Posts Tagged ‘Attachment Parenting’

I’ve been thinking about immunity lately. Why is it that some of us never seem to “catch” a cold? While the rest of us succumb to the slightest bug going around. Why did I develop an anti-immune disease (Guttate Psoriasis) at 60 that normally shows up at 30? Maybe it’s just that since we returned from Mexico, illness has descended on my house like a plague. Today, Bob was diagnosed with pneumonia, about a week after I started feeling “normal” again. Ah, the wonders of antibiotics.

It’s well known in my family that the Flapper gave Bob the original hospital bill of my birth when we married. She stayed in the hospital for 11 days in 1948; remember I was baby number six, and the only one born in a hospital, so the doctor thought she needed a rest. My parents were charged a dollar a day for the nursery, $11 for my care and feeding. And at the bottom of the hospital bill was a section for penicillin charges. Antibiotics were so new, they had an important, separate spot on the bill!

WWII brought us not only the bomb, but the quick development of antibiotics. Eisenhower wanted enough penicillin to treat his soldiers after the Normandy invasion and so the original strain, discovered in England in 1929, had to be made and marketed on a mass scale in the United States after we entered the war.

On March 14,1942, the first patient was successfully treated for strephtococcal septicemia with U.S.-made penicillin. Half of the total supply produced at the time was used on that one patient. By June 1942 there was just enough available to treat ten patients.

Just 10 patients in 1942! According to legend history a good strain was found on a moldy cantaloupe in Illinois and our Army doctors (along with Merck) managed to synthesize 300 billion units by D-Day 1944. Pretty amazing in just two years. Which is why our parents were so hypochondriacal. The Greatest Generation grew up without antibiotics, afraid of every cold and scratch their children suffered because in an instant, the grim reaper might appear at anyone’s door. My foster father Jim often talked about his sister who died when her older brothers were swinging her, holding her arms and legs, upstairs in the attic. Just fooling around, having fun. A splinter in her back became infected and that was that.

Which leads me to another kind of immunity, something called “psychological immunity.” In this Atlantic article http://m.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/07/how-to-land-your-kid-in-therapy/308555/ the author tries to explain why our 20-30 year old adult children are so unhappy, even though their parents did everything they could for them…and there’s the answer. We parents are doing too much, and not allowing our children to learn some pretty simple lessons – like picking yourself up, brushing yourself off and deciding that that wasn’t so bad and I can take care of myself alright. “Well intentioned parents have been metabolizing their child’s anxiety” for so long that once they are unleashed on the world, they don’t know how to handle its ups and downs.

It’s like the way our body’s immune system develops,” he explained. “You have to be exposed to pathogens, or your body won’t know how to respond to an attack. Kids also need exposure to discomfort, failure, and struggle. I know parents who call up the school to complain if their kid doesn’t get to be in the school play or make the cut for the baseball team. I know of one kid who said that he didn’t like another kid in the carpool, so instead of having their child learn to tolerate the other kid, they offered to drive him to school themselves. By the time they’re teenagers, they have no experience with hardship. Civilization is about adapting to less-than-perfect situations, yet parents often have this instantaneous reaction to unpleasantness, which is ‘I can fix this.’

It’s hard not to try and fix everything. It looks like it will take more than chicken soup this time to get Bob back on his feet. Thank you General Eisenhower! And thanks to the universe for our last, hopefully, snowstorm.



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It’s been an exciting week getting back to “normal” after Thanksgiving at the beach. Laundry is done, Ms Bean has decided to ignore us again when we call her outside, a dead deer showed up in the yard, made a big batch of vegetable soup…wait a minute. Did I just say something about a deer? Yes, unfortunately it’s hunting season and although our property is posted, this poor animal managed to drag itself next to Bob’s garden. That evening, I asked Bob why finding the deer was so hard on me, and he reminded me about something that happened when the Rocker was a baby.

We were all outside working on our garden, picking up twigs on the lawn. It was a beautiful Fall day. Suddenly we heard a piercing cry, and I followed the anguished sounds to a pine tree. There stood the most beautiful red cardinal. I gently moved my hand toward the bird, and it just stayed there, surprising me. I picked him up to find he had impaled himself on a pine needle. I sent Bob into the house for a shoebox and a towel, and we packed him up for a quick ride to the vet, but he died on the way. I am married to a man who deals with life and death issues on a daily basis; old people in nursing homes who are barely cognizant, toddlers who fall into swimming pools. Yet I can barely breathe when confronted with a suffering animal.

Although my deer didn’t make the local news, along with the “Bag it or Buy it” piece about school lunches for the week, the BIG news story in Albemarle County was a thwarted child abduction at the indoor “Fashion Square Mall.” http://www.nbc29.com/story/20228216/attempted-abduction-bond-hearing It seems that the mall security guards just let this guy go, in fact escorted him out of the building after the 2 year old’s father rescued his daughter. And to make matters worse, it was the girl’s parents who finally called the police 6 hours later! There had been much hand-wringing and soul-searching until some community members identified the suspect and he was arrested on Thursday.

I thought about that first big case in NY, Etan Patz in 1979 when the Bride was born. About how they have finally charged a man after so many years. http://articles.nydailynews.com/2012-11-15/news/35139303_1_etan-patz-pedro-hernandez-child-molester And about how that changed the way many of us parent; to become attachment types, which leads to helicopter or even drone-like parenting. While searching through my baby pictures, I found little me in a playpen outside. Bob said he was left in a carriage outside for the “fresh air.” The conflict continues, to smother and coddle, to wrap in wool, or to let your children roam “free-range?”

When you consider that hunting season never ends for these criminals, I would err on the side of caution today.

1949 in Victory Gardens

1949 in Victory Gardens

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Thanks to a blogger from New Hampshire, who happened to be “Freshly Pressed” by WordPress, http://susannye.wordpress.com/ I started thinking about Moms in general. What was life like around the dinner table, did your mom even cook and insist that you sit down to eat a few times a week? The relationship we form between love and food actually does start at the breast, which then made me think about that controversial Time cover picture of a nearly 4 year old boy in camouflage pants standing up, latched onto his mom’s milk truck.

The Greatest generation didn’t nurse their kids. They embraced white Wonder Bread since whole wheat, brown bread was thought to be only for those who “…just got off the boat.” Those newly arrived immigrants would also nurse their babies; our modern post WWII moms were taught to sterilize bottles. A whole new industry was born, baby formula! No wonder they called pregnancy and early motherhood a time of “confinement,” in fact Bob’s elderly Aunt Bertha asked me once – “When will you be going into confinement dear?”

Now some moms have come full circle, they are baby-centric, wearing their babies all wrapped up in true third world fashion. They nurse on demand and co-sleep in a family bed, it’s something called “Attachment Parenting.” I dislike this term since it suggests that all previous moms in history were practicing “Detachment Parenting.” The feminist in me scoffs, really, do we have to play the mommy wars again? Aren’t we pitting ourselves against the “free range” parents vs the “bubble wrapped” practitioners? Being a good mom means nurturing and loving your child, setting rules and civilizing them too. There is a middle road.

My sister once told me that she never wanted to wake up angry, because she remembers the Flapper being angry whenever my sister would wake her. Of course our Mother had lost her husband to cancer and was working in a shirt factory to make ends meet. She was most likely exhausted all the time. I never wanted my dinner table to be a war zone, because I remember my foster mother Nell always telling me I had to finish everything on my plate. Growing up during the Depression made Nell quite frugal, a ‘waste not/want not’ type of home maker. So we learn how not to be a mother too, from our past.

I wanted a natural childbirth, but my daughter was breech and so they had to do surgery. We plan, God laughs. I nursed her for ten months and wore her on my back in a Bjorn. I washed her real diapers and hung them on the line in the sun. I made her real baby food from whatever I was cooking. But we believed in a good night’s sleep and so she was taught to sleep in her crib. I remember the Flapper calling me one day and asking what was I doing. I told her I was playing on the floor with my infant daughter. She laughed. So I asked her what was so funny?

She said the only time she would play with her babies was when she was feeding or bathing them. Time is the greatest gift moms have to give to their children. Quiet reading, playing, and yes sitting down around the dinner table time. Listening to their day, their concerns, listening between the lines of what they say. Being present. Driving her to cheerleading practice, being his soccer coach. It doesn’t matter if you opened a can, defrosted a TV dinner, or cooked something healthy from an all organic, local farm. Thank you to the Bride and the Rocker, for teaching me how to be their mom. And a very Happy Mother’s Day to y’all.

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