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About

Ashlee is Mama of one darling boy. A 28 week early bird, now 1 and some change, doing beautifully. She lives near Chicago with her sweetheart husband and French Bulldog. She's a thinker not afraid to get her silly on. Babywearer, veggie queen, photography nut. Before the domestic days Ashlee was pursuing a future in developmental psychology but has happily shifted gears in favor of staying at home and couldn't imagine doing anything else. In her free time (ha!) you can find her whipping up babyslings, holding down the fort at Mama Speaks and spotlighting as an Itsy Bitsy Yoga Instructor.

Easy Like Sunday Morning

I was talking to an old friend the other day - catching up and mostly raving about our little ones as usual. We were getting all gushy and such and then she told me I was lucky that Xav was so 'easy'. What?! I had never thought of X as easy - probably because I've never thought of parenting as easy - I generally have the mind set that if things are easy you're doing something wrong. I finally got to the bottom of what she meant, which was that we haven't had any battles with Xav. We don't struggle at bedtime, have feeding, crying or 'discipline' issues. I think part of this is his temperament, he's a pretty happy guy, but he's also very independent and has quite a feisty streak. But more than that, and I'm not saying that we do anything or everything right here, I think our style of parenting has created a relationship where those battles simply have no place to exist. If I had to define how we parent we'd definitely fall under the Attachment Parenting label, but I like to think of it more as Intuitive or Instictive parenting. I have simply let my instincts guide me. If my baby cries I comfort him, if he's hungry I feed him, if he's tired he sleeps - if not he stays awake, if he is 'acting up' I take the time to see things from his eyes, figure out what's going on and respond appropriately. We spend a lot of time together, not just doing busy life things, but really paying attention - I know him and he knows me. We have a relationship built upon a foundation of trust and predictability.

I think this is what's missing from so many babies lives. And so many parents are missing out. In fear of spoiling their babies they try to teach them to be independent, "They need to cry it out and learn to soothe themselves", "Don't let that baby manipulate you." What they don't realize is that you can't spoil a baby, they are not manipulative and they are innately dependent. Human babies are one of the only living 'animals' that need complete care at birth. They are made this way for a reason! These parents may eventually say, "Now I have a good baby, she rarely cries and goes to sleep by herself, etc.." But what they've created is a broken baby, a baby who is defeated - she's been shown that her cries - her only means of communication - mean nothing. That they don't warrant a response - that what she feels doesn't matter. Now don't get me wrong, babies - kids in general - are incredibly resilient. These babies will be ok. There are children who go through hell and back that end up changing the world. But I for one am not striving for 'OK'.

I think our society has a lot to do with it. It seems to absolutely promote detachment parenting under the guise of doing what's best for your child. And I'd go so far as to say that our consumerism has a lot to do with it as well. There is so much 'stuff' out there for babies. Things that new parents think they need and have to use (I pretty sure my dad thinks X was abused because we never had a baby swing). There are lists everywhere of the basics and extras and stuff that you must have before you bring your baby home. And if we're to be good parents we need to run out and register for or buy it all right? I wish someone would have told us the truth when I was pregnant! I learned very quickly that there was actually very little I needed: diapers, sling, clothes, mama - um.... you get what I'm saying? The swings, bouncers, cribs, play yards, exersaucers ... all too often become baby holders or baby sitters. I read somewhere once that babies in other cultures are held 90% of the time - American babies less than 25%. That just makes me sad. Why don't we realize that the only holder baby really needs is someone who loves him. Babies need their mothers beside them.

I don't mean to rant or criticize, this is just something that has always weighed heavy on me. Don't get me wrong I think every parent does the best with what they know at the time. I just wish more parents would listen to themselves - shut out all the noise of the world and those around them and just listen to what's inside. Follow the instinct that is inherent in all of us whether it is acknowledged or not and simply trust what it guides us to do.

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  • Blogger The Flip Flop Mamma! says so:
    11:01 AM  

    I was talking with a friend the other day, and she asked me what I needed for the new baby. I told her that if it's a girl, i don't need anything. If it's a boy I just need clothes. I don't need a crib, because he/she'll sleep with us...don't need a swing (although I do have one...that just sat in the room) because I have a sling. Hopefully I won't need formula this time!!

    She just looked at me like I was insane. top

  • Blogger Adventures In Babywearing says so:
    11:05 AM  

    Oh, I agree with every fiber of my heart! If only moms would listen to their inner instincts... it's so important early on. If you ignore those instincts, they become less recognizable... and that is harmful if you are ever in a dangerous situation and need to be able to react according to your instincts!

    And that's just what YOU feel. What about the baby? Babies do what they do to communicate to you what they need... as the mother, you must respond. And if you allow yourself to follow instincts and stay close with baby, you'll know exactly what they need, often before they even let you know they need it!

    Of course everyone will have advice and recommendations, but the parent is YOU. Not the "book" or "pediatrician" or "bouncy seat" or "TV" etc. etc.

    I have a feeling we're preaching to the choir here, but I'm just sayin' ... top

  • Blogger Staci says so:
    2:09 PM  

    Amen!!

    With my first 3 boys I listened to advice from everyone..."Don't let them sleep in bed with you, they will be there til' their 12" yada yada yada...
    I have finally learned to listen to my instincts, and I am so much happier, and I think Savannah is too.
    I never could let them "cry it out", I would be crying before too long :)

    Xavier is very blessed to have such a sweet mama! top

  • Blogger Glass Half Full says so:
    4:52 PM  

    I just told Steph that I laughed when I read this post and said, "New moms need to bring seasoned moms along when registering. It'll help in clutter control!!" :) top

  • Blogger Because Everything Matters says so:
    8:58 PM  

    I was a very young mom with my first and did the "alternate form of entertainment", listened to family and dr.'s and I had the roughest time! I was miserable and so was she!

    With my last, me being older and hopefully wiser, I did things through her eyes and the way I wanted to not the way society deems or family, etc., and I must say I was able to tell the difference!

    Maybe that's why mother DOES know best! :-) top

  • Anonymous Barbara says so:
    9:36 AM  

    Couldn't have said it better myself! Props to you. top

  • Blogger Elizabeth F. says so:
    3:16 PM  

    I totally agree as well. I've been in a very heated debate with some family members recently over our extremely opposite parenting styles. It's great that we all know this stuff now, but what we needed was a friend like us when we were pregnant. So many times a new mama is listening to her maternal instincts and she is told that she is wrong by family, friends, and Dr.'s. This happens to come at an extremely vulnerable and hormonal time. Too many times the mother caves and does what more "experienced" people tell her will work. This happened with my first born. If only new mamas had the confidence to shut out the world and do what comes naturally...there would be more happy babies and mamas too! top

  • Blogger Heidi says so:
    10:12 PM  

    I agree and I like how you call it "intuitive or instinctive parenting." My SisterIL drives me CRAZY with the "good for his lungs" cry it out stuff. When we would go to my nieces soccer games and I'd have him in my sling or ergo baby carrier she'd say to my husband "you know he's not walking yet because she carries him everywhere."
    It just drives me crazy because it seems (maybe just to me) that this style of parenting tends to be criticized more. Especially when looking at the results - my son is similar to X he's pretty mellow and we didn't even start doing time outs/discipline until he was almost 2 - I'm sure most is personality but he listens and I agree that "ok" isn't what I want for him. Giving him every advantage in life isn't teaching him French, Spanish, and Math it's teaching him that he's important and his needs and concerns are mine too. Alas, I'm ranting too....LOL! I'm glad for my friends and fellow bloggers for the support that some family doesn't give!!!! top

  • Blogger Kelli in the Mirror says so:
    3:36 PM  

    You know, continuing along those lines, it's those same mamas in a few years who say their kids HAVE to go to daycare because they're bored at home. They can't imagine that they're actually the best teachers for their kids and society has trained us to think that tiny kids need playdates and soccer teams and all this stuff...
    I don't think they do. They need family. Not to say that the other stuff is all bad, but it drives me crazy when materialism gets in the way of motherhood. top

  • Anonymous O Mama Mia says so:
    3:56 PM  

    Breath of fresh air, you are. Preach on. top

  • Blogger lauren says so:
    10:13 PM  

    Great post!
    I learned the hard way not to listen to the so-called experts (ezzo/hogg/ et.al.) Wish I had read ezzo.info BEFORE all that. I had NO IDEA there was a controversy because so many people spoke so highly of the parent-directed so-called flexible routines/schedules.

    Thankfully, as baby bear got older, I learned to relax a lot, and both of us were so much happier. While there were a lot of factors involved, I really believe that if I had relaxed and followed my God- given instincts a lot more, 1/2 the problem would have been solved.

    Live and learn... next time around (Lord willing), I'll be coming to you ladies to help me choose the best sling. top