This Women's Day let a new mom tell you how to win it with attachment parenting
Let’s begin with a guilty (sacrilegious, in many quarters) confession. I have mostly been a dog-mother all my life, so my interaction with human babies was directly proportional to my interest in them. Zilch.
The first human baby I ever got to deal with happened to be my own. Little surprise then that, the initial days left me frazzled, harried, drained and depressed. What made matters worse was that unlike grandmothers of my generation, the grandmother of my child – my own mum – turned out to be just as hapless as I was.
When my baby sneezed, hiccuped or did anything over and above breathing regularly, it worked me up. And it worked Ma up. It was even less help that my partner was unable to lay claim on something I believe should be made law already – a paternity leave. So, much as it pains me to say this now, all I felt then was hurt and anger every time someone asked, “Enjoying motherhood, are you?”
For clearly I wasn't.
Wait...where did my life go!?
The 360° turn that my life had taken in the blink of an eye, left me floundering and robbed of both time and inclination to soak in the beauteous joys of motherhood. Add to that, the range of pressure society managed to impose on a new mother was bewildering, to begin with, and infuriating to end with.
Grappling with post-partum depression as a result of these insane, often-conflicting, and merciless expectations, I had begun to fear and avoid my own child. My interactions had started becoming perfunctory, always searching as if, for the invisible nods of societal approval. The crazy backache that my c-section left me with, only added injury to insult.
It was in these confused times, that by a stroke of divine intervention, Rachita Akhilesh Chauhan, a friend I had long lost touch with since college, reappeared in my life like a godsend, and introduced me to the concept of attachment parenting, as an empathetic possible solution to my days of bleakness.
The concept of attachment parenting – or at least its formal exposition – is a fresh approach to parenting with a focus on things au naturale. The material forms of this idea thrive by putting an attractive modern spin to traditional methods of parenting.
So, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, cloth-diapering, and babywearing are a few of its features aimed primarily at helping children grow into independent, responsible, healthy, secure, loving and sensitive people.
The process being a symbiotic one, acts as a bond-forming, de-stressing succour for parents in turn. Unsurprisingly thus, the idea is fast catching on in the west and is being endorsed by the likes of Milind Soman here.
My foray into attachment parenting kicked off with babywearing my child in a full buckle-carrier by SOUL. Before getting into the details of SOUL, full buckles, and all that jazz, let me try and define babywearing.
The fact that Microsoft Word underlines ‘babywearing’ in disapproving red, even as I write, reaffirms my suspicions regarding how little the concept is known of in popular circuits. Put simply, babywearing is wearing your baby in a cloth contraption, so that he (because mine is a man) remains as closely attached to the parent's body as possible, allowing for skin to skin, and heart to heart contact.
Not only does this give the child a sense of unhindered closeness, security, and warmth, in times of sickness and health, it leaves the parent hands-free, allowing them to get things done, even as the child dreams away in snug assurance.
While babywearing has long been popular among parents – especially working mothers, without backup support for their children – in different forms in different parts of India, it has, for some weird reason, been mostly looked down upon, as a resort only for the backward, the downtrodden, and those without the means to afford nannies.
Only recently are parents (working, stay-at-home, or work-from-home) in nuclear setups of urban India (and beyond), waking up to its functionality and goodness, owing largely to the initiative of a couple of uber-cool mompreneurs who swear by babywearing and other methods of attachment parenting.
Hello history, meet buckles...
Some of the foremost Indian companies committed to crafting ergonomic babywearing gear are Anmol, SOUL, Kol Kol, and Almittra Tattva. Most of these companies were started off by new mothers who wanted to be hands-on parents and discovered that babywearing was the way forward.
But the lack of affordable and more importantly, ergonomic options in India, made them launch their own brands, as inspired by traditional ways of carrying children in soft sturdy items of clothing like sarees or dupattas, operant in various communities of India and Africa.
Chinmayie Bhat, the young, dynamic and enterprising founder of SOUL, for instance, decided to startup simply because she wanted to share the joys of babywearing she had discovered in the course of her own journey.
Today, SOUL produces five kinds of carriers in carefully crafted fabrics that are tested extensively for safety measures. The fact that they are coloured in baby-safe dyes and hand-woven in artisanal cooperatives or machine-woven in green weaving centres, dovetails neatly with the larger focus of attachment parenting on being as organic as possible.
“We dream big for SOUL,” Chinmayie said.
“And don't believe in compromises. Nothing is too good for our babies, after all!”
The first day I wore my baby was when he was about five months old and suffering from a bad bout of loosies. I turned a loyal convert when after being worn in our SOUL-full buckle, he calmed down in a flash.
Regular babywearing has helped reduce much of my stress and anxiety surrounding child-rearing, and helped me form a very private, calm, and sacred bond with my child – undisturbed by the noise of ‘outsiders’.
Needless to say, my success with babywearing eggs me on to try the other methods of attachment parenting, particularly fascinating among which is the idea of homeschooling!
Here’s hoping ashramite concepts as these gain ground for times to come – times that seem way too clouded by ideological and idealistic contaminations.
The author is a new mom who has finally figured her way around parenting and is loving it. She also writes on art & small joys of life when she is not working in a Kolkata-based publishing house.