I am a big advocate of attachment parenting. I didn’t even know that it was a capital-letter official thing, Attachment Parenting, until I had already been a parent for a few years. Up until then, I was just kind of winging it and going with what worked.
Over the years, I’ve heard, more than once, from other moms, that they “could never” practice Attachment Parenting because they value their personal space, or they don’t want their kids to be clingy, or it squelches their independence. And, having co-slept with every one of my children, having worn them (again, long before I ever know “babywearing” was ‘a thing’), having breastfed them and picked them up when they cried and the whole bit, and yet having very independent kids, I thought we were the poster children for how Attachment Parenting doesn’t make for clingy kids. Look at us, I thought. MY kids don’t hide behind my legs when they meet new people! They aren’t afraid to run to the other side of the playground! They moved into their own beds when they decided they were ready; no crying or elaborate bedtime rituals or having to lock them in their rooms to get them to sleep on their own! Yay! Attachment Parenting rules!
All that being said, Baby Ellie is going through a clingy stage right now. Or, rather, for the past few months. Or, actually, kind of from the beginning of her life. And when I say clingy, what I mean is, pretty much attached at the hip. Or the boob. Or the lap. Or whatever body part is closest to her at any given point in time. Which means things like sitting down to blog are not easy. And that explains is why I’m up at 12:30am while she is passed out in her swing, sneaking in some blogging.
If I’m in the room with her and she sees me leave? Forget it, she’s after me, screaming her head off, as if I’m going to run off to backpack all over Europe for a month without her. If I sneak out, she’ll be okay for awhile, until she hears me. Then it’s an all-out assault to knock down everything that stands between her and her Mommy. She doesn’t just want to be sitting within a few feet of me, playing with a toy, the way her siblings happily did things when they were her age. She doesn’t even want to be sitting next to me. She must be ON me, looking down on everyone else, as if she is planting a flag at the top of a peak and claiming it as her world.
And the few minutes a day when she’ll attempt to entertain herself? She manages to find every scrap of paper in this house, every tiny little thing that is inappropriate to put in her mouth and then promptly puts it in her mouth. Since she’s baby #4, we have PLENTY of baby toys in our collection, basically everything Fisher Price and Little Tikes have ever made, but this kid wants nothing to do with any of them. Mommy only. Period. End of story.
I’ve never seen anything like it.
She’s perfectly content with her daddy as long as I’m not around. Then he’s chopped liver. She cries until he hands her over, and the second she’s in my arms, she smushes her cheek up to mine, looks over at him, and gives him this smug grin. (The first few times that happened, I felt so horrible for Bill. He’s used to it now. We laugh about it now. It probably hurt me more than it hurt him.) She loves her siblings, so long as neither of them comes anywhere near me. She’s fine with other people, from the safe confines of my arms. People ask to hold her, I warn them that she’s not good with strangers and to not be offended if she acts as if they are aliens that are going to abduct her, and people still want to give it a shot. It never works. People love holding a chubby baby, and I SO wish I could share that love.
I love holding that chubby baby too, don’t get me wrong. But when I can’t throw together a few sandwiches for lunch or sit down and type on the computer for 10 minutes, well, it gets old. At the end of the day, Bill walks in the door and it’s usually all I can do not to toss her, hot potato-style, into his arms before he gets the door shut. I love the kid, but I’m human. After 11 months of this craziness, she’s starting to feel kind of like a leech.
I’m lucky to have a husband who doesn’t complain when I ask to leave him with the kids so I can have some time to myself. It’s not that I don’t want us all to hang out as a family. I SO want that. But I feel horrible for him when she chooses me over him, time and again, and horrible for leaving her with him, even though I know they’re having a perfectly fine time without me. I can’t wait for the day when we can all party together. One morning this past weekend, I woke up in my bed and all three kids were in it with Bill and I, and we just hung out for 20 minutes, everyone giggling and having a good time. It was the first time that I can remember that Ellie wasn’t having a conniption about not being surgically attached to me at all times when other people are around.
I have TONS to blog about: we went on a weeklong trip for Thanksgiving, I’m training for a marathon, I still have to catch up on posting about our summer vacation in Pennsylvania, we have family drama and adoption drama and our random acts of kindness advent going on. I blog in my head half the day, mostly because I have limited adult human interaction, but never seem to have a chance to sit down with a computer and get it all out. But there are 37 minutes of battery life left on this computer, the charger is downstairs, where I’m terrified to make any sounds because then she’ll wake up and my short amount of time to sneak in a blog post will be over.
So, unfortunately, no pictures with this one. No cute stories about our random acts of kindness or the cool stuff we did Thanksgiving week at the beach. I’ll have to save those for another day. Editing pictures AND finishing a blog post? Happens about once a month, it seems, and with 37 minutes of battery life, which is not enough to edit and upload pictures and then insert them into a post, well, it isn’t going to happen. I’ve got to conserve some of that battery time to try to finish up our Christmas newsletter.
Which I doubt is going to happen.
I know there will come a day when I am sad that I don’t have a squishy baby cheek pressed up against mine, and short, chubby little arms wrapped tightly around my neck. Some day, staring at me in the mirror won’t be at all entertaining the way it is right now. At some point, she won’t be screaming, “Mama!” and making a beeline for me at breakneck speed when I turn the corner. I try to remember that when I get exasperated at all of that happening over and over for hours upon hours, day after day.
They’re only little once. Soak it up, I remind myself.
It’s okay to practice Attachment Parenting, capitalized or not, and want some alone time every now and then. She’s going to outgrow this and turn into an independent human soon, secure with her mommy, but feeling safe enough to spread her wings a little bit.
I’m trying REALLY hard not to feel guilty about wanting that day to come sooner rather than later.