Soule, Katherine Elizabeth
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In the contemporary, mainstream United States, normative discourses construct motherhood as a full-time parenting role in which women lose autonomous identity in exchange for the responsibility of raising children. This view carries over into leisure scholarship where mothers are viewed as constrained by children, and family leisure is described as inferior to independent leisure pursuits. However, many women find great joy in their parenting roles. To explore this apparent contradiction, this study focused on mothers who practice attachment parenting, a parenting style in which mothers remain in close physical contact with their children and take little to no time for themselves. The guiding research question was to investigate the interconnected meanings that come into being as mothers practice attachment parenting. Using post-intentional phenomenology, four mothers were interviewed about their attachment parenting experiences. The metaphor of gestation was used to discuss the tentative manifestations of the phenomenon that were revealed through this research. This discussion highlights the ways attachment parenting both resists and reinforces the normative discourse of motherhood, revealing ways these mothers navigated the contextualized power matrices present in their lives. The participants’ stories also made it clear that these women found extreme joy in interacting with their children; contrary to much published research, children were not a constraint to these mothers’ leisure. This research highlights the need to expand scholarship on mothers’ leisure—and indeed all leisure—to explore relational experiences as well as autonomous free-time activities.