A serious mommy who wants to provide more than the basic maintenance care for her baby asked me that question recently. She had read my post on Mary Ainsworth wanted to get more practical. I think it’s helpful to look at want Ainsworth herself measured in her Baltimore studies in the mid 1960’s. Using “secure attachment” as the model, she rated four observations: (1) How often was the mother sensitive to her infant’s signals? (2) How much acceptance of the baby did she demonstrate as opposed to rejection? (3) Did she cooperate with the baby’s desires and rhythms or did she tend to interfere, imposing her own schedule and her own pace when feeding, handling, or playing? (4) How available to the baby was she and how often did she ignore it?
It seems to me that these guidelines are more than behaviors. They are attitudes of selfless devotion that manifest in observable actions. This photo by Rosa Maria puts it in visual form for me. There seems to be some special bond between those two.
The Bible talks about “dying to self” as a yielding of one’s will to some higher value (ultimately God’s will) and I think the kind of mothering that results in secure attachment is a wonderful human example of this dying to self. Paradoxically, it results in a life that is fuller and richer for both mother and child.