Half-Assed Attachment Parenting

Half-Assed Attachment Parenting


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In this episode, we discuss parenting philosophies, things that have and haven’t worked for us, and how we protect our physical autonomy without pushing our kids away. We also discuss the Alanis Morissette profile in Self Magazine, especially her four boundaries:

  • You can't tell me what I'm thinking, 

  • you can't tell me what I'm feeling, 

  • you can't fucking touch my body/you can't do anything with my body, 

  • and don't touch my stuff.


Becoming the Parent You Want to Be / Laura Davis and Janis Keyser

This quote from The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente:

“One ought not to judge her: all children are Heartless. They have not grown a heart yet, which is why they can climb high trees and say shocking things and leap so very high grown-up hearts flutter in terror. Hearts weigh quite a lot. That is why it takes so long to grow one. But, as in their reading and arithmetic and drawing, different children proceed at different speeds. (It is well known that reading quickens the growth of a heart like nothing else.) Some small ones are terrible and fey, Utterly Heartless. Some are dear and sweet and Hardly Heartless At All.”

She Used to Be Mine (from Waitress)

When I Grow Up (from Matilda: The Musical) + a very old post Anna wrote about the song

A Note: Anna pulled her recap of Attachment Parenting from professional memory and wants to make sure the information is clear.

Attachment Parenting is a philosophy that suggests methods to encourage secure attachment between parents and children through a variety of tools with a strong emphasis on continuous body closeness and touch from the moment of birth. As a movement, it was founded in the early 1980s by William and Martha Sears, a husband-and-wife pediatrician and nurse who wrote several books on pregnancy and parenting. The Sears family is largely respected in the parenting community, although your very pro-vax hosts take issue with Dr. Robert Sears’ troubling approach to vaccines.

The main tenets of Attachment Parenting include:

  • Birth bonding (which involves things like encouraging minimal labor and birth intervention, immediate skin-to-skin, early breastfeeding initiation, “rooming in” rather than using the nursery during hospital stays, and potentially other ideas like delayed cord clamping)

  • Breastfeeding

  • Babywearing (as opposed to using rockers, swings, or other calming tools)

  • Bed-sharing (with safety guidelines)

  • Minimizing Crying

  • No sleep training

Attachment Parenting is not the same as attachment theory.

“Attachment [in the scientific sense] is a relationship in the service of a baby’s emotion regulation and exploration,” explains Alan Sroufe, a developmental psychologist at the Institute for Child Development at the University of Minnesota, where he and his colleagues have studied the attachment relationship for over 40 years. “It is the deep, abiding confidence a baby has in the availability and responsiveness of the caregiver.”

A secure attachment has at least three functions:

-Provides a sense of safety and security

-Regulates emotions by soothing distress, creating joy, and supporting calm

-Offers a secure base from which to explore

“Attachment is not a set of tricks,” continues Sroufe. “These [attachment parenting principles] are all fine things, but they’re not the essential things. There is no evidence that they are predictive of a secure attachment.”



SARA: Welcome to the Parent Rap, inexpert parenting with Anna and Sara. I’m Sara, I’m, didn’t realize that my part came next, sorry, I’m—


SARA: —your source for the latest links on the Internet that make me think of you. Born and raised and gonna stay in Oklahoma.

ANNA: And I’m Anna, a writer, former doula and prenatal educator, currently a virtual assistant, and generally just a supportive type. I live in Toronto, Canada.

SARA: This is take two of this particular episode, because of me being good at Audacity. Ah, we wanted to talk a little bit about attachment parenting, and about parenting philosophies in general, and talk a little bit about an excellent article in SELF by hopeful eventual friend of the show, Nicole Cliffe.

ANNA: We have so far name-dropped her in every episode.

SARA: Yeah, it’s fine, we’re gonna do it until she comes on the show, it’s gonna be great.


ANNA: This topic sort of came out of some of my recent struggles, complications with Beans. Um, she has been hardcore clingy and wants to sleep in our bed all the time, despite the fact that sometimes that means my partner sleeps in her bed and she sleeps with me in the big bed, and just kind of feeling a little touched out. And so I kind of wanted to talk about that a little bit because, uh, as a non-parent, before I had a kid, I always kind of thought that attachment parenting was gonna be my philosophy. Like, their big tenets about the birth bonding, the breastfeeding, the baby-wearing, the bedsharing, no sleep training, all that kind of stuff, it made sense to me. But then I became a human with another human in my zone—


ANNA: —and as it turns out, twenty-four seven touching a person—


ANNA: —is a little bit exhausting. The overall topic of the episode is more, using pieces of philosophies that work for us, and the things that we like about using philosophies and the things that we don’t, and how it kind of has played out in our lives.

SARA: I was kind of in the same boat in terms of, when I found out I was pregnant, glancing over parenting philosophies, attachment parenting sounded the most gentle and good for the baby and all of that, and when Chips appeared, it quickly became evident that it was not, it was not a whole-hog philosophy that was gonna work for us. Bits and pieces would work, but for example, we didn’t bedshare for a lot of reasons. We did very low-key sleep train, like, we took bits that worked and I very surprisingly quickly got okay with dropping the things that didn’t, and have become a person who, I don’t believe in parenting philosophies anymore.


SARA: I think because of that, because of the, “oh, bits of this are great for me, and bits of it are great for other people, and they’re not the same parts, so…”

ANNA: Right, yeah. And I think when we, when we talked about this the first time—


ANNA: —we kind of touched on the, sort of, the mom-group thing where, if you join a group based on one of these philosophies, it often ends up being very, almost competitive? But definitely in the, like, “if you’re not doing it exactly, you’re not doing it right and then you’re gonna ruin your kid.” And I think that’s bullshit.


SARA: Yeah. And any failures that, or, quote-unquote “failures,” any struggles that you have are because you’re not doing the philosophy right. “If you were doing it right, you wouldn’t be having these problems,” right?

ANNA: I mean, attachment parenting as an idea is, it’s not new. It started, I think, in the eighties, with William and Martha Sears, who are well-known parenting writers. Um, and have sort of carried on - they have several children who are all pediatricians, one of whom does, like, he’s the, like, delayed vaccination guy, and so—

SARA: Hmmmm.

ANNA: We, uh take that with a grain of salt. But, like, the Sears are overall pretty well-respected, and so, then more recently, attachment parenting has started to include the idea of balance a little more actively. But in general, I think it, it has a focus on the wellbeing of the baby—

SARA: Which is great, preemptively—

ANNA: —which is awesome!


ANNA: Taking care of your kids is great. But often at the expense of caregivers.

SARA: Yeah.

ANNA: It doesn’t make a lot of room for those nights when, “Oh my god, I really just need sleep, to get some sleep.”

SARA: Or, “If one more person touches me, I’m going to scream.”

ANNA: Yes.

SARA: “i can’t, I can’t.” And it’s based on a theory of parenting, called attachment theory, which are separate things.

ANNA: Yeah.

SARA: Attachment theory is not a parenting philosophy.

ANNA: Yeah, it’s, uh, it’s actually like a full-fledged, like, college-y thing, like you can talk to therapists about your attachment style and that sort of thing. And if you are securely attached, like, a secure attachment means you feel safe and secure, you are generally able to handle your emotions pretty well, you know how to soothe yourself and calm yourself and find joy, um, and you can feel safe exploring. So for little kids, that means that if you are in an unfamiliar place, they will kind of check in with you a lot as their caregiver, but will go out and kind of look at new things and look at the rocks on the ground and that sort of thing, as a way of learning. And so attachment parenting, that is the goal, that secure attachment is the goal, but it isn’t the only way to get there. And I think that’s the big thing that, in the sort of new baby haze, is really easy to forget, right?

SARA: Yeah, you’re just grasping for, “Tell me how to do this, please,” for a lot of people. Um, especially people who don’t have — I was thinking about this a lot, because, I was trying to remember when Chips was really little, when she was, you know, weeks old, that the nicest thing anyone did for me was my mother-in-law would come over once a week and spend the night—


SARA: —and it was the single most brain- and life-saving thing, like, I have a spouse and they were home and it didn’t matter. I needed an, a third person, which I think is what doulas probably provide for people who can have them, is just a third body to, to help me feel like I’m not drowning here. Um, and if you don’t have, like, a support network or have, you know, a partner or friends who, like, if you’re alone, I can’t imagine not just, “oh, god, someone tell me what to do. Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it, I don’t care.”

ANNA: I mean, that was kind of our situation. Like—

SARA: Yeah.

ANNA: —my sister stayed with us for the first few weeks after Beans was born, so she was with us. My partner had a couple of weeks off, which was awesome, thanks, Canada.


ANNA: So, she was born right before Christmas, so we had the whole Christmas break and then I think another week after that, and then my partner went back to work, like, half days, and my sister was here with us. And since I had a C-section, like, she was—

SARA: Yeah!

ANNA: I wasn’t supposed to go up and down the stairs for the first chunk of time, like, it was rough. But then she went home and so I was really just by myself. Beans was a relatively low-key little baby. We didn’t have a lot of trouble. Yeah, you’d get those moments where you’re just like, “I don’t know what to do with this person.”

SARA: “Oh, god, what am I, what am I doing? What do I do? [singing] What do I do?” I still get those sometimes.


ANNA: Yeah, and I had been the third person for other people, but suddenly I was the first person—


ANNA: —for her, so.


SARA: I read, um, ‘cause I would sit up with Chips during the day and the night. We would sit, we have a recliner in the living room. That’s where I would sit with her and watch a lot of Netflix and read on my phone a lot, and I read, I think I read like fifteen or twenty parenting philosophy books ‘cause I read really fast, and I was like, “Oh, crap, I have to get a parent—, like, I have to figure out what it is that I’m doing.” This is also when I realized that I don’t believe in parenting philosophies. Because everything that I read, I found one or two things that I liked, or one or two things that felt correct. And the closest I got to, the closest I’ve ever gotten to a real, “yeah this works for me,” is the only plug I’m ever gonna do, I promise. Is, uh, a book called Becoming the Parent You Want to Be, which I recommend to everyone who has a baby. It’s the only, it’s the only one I do. Um, it’s A Sourcebook of Strategies for the First Five Years, is what the subtitle is. It doesn't really do, like, older kids, it’s for little, it’s for li’l babies. And it’s, um, Laura Davis and Janice Keyser? I think it’s Keyser, [spells name]. And it’s—

ANNA: There will be info about this in the show notes, beeteedubs.

SARA: —yeah. Beeteedubs. But their whole, there’s a whole big chunk of that book that is about, your parenting philosophy needs to be, “is my kid okay?” And if they are, great. That’s your parenting philosophy. It’s the first one I, that I read that really recommended looking into yourself, which has become what I, on the rare occasions that I try to give advice, like actionable advice to people, is just to look in yourself. And the things about attachment parenting, for example, that really appealed to me were the baby wearing and the birth bonding, and just the, “we are right here.” Like, we’re right here, you’re not alone, even when you’re in your room by yourself, you’re not alone. And there’s a lot you can find out about me by having that moment, uh.


SARA: For us, boundaries and alone time matter so much that being in your own room and not feeling alone was something we [unintelligible] really wanted Chips to learn early.

ANNA: Yeah, and I think because, before Beans was born, I was alone most of every day. um, I worked from home and my partner wasn’t home and so, and so then suddenly having her there with me, my whole life changed. Like, how everything functioned for me was totally different, and I didn’t really prepare for that I think. You did recommend that book to me—


ANNA: —and I immediately bought it because I was like, “Ahhhh!”


ANNA: “I thought I knew what I was doing.”


ANNA: And, like, when it came to the, when it came to the specific details, I did, but when it was about, like, “How am I going to process this change?” It was just out there. And you mentioned that the book was really about little babies, but I kind of disagree. I think it, like, it’s about how you want to frame your parenthood overall. It really encourages you to think about how you want to approach things.

SARA: When I had Chips, I was working a very different job, I was working from home, unhealthily for a lot of reasons. I am not, it turns out, a person who can work from home. Unlike Anna, I don’t do well in that situation. I need at least an hour of no one talking to me and no one touching me and no one making d— like, I need an hour by myself minimum, every single day.

ANNA: Mmhmm.

SARA: Which is hard. The principles behind a lot of the parenting philosophies do, like— Again, I wanna stress again, whatever works for you and your family and your baby is what I want you to do.

ANNA: Right.

SARA: Hell yeah. You parent that kid in whatever fashion works for you. But I think it’s so easy to lose sight of you as a person.

ANNA: Mmhmm, which is why, we mentioned this earlier, we both really liked that Alanis Morissette profile, because she talks about — I mean, she talks about a lot of things. It’s fairly, it’s a fairly long read.

SARA: Yeah.

ANNA: Um, but one of the big things in there is that she sets boundaries with her kids. Um, she has these, these four boundaries that she lays out, it’s: you can’t tell me what I’m thinking, can’t tell me what I’m feeling, you can’t fucking touch my body, and don’t touch my stuff.


SARA: So many people with kids read that and freaked out. Like, you could see a wave of it as people would hit that section on Twitter, of just, “Oh my god, yes, that’s it, that’s the thing!”


ANNA: Yeah, even with Beans, and now as she’s getting so, so able to articulate what she wants, she — I still breastfeed, um, which is my thing. But I am trying really hard to teach her that, like, yes, that’s something that comforts you and helps you sleep and helps you calm down and makes you feel better, but it’s my body and I get to say no. So much of our life in the last six weeks or so in particular has been, like, she’s never not touching me.


ANNA: And so I just have to be like, “Sweetie, I need a minute.”

[laughter, overlapping chatter]

SARA: “I love you, you’re fine, it’s gonna be fine. Give me a minute here.”

ANNA: She, yeah, she has responded really well to, “count with me.” A lot of the time I can get her to, like, count to ten, even if she’s— she can be pretty freaked out and she will count to ten with me.

SARA: Nice.

ANNA: and sometimes it, when we’re done I can completely redirect her, but if nothing else it gives me ten seconds.


ANNA: Ten seconds or however long I can make it take to count to ten.


SARA: We do “rest time.” You go to your room and the lights are off and you rest, and you don’t bother anybody. I don’t go bother her, she doesn’t bother me, we just, we have a rest. And then, once we’re done resting, we can play and have fun and it’s great, but for rest time we need to be alone. You know, we’ve talked a little bit about, with little kiddos, how to, how to do that, ‘cause when Beans was smaller, she needed to eat or whatever, so you couldn’t really say, like, “No, I’m not into it right now,” but also you needed to have—


ANNA: Yeah, well, and when she was really, I mean, when she was fairly little, until really fairly recently, like, my partner and I had a pretty stable routine, um, where after supper I got to go like take a bath and do my, you know, just my evening routine by myself. But as she’s gotten older and, so our evenings get really long because it takes her forever to eat supper.


ANNA: And that sort of stuff, and then bedtime drags on forever, it, like, that chunk of time has kind of disappeared, and so we’re kind of, sort of, we’re just scrambling to restructure in a way that gives me any time at all. That’s part of why I joined that, there’s a cowering space that I joined recently, um, that has childcare on site. She’s just not sure about— she’s always really excited, she’s really excited to go until we get there.

SARA: Yeah.

ANNA: And then she remembers, but it’s only, we’ve only gone a couple times, but it’s just, like, to give me four hours where I can concentrate and use my brain and not have to wonder, like, “Is she gonna wake up,” or what.

SARA: Yeah, yeah, “Okay it’s been this long since she’s eaten, or…”

ANNA: But even that, like, it’s, it’s work, it’s my job, so I mean, I still, like, finding time that’s just mine is really hard, and I try really hard to make sure that my partner has time for that as well, even if it’s not every day, like, once a week an activity. Like, he goes and plays frisbee once a week and that’s his time and we, like, we only call that off if it’s really dire because it’s important. But figuring out how to make that work for me has been a little bit more complicated just because of, you know, the primary caregiver thing and the main source of food thing.


ANNA: You know, it’s it’s a little bit more difficult for me to disappear for three hours at a time.

SARA: Circling back-- this happened last time we recorded, too, Anna, come on, we gotta—

ANNA: I know!


SARA: This one episode, for some reason, um—

ANNA: It’s because it’s so much!

SARA: It is so, there’s so much. We could’ve just talked about one section. We could just talk about bodily autonomy for an hour.

ANNA: And in fact I think we have another topic planned


SARA: [laughing] We do have another topic planned!

ANNA: But that one’s for kids’ bodily autonomy so it’s different.


SARA: Yeah it’s not, it’s not the same. We both, this is an important topic and we love you very much and we don’t want you to ever feel like taking bits and pieces of things is a bad idea, or taking what works and dropping what doesn’t.

ANNA: Absolutely, yeah. Take what works and throw the rest out the window. And the other thing is, no book or website or Facebook mom group—

SARA: Or podcast.

ANNA: —Or podcast knows your stuff, so all the things that go into your family and your home and your day to day life and what it takes to make your life go are so specific. And for most people— I mean I’m sure there are the occasional people who can take a philosophy wholesale and make it work and it’s great and perfect for them. If that’s you, wonderful, that’s awesome and I’m glad for you, but I think for most people it takes a little bit more treating it like a buffet.


SARA: Which is your favorite of Alanis’ four boundaries? Which is your favorite one?

ANNA: You go.

SARA: Mine is, don’t touch my stuff, because to say that out loud always felt very selfish.

ANNA: Yes.

SARA: Like, to tell Chips, “Hey, I need you not to touch my books,” or— I’m not an especially neat person and I'm not super duper organized, but I know where my things are and they’re mine and I don’t want you to mess with them. And that sounds so selfish and horrible! But also I genuinely hadn’t ever heard a parent that I respected say it like that, like, just don’t touch my stuff. Uh, it just blew my mind. It was great.

ANNA: Yeah, that one also really resonated with me because I grew up in a house where it was kind of frowned upon to treat things that way. My mom ran a home daycare when I was growing up, and so pretty much everything I owned was expected to be shareable. And as I sort of hit adolescence and kind of wanted to have things that were mine, that was a big source of conflict in my house as a kid. Um, and so I think, and I think part of that was because my mom was raised the same way. I think the cultural expectation that she shared everything was there and so that went to everybody else. Which isn’t entirely unfair, but I think being able to just say that, that, like, “This is something that is special to me and I want it to be mine,” and to have that be not everything, you know, you have your specific things that are important. That one was big for me too, and I think, I mean we’ve talked a lot about the body stuff and that has been a big deal for me too. [unintelligible] But really I just like all of them, like, they’re all—

SARA: They’re all really great.

ANNA: They’re all meaningful. I think the thinking and feeling ones will probably come up a little bit more later. The don’t touch me and don’t touch my stuff thing is, feels very pertinent right now.

SARA: Yeah.

ANNA: But I think as as kids get older and start to understand that other people do have their own feelings—

SARA: Oh, yeah.

ANNA: —Those things become more important.

SARA: Shared favorite Catherynne Valente’s—

ANNA: Yes.

SARA: —Uh, thing about, in the Fairyland books, which are perfect. Okay, second rec, last rec ever, I promise. The Fairyland books by Catherynne M. Valente, really all of her work, but you know, uh, has a bit about, children are born without hearts and they grow them as they go. And that is so meaningful to me because…Okay. Sometimes Chips and I have a disagreement and it feels like— it has felt in past like she is doing it on purpose, pushing a button for me on purpose. And most of the time it’s not that, it’s that when she was little, she didn’t really understand that people were people. You have to learn that. You’re not born knowing that. But I wanted to bounce back to [unintelligible] don’t touch my stuff ‘cause I was just reminded today that it also applies to the kids. Chips has an art table and it is messy and there is scraps of paper all over it and it pings every button I have that says to go through it with a trash bag and throw it all away. And I’m trying not to, because that’s her stuff, it matters to her, it’s important to her, it’s not gonna kill anybody to have some scraps of paper on her art table that she is theoretically gonna turn into stuff later. But yeah, that’s an example of taking what works for me and trying very hard to put it onto someone else too.

ANNA: Yeah, and I think, I think those four boundaries are really important as a mutual thing to learn together. So it’s not just about me telling the kid, “don’t touch my stuff,” it’s about, “yeah, okay, so this is your space and you decide how to use it.” That means I’m not gonna get rid of your things.


SARA: Yeah, and if you want to get rid of something, I will do it. If you wanna get rid of— we do toy purges, um, pretty regularly, because we have storage space but not an infinite amount. And if she, when we’re doing stacks to give away and stacks to keep, if she wants to put something in the stacks to give away, unless it is for an extremely good reason, we give it away. The last thing that she wanted to give away that we kept instead was a toy that was mine when I was really little and she wan— she put it in the giveaway stack. I was like, “That— Chips, that’s mine, I, you don’t have to have it. I will put it in my room, it’s fine, but we are not getting rid of Jellybeans, ‘cause that’s my cat!”


SARA: We, we try really hard to respect when she wants to give away, donate, um, like, clothes that she doesn’t like even if they were gifts. Even if they were, you know, “Oh, you should keep that because your grandma gave it to you,” nah. We don’t do that jazz. It’s her stuff. If she wants to keep it, great. Um, there’s so many ways that boundaries are something I personally really struggle with and so, so much of parenting Chips is me trying to figure out how to have healthy bou— like how do I even have healthy boundaries? While I’m also trying to teach her to have healthy boun— like it’s

ANNA: I mean—

SARA: Does that make sense?

ANNA: It does, and I think boundaries are really hard. And I think it’s also sort of, something of the kind of cultural moment, that we are becoming more aware of them and being encouraged to have them and how to foster and nurture them, um, especially as women and women-identified and—

SARA: Women-ish.

ANNA: Women-ish [laughter] people, yeah, and so for our children who are, at the moment, both girls, I think it’s really important that we are modeling that, both as something for them and something that is important to give to everybody. And I think that with, with attachment parenting in particular, and sort of why we keep going back and forth on this—


ANNA: I, I think actually this time we are staying closer to on topic!

SARA: Yes.

ANNA: We are, we’re, I think we are talking a lot about boundaries because the the attachment parenting, sort of, kickoff point isn’t always really good about that.

SARA: It is, in fact, in many ways, dedicated to you not having at least physical boundaries.

ANNA: Right, and so when you realize that, oh, yeah, you need those.

SARA: Yeah.


ANNA: —To be, to be sane, it, it’s hard to reconcile that if you’re not willing to do that, sort of, take the ideas that work and not the rest.

SARA: Yeah. In the church that I grew up in, it would have been called “cherry-picking,” and seen as a bad thing, but I am a fan of cherry-picking. Pick them cherries!

ANNA: If it makes you a better person or a better parent, it’s worth it, right?

SARA: Yeah, and we wanna, I want to bounce back one more time. We want to strongly encourage you to do what you need to do for your own mental health. Like, if you need to— “the baby has been fed, the baby is clean, the baby is safe in their safe area, their crib or whatever, I’m gonna go take a shower.” That’s, please, they’re not, no— please do that!

ANNA: You need to be clean!

SARA: You need to be clean, and that shower can become a refuge in ways. Like, “This is my small square space that is mine and nobody can touch me.” If that taking time for yourself has to be snuck in, in between other things? If you’re lucky enough to have a setup where you can block out an hour a week or an hour a day? In addition to needing to figure out what works for you you also need to be you I guess is what I’m trying to say

ANNA: Yeah, and you need to be intentional about remembering you. And I think sometimes women-oriented people in particular, it feels like selfishness and it feels like a bad thing to to be pushing really hard to maintain your sense of self. But as a parent, it’s very, very easy to get subsumed in it and to have that just feel like drowning. And it doesn’t even have to be all the time, like, I don’t feel like that all the time, but every once in a while there’s a day where I’m just like, “I am not a person anymore. What do I do?”


ANNA: “Where did my life go?”

SARA: Yeah.

ANNA: Because this person is just constantly needing something from me so that I can’t even think. We both have our mental health stuff to deal with and for the most part, I think we’re both mostly on top of it, but with, you know, the hormones and stuff of the first couple years and just being tired and all of the things that are changing all the time, plus your kid’s going through all the stuff that made your stuff all the time. It’s just really easy to get mired in it if you’re not able to take that time every once in a while to think about who you wanna be as a person and not just as a parent.

SARA: You know, we have a couple friends who have very small babies. There is an expected, uh. How do I wanna say this? In some areas and with some family groups, there’s an expected, “Oh, well, you’re gonna stop doing x because you have a baby now,” right? You’re going to stop doing nature walks or you’re going to stop writing, just a totally hypothetical example, really, really, really bad pirate novel that you’ve been working on for a few years, because you don’t have time, because you have a baby now. Well, I mean, no, I don’t have time but—


SARA: —That’s irrelevant to whether I’m going to keep doing it.

ANNA: Some of it some of it you take the kid with you. Babies love nature walks, as it turns out.

SARA: Yeah, they do, much more than I do. Like, babies love nature way more than I do, so.


ANNA: Some of it you carve out five or ten minutes at a time where you’re making notes on your phone.

SARA: Yep.

ANNA: You just find a little bit. If you can find some, sometimes you just need that few minutes. It really makes a big difference, and just, like, “Okay, whoo.”


SARA: “All right.”

ANNA: “Here’s, there, there I am!”


SARA: “I remember you!” There was a Twitter thread going around a million years ago about, uh, what song would you, if you had a therapist who you were gonna sing a Broadway song to in order to explain yourself, uh, what would it be? My answer, immediately, was “She Used to Be Mine,” from Waitress.

ANNA: Oof!

SARA: Which is a freakin ama— it’s a great song, and it’s in my range, which is unusual. But that’s a big, if you haven’t heard the song, you definitely should. It’s talking about, because Waitress as a story is about, in a lot of ways, that tension of your personal self and you as a person, and your relationships to other people and to a child who you are in charge of, for lack of a better word. And the song, in a lot of ways, is about that tension of, “I was, I’m, I know I was a person, and I wanna still be one, and I don’t know how to do that in this setting any— I don’t know, I, I feel like I’ve lost whatever, whoever that person was. I’ve lost them.”

ANNA: I have never been able to listen to that song all the way through, because it crushes me.


SARA: Yup, it is a it’s a heartbreaker, so that was my immediate answer. But then I thought of you, and I thought of, “When I Grow Up,” uh, from the Matilda musical. Also a great song, also about, about relationships and about personality and about individual being a person.

ANNA: “When I Grow Up,” I always love because it is sung by, like, it’s almost voiced by the child inside the adult, and the adults inside the children. Like, it’s it’s a really complicated, also I’m gonna link that one too

SARA: Yeah yeah yeah yeah!

ANNA: We’ll link the songs and the books and everything.


ANNA: If you don’t know the songs—

SARA: This is also how I talk to my friends!

ANNA: Yes.

SARA: I don’t, I don’t know how to do it other than with links, so.


ANNA: [singing] “Let me send you all the stuff that makes me think of you.”

SARA: There is, if you could see my Twitter DMs, gang, that’s all it is. I just send links to people with hearts. But yeah, “When I Grow Up,” is about, that kid that we are in charge of at the moment is a person, is developing into a person if they’re not one already. You are still being formed as a person. How do you do that? How? How does one do that? And the answer is, “I dunno. I dunno the answer.”


SARA: But it’s gonna happen, so.

ANNA: And I think, I think the answer is, as we’ve been discussing, “a bunch of bits and pieces.”

SARA: Yep. That you pick up along the road and you steal from your friends.

ANNA: And ideally you do, you have, you know, people in your world whose approaches overall sort of resonate with you and if you don’t, let me know, and I will find you some.


SARA: Yeah yeah yeah. Anna as community-builder is unrivaled, my dudes.

ANNA: We’ve got resources. We don’t want you to, we don’t want you to feel alone out there. Find your people.

SARA: Oh, no! Now all I’m thinking of is, uh, Dear Evan Hansen.

ANNA: Aw, dang.



SARA: [unintelligible] gonna do, we will have to at some point do a, let’s just talk, let’s do a little outtake episode of just talking about Broadway musicals for half an hour. It’ll be great.

ANNA: Okay, cool.

SARA: Can you give me a parenting triumph for the week?

ANNA: Uh, sure! So, like I mentioned we have been going to this cowering space, ah, which means Beans has been doing, like, little chunks of daycare, like four hours one day a week. Not a lot. She screams.


ANNA: A, today I went downstairs to check on her, and she was very happily eating cheese sticks with her friends.

SARA: Nice.

ANNA: That was cool! It didn’t last a super long time, but she was, like, interacting with the other kids. And then when I went to pick her up, she, like, jumped on and gave me a big, like, monkey hug.


ANNA: Around the neck, and, like, she hugs, but she’s never hugged like that.


ANNA: As much as I want her to be having fun at her little school thing, it was pretty cool that she was that excited to see me.


SARA: I was gonna have a different one but then today, we took Chips to, there is an art museum on— where I live, in Oklahoma, Norman, is a college town. There’s an art museum on campus and it’s free to go, so we went. It was the first time we’d taken Chips with us, and they were remodeling, so ninety percent of it was closed. Downstairs, they have a public area for life drawing and still lives and stuff? Uh, they have colored pencils and sharpeners and paper there, and they have still lives set up that you can draw. And after confirming with several adults who worked there that, yes, it was okay for us to use — because I had this horror of, like, some poor college class coming in to try and draw, and us being there like, doo doo doo! Chips drew her favorite painting that she could see from the place, in the whole building, for like an hour. Just sat and drew and would, ha—come over, ‘cause I had a scratch paper where she could check the colors to make they’re the colors that she wanted. And she was so excited and happy and she would’ve done it all day if we didn’t have to go pay for parking. And as we left, she asked when we were coming back to “drawing school.” To get to sit there and watch her be totally absorbed and independently doing her own thing, I don’t know, it was just amazing.

ANNA: You can find me on Instagram and Twitter at mulberryterrace, and you can find my newsletter, Letters From Mulberry Terrace, and more about me and my work at mulberryterrace.net. I said “mulberry terrace” a lot.


SARA: Hey, fun fact: if you google “mulberry terrace,” you either get Anna or a literal place called Mulberry Terrace. That’s it, that’s the whole—

ANNA: Yeah, there’s, like, an apartment complex somewhere.


SARA: You can find the Parent Rap on Twitter and Instagram under parentrap. Uh, we share episodes and extras and, especially on Twitter, the occasional relevant post to our whole endealment. You can find me individually at cyranoh on Twitter, that’s [spells name} underscore. We love you very much.

[music begins]

ANNA: You’re doing great. It’s gonna be okay.

SARA: We’ll see you soon!

ANNA: Bye!

SARA: Bye!

ANNA: Our theme music is “Humm OK” by Gablè off their Le Sac De L’Enfer, and is provided free with attribution, for which we’re very grateful. You can find Gablè at www.gableboulga.com. I’m not sure I’m pronouncing that correctly, so it’s (spells website).

SARA: Take two went way better.

ANNA: Yeah, it did!


[music ends]

May You Kiss the Wind and Then Turn From It, Certain it Will Love You Back

May You Kiss the Wind and Then Turn From It, Certain it Will Love You Back

I sing / of a world where bullets melt into bells

I sing / of a world where bullets melt into bells