by Carrie Bloomston
I had a new thought: mama-tropism as I crawled back into to bed with my son. His limbs, like vines, instinctively wrap around my ankles, my shins, my thighs, my knees in his sleep. Just now, I had made no noise, I climbed in so quietly, but he knew. He always knows. I am his Sun. And his body, though now nine years since his first breath, still feels connected to mine in sleep.
Therapists like my husband might call this enmeshment or codependency. I’m not sure they are right.
The reason I walked through the darkened house to find my laptop in the studio to write this down at great peril to myself as I walked straight into the open pantry door, which luckily didn’t make a crashing sound as it hit my face, is because I thought of mama-tropism and the very grey and under-discussed area of our nomadic version of the quasi-family bed—the wandering caravan of movements through this house at night. My children come to me–plants seeking the sun. I warm them in my bed—in my arms—in one of the most purely tender and sensual pleasures a mom can know—cuddling, cradling, sheltering, holding, inhaling, comforting these exquisite creatures I am lucky enough to parent. And I know I do this part of parenting very well because I don't do anything but to accept them—to hold them—to say yes to their fundamental human desire for touch and belonging. Our bodies mold instinctually into the contorted shapes we make. They gnash their teeth and breathe and roll about. Our so-called family bed—which is really what I call the Mama Train at this point—careening through the house—returning each child to their bed as I crawl in with each until the other wanders in a few hours later and I somnambulate-shuffle with that one to their bed.
Dr. Sears did not make any mention of this in those attachment parenting books I read nine years ago. He didn’t say what would happen to the family bed after the age of 2 or 3. He didn’t say that my kids would still come find me at age 5 or age 9.
What Dr. Sears didn’t say and what every book, pediatrician and therapist says you shouldn't be doing but you do it anyway and so do I is this: this whole thing of kids sleeping nearby—those warm, soft bodies so close—it is the loveliest thing. And they are mama-tropic. And you are them-tropic … kid-tropic. And so we seek each other in the night and we hold them in our arms and rub shins and breathe so close to their faces that we feel the heat from their cheeks, and no matter what any books say, it is the greatest and most wonderful physical pleasure and delight to feel them in the dark—warm bodies made of stars and love—seeking us for the same reason we are not supposed to seek them.
I don’t feel bad. I don’t feel guilty. I am an open door. We are biologically wired to remain connected to our children at night—and they us. We are mammals.
The best advice I received about parenting my first baby came a few weeks before he was born. My aunt simply told me that books wouldn't tell me anything I needed to know and that everything I needed to know was already inside me and to just trust myself and my knowing.
So there it is. The question I have always asked myself is not What would Dr. Sears do? nor What would Jesus do? But What would the highest and most knowing version of my self do? The question I have always asked myself is what would cavewoman-me do? What would pre-industrial revolution-me do? Lakshmi, Shakti, Durga, Mary Magdalene me? Mary Cassat me? Willindorf Venus me?
What would she do? She lives in me. She whispers to me the wisdom of her life experience. Old-me. Wisewoman-me. I can hear her. I don’t need books written in the last half-century to tell me what she so powerfully blows into my heart with her breath.
And what she says, I have always felt like this: if we were in a cave with this baby, would we send it to its own room? Alone—over there—to fight off wolves in the night? Would I wander over to that corner of the cave to feed my baby from my body and then wrap him in hides and lay him back down on the rock over there? Hell no, my inner-cavewoman wouldn’t tell me to do that. She’d whisper to me: hold him close. Give him your body. Listen to what he is telling you with his cries. Don't let him cry if you can fix it. Give him yourself. Keep him close.
And so I did. With him and then my baby girl. And I still am. My inner-cavewoman is right here all the time. I know that in a few months or maybe years that my kids will no longer need me as much in the night. And I know that the whole point of attachment parenting is to create securely attached and therefore independent people. But that isn't the reason for my late night Mama Train. My kids and I seek each other when we need to. And I say yes. And we both like it.
What would your inner-cavewoman do?
About Carrie Bloomston
Carrie Bloomston is an artist, fabric designer, creativity enabler, seeker, yogi, mama to two rad kiddos and author of The Little Spark–30 Ways To Ignite Your Creativity (Stash Books 2014). Usually, you can find her attempting some yin yoga on her living room floor … but then she’ll see that granola under the sofa and she’ll probably start vacuuming. Carrie helps people step into the creative, passionate life they have been waiting for through her teachings, writings and workshops. Read more at www.such-designs.com.