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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.

15 Comments Post a comment
  1. Thank you, Barb. I’ve missed your blogs! As an AP mum myself, I’ve been troubled by something I wanted to ask you about. What are your thoughts on ADHD? I’m no expert, of course, but for a long time now I’ve been suspecting that this disorder is an invention, by psychiatrists, the pharmaceutical industry or I don’t know who. I get deeply disturbed when I read about the symptoms that supposed “hyperactive” children have. They all have something in common: they were not attached to their main caregivers.

    September 8, 2012
    • I have been exposed to lots of anecdotal information on ADD and ADHD for decades, but have not done any focused research. In my personal experience, I have found the kids labeled as such to be delightful, just difficult to “tame.” Do you know that they have this thing in common, an absence of attachment with their main caregiver? I would love to read about that if you could share the source(s). As I think about the kids I have spent time with who had such diagnoses, I might have to agree. Interesting… I have never thought of that link before.

      September 8, 2012
      • I don’t have enough evidence, Barb. My sources are other parents complaining about their babies not wanting to sleep alone, demanding to be held, not being obedient, having problems at school… And in the end getting them to see a psychologist and being diagnosed with this disorder. I personally think it’s the parents not having enough time and affection for their children what leads to this.

        September 8, 2012
        • In my very limited experience of 3 years (since my son was born) I would want to add that also in our environment, the children who are not happily attached are the ones with “problems” – if it is ADHD or ADD or other more “minor” problems – labeled as such by the creche/kindergarden/school/society – like aggressively holding on to other kids or telling them what to do, pushing other kids or hugging them against their will, etc..
          I was myself, as an un-attached child, hungry for love and approval from other kids/people – until quite recently.. when I become conscious of the “why” and worked at it:-). From the “other side” – being un-attached gives one quite a unbalanced start and I am sure it can lead to a lot of the “modern” diagnoses.. On the other hand, I believe I saw quite a lot of ADHD and ADD coming (also) from eating habits…

          September 8, 2012
          • The eating habits is a big, big issue. With a myriad of chemicals in all processed foods, the consumption of all but the smallest amount I feel will definitely effect the growth and development of organs, brain, metabolism, digestion and … the whole body. Whole foods: fruits, vegetables, humanely raised meats and fish, some nuts and seeds, some whole grains (not processed whole grains but those like brown rice, basmati rice, farro, barley, etc.). Everyone is satisfied with a different diet and listening to one’s bodily reactions, energy levels, and mental clarity is critical.

            September 8, 2012
        • And in my experience, I have found that such kids are fun, easy, curious, high energy… and as far I am concerned, there is nothing at all wrong with them.

          September 8, 2012
  2. wow wow wow Barb,
    thank you for bringing Jamie to my attention! I heard about the Time magazine article but never read it myself (for the same reasons as yours). Did not hear until now about the other article. What an amazingly beautiful cover!!!! I will look for the article on the internet, hope to be able to find it. If not, just the same, I am happy with your article and blog, as always!!!
    Although I love the idea of the Re conference (not yet have been to any) I am glad that is once again behind us so I can again enjoy your blog:-)

    Ever thought of writing a book? There is still less than enough good writing on the subjects you write about! I ALWAYS LOVE your blogs and I am sure I am between thousands of thousands!


    Ever thought of ever coming to Europe? I would be so happy to organize that for you, if possible and you would want to..

    Thanks again for a great article!

    September 8, 2012
    • Love your support and enthusiasm Ioana, thanks. As long as I am not labeled a guru or put on a pedestal, I would be happy to come to Europe to meet with your group and share what I have learned about children, learning, parenting and much more.

      September 8, 2012
  3. that is great news! I live at the moment in the Netherlands and we have here quite a group. On which address could I connect to you about it?

    thank you

    September 8, 2012
  4. Emy #

    I love it. I can profoundly relate to it, too, especially the “grow BIG on breastmilk only”!

    September 13, 2012
  5. I was/am an AP parent of two. I wouldn’t change a thing BUT I did find aspects stressful and I am afraid that if we advertise that it’s not stressful, new parents might give it up as soon as it gets that way thinking it’s not working or shouldn’t be this way. My kids did not grow big on breastmilk in the physical sense but I never gave it up, they never had a bottle, they never had formula but it was hard when they were never chubby either – but the docs said that it was OK, they were alert etc… My first was also a TERRIBLE sleeper. But I still let him nurse at night on demand and sleep with me, although I thought it would kill me 🙂 I was SO sleep deprived. He was just very demanding. But the thought of leaving him to cry killed me and eventually – aged nearly 4 he started sleeping through the night! I just had to wait it out. All the other benefits got me through the sleepless nights though and, as I said, I wouldn’t change a thing 🙂

    September 13, 2012
    • I sure appreciate your comments, but this was not my experience with any of my children. I am sure I lost a teeny tiny bit of sleep but not much. My babies nursed throughout the night on their own terms, I awakened briefly and fell back asleep. I also did not experience any stress. I don’t say this to make you feel like something was wrong, but to just state the way it was for me. The attachment parenting approach to mothering, i.e., nursing on demand, skin to skin contact, carrying mostly around the clock, family bed enabled a flow for us that was pure magic. I guess I am just really happy that this was my experience.

      For you and others who have had different experiences, I am … well…. open to them all. We’re all different, right?

      September 13, 2012
  6. I don’t understand why a million people haven’t “liked” this. Oh, how I like this!

    September 22, 2012

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