just my babies. The bliss of falling in love; relaxing into a deep and abiding connection– intuitive, physical and psychological; the joy and comfort of watching my baby grow BIG on breastmilk alone (what an extraordinary miracle!); the satisfaction of taking responsibility for the food I eat, the thoughts I think, the life I live–knowing that it all affects the life I am nurturing; the amazing and profound feeling of oneness with life that results.
Thank you Jamie, for reminding me of this glorious experience of attachment parenting. You are a living example of a world I dream of for all of us.