the nest

the nest

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mama love

This is going to be a challenging post for me, but I'm going to dive right in.  The attached blog post
reasons to calm down about babies crying was so thought provoking for me.  When my babies were small, I absolutely hated to hear them cry.  I thought my job was to meet all their needs until they were big enough, or old enough to meet them.  I was an Attachment Parent all the way!  Especially with my second child.
She was my "high-need" baby.  For the first 6 months of her life she was either in the sling or sleeping next to me ~ she nursed all night long sometimes and was happy as long as she was in physical contact with her mama.  I was SO THANKFUL for attachment parenting as I was certain that if I didn't wear her and co-sleep with her she would be so unhappy and I wouldn't survive her infancy!
Once she was mobile, the constant physical contact decreased, but she continued to be intense.  She could go from 0-60 in no time flat and I was there to soothe her and meet her needs.  While I was exhausted, I was a little smug as well.  Not many other mother's could handle such an intense child!
In many ways Attachment Parenting served me and my children well.  Especially when they were infants.
I had studied Developmental Psychologist Erik Erikson's work in college and was sure that as my children resolved their "developmental issues" like trust vs. mistrust, they would move on and I would have done my job to give them an excellent foundation.  I still believe that in many ways this is what happened.
The above post however, made me think that perhaps my focus on resolving all of my sweet girl's unhappiness was not so useful to her.  Maybe it in fact, took away some of her own power and self-determination.
At 16 we have a lovely, smart, caring, powerful girl who is terrified of her own grief and sadness.  The intensity of her feelings has resulted in interventions I never imagined facing.  In some ways we are doing remedial emotional managment education.  I didn't want to see that by meeting her every emotional need as an infant and young child I wasn't allowing her to learn how to process them herself.
Don't get me wrong~ this isn't a "I'm a bad Mom post and it's all my fault that I have a teenager who has had struggles."  We do the best we can with the knowledge and support we have at the time.

I do wonder though, that if I had had the perspective offered by Magda Gerber and her approach to child-rearing, or if I'd simply listened to my own mother and accepted that "sometimes babies cry and that's ok" maybe my sweet girl would know that her feelings, while intense, will not hurt her.  She can get through them.  She would know that her mama believes in her strength and power to get through the most difficult situations and while she will always be there if needed, she won't get in the way.

We begin launching our young the moment they burst from our bodies ~ acknowledging and respecting their ability to make their way from their earliest days just makes the journey more exciting.

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