I recently read a very sad story on a blog called Sparkling Adventures of a mother whose 7 month old son died tragically and suddenly. I, of course was moved to tears, and cried for a good while as my sweet baby boy slept alongside me for a nap in our queen sized bed. One of the things that the author said when speaking about the day she buried her baby boy really stuck out to me was that because of her style of parenting (Attachment Parenting) she didn’t seem to have regrets about the time she spent with her boy, Elijah. She said, “…I am confident I held him enough, cuddled him when he desired closeness, listened to his breathing next to me at night and responded to his simple demands.”
I continued to weep as I read through her grief and loss, trying hard not to cry so hard as to wake my sweet boy. I looked at my own sweet boy’s sleeping face and kissed the top of his head, breathed in his pungent, sweaty baby boy smell and thought about how I would deal with the loss of a child. Obviously, there is no way to tell what you will go through and feel when losing a child. I have not, and hope never to, so I cannot say for sure, but I thought about how much we hold, cuddle, respond to, talk to, wear, explain, and try to be a comforting presence to our son, and I all of the sudden felt a little better about my life raising a high needs child.
You see, our boy, the Captain, is a happy boy. He is funny, and laughs a lot (though only at home, this child is a stoic statue outside our 4 walls). But our Captain does not like to be left on the other side of the same room as us, loves to be held (only by one of us or my mama), wakes up more than 5 times a night (EVERY night), nurses hourly most days, and has to share that little queen bed with us if anyone is to be sane with enough sleep to meet each day. I spent the first few months of his life researching and reading, doing everything in my power to find out what was wrong with him. Really, what child wakes up 20 times in a night and isn’t tired during the day?! But something changed in my husband (The Milkman) and I during this time. Instead of “successfully” changing him, we began to change. We didn’t set out to be attachment parents because we read about it in a book. I didn’t nurse on demand because it was told to me by an expert. I didn’t begin babywearing because it is a popular thing to do. We just went on survival mode and on intuition.
Last night, Captain let me off easy with only 6 quiet wake-ups, but before I went to bed, I thought about that sweet boy Elijah, and his mama who would never again nurse her baby, have him wake her in the night, scream to be held, or pull her hair when she slept, and how fortunate I am to have my baby right next to me.
I can say that while many have quietly (and NOT so quietly) had their opinions about the way Milkman and I have chosen to parent our son, I do not regret it. When I am old, I do not want to say, “I wish I’d held him more.” or “Why didn’t I cherish those moments we spent cuddling instead of putting him aside to get some more housework done?” My house will always be here. Errands, grocery shopping, laundry, dusting, and dirty dishes will plague me til the end of my days. But I have a soul, a little human, who needs and loves me and wants to spend time with me! How blessed I am to have the opportunity to respond to him in love, just like God responds to me!
I will have many regrets in parenting when I look back on my children some day, I know this because I had the two most nearly perfect parents on this earth and they have regrets! However, though it is impossible to be “regretless” I would like to regret less things when my children are grown, and so, this is why I parent the way I do, responding in love and compassion to someone who is in need and cannot meet those needs by himself.
And on that note, Captain is awake and calling for me. That’s all for now.