I finally got a moment this week to read Time magazine’s exposé on attachment parenting guru, Dr. William Sears. Yes, I know. That was last week’s news (or even last month’s by the time I get this post published) but there’s still lots to be said. Not about the controversial photo on the cover, mind you, but on the whole concept of attachment parenting itself and how it relates to moms of twins.
When I was pregnant with twins 17 years ago, I received The Baby Book (with a whopping 784 pages!) as a gift from my best friend who was (and still is) an ardent fan. I remember listening politely to her talk about the attributes to attachment parenting, all the while knowing that I couldn’t possibly keep up with it. Nor that I would want to anyway. Sure, there were parts of attachment parenting that I could relate to such as breast-feeding (I successfully nursed both my boys until month 12 but that was enough), co-sleeping on occasion worked well when I was breast-feeding during that first crazy month, and even baby wearing proved practical, to a point (see the not-so-flattering photo below). But pick them up with every whimper? Sorry, but I’m the mom of twins. Hello! Instead I relied on my Fisher-Price motorized bouncy seats to fill in the gaps when I simply couldn’t comfort two crying babies at the same time. And you can just forget about natural childbirth. I was screaming for my epidural when I was only one centimeter dilated. No regrets. I’d roll over and let them shove that needle in my spine again in a heartbeat.
Regardless, The Baby Book stayed on my nightstand that first year of parenthood and I referred to it often as attachment parenting isn’t the only subject that the book covers. (It gives very good advice on what to do when baby has a fever, when to introduce solid foods, etc.) But also sharing that place of honor next to my bed was a copy of Dr. Richard Ferber’s Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems. Yes, that Dr. Ferber, the one that some might say is the polar opposite to Dr. Sears. My sister-in-law introduced me to “Ferberizing.” And while I didn’t adhere to his philosophy 100 percent either, I did incorporate a modified version of his technique when putting my twins to bed as I could never “turn off” and relax for the night until my boys were sound asleep in their own cribs, and they certainly weren’t going to be in their own cribs much less give me an evening of peace if I had followed the advice of Dr. Sears.
Yes, Sears and Ferber all in a single household. When it came to mothering my young twins, I followed whichever advice fit the situation at the time. Neither was a perfect fit. For instance, I had to have my twins on a schedule or I would have perished, a big no-no according to the Sears philosophy. And there in lies my problem with most die-hard parenting doctrines: They’re just too rigid for moms of multiples. When you have two or more babies, you have to be flexible. You need a big bag of tricks to help you get through the day, not to mention a large glass of wine to get you through the night. Moms of new twins have enough guilt in thinking they can’t do it all. They certainly don’t need the added pressure to “Ferberize” or co-sleep if their hearts are telling them otherwise.
But unlike new moms today unsure of their parenting skills, I have a pretty good idea how it all turns out in the end. The friend who raised her kids with attachment parenting? My sister-in-law who loved the Ferber book? And my twins raised on a hodgepodge of ideas? All pretty darn good kids, I have to say. Heading to college. Studying hard. Doing their share of community work. Respectful. Sure, we all have our challenges but no juvenile delinquents to date!
In the end, it all comes down to what baby expert Dr. Spock wrote way back in 1945, “You know more than you think you do.”
And don’t let anyone else try to convince you otherwise.