A Need That is Met.
February 15, 2013 § 1 Comment
When I had my first child, I had very definite ideas of how I wanted to parent. I read many, many parenting books, mostly around the philosophy of attachment parenting. Now, four children later, I’ve let go of some of the ideas from these books that don’t work for me. However there is one theme that I have held on to throughout my entire mothering career (yes I think with five children I can call it a ‘career’!). It is this:
A need that is met, then goes away.
I can’t remember now whose book I read this in. But what I do remember is how many times I’ve come back to this saying. It’s comforted me in the middle of the night, when a child is awake and wanting a cuddle, and I am wondering if I will get any more sleep that night. And it’s affirmed the choice to arrange Parkour lessons for my thirteen year old, so that I don’t have to worry about him hurting himself with his dangerous body tricks at school.
And right now, this week, I’ve come back to it again, in regards to Robin.
It is probably time to let go of wondering whether his intense clingyness is nature or nurture – his personality, or the fact that he was in hospital and therefore completely cosseted for most of his babyhood. As a mother, I try to flow with my kids, and where they are at. But I realise that I have been fighting Robin’s needs. He is eleven months old. His development, once delayed due to illness, is now normal.
Except that he is still almost exclusively breastfed. And where other babies his age are content to sit on the floor and play, or sit in the pram and watch the world around them, my Robin has to be physically attached to me, all the time.
Literally – all the time.
Unless Sol is around, in which case he may need to be attached to Sol. Sometimes he will be with Samuel, his older brother, but never the floor, and less and less the pram.
With three kids at school, after school activities, and my minor work commitments, all of a sudden his needs are tricky for me. Some days it is a struggle to get the basics done. The element of time pressure that is in our lives is not good for him, so it is not good for me. Increasingly I have been feeling consumed by Robin’s needs against the backdrop of family life.
It is time to take a step back, and remind myself that “a need that is met, then goes away”. Robin needs me intensely right now. It won’t be forever, it is for now. Having a little perspective makes it that much easier to bear.
To be honest, with all he/we’ve been through, I’m reluctant for him to leave his babyhood behind. I feels like we missed so much of it. And I’ve been fighting against those feelings too.
Sometimes it is hard to have a child whose needs are different, or at least not what the ‘mainstream’ think they should be. I’m under a lot of pressure to make him eat, to just leave him on the floor to cry because he is ‘old enough’. But by now, I am strong enough in my Mothering to stay true to what is right for us. And right now, that means not pushing him away, or to eat, or to be more independent than what he wants.
Instead, I will be making some small adjustments to our lives, so that I can flow with him and his needs, thereby reducing the stress on me. First change: kids on the bus to school in the morning, so he can sleep in!