I won’t go into the old news that is Time’s controversial “mom enough” mid-May issue. We all know they sold enough copies on that matter.
Instead, I wanted to share some views on attachment parenting and breastfeeding expressed by fellow Filipino moms.
To begin, let me say that I am a babywearing, formerly nursing mom (my son recently weaned after being breastfed for two years and six months). In fact, here’s a photo of me a year and a half ago, when my son was just five months old.
Here in the Philippines, we are not new to the concept of babywearing and breastfeeding.
Velvet Escario‐Roxas, a breastfeeding counselor and representative of Arugaan (ah-roo-ga-an), a non-governmental, WHO-funded organization that conducts breastfeeding training for the Philippine Department of Health, gave a good picture of this when she posted a recent Facebook status update on the fan page of the popular breastfeeding blog, Chronicles of a Nursing Mom:
“Our Pinoy [colloquialism for “Filipino] ancestors have been doing these things since the beginning of time. We call it the Filipino way of living or raising of children. They on the other hand modernized it and called it attachment parenting. Look at the indigenous folks of the mountain provinces.
They breastfeed their children to 7 years, co-sleep with their kids, use the baby slings (to feed, to protect the children from rice field snakes/rats etc). I have so much respect for our ancestors — of their wisdom and knowledge and most especially on the care for infants/children.”
I try to be a good mom. I decided to become a work-at-home mom not because I believe that every mom should work from home so that she can care for her kid, but because for me, this is what works. I do not discount those women who choose to hold full-time jobs outside the home; in fact, I admire them for being able to do what I myself was not able to to effectively. I breastfed for a total of two years and six months, which I am hugely proud of. I know of other women who’ve worked full-time and have managed to raise happy, healthy and whole kids. The point is: We, as parents, will instinctively desire to be the best parents that we can be for our children. Neva Santos of the popular parenting blog, Manila Mommy, summarizes this very well:
The [attachment parenting] style is instinctive. Not to trivialize how hard parenting is, but sometimes listening to your gut is the best, right? Follow your intuition, I say. But even with the emphasis on [attachment parenting] in discussions as a result of the Time cover, it also got people talking on other parenting styles and the only conclusion to all that talk is that there is no one type that works for parents and children. Heck for different kids in the same family, different styles could work.
Indeed. In the end, the only parenting “style” that works is one that is grounded on love. Parents work hard to be the best providers, caregivers and educators they can for their kids. The end result — the so called “success” of one’s parenting — is relative. Fellow blogger, breastfeeding, babywearing and attachment parenting advocate (and also a friend), Eliza Santiago-Ypon of The Painters’ Wife, was interviewed by a local broadsheet regarding her views on this matter, and she does a great job of encapsulating the fact that breastfeeding, in particular, is not the measure of success of a healthy family:
“No one should be made to feel they’re less if they don’t breastfeed. As a breastfeeding advocate, I will always try to promote breastfeeding and its benefits to anyone I meet, but at the end of the day, we’re all just trying to be good parents. I’ve met some who express regret and guilt that they didn’t breastfeed but have learned to move past it. They have great, healthy children. No one should make them feel they didn’t do the best they could.”
I don’t have much to add to what these ladies have said. I just wanted to say that, as moms, we’re not competing for a medal or honor or accolade. We’re all part of one, big, global community, and we look out for our families based on what works for our families. The choices that make up my definition of parenting are what work for me — and that’s fine. I’m not a 100 percent attachment parenting practitioner, and I don’t intend to be, but this doesn’t make me any less of a successful mom. Ultimately, I am beholden to my child for one thing only, and that is to love him wholly, unconditionally.
Whether people agree with my version of parenting or not, is fine. Just don’t ask me if I am “mom enough”… because I will tell you I am not just enough, I’m the only mom who can love my kid the way I can.